ALFIE is a nickname that I was given when I started working at BT Wholesale in 1994 (whom I now no longer work for). Long and boring story, but basically it is the short form of my middle name, Alfred.
When I first started using Alfie it was a rare name, but I see many more ‘Alfies’ on the web nowadays, probably a result of the re-imagined Alfie movie and Shane Richie’s appearance on Eastenders as Alfie Moon.
My real name? Mark. As so many people I know are used to calling me Alfie I use it all the time now, as well as using it for all of my on-line alter-ego needs…typically, AlfieUK.
I chose Delphia as my domain name based upon the name of the artifical intelligence communications network in a Rain City short story by my friend, Ridley.
I’m a voracious reader. I have about 1,400 books in storage, 4/5ths of which are science fiction or fantasy of one form or another. The rest are text books; maths, physics, or programming (with the odd psychology book).
I like most types of sci-fi, but particularly those authors like Iain Banks, who with his Culture series created a whole new believeable, far future, universe.
Another author I am following with interest is Neal Asher, his Cormac series has a whole host of interesting stories wrapped up in a complex sci-fi background.
And another great author is Charles Stross. ‘The Laundry’ series is cross genre horror-spy thriller, ‘The Merchant Princes’ series is reminiscent of Roger Zelazny’s ‘Amber’ series with world-walking and parallel timelines/pseudo-medieval worlds, and he also writes space opera and near-future sci-fi.
Whilst I’d been exposed to early computers owned by friends/family, they were expensive, so it wasn’t until my parents bought me a Commodore 64 on my 12th Christmas, that my love of computers flourished.
My first employer had been exporting Amstrad CPCs, ZX Spectrums, and Commodore 64s, through Europe, and had just moved into the Atari ST/Commodore Amiga market. I had the opportunity to pick up a cheap Atari ST, a 520 STFM, and about a year later I swapped it for a 1040 STFM. They also exported games, so I had a ready supply of new game titles to choose from.
At work we used a couple of Amstrad 1512 PCs, my first exposure to PCs and DOS (1987). Around 1990, my employers wanted to diversify into the rapidly expanding PC market, so they started buying 386 components from the Far East and I learnt to build PCs. It was fun as new kit came out, 486s, DX2s, Pentiums, etc, and I got to play with them all. I think it was around 1994 that I built my first Pentium with a dedicated 3D graphics card!
I have preferred to custom build and upgrade my own PCs ever since, and often get called upon to fix ailing PCs of friends and family. I’ve opted off of the ‘upgrade treadmill’ though, it’s just becoming too expensive to upgrade PCs to keep up with the latest uberTech.
I’ve been messing about with programming since my parents bought me a Commodore 64 for Xmas when I was 12. Whilst most of my friends were playing games, I was trying to work out how to write them. I mostly write in Visual Basic 6 nowadays, with a little bit of C++.
I’ve been working on a game, Rain City, since…well, forever, but the current iteration is being written in Visual Basic using DirectX8. I have borrowed a lot of principles from C++ programming to make it lean and lightweight (although some might say complex and hacky).
With Visual Basic having changed so much over the years, VB.NET bearing little similarity to Visual Basic Classic (v6 and below), and the deprecation by Microsoft of Classic (not supporting COM interfaces for DirectX above DirectX8 for instance), I have been tinkering more and more with C++. Visual Basic is very handy for RAD (Rapid Application Development) and profiling/testing, but I fear how long it will be before Microsoft kills it for good.
I am an avid movie watcher, with over 1,200 DVDs and videos in my collection, I should start my own lending library 🙂 As with my reading, there is a lot of sci-fi in my collection, a healthy dose of action movies, oriental, and 2 categories that seem to surprise people; manga (an iconic Japanese animation style), and quite a few US romantic comedies. I also seem to go through spates of picking movies with a particular lead actor, such as Johnny Depp, Christian Slater, and John Cusack.
I’m a big fan of the director, Ridley Scott, and in particular his movie, Blade Runner which was a major influence on me in my youth and cemented my love of near future sci-fi (also categorised as Cyberpunk).
As I mentioned above, my parents bought me a Commodore 64 when I was 12, and once I had prised my dad off of the cartridge game that came with it, Lazarian, I became hooked on games like Elite. A lot of the early games that I played back then had elements of either flying or role playing, or in Elite’s case, both.
I didn’t really get into Doom/Heretic as many of my friends did, but later games in the First Person Shooter genre have always had a fascination for me because they allow you to really get into the character of the game (when the game allows).
I like to con myself that I currently play some games as ‘research’ for my own game, but I have to admit it’s really because gaming is a big release for me. If something has been frustrating me during the day then a quick blast on the Xbox 360 can let that emotion out safely. Some governments would have us believe that ‘violent video games breed violent kids’, whereas without such games to let out my anger I’d probably be a much angrier person 🙂
Role Playing Games
My mum bought a boxed set of Dungeons & Dragons for me when I was 9, thinking it was a board game. Little did she know that such games would hook me for life.
When I’m asked to describe what role play games are I usually describe them as ‘a bit like acting, with one person playing the director and all of the bit parts, and the other people playing actors, without scripts, deciding what their characters will do in any given situation.’
Role play games appeal to me because you have the chance to be someone/something else, and experience worlds normally seen only in books or movies.
I used to be a part of The Games Club where a core group of us classified ourselves as ‘gamers’ rather than ‘players’. Our reasoning was that we would play pretty much anything for fun, trying new games out, whereas the more traditional players stick to one genre and get far too attached to their characters (going so far as to talk non-stop about what ‘they’ did in a particular difficult situation, or even crying over the death of a character).
I had an on/off relationship with my mountain bike, a 15 year old Diamond Back Camarillo. It served me well, but due to a sizing error when my girlfriend ordered a new bike for herself I ended up with nice, new hybrid bike; a Bianchi Spillo Rubino. It is a pretty good road bike and I look forward to the weather easing off so my girlfriend and I can go riding again.
I love pizza, especially pepperoni.
I loath brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and cous cous. I have no idea why, probably a formative experience in my childhood with badly cooked meals.