My mother is from Naples, Italy, and came to England in the mid-50s
to find work. My father's from New Delhi, India (originally Hazro, Pakistan),
and came over to do a Civil Engineering degree. They met at Hammersmith
Palais, a dance hall in London, England. I have a picture of them while
they were courting, around 1959.
In 1980 I was accepted on the BSc in Biophysics and Mathematics at
Leeds University but decided I'd rather do Psychology and so changed my
place before I left for Leeds.
Having had a taste of programming in my final-year option and knowing
that I wanted to do some applied computing to psychology, I decided to go
for a PhD but couldn't get in anywhere with my 2ii so went for a Masters.
I ended up at North Staffordshire Polytechnic on an MSc in Computing
Science. I spent my six months industrial placement building a price-quoting
system for Wiggins Teape in the summer of 1985, which was also when I became
a feminist and a vegetarian.
I then got a place on a DPhil at the University of Kent at Canterbury
(UKC), doing a joint degree in Applied Computing to Psychology, but was
pushed into Applied Psychology to Computing (specifically, HCI - so much
for models of memory and language). I spent the first year computerising
the Custody Record for the Metropolitan Police.
Things weren't going too well and then, one January day in 1988,
I posted a question to the Usenet newsgroup misc.misc and got
a reply from someone called Frank Wales. We mailed each other for three
months before meeting. Before we met, He sent me an imposing photo of
himself, taken on self-timer at his desk at Zengrange. And I sent him
an obscure photo of me.
We met on Thursday, 14 April 1988. By the Monday, we knew we were
going to live together. I proposed that year. We got married without
telling anyone beforehand on 02-02-02.
Work and travel
I left UKC a year early, moved to Leeds and ended up working as a C
programmer at Zengrange, where Frank worked. In 1990 Frank was sent to
the Calculator Labs at Hewlett-Packard in Corvallis, Oregon, to work on
the HP-41 emulator for the new HP 48 and ended up staying out there for
eight months. I visited for three, which is when I discovered IRC.
We did a little travelling, mostly to meet net people, in Mountain View
and LA, Seattle, Washington, then I flew back east via Grand Rapids,
Michigan, Illinois and Boston, where my brother was doing a Communications
I've been on the 'net since 1988. I started using e-mail at UKC, then
Usenet. Then I got into talkers (Bullet at UCL, Warwick, tardis, IRC
UnderWorld), BBSs (UnAxcess at Bradford) and MUDs (AberMUD at Southampton,
MIST at Essex and MUD in Essex).
I used the nickname Poot from 1988 and then started using
kwistle on #england on IRC in early 1993 and used to be found on
IRC using the nick kwis on #GB and started #dl-bar. I am
Poot Dibou in Second Life.
After leaving Leeds, we got a connection onto the Internet
in early 1993 with Demon and, for a few years, I organised monthly meets
in London Demon/#GB people. I'm still proud of a picnic a couple of us
organised one summer in which 100 people turned up, including family
Frank and I took contracting jobs in the early 1990s;
Frank as a Systems Manager for the likes of Glaxo and Disney and me as
a 4GL database applications programmer. In early 1995 we - together with
and another couple - formed Limitless.
We specialised in hosting and building accessible, fast,
interactive, database-backed sites and Internet consultancy.
My background in psychology and databases allowed me to apply my
experience to web site planning and information architecture. I also write
proposals and manage projects.
In January 2000, Frank and I left Limitless to start Limitless Innovations;
the company concentrates on Internet consultancy
After finding a lump, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February
2010. I had a successful lumpectomy - in and out in an afternoon. I also
had six rounds of FEC chemotherapy, 18 radiotherapy sessions ending in October 2010.
I'll be taking Tamoxifen (the opposite of HRT) for five years.
Inspired by my Second Life avatar, Poot Dobou, I bought a blue cosplay wig when my hair fell out.
After my (prematurely white) hair grew back, I started dying it blue. It makes me smile.
Frank got a six-month programming contract at Net-A-Porter at the end
of my treatment. The company is so impressive that he accepted a permanent
role there as a software manager. He likes going into work every day. I
returned to contracting in January 2011.
I kept a journal of my cancer journey - it starts with my
Arts and crafts
I started making earrings when I was a student the first time in
1980. I sold earrings at a women's co-operative shop in Leeds but mostly
made earrings for myself and friends.
Until 2003, I only made earrings; I figured that it was
hard enough designing 2" for earrings, my head would explode if I tried
to design something long like a necklace.
But, after selling on eBay for a few years, a regular buyer persuaded me
to add beads to her silver bracelet. I enjoyed the process; the design
involved repetition which made it manageable. I researched threads
and crimping, which was when I discovered lariats, open-ended 60"+
Visit my shop to see what
I am making now.
I came up with the idea of Paolability in a
to the evolt mailing list about usability, reliability, etc., in 2001.
Read my Pootability blog to find out what's happening now.