Sat. Dec 7th, 2019

TRY KEITH

JACK OF ALL TRADES

THE PATH I TOOK – BECOMING A JACK OF ALL TRADES

11 min read
Read Time12 Minutes, 56 Seconds
I’ve decided to write some short paragraphs which will summarise the steps I took in my life which led me to get involved with certain markets and industries which I work in today. Typically, I could write a book on all of this, but to keep it relative, I’ve written some small blocks of text as brief summaries. So enjoy the read, as it will give you insight into my background.


Growing Up

I grew up on the south side of Dublin City with a family who were all big into radio broadcasting scene, better known as DJ’s. One of my uncles passions lay in the fields of radio broadcasting, and this is where it all started for me. I think it was in the early 90’s, with the launch of Energy FM; a station I could only dream of being a DJ on at some point in my life. But I was too young to take part, or so I was told by the relatives of my family, but I personally feel they just didn’t see my worth or skill at that time.

Getting Into Radio

But I didn’t care, since I always had a vision of acquiring what I wanted, and since I had a friend (Darrin Ward); who was only a few years older than me. Darrin had set up his own radio station and he asked me If I wanted to be a DJ. Leaping at the opportunity, I took the offer, as it was a good place to start and expand my career. Darrin at the time was a student studying Electrical Engineering at his secondary elementary college and I learned a lot from him.

Getting Started With Electronics

One day I walked in to Darrin’s studio and found him tuning up the inside circuitry of a LA GEAR Compressor, and a Veronica Stereo encoder. Instantly hooked and intrigued, I wanted to know how he understood the electrical components of circuit boards, schematics and how he knew where to place capacitors, resistors on the board to enhance the sound better than the company who made the hardware. At this point, Darrin introduced me to a book called; Electronics Made Simple. This is where I got my starting point to begin learning more about electronics and working as a freelance non-certified electrical engineer.

The Library, And Fine-Tuning A Legal Radio Stations Equipment

I spent a lot of my time from the age of twelve sitting in the library, reading book after book on Electronics and gradually learned over the years how components such as microchips are programmed by code, and I began to study how they work. It wasn’t long after – some three years later, I ended up going out to [REDACTED] FM; a legal radio station which Darrin was an engineer on. And I had the liberty of helping him fine-tune their studio transmission equipment. An amazing achievement for two young lads, to have such a roll at such a young age. It was truly fantastic! An experience I don’t think I would ever have been trusted to undertake on my family run radio station.

Building My Home Studio And Getting Into Voiceovers

Over the years, I horded some old tape decks, CD players and amplifiers and built myself a little studio in my spare room back home. Eventually being old enough to get a job, I started working in retail and industrial security, and the money I earned; I spent buying brand new studio equipment. I bought all the latest gear, and I recall observing one of my uncles on the PC one day. He was browsing a forum where people would exchange voiceovers for reputation points. (Purely artificial credits and not for real money.) But it was still fun, and a good way to intrigue new potential customers.

Users of the website would post a topic with a script of what they wanted the voiceoverist to say, and later; participating voiceoverists would upload the requesters script back to them in audio format in exchange for a increased reputation point which would gradually increase your rank on the website. Intrigued by the website and the potential to break into another field in the radio industry, I started out doing voiceovers and branched out on my own, and started offering my voice as a service to sell.

Catching Up With Darrin And Learning Web Designing

I called round to Darrins home to fill him in on the voiceover forum I got involved in, but Darrin wasn’t very interested as he was planning a huge project called [REDACTED] kits. It was a website for selling radio transmission equipment; only small kits… Darrin was designing the website himself when I got there, and at this time, I didn’t know that he even knew how to construct a website. As he plotted on, I watched attentively to see what I could pick up and learn from him, and perhaps launch my own website for the voiceovers I wanted to sell through the voiceover forum I just found out about. After picking up some bits from watching Darrin, I decided to hit the library again for books on website development…

This was quite a steep learning curve, and If I must say; I had poor Darrin tormented with questions on why certain elements of my web-pages weren’t working as expected. It took me about two or three years before I learned the different languages and started to make my own waves by creating my own projects and websites for a variety of different services I had studied and was beginning to offer to others. At this stage, I was really trying to put myself out there and get some recognition for all of my efforts and study-time I had put in.

How I Got Into Web Hosting

Well its inevitable that you can not have a website without a web-host provider. The first time I bought a shared hosting plan from [REDACTED], It was an incredibly limited hosting package and for some of the websites I was building; I required certain php modules to be enabled which at the time didn’t come with a standard basic hosting plan.

Upon running this by Darrin to see If there was any other way around my hosting restrictions. He advised me to get a VPS (Virtual Private Server) for more control over my hosting environment. This would also only serve me so long.

When I launched my websites project(s), and there was quite a few of them; I had realised that a VPS was not sufficient in resources to run all of my websites together. Keep in mind, at this point, I had a website for Voiceovers, Website Development, a bio website about myself, a website on Electronics, just to name a few.

And I was building a website to offer website hosting as a service, because I wanted to become a web-hosting reseller, which is kinda like sub-letting hosting packages. Anyway, sticking with the VPS idea didn’t last long as I eventually ended up owning 19 domain names, and today I am the proud owner of 45 domain names. 41 of which are currently active projects. But back then, 19 websites was a strain to run on a VPS and so, I branched out a little further once again and I ordered myself my first dedicated server…

Getting Into Website Hosting And Dedicated Servers

A dedicated server is something you are solely responsible for, in terms of maintenance and resources; CPU, RAM, Disc Space, Bandwidth etc. But if you buy a decent machine, that server will likely provide for you and it will be more than sufficient to run a large number of projects on that server without any issues or strain.

