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I’ve been sitting here watching the BIFs go by wondering how long it would take for somebody to tag me. Finally I have Gareth Ryan to thank for dropping me in it! You can read his BIF here.

About Me

Like Ryan Gareth I was born in Liverpool. I lived there for the first 18 years of my life before I came to the University of Warwick to study Computer Science as an undergraduate. After graduating I immediately started work here and have never managed to escape. I’ve had several different jobs here, all IT related. At the beginning of 1998 I joined the team selecting, and then implementing, what turned out to be SAP. The rest, as they say, is history.

A few months ago I was privileged to be named an SAP Mentor. I wrote a blog at the time describing my reaction to that news – What does it feel like to be named an SAP Mentor?. In that blog I mentioned some work I’d done with a programming language called C++. I spent 5 years, from 1993 to 1998, working on what turned into ISO/IEC 14882:1998 (now superceded, twice). This was an international effort that let me travel to lots of different places around the world – as far east as Japan and as far west as Hawai’i, and many different cities in the US. Sadly, I had to miss the meeting in Australia 🙁 . For the majority of the meetings I attended I had the grand title of Principal UK Expert (and yes, that does get abbreviated to PUKE) so I have represented my country at something!

Outside of work I am married and have two children – a daughter of 16 and a son of 13. We also have a cat of 6 and a dog of just 15 months. My wife was also a student at Warwick at the same time I was, but we didn’t meet until after we had both graduated. We have been married for 20 years now. We live in Coventry, close enough to the University that I can walk in just about 30 minutes. Coventry isn’t a large city, and we live right on the edge of it. Within a few minutes we can be in open countryside, and yet only 15 minutes drive from the city centre. Despite having grown up in a big city, I’m not really a city person. I love being able to easily get to somewhere green and open. Gareth mentioned that Liverpool has two cathedrals. Coventry does too, sort of. It used to have just one, which was bombed in WW2 and is now just four walls. Its replacement was built right next door. You can see them both in this photo:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Coventry_cathedral.jpg

I’m going to break a little with BIF tradition now. My remaining photos are not of either my home town or of me. Two of my hobbies are astronomy and photography. I especially enjoy combining the two and taking photos of objects in the sky. Here are a few of my favourites, starting with one of my favourite photos of the moon. All these photos were taken from my garden, so they are cool photos from my home town rather than of it!

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This next one is a long exposure (70 seconds) shot taken when the International Space Station was passing overhead – that’s the long streak in the sky. The bright object at top right is actually the moon, not the sun. It doesn’t look it, but this was taken at night!

/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/8473262429_175704ccfd_b_244734.jpg

And speaking of long exposures, I do like trying to make “star trail” photos. As you can see from the previous shot in my part of the world the sky is too light polluted to take exposures long enough. This one is lots of short exposures layered together, but it went wrong and produced dotted rather than solid lines. I quite like the effect, though!

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Finally, I’ve recently been playing with using a webcam with my telescope, and getting results like this:



The Questions

Gareth asked:

  1. What is your absolute favourite music album/track of all time and why?

    I always find it difficult to articulate why I like particular pieces of music. Sometimes it is about the music itself. Sometimes it is about the context in which I first encountered a piece of music and the memories it brings back. If I had to choose just one piece of music as my all time favourite it would be Elgar’s Cello Concerto, preferably played by Jacqueline du Pré. Whenever I hear this music playing I just have to close my eyes, sit back, and just disappear into it. I have three recordings of it (one by du Pré) and have heard it performed live twice. There’s another performance coming along locally that will be hard to resist…

    Just to add a bit of variety, I would say that there are a couple of Dire Straits tracks high up on the list, along with almost anything sung by Eva Cassidy.

  2. Do you have a favourite quote/saying that perfectly describes your day to day job?

    I have several quotes that don’t quite describe my day job but come distressingly close. My favourite is, “My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.” by PJ Plauger. (I worked with PJ during my years working on C++, and while I never heard him say this, when I read it I hear it being spoken in his voice!) Not that I’d call myself an expert because “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” (Neils Bohr). I’m sure I’ve got plenty more mistakes to make yet. 🙂

Onwards and upwards

Now I have to choose the next people to join in the BIF chain. That is hard as most people seem to have been BIF’d already. One I see hasn’t been is Carsten Nitschke, a fellow newbie Mentor. And I’ll choose one from the BIF request listAkhilesh Singh.

Update: By request, I’m adding a new invite – Karen Jhonson !

