Polytechnic, Brighton - H.N.D. Information Technology (1988-90)

At good old Polytechnic in Brighton where you didn't get a great workload giving you time to hack about and pursue other studies in the library. I watched the whole World at War and Open University Astro-Physics miny videos wheel there. And stayed in halls where we had our meals provided and I played many games of snooker of table tennis, or watching 'Sergeant Bilko' with my Friend Moti Lal, his parents were from Punjab but he wouldn't say what religion he was not believing in all that sort of thing. I believe my first conversation was I'm going try and solve Fermat's Last Equation. He came from a family of five Children put each had a different surname for some reason. He also enjoyed his Beer and developed quite a Beer gut. Hall also had 4 UNIX terminal linked to the main site so you could do work in the evening or play Star Trek against other people on line. It was a very primitive text game with things like fire photon torpedoes, raise shields, orbit planet, talk to other ship (player)... Also I sometimes went into the campus on Saturday Mornings to use the Unix System there, and get a packed lunch so I could go on into town, rather than have lunch at Halls.

HND's (Higher National Diploma's) are fun as the work load isn't as great as a Degree giving you time to relax, have outside interests, and explore the bits of the subject you find of interest in greater detail but a HND isn't worth much in the Job market. Why would they choose a candidate with a HND when you can have one with a Degree of which there are a lot. Most HND students either go into jobs unrelated to their subject or move on to a Degree. Classes are much smaller however meaning the you actually get to talk to the Lecturers and makes it easier to make friends. I don't regret doing my HND I learned how computers work and had a lot of friends.

Most of my other friend's in halls also studied 'Maths and Decision Making' like him a Degree level. I also had a few friends in my rather small HND class. 20 in the first year. 10 in the second year, only 3 of which turned up to lectures at the end, rather embarrassing, myself included of course. I was too shy to talk to girls then, though still had a thing with a couple but barely talked to them in my own charismatic but backward in coming forward way. After all I had travelled the world. We also went to the pub once a week, then ten-pin bowling, then the pub which our Muslim friend from halls didn't like going to again. Then off for a Kebab.

I seemed to spend a inordinate amount of time down the arcades, in the common room reading the newspapers and watching TV with my feet slung over the chair in front of me. We also went out to night clubs occasionally and the University of Sussex student bar, and the swan near Falmer where they are going to build the new Brighton Football Stadium, having games of darts and a chat. They spiked my drink and 'I was bowling in the other alley. I was also sick on occasion particularly at a halls party were I mixed larger and bitter, both of which I detest. I drank, cider and southern comfort them. My tipple recently was Bacardi Breezers, but now I have gone on Vodka and Orange. Some girl recently bought me a Malibu and Coke in a night club, but I think that's really a girl's drink.

Three students on our course did very little work in the second year preferring to play Pool all day. Bopesh and Cowpesh were Asian's (who liked the singer Betty Blue, I understand they completed their course the following year) and their friend was Rowan from Ireland.

Programming Projects

One of the lecturers was very impressed by a TV programme called 'My Best Friends a Computer' which came out at the time (1988-90). It's never been repeated to my knowledge. There were and are many many young males who spend all their time on computers and who have few friends, at had quite a lot of friends to my class and at halls. At least with the internet they can talk to other people. Programming seems to have gone out of fashion. If they weren't on computers they'd being doing other loner stuff like reading, walking, making electronic circuits... He said the programme reminded him of the people he had to work with on a railway control project in Germany.

Another TV programme I really liked was 'Triumph of the Computer Nerds' by a one Mr. Cringly. I Emailed him once suggesting he make a TV programme about the renaissance in the text adventure gaming world. He Emailed back saying he was pushing the TV Networks for a New Series about the '80's Computer Gaming industry, but they weren't buying the idea. A shame considering the amount of rubbish on TV these days. Gaming included Bat and Ball, Spaceinvaders, PacMan, Donkey Kong (hand held), hungry Horris at the 1K ZX81 (with additional 16K RAM Pack), Karate on the Commodore 64, Commando on the BBC Micro, Atari... 'Triumph' was like a breath of fresh air to me.

It detailed the growth of the personal computer industry, driven by two main players Apple and Microsoft:

My friend of 3 years Michaelís favourite saying is 'the Tedís used to go up the school and wack the teachers up', his next favourite saying is 'I don't drink, smoke, or gamble'. He used to though and a lot of other bad stuff. But he saw the light and now goes to church ever week generally by himself. He didn't do much schooling and worked down the fair and on the cash-to-tokens counter on the diddle of course! Of course the fact that they medicated him might also have something to do with it.

You have no idea how many daemons in you head there are that control your ever action and reaction. I had an old friend, John English, a low level programming lecturer at Brighton Polytechnic, now University (they also have the University of Sussex in the same town, it's always been a University). He's written one book on programming, 1997, and understand he has a child now. I used to call him 'Sir', until Troy another class friend of mine, exceptionally lazy laughed at me, then I called him 'John'. Incidentally Troy's girl friend became pregnant, but she wouldn't let him see the child. He worked as a post man in rural Wales.

Anyway John said all electronics was 'daemons with pitch forks!'. I wrote an IF / Adventure game that has a routine to deal with hunger. There is a clock in the game that advances with every action or when you say WAIT, the routine calculates the difference in time between when you last ate and the current time, coming out with comments saying you are hungery, hungeryer, staving, ravenous, and dead. If you don't eat. Other games deal with you being sleepy.

Another Lecturer who shared John's office told us a story about a photo-copy repair man who went to a company and repaired their photo-copier, being very smart technically. Anyway the company rang 3 days later and said no one had been to repair their photo-copier. It turned out the guy had turned up and been to shy to tell anyone he was there and snuck into to do his job. The lecturer wanted to make a film of the incident, pointing out the uselessness of being highly skilled technically if you had no social skills.

Quite a number of Lecturer's are said to be Higher Functioning Asperger Syndrome Autistic. I know over a dozen having been to a social group thinking I was one, I'm not, but do have many things in common with them. Most hold down low skill jobs, one works in the back room of the Jobcentre processing forms. It is a spectrum, so some people are a lot more deeply affected than others. It's a subtle condition so people can't tell there's anything wrong with them. They often go undiagnosed and suffer greatly in normal school, through bullying and autism. It often goes undiagnosed. One of the members of our group was a Mathematics Lecturer. H.F.A. use different areas of the brain for emotion and communication so have difficulty forming and maintaining relationships. They say a lot of University Lecturer's are, particularly in Technical / Mathematical subjects.

There are many other daemons in your head like adrenaline which every knows makes you angry, increasing blood flow and oxygen levels for the 'fight / flight response'. Other chemicals like Omega-3's which you can find in oily fish control the production of Seretonin which determines how fast neuron synapses fire thus affecting intelligence and more obscure things like confidence and articulacy. My Mother ate nothing but fish before I was born, in Shetland. There are other chemical's that regulate criminal tendency, attention span... Chromosomes also set tendencies.