Name: Rafiq Ismail Gemmail
D.O.B.: Friday, 13th June 1975
Occupation: Software Engineer - see cv
Real Occupation:Professional Geek & Dad
Hello. I'm Rafiq, Fiq or Raf.
Nine years ago, I stated:
I yearn to Know and understand the ultimate Truths. We live in a
world which guides us. A natural universe which provokes the intellect
and tries to make us See. There are two ways of looking at life,
either we're all insignificant nothings, or we're not?
Two years ago, I said:
Hmmm. Did I write that? I think I've mutated into a capitalist nerdicus.
2008: I'm a geek, husband and father. Joshua is just three months old and
totally rocks. He's helped me reassess the things which matter most in life:
Family (Joshua and Mummy), our pets, my macbookpro and Perl.
That which remains static:
It's not that I love my self.
I don't really.
I just want to be more, to know more, to feel more, to see more;
and that being my motive, is in a way, I guess, who I am.
Since you've found your way to my little enclave of the web, I would suppose
that you may wish to learn a little bit about me? This is probably the tenth upgrade to the content of this page. It's evolved, piece-wise, and been subject to countless mutations. Some stuff may seem out of context - if this is the case - oops.
I'm a person of a great many interests and enthusiasms. A generation
xi child who has been gone from Idealist to 'idealist corrupted by the realworld.'
It seems a lifetime time since I graduated from the University of Birmingham in Computer
Science and Artificial Intelligence with Study in Continental Europe.
I suddenly became a real man, in the real world; with earning potential.
It's tough but I think that have managed to hold onto my principles in the transition from idealist nerd to Adult. I'm still a major open source advocate and feel obliged to speak my mind when a solution does not make sense. As for real political issues, I'll let those who really care waste their time trying to change the world. I'm happy to code and enjoy the hilly green bumps of the English country side.
Once a nerd, forever a nerd.
I'm the child of three generations of pioneers; a family which over the
past century has moved from India to Uganda, and then finally to the United
Kingdom, where I was born. My family had built sound livelihoods upon three
continents and adopted what is now a cultural cocktail of Indian, Islamic,
east African and European traditions. My also having spent time living in
the Netherlands, US and Italy, have enriched the potency of this cocktail even further.
It is from the bias of this cultural anarchy, combined with my own emphasis
on spiritualism, socialism, science and the stance of the individual, that
I have concocted these pages. Perhaps, more for myself than anyone else?
I love to be surrounded by nature and currently live out in the English countryside in a beautiful valley, in a lovely cottage, with no immediate neighbours, with my fiance, two cats and icelandic horse. Prior to this we lived by the Dutch coast in lovely little place called Wassenaar - a beautiful place which I often miss. I've also spent time at the University of Pisa, as a student, and have been a great fan of Italy ever since. Our longterm goal is to end up in the land of maple leaves. :)
I spent my Universirty years in Birmingham, which is also a centre of excellence in Artificial Intelligence and,
whilst there, I was fortunate enough to have been able to study under the
direction of Aaron Sloman,
an idol of my youth. My fascination with AI has lasted through my time in
Birmingham, and although I am more likely to work in a software engineering
capacity, I cling to the idea of perhaps returning to AI in the future. I still matain an interst in various forms of automated learning and am always quick to embrace AI techniques in commercial projects when possible. Although I work in Finance, you'd be surprised how much resistance there is to such suggestions.
I grew up as an Acorn nerd, mutated into a Linux Child and am now more of a Mac-of-phile, forever with a UNIX core in the centre. I have an iBook(OS-X and Linux), G4 PowerMac, 2 Linux running PC's and 4 Sun Sparc Stations ( Solaris 8, 9 and Open BSD ) at home. I also have a Free-BSD box hosted in rack in London, serving out the content, which you are currently reading.
I've been programming since I was a wee-child. I started out with a Sord M5, which came with a BASIC-I ROM and absolutely nothing else. I was discontinued soon after release and I had few other options than to start coding. I moved to Acorn boxes and have kept going since. Although I'd been using BBS's since I was in my early teens, as a first year at university the initial shock of having free access drove me to being a little compulsive when it came to both UNIX and the Internet. Little has changed since. My prefered langauges are C, Perl, C++, Java and probably Python. I still however code in POP-11 and Prolog from time to time. I tend to have an open mind when it comes to the langauges I use and am interested in learning. I've even been messing with C#/Mono lately, inspite of my disgust with Billy-The-Gatie.
I am a man of many hobbies and interests. These hobbies include caring for our horse, reading, writing,
travelling, cycling, playing the guitar, studying natural languages, photography,
videography, watching sci-fi's (namely Firefly/Serentiy, Buffy, Angel, Farscape, Battle Star Galactica, The X-Files, Enterprise and much more)
cosmic gazing, reading anything
and everything, walking more than is good for my shoes, enjoying nature
and the world around me, studying foreign langauges, horse riding, ice skating (badly), coding, coding, coding and merely existing. I like
little (and large) animals am particularly fond of dolphins
and whales - one of my dreams is to swim with the dolphins and study
their language (although I don't know if I'll ever get to, "it is good
to dream."). I'm very fond of Icelandic Horses. I am also very much into conservation of the planet, wild
life, humane society and everything else that has been bitten and
chewed by the jaws of greed.
As I've already mentioned, I love to travel and this is one of my real
passions. People say that it's only escapism to run away from your problems.
That is exactly what it is and I love it. The idea is to get away and experience
something new; an alternative to the usual routine which has integrated
itself into the environment within which you live. The world is a big and
beautiful place. I want to be able to see all of it. I want to experience
all of it. Seeing other parts of this world which we all share, really does
make you look upon your own environment with new eyes.
Whilst travelling, I have fallen in love, I have cried at the sight of
beautiful mountains, I have starved, I have struggled, I have climbed to
the top of some of these mountains, I have put my life in the hands of others
and not felt even a small bit of doubt, all of this and much more. These
are things that don't go hand in hand with the routine of academic life
or the media propagated, 1984 cog-in-the-machine, consumer culture which
prevails in the developed world. These are things to be valued and appreciated.
That's enough of my hard sell.
My musical tastes are very diverse, although I did once tend to listen mostly to
alternative, guitar basded music, we usually listen to a lot of classical these days.
We have a beautiful piano in the house which we both bang tunes out on. Being a guitarist, I have a very guitary style of playing, but love the release. I used to play in an impro-viso band with some of my ING collegues in the Netherlands - I still like the sound of lound, unadulterated distortion.
That which I listen to when Coding will range from mustic of Nine Inch
Nails to The Velvet Underground to The John Spencer Blues Explosion.. I
also enjoy listening to a variety of other music styles that span the divide
from folk, to ethnic(Indian, Spanish, South American), to classical orchestral,
to whatever suits my fancy at the time. I'm an avid listener of music by
Andrea Boccelli, Bad Religion, Lou Reed (VU), Bob Dylan, Enya, The Bare
Naked Ladies, Portishead and The Smashing Pumpkins. There are many others.
I also play the guitar and use my computer to make a very peculiar form
of Asiaitaliy influenced music, which I've christened "Mind Music".
That's private. :) It's all really mood dependent. I seem to find
myself listening to a lot of eclectic stuff these days. As ever, it depends..
Culturally I was brought up an Ismaili. Practically, this means little to me these days.
The range of people who this reaches never ceases to amaze me, so if you
find yourself willing to share options or thoughts, then please feel free
to mail me.