About Me

Hello and thanks for visiting my site! My name is Matt and I am a recent graduate of the University of Central Lancashire. I am passionate about all things technology-related and love to get stuck in to various projects. For more information on my work experience and past projects please click the links at the top of the page (or in the menu if viewing on mobile devices).

Background

From a young age I was deeply interested in computers. My father taught me my first Visual Basic commands when I was ten years old (MsgBox was the first one I ever used) and my interest grew from there. I developed strong Windows client troubleshooting skills into my teens and have always been the first person in my family to be asked if tech support was needed. In high school, during my electronics GCSE, I gained experience creating Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) as well as my first real programming experience writing code in BASIC for the PICAXE chips we used in our projects. In these classes I developed a Guitar-Hero based style game that used LEDs and buttons to try and achieve a high score. During these classes I established myself as an excellent asset to the class, helping my classmates debug and improve their code.

Modified BT Voyager 2091 access point

During these years I witnessed the birth of the two most popular mobile operating systems which would change the world as we know it; Android and iOS. I became particularly interested in Android and, after becoming impatient with waiting for the latest Android updates to be released for my device, I began researching custom Android ROMs. I gained a good understanding of how to use custom recovery software and the Android Debug Bridge to install new software versions on various devices. Eventually my focus shifted towards computer networking. It began when the old BT Voyager 2091 router I had going spare was needed by someone else. The router was locked to BT so it could not be used on any other ISP. After much research (and a little trial and error) I was able to install custom firmware on the device that allowed it to operate on other networks. The router operated flawlessly for 6 years as the primary wireless router before being replaced for a more up-to-date model. Since then I have learnt how to install and utilise custom router firmware (specifically OpenWRT) on several different wireless routers to unlock their full potential and saving older hardware from going to landfill.

Networking equipment I purchased to gain additional experience

Having kick-started my interest in networking, I also began to research into servers. Initially I ran a file server and print server. This allowed files to be accessed over FTP and allowed the printer to be used over the network via the server. I advanced this further, and by the time I was in my first year of university I was running an OwnCloud (private cloud storage) installation and a media server that could stream video content over the internet. I purchased the hardware required for this out of my own pocket, picking up a used HP Proliant DL360 G5. To get real-world experience in networking I also purchased a Cisco Catalyst 2950 managed switch and a Cisco 2800 router. I practiced configuring both to get a head start in my studies and brought configuration files from university home to try out .

 

The university lab’s routers and switches during a group configuration exercise

During my university studies I gained experience in network management, network security and penetration testing, network forensics, advanced routing and switching, web development, programming, agile development techniques, virtualisation and much more. I regularly worked with¬† colleagues to configure networks based on Cisco equipment as well as using Linux-based network operating systems. The facilities in the labs allowed me to gain hands on experience in setting up and troubleshooting networks. I also gained experience managing Windows and Linux networks in a virtualised environment with use of software such as VMWare, Windows Server 2012, VyOS, Ubuntu, Mint, Red Hat and openSUSE to name a few. My dissertation project was about the viability of using virtualised servers in a classroom environment, I learnt much about virtualisation from this project, more details can be found on the project page of the site. During my final year I also took up a part time job with Geek Squad providing remote technical support for the company’s clients. This coupled with my experience from my university course has allowed me to further develop my excellent troubleshooting skills. More information about this can be found on my work experience page.

 

Passions

When I’m not tinkering with technology I like to take time to engage in my hobbies. I am a big music fan and love to dabble playing bass guitar, go to gigs, expand my music collection and make playlists (link here!). I also love anything two-wheeled; a love of mountain biking has slowly evolved into a love for motorcycling and you will often catch me on my SV650 on sunny days!

My music collection (and networking setup!)
Mountain biking at Dalby forest
Riding England’s steepest road by motorcycle