My questions to you are:

  • What animal would you most like to keep as a pet (however impractical!)?
  • What is your earliest memory?

The small print

Remember the rules of the game:

  • Follow the Blog It Forward Chain in order to be updated when the people you blog it forward to post the links to their “Blog It Forward” blogs.
  • Read Moshe’s blog again to make sure you follow the rules in your own blog:
    • Provide an introduction to yourself
    • Provide a fun fact about your country or yourself
    • Add a cool picture of yourself or your homeland/town
    • Answer specific questions that were “Blog It Forward” to you
    • Answer 3-4 optional questions from the bank of questions provided below. Or choose to answer questions you make-up on your own.
    • Create 1-2 personalized  questions you would like to blog forward
    • List at least 2  people who you are blogging it forward to. Share why you choose them. Link to their SCN profile by typing @  and then their name (e.g @HisName).Ask the community to follow the Blog It Forward Chain in order to be updated when the people you “Blog It Forward” to post the links to their “Blog It Forward” blogs.
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30 Comments

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  1. Tammy Powlas

    Great pictures, great video too…

    Principal UK Expert (and yes, that does get abbreviated to PUKE)

    What a great title.

    Coventry sounds like it would be a great place to visit.  I enjoy hearing about your hobbies.

    The dog is Alphie Socks?

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      The dog is indeed @alfiesocks. A very cute Yorkshire Terrier/West Highland Terrier cross. He and the cat aren’t best of friends, but do enjoying chasing each other around the garden. I think they’re only playing. Mostly 🙂 .

      Coventry certainly has a lot of history – it has been here since the 11th century, and there are buildings still standing and in use that date back to the 13th & 14th centuries. And there’s a lot to see in the surrounding area. If you ever find yourself in this part of the world, do stop off and explore!

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  2. Susan Keohan

    I am not at all surprised – but still really impressed – by your photos.  Do you share these hobbies with anyone in the family? 

    Even though you have not asked me…

    1) I would love to keep horses, sheep, and yes, goats.  I grew up with them (no, I was not raised in a barn!) and I miss them.  But I still have my yellow Lab girl, so it’s OK.

    2) My earliest memory is riding a tricycle barefoot and getting my toe caught in the pedal.  And subsequently losing the toenail.  Let that serve as a warning to all.

    Thanks, Steve (and Gareth Ryan for tagging him) for sharing your #BIF with us.

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      My son was the catalyst for me buying my first telescope, about 18 months ago. I’d been wanting to get one for ages but couldn’t quite decide what type – what you need for astro-photography is different from what you need for simple observing. My son asked one day to get a telescope so I went for a fairly basic one that we both used and enjoyed. His interest has since faded a little, so now it is just me.

      I’ve recently upgraded my telescope (actually, just bought a better one – I still have the original), which lets you see quite a bit more. I hoping that might renew my son’s interest.

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  3. Laure Cetin

    Nice blog, Steve! Thank you for joining the family of Blog It Forward’ers! It is nice to know more about you and your home town. Your pictures are gorgeous, and I didn’t know about Coventry’s two cathedrals, you made me a smarter person today 😉

    Laure

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  4. Steffi Warnecke

    Wonderful picture of the two cathedrals side by side. I just love it, when you can see historic and modern pieces so close together and even more, when they form a unit.

    And I love the pictures of the moon and the sky alltogether! Now I have an itching to get me a telescope, too. ^^ I’m interested in so many things, it shouldn’t come at a surprise, that the cosmos is also one of those. 😀

    It is nice “meeting” a more personal part of you. Pictures of their hobbies and things that we like show IMO more about people than pictures of ourselves. So thank you for sharing, Steve. 🙂

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      Do you  have a friend who has a telescope? Or is there a local astronomy group? I would advise you to speak to somebody, and to peer through a few telescopes, before buying. Astronomy can get very expensive very quickly, especially if you don’t buy the right kit first time around! But the Universe is an awesome and beautiful place – I love standing in my garden and looking at objects millions or billions of miles away.

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      1. Steffi Warnecke

        Sadly I don’t know anybody with a telescope. At least not that I know of. But that’s a good idea! 🙂

        Steve Rumsby wrote:

                               

        …and looking at objects millions or billions of miles away.

                           

        And more than that… you’re looking into the past, too. That’s what I find so fascinating there. Not just the enormous amount of distance to these objects, but that they are so far away, that you just see a picture of their past, when you watch them. Some of these could already be gone. It’s kind of unbelievable. And pretty cool at the same time! 😀

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        1. Steve Rumsby Post author

          I know. I was at a talk a few months ago about looking back billions of years to galaxies that existed pretty close to the big bang. It is hard to get your head around sometimes (always?).

