Tom Gidden

Yours truly This is my homepage, blog, site, or whatever you want to call it.

I’m a geek living in Portishead, England, working at Starberry as their Head Geek: a varied role, from strategic to technical, getting my hands dirty with development, architecture, documentation, training, operations, and just about a bit of everything really; working with a large team of talented developers and telling them they’re doing it wrong, ie. not the way I’d do it.

In my spare time, I geek out on various tech projects when I have the time, on a wide range of bits and pieces. I also watch a lot of movies.

Please don’t bother contacting me if you want to recruit me or add me to a database of people you want to get other people to recruit: I’m happy where I’m working.

Interesting (geek) stuff I’m doing

  • I’ve home-automated some things; I’ve motorised a venetian blind with a servo and an Espruino; bed recline motors; lamps and monitors around the place; and all controlled from a web interface, various remote controls, buttons, etc. all feeding into a Raspberry Pi.

  • I’ve been 3D printing things with my CEL Robox which I was proud to beta-test.

  • I’m playing with various ideas using nRF51822, nRF52, ESP8266, ESP32, Atmel, ARM devices to do various Internet-of-Things things.

  • I’ve built (and continue to rebuild) an anglepoise stand for my iPad Pro, the iPad-Hold-a-Tron 2000™, which is on its tenth iteration (or thereabouts) after being upgraded and repaired several times.

  • I’ve also experimented with three- and four-dimensional Lyapunov fractals using OpenCL / OpenGL ray-casting programs of my own design; and keep meaning to do some more research in that direction.

  • I also have some big tech ideas that I wish I had the time and stamina to develop further. They’d change the world if someone gave me some funding and a team of people to help do it.

  • In 2018 I took up the hobby of fountain pens, ink and stuff. This is what a lot of my recent posts have been about.

What’s with the whole pen thing?

While I was given my first fountain pen as a kid, and I’ve owned a Parker Frontier for more than a decade, I never really used them. At the start of 2018, I realised my handwriting had degraded to a point of illegibility from lack-of-use, and my six-year-old daughter was quickly catching up with me. So, I decided to do something about it, and at about the same time I discovered Brian Goulet’s YouTube channel.

In April 2018, I bought my first fountain pens since about 2002 – a Lamy Safari All-Black and a “Dryden” rebranded rosewood pen from Amazon. While these were uninspiring and have gone unused since, I went on to buy a few others, including a Noodler’s Ahab that really got me going. While it’s by no means perfect, it opened up the possibility of flex to me, and I knew that was the key for me.

Since then, I’ve acquired a few flex vintages, some nice mid-range modern pens such as a Pilot 912 FA and a Pilot 743 FA, a range of relatively cheap pens like Noodler’s Ahab, Konrad; Platinum 3776 Bourgogne and Chartres Blue (which I love) and a huge number of cheap kitsch pens from China (AliExpress), mostly Jinhao. I adore the silly kitschness of it, and compared to other niches (Montblanc, or even Lamy and TWSBI!) it’s a cheap thing to collect.

I’ve also taken to modifying nibs, specifically to smooth or slightly regrind, and make them more flexible with the common Ease My Flex modification, but more recently, just buying the excellent FPR Ultra-Flex nib and ebonite feed instead.

Anyway, I’ve kept track of a rough list of my collection here, with links to any reviews or notes I write.

In recent months, I’ve had a lot else on my mind, and the pen hobby has taken a back seat. I’m no longer acquiring pens or inks, but I’m glad I took up the hobby and improved my handwriting in the process.

More

  • GitHub… although nothing much there at the moment, to be honest.
  • Twitter… although I don’t post much there anymore.
  • Facebook… although I keep my friends list to people I know in real life.
  • LinkedIn… although I usually ignore stuff on there, as it’s almost always recruiters.
  • Flickr… although I stopped posting photos there when I stopped carrying a camera with me.

So yeah. I’m a ruddy social butterfly, me. One of these days I might actually pad one of those out a bit. Don’t hold your breath, though.

Saying that, I’m very personable and friendly, and if you say Hi, I’ll be happy to take time to talk… as long as you’re not a recruiter or a spammer, of course. I’m just apathetic about writing websites for “fun”.

Love,

tom at gidden dot net