Can you tell us a bit about you?
My name is Chris Taylor and I am from South Africa. My family and I moved to Cyprus, an island in the Mediterranean ocean, about 12 years ago now. We have two daughters, 14 and 11 years old.
I started messing about with computers at a very young age, starting with the ZX-Spectrum in '83 and I had only one goal and that was to write games. Strangely, to this day, I do not play games at all but it is the challenge of the various techniques that attracts me. I would spend hours pulling code apart trying to work out exactly what part of the code rendered the result that I was trying to achieve. When I wanted to learn how to get the characters on the screen to react to the keyboard input ie. move left, right, up and down, I would enter a program from a magazine that exhibited these characteristics and then start pulling the code out until all I was left with was the piece of code that had a character on the screen responding to the keyboard, then I would study that code until I understood how it work. This is an approach that I take even to this day, making the open source nature of .NET Micro Framework a huge draw card for me.
From the ZX-Spectrum I eventually graduated to a full PC and started my journey into languages like Pascal and C. Prior to this I had mainly used BASIC and Z80 assembler.
What are your hobbies?
Like a real nerd, my primary hobby is computers. My interests span everything from compiler theory to large scale distributed systems, but mostly I like sitting and trying to figure things out, find new and better ways to write language parsers and just generally consume as much information on as many topics as possible.
I have a very keen interest in retro-computing and play around with Z80 emulators and such. In fact I have a fully functional Z80 emulator that I have written using RLP for the FEZ Spider but I have not yet gotten it fast enough to emulate a ZX-Spectrum, it does load and execute the ROM I just need to sort out the display routines. This project was actually my original goal when I bought my first Spider and I hope to get around to completing it, but honestly right now I am having more fun than should legally be allowed learning about the ARM processors and messing with the firmware.
Other than that, I go to the gym regularly. In the summer I enjoy the beach and the pool especially given the long hot summers we have here in Cyprus.
What is your profession?
I am currently a Director of Technology in the international division of a large US credit card processor. We provide credit card processing services for clients throughout the world. In my role, I spend a lot of time thinking about security and scalability of the software and what the next evolution of the product is. Our software is hosted for client in our own data centers of which we have a number in the US, Europe and South America, in addition to this we license the software for those banks that favor hosting the software in house.
How did you get started with hardware?
I would not consider myself a hardware guy, but I enjoy the challenges of working at the very low level on the software side and in so much as that bleeds into the hardware aspect of things. This why you will find most my activity focused around the framework implementation, GHI’s great RLP offering and the DL40. What got me started with the GHI products was that I was looking for something that could provide those challenges while providing a very low barrier to entry. The FEZ products excel in that area, getting started was a breeze and as my knowledge and confidence has grown I have been able delve deeper into the innards of the systems.
What was your first GHI product?
FEZ Spider, it is a great device and I am looking forward to what comes next.
Have you designed hardware yourself?
No, I have a few ideas, nothing to the scale of what some of the current members are doing, but who knows. The biggest challenge with living on an island is accessibility to services and that there are very few like minded folk. I will need to partner on the technical side with someone that can give me good advice and not laugh too much at how hardware “challenged” I am.
Any words, advice or comments for the community?
That is a tough one. This community is really made up of a great bunch of people from whom I have learned an incredible amount over a relatively short period of time. Advice no, but I would like to congratulate GHI and its’ community members on what they have achieved here and I hope to be a part of this community for a long time to come. If anything, I would say “Keep up the good work and make sure you are always having fun”.
Where can we find you on the web?
I am fairly active on stackoverflow, but I must admit I have been using my free time more on GHI products these days
I also have a blog, but that is a sad state of affairs. I am not really one of those people that can just write for the sake of writing so it is a challenge and of course I am just plain lazy. Here are a few of the more popular posts that I have, mostly they are from the early 2000’s, posts that I have migrated from the now defunct dotnetjunkies blog where I was a member at the time.
Profile page: http://www.tinyclr.com/user/7512