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          1. Steffi Warnecke

            Absolutly. And think about this: maybe on a planet circling one of those far away stars somebody is looking through it’s giant (and better) telecope-like-thing, too and is wondering about those strange beings inhabiting the earth… dinosaurs! 😀

            Gotta love it. ^^

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            1. Susan Keohan

              Steffi, I have to ask… Have you watched ‘The Beach’ lately?  Because you and Leonardo DeCaprio just said the same thing, which makes Steve Rumsby a gorgeous French lady.  😛

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              1. Steffi Warnecke

                Ah, no. 😀 I have to say, I  saw but a very few scenes from that movie scattered over a lot of years. What did Leo say? The dinosaurs-thing? *g*

                I had to laugh about this. Poor Steve… 😀

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                1. Susan Keohan

                  Ah, he said something about ‘Maybe up there is another planet, just like this one.  And on the beach is another beautiful girl with a camera photographing the stars and gazing right at this planet’

                  Or something like that.

                  Sorry Franciose Steve.

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                  1. Steffi Warnecke

                    Thank you for explaining. Well, the thought is not new. ^^ Probably even before Leo someone said a similar thing. Maybe not to flirt with a woman, but you never know. 😀

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  5. Tom Van Doorslaer

    Coventry seems like such a nice place (at least, the way you describe it)

    I often muse about how at ease I would feel, living in the UK. Looking at those old Britishseries (like, you rang mylord, Sherlock Holmes, midsomer murders, Fawlty Towers,…) I always picture myself living on the countryside, driving an old MG and having high-tea. (or a typical British breakfeast)

    And then I see news reports coming from London and I reconsider…

    I’ll just keep it at watching Auntie Beeb for shows like “escape to the countryside”, “Hairy Bikers diet” and “Top Gear”

    ps: I would love to keep a couple of squirrels in my apartment to cheer things up a bit 🙂

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      If you steer clear of the big cities there’s plenty of quaint Britishness to be found. Not so many old MGs any more, and high-tea isn’t an everyday occurrence either. Those TV shows do show a somewhat idealised picture of the country, but they are based somewhat in reality. You’d certainly recognise the place if you came. Well, I hope you wouldn’t encounter Fawlty Towers anywhere 🙂

      As for the squirrels, trust me the novelty would soon wear off. They are like like other people’s children – cute in small doses but you really need to be able to get rid of them after a while! I have some in my garden, and that’s fine. I know people who have them in the roof of their house. That’s not so much fun. Most of the squirrels in Britain are American invaders (the colonies getting their own back:-). Red squirrels are much cuter, but there aren’t many of them left, unfortunately.

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  6. Gareth Ryan

    Nice read Steve – I especially like this “My definition of an expert in any field is a person who knows enough about what’s really going on to be scared.”  I’m going to use that in future!

    Gareth.

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      Thanks. I’m fascinated by the ISS and rarely miss an opportunity to go outside and watch it, clouds permitting. I’ve even been known to wave at the astronauts up there. Photographing it is equally fun. I haven’t yet managed to plan things enough to get a photo of the ISS passing through a well known constellation, or past a planet like Jupiter or Saturn. One day I will…

      Steve.

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  7. Suseelan Hari

    Hi Steve,

    Good Day!

    Nice Blog! Thanks for sharing information about you and your experience. I was working in C++ earlier. Currently working in SAP. 🙂

    Regards,

    Hari Suseelan

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  8. Sven Ringling

    Really good read and cool pics.

    Nice to be able to add some background to the face from the Birmingham conference 🙂

    Watching the stars allegedly beats crystal balls by a mile 😉

    Are the stars saying anything about how many years SAP HCM on-premise has left before being completely replaced by Successfactors or other SAP cloud solutions still to come?

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  9. Matt Fraser

    Very cool astronomy photos (as others have remarked). I especially like the ISS one. It’s good to learn about this side of you.

    As for the Premier UK Expert acronym… well. Lol. Still, I like your quotes about what defines an expert.

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    1. Steve Rumsby Post author

      The trouble with both astronomy and photography as hobbies is that they can easily get very time consuming and expensive. Combining them both is a really bad idea!

      And astronomy isn’t the best hobby to have in the UK. Cloudy skies are far too common 🙁 .

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