I’m Mike Rhodes. I’ve been programming since about 1997 and writing on the web since 1999. I’ve owned the dx13.co.uk domain since 2001.
I’m a Senior Staff engineer with over fifteen years experience building distributed systems. I currently work for IBM Cloud as lead engineer for Cloudant, one of the longest-lived cloud database services. I’ve worked at Cloudant since 2013, prior to its acquisition by IBM. Before that, from 2005, I worked in industrial research at Hewlett Packard Labs in Bristol for several years. It was there that I gained my love of distributed and cloud systems when working on a novel (for the time!) distributed media processing pipeline and archiving system. I’ve worked on them ever since.
I started using Linux in 2001 at university, and shifted to using it as my main OS in 2003. In 2004 I deleted Windows from my computer because I was running out of space for MP3s. I used Gentoo and then switched to Ubuntu in 2005. I was always a Gnome person. I still would be if I’d not switched to a MacBook Air in 2008 (one of the first gen ones, which felt like such a miracle back then). I still love Linux, and I find I love macOS a little less each year.
vim since 2004 though now use it via extensions in VS Code, which is basically vim cosplay.
I bought a green iPod Mini soon after it came out in 2004 and fell in love. I still love that industrial design and would probably have it on a shelf or something if it hadn’t been stolen from our car six years later 😭. I remember buying an iPod Touch in Japan in 2008, the WTF-I’m-in-the-future of watching a movie and Father Ted on it on the flight home, and the holy-shit magic of showing my photos of Japan on it. I still find magic in these tiny devices we carry around.
I’ve loved tinkering with computers since my dad bought us a 386 machine with Windows 3.1. I spent altogether too much time playing SimCity 2000. I tried programming in QBasic in the early 1990s, and failed. While I gave up trying to learn to program, I did learn to love Nibbles/Snake and the Gorillas game with the exploding bananas that were the QBasic example programs.
I only really started programming seriously at about 16, soon after we got the internet at home. I started to learn about custom Windows 98 shells and wrote a freeware application called ShellOn to manage them – the first website I created, in 1999, was to host ShellOn. Looking back it was pretty wild: you edited the Windows registry so my Delphi application loaded instead of Windows Explorer when windows started, and crossed your fingers your computer still booted.
After building the site for ShellOn, a friend and I used our status as “the only people in our school who could build websites” to start the world’s shortest lived web design company, (excuse the pun) Surf Design. The sites were… well… perhaps what you’d expect from two teenagers in 2000. We also started a site to review Psion devices and software, which my friend found and reuploaded recently. I am still very surprised that people sent us actual stuff to review.
After gaining access to always-on university internet in 2001, I first wrote software collaboratively over the internet in about 2002. I was part of an alternative windows shell, SharpE. My bit managed and rendered SharpE’s equivalent of the Start Menu. SharpE was started and led by someone in Norway, and the five or so developers spanned northern Europe, communicating over IRC. There was nothing so sophisticated as source control; we each developed our own component, and the person in Norway combined them to form a release. I met a couple of them in person when we met up and went to a music festival in the Netherlands.
About this time I also fell for the web all over again, hard. I learned CSS in 2002, at about the time that the CSS Zen Garden was starting to show that you could make websites without embedding your content into a
<table> based layout. It was an exciting, wild west kind of time, where everyone’s websites looked different, you could use the
<marquee> tags non-ironically (just about) and bands didn’t even have MySpace pages yet because MySpace wasn’t invented yet.
Then things calmed down a bit because I finished university and started work in 2005.
The freedom the iPhone offered in its early days reminded me of the excitement I had releasing my early software in 1999. I wrote my first iOS application, Divided, in 2011. It was featured by Apple on the App Store; in those simpler days a tip calculator was the height of sophistication. I followed this with One to Watch in 2012 and Drinktrack in 2013. In the end, keeping up with Apple’s new devices became too much, and I retired them all in about 2017. I wonder what the next new frontier will be where one person can write a pretty hacky app and be successful with it.
This site contains all the posts from 2003 onwards. The posts from before that time were all lost in a hacking incident.
I’ve lived and worked in Bristol, UK since 2001. With many years of experience, I’d say Bristol’s weather is best summed up as “occasionally sunny”.
Enjoy the blog.