However, the downside for me was that the server I bought was entirely un-managed. So I was solely responsible as the engineer for the security of both the server and the network infrastructure, as well as run-time operations, and maintenance.

If anything went wrong with either, I would need to know how to fix it and when this became apparent, I just knew I needed to learn tons more about datacenter infrastructure and how my network could be secured against hackers as well as protecting my server and the software that ran on it, and do all of this by myself independently.

This is where I learned website hosting the hard way. As these were the days when DDos protection was nonexistent and cloud technology wasn’t even spoken of yet. And denial of service attacks were a common problem! Mod-security was one of your only few ways to try and protect a server from outside malicious bruit-force attacks. I could only acquire knowledge like this from firsthand experiences while I was faced with these perennial attacks on a frequent basis. The one time I learned library books don’t teach you everything!

It took me about two years to fully grasp the ins and outs of how networking actually worked, and another two years to understand how server configurations were set-up. At this point I had put my website hosting project on hold until I learned enough to provide a service I knew enough about to support any possible customers I would procure. I am now writing this in 2019 and I have been successfully hosting customers with both personal, business, and corporate websites since early 2005.

Learning Curve, Game Development And Application Programming

I spent an approximate six year stint learning all website design languages such as html. css, php, cold fusion and I also wrote in Java. These languages have thought me the basics needed to break into the world of game development and application programming. And without boring you to tears; when you are working with websites, you need to learn what is known as action-script languages such as JavaScript and Lua. These languages are also a major part in modern game making today.

Most game engines are built with C# or C++, C# has a very close resemblance to Java which I used to program web based projects. While almost all games require an advanced knowledge of action-script. Knowingly; I knew how to write action-scripts from my web development days and this has made it easy for me to transition into the game development arena as a registered freelance programmer and independent game developer.

I studied the C language. And from that language, I began writing code to Microchips and micro controllers using a pic3 device. It started as a hobby and developed through genuine curiosity. Curiosity which was spored on from my days meddling with wires and electronics as explained previously in this blog. Each week I programme dozens of these for a Chinese firm before shipping them to a distribution center.

I always had a interest in object orientation languages. I thought myself how to read, write and understand low-level programming in C++ and for the sake of learning another Microsoft language, I only took up an interest in VB.Net as a hobby language. This was the last language I have learned from the Microsoft Corporation.

Object orientation programming is where I shine, and because of my devotion to Microsoft, I’ve spent the later part of my years studying their alternative to Winforms. WPF, (Windows Presentation Foundation) was an upgrade form the dreaded, old and dated Winforms. Most of my projects are built using C# on this very infrastructure.

WPF is part of Microsofts .Net frameworks. The resemblance to learning C# was easy for me as it is identical to Java which is another programming language I became quite scholarly with and I also used in various projects in my earlier days of my web development career.

How I Got Into Photography And Videography, And How It Ties In

Clearly seeing a pattern developing in my career, I kept pushing myself from one project to the next and each project thought me something new for the next project. In 2010, I began working on a personal gaming project in Unity3D for an open-world construction building game, but I soon realised that all of the available gaming engines lacked sufficient high quality poly-textures worth rendering in-game and so I started travelling through cities to photograph buildings from a far, including landscapes and then when I’d return home, I would render those images into a 3D format, and add them as distant backdrops for the game levels background in my game engine.

My journey in photography didn’t start with game development or software programming. It actually started many many years before that, when I received a gift from my beautiful granny who gave me a very expensive camera one Christmas. A Pentax ME-F – the worlds first autofocus camera. I started out taking pictures of places I would travel through, as I have always loved travelling ever since i was a wee kid. Read the prelude of Videography And Expanding My Interest In My Preferred Hobby; Photography for an insight to where i am today.

Videography And Expanding My Interest In My Preferred Hobby; Photography

Travelling to take pictures for video game development is how I crafted a new hobby doing Youtube. My channel started off with me uploading the pictures I had taken with a background song to fit the type of images I was showing. My audience on Youtube started commenting on my videos; saying that I should record videos of myself, while out and about doing what I do and capturing the behind-the-scenes of a photographer. This was something I done for a few months, and I racked up around 4000 subscribers, but more so, this is how I actually got into video editing and I actually enjoy videography, even though I have since bowed-out from doing Youtube videos a long time ago. Mostly due to time restrictions and not being paid enough for the work that goes into making each video…

Current Projects And Plans. Are There Any?

Absolutely; I am still working on my open-world game project (The open world construction simulator) which I started back in 2010. I am also working on a responsive AI application which will be integrated with Raspberry Pi boards, and eventually distributed as kits for people with disabilities whom will be able to benefit from it in a variety of different ways once I complete the project.

I also have a game library manager with built-in live chat, streaming technology and other facilities including a social network for gaming fanatics only. This is a project in the making for a very long time. It’s a monster project for one person to undertake alone. And so; there is no known or approximate release date yet.

I also acquired all the needed hardware to get into film making on a professional level. I have The problem with this, is Ireland isn’t exactly Hollywood, and finding directors who are in-need of my tools and skills is one I am in deeper search for in the hope of further developing myself another career path alongside of everything else that I currently do to-date.

Thank You For Reading

If you made it this far, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read up on how I managed to work in a variety of the different industry fields that I offer to my customers today. If you have any questions, you can always contact me. You can also find more posts on my blog for further reading.

Keith

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Keith

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