About me

Everyone seems to have an "about me" page. I suppose its convient if we ever become famous, people can look across the web and find useless information on people who they would like to emulate. I suppose I have dreams of being famous one day, so here is my little about me page.

Essential Facts:

  • Name: Ryan McConigley
  • Aliases: Wolphin, Hey You!
  • Species: Human... possibly
  • Weight: Could lose some
  • Eyes: Yes, two of.
  • Distinguing features: Dashingly handsom
  • Email: webwolph-at-madphin.com

The not so essential facts

I'm never sure what to put in something like this, so how about a little background. I live in Perth, Western Australia. I've been here for the past 33 years (currently 2007) and am looking for a way out. I like it here, but I think everyone should travel and I'm no exception. I love travelling. I did my first round the world trip in 2001. Its always a good talking point that I was in Egypt on September 11th; three weeks later I was in New York; I arrived back in Sydney to discover the airline I was booked on was insolvent and not flying.

The experience was so good, I did another round the world trip in 2002. Then there was a lull. In 2005 there was a quick trip to Sydney and a few days in Singapore. 2006 had a trip to Canberra and a more major trip to mainland Europe - Switzerland for two weeks; then England, France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.

I've done two trips since then. There will hopefully be details up soon.

This is going back a bit. I finished high school in 1991, then headed for University.

I went to Curtin University. Started in 1992, took five years to complete an Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree, majored in Computer Systems.

I had a summer off, decided I was a bit of a masochist and went back to Curtin and did a Bachelor of Computer Science with honours (Upper Second Class if anyone is curious).

Time for a bit of a rant here. The year I finished at Curtin, they stated a Mechatronics course (A mixture of mechanical and electrical engineering. I'm annoyed I missed out, that would have been fun). One thing I have been asked a couple of times is what is the difference between Computer Science and Computer Systems in Engineering? Looking at the course content, Computer Science is a lot of programming the computer, making the computer work for you. Computer Systems is much closer to making a computer that does what you want it to. You get a much better understanding of what happens inside the box with Computer Systems than you do with Computer Science, but in Computer Science, your programming skills are much better than Engineering. Interestingly, you don't really start to learn how things actually work until you get out there and start working and fooling around with the systems. Those people who finish a degree and think they know it all are in for a really nasty shock.

One of the interesting things that I did notice about Computer Science is they have a radically differnet approach to things than Engineering. In engineering you are taught to carefully keep notes, try different things and experiment. The Computer Science approach seems to be more along the lines of find something that works. I was the only student in my honours year to keep a regular notebook - this is highly recommended - it makes the final write up so much easier. The other thing I did as an engineer was I said not only what did work, but also what did not work and why it didn't. I was the only student to mention what didn't work. As one of the lecturers said afterwards, "Everyone else managed to have a hypothesis which correctly the first time they tried it, amazing."

When I finished I spent a day going "ahhhhh" then Computer Science asked me if I wanted to enter their doctorate program. I will admit, the idea of having a PhD is very appealing to me. I put in a grant application and didn't get it (A pity, would have been a great project). Then they asked me if I wanted to start anyway and I should get a grant next year. I wasn't took keen spending another three years as a penny-less student, so I declined. Murdoch University then asked me if I wanted to do a PhD with them, but it was all theoretical, so I declined on that and ended up entering the work force.

Things I have learnt about Uni:

  • Choose something you really really enjoy and are interested in. Don't do something just because everyone else is. You want to do something where you look forward to working on it.
  • Choose your supervisor very carefully. My supervisor in Engineering was a great guy, approachable, easy to get along with, but a terrible supervisor. He was way to agreeable - everything I did was great or wonderful, but when it got marked (by an external examiner) it was average. One of my supervisors in Computer Science was mixed. On one hand they were good because they constantly challenged me, but on the other they were bad because they were easily swayed by what other people were doing and wanted me to emulate that. A good supervisor is there for guidance and support, but should not try to control the student.
  • Don't be afraid to complain. I didn't when I was there and I think I sufferred for it. If I was going back now, I fear the staff would probably dread me. However, when you're an undergrad you think that a lecturer has some amazing mystic about it and they are untouchable - they're not, but they may need to be told that.
Currently I'm working at the University of Western Australia in the Computer Science Department(CSSE). I try to look after the backend servers on the Linux side. This means the web servers, mail server, disk servers, authentication servers, project servers. There are a lot of servers. Last count I think we were up to 42 (ahhh, the magic number). I'd love to get rid of some of them, if the uni was willing to spend some money on IT infrastructure, I could halve them over night.

I also get to do user support for the users, which means I support Linux, Windows and OSX at a user level. I also assist with the adminstration of the Windows Servers. You're also looking at the network guy (Cisco switches with Linux firewall/routers). When I'm not doing that, we've been farmed out to other schools and centres at the University, so I also regularly support three other groups and a few incidental ones.

I use to be the primary administrator for the West Australian Supercomputing Project (WASP) where I would look after the Cray XT3 and XD1 systems, but now I'm the relief system admin. Doing some rough counting in my head me and my team look after roughly a dozen windows servers; four dozen Linux servers; 250-300 desktop machines and about 800 users. My team consists of four people, soon to be three people. Go us.

It is not until I do the numbers and think about what we do, (Did I mention our budget is virtually $0, we are a university, so getting money to replace the machine that just imploded is like pulling teeth) that I realise just how awesome we are. Incidently, if you're after someone who is use to working hard, up for a challenge and doesn't mind travel, drop me an email...

Hobbies and Past-times
You want to know about my hobbies? You must be desperate.

I'm a geek, so like most things to do with computers. Give me bits of computers and most likely I'll be happy.

I fly. Yes, thats right, I'm currently a fully fledged pilot who has passed his GFPT, this means I can go up on my own and take up passengers, but I need to have approval from one of the instructors and all flights have to be authorised, plus I'm restricted as to where I can fly. I also have an aerobatic endorsement. That is fun, I can do loops, rolls, stall turns and spins. Lots and lots of fun. Then I matured and became financially responsible and suddenly I don't have the money for flying, but at least now I have a roof over my head. One day I'll get back to it.

I fish. Fishy, fishy, fishy, fish! Mainly freshwater fishing for trout, occasionally perch. Biggest I've ever caught is 4.75lbs which came from Collie Gorge. It was a nice rainbow. Just about everyone else I know has caught one over 5lbs, but not me yet.

Photography - I click at things. In case you didn't come in via my main page, I like taking photos. I'm not a rabid amature photographer. I have a nice camera, but definately nothing fancy or over the top (A Pentax MZ-50 is the main one I use, as well as a little Canon point and shoot number which has amazing optics and is waterproof. My digital camera is a pocketsized Canon IXUS 5.0, small but I like it). I do tend to go places and come back with three rolls of exposed film. (My record is my trip last year - a total of 31 rolls in eight weeks, I think this may have been broken though by my Europe trip where I came back with over 2600 digital photos)

Dreams and Aspirations
Win lotto. Retire. That about sums up my working life.

I'd love to get into robotics. I think it would be much more fun that computer support. I don't see computer support as a career, so I should probably try to move out of it before too long.

I like dolphins, working with dolphins would be fun. That wouldn't be a job :)

Not sure what else, probably lots of things, but nothing else I want to put up publically. I'm that sort of person.

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Contact: webwolph*at*madphin.com