Paola Kathuria [Skip navigation links]
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About me

My name

My name tends to cause some confusion. Paola is an Italian name and is pronounced pow-la. Kathuria is an Indian name and is pronounced cath-you-ree-ah. I called myself Paulina until I was 18, when I went to university.


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 degree.


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 members.


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 [off-site] Limitless Innovations; the company concentrates on Internet consultancy and development.

Cancer and changes

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 [off-site] mailed announcement.

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"+ necklaces.

Visit my shop to see what I am making now.

I came up with the idea of Paolability in a [off-site] message to the evolt mailing list about usability, reliability, etc., in 2001.

Read my [off-site] Pootability blog to find out what's happening now.


[Engaged parents] [Baby Paola] [Paola eating popcorn] [Paola in park] [Skinny Paola] [Leeds University Graduation, 1983] [Paola @ UKC in ] [Frank @ Zengrange, 1988] [Paola during Msc, 1985] [Paola with chemo wig, 2010] [Paola with blue hair, 2012]