Every month we are profiling one of the Web Services Department’s team members. This month we meet Andrew Riddles, who works giving support to those people who maintain websites in the Carleton templates. He also runs the CU Ecommerce Service, which allows departments to accept payments for events and services on campus.
How did you enter this career?
In a previous incarnation I was as a high school History teacher in London. In the mid-90s when the web was really taking off, I took it upon myself to learn some web development and graphic design in order to build a site for the school where I worked at the time. A few years later I had taught myself enough to jump ships from teaching to IT.
Where else have you worked?
I worked for a large consultancy in London for the first few years of my career, which was exciting because our clients were big hitters such as Coca Cola, MacDonalds and Marconi Wireless, and because we were at the very wild frontier of the dot com boom. After a few years there, I freelanced for big companies, building intranet solutions mostly. Then I moved from London to rural Nova Scotia to run an organic bed and breakfast. To make ends meet I built websites and took up print design for very much smaller scale businesses. I worked for Saint Mary’s University in Halifax for a while before moving to Ottawa and Carleton.
What are some of the technologies you have used along the way?
I am lucky (?) enough to have been in the web world for long enough to have seen some very prominent technologies come and go. As well as web I worked in interactive television coding as well as in a pre-historic mobile phone internet in 2000 called WAP. (Designing graphics for that was kind of like doing cross stitch, but electronically.) I also worked a lot in ASP which was a fun way to cut my teeth in server-side languages. The most fun I had was working in XML/XSL translations which has a beautiful music all of its own.
What are the best things about your job?
The best thing about my job is the best thing about Carleton: the community. I have been here for 11 years and I have met such amazing people, from undergraduate students to professors to departmental administrators, who are not just helpful, grateful, appreciative and positive but who bring actual joy to this workplace.
Do you have some exciting projects you are working on right now?
The core of my workload is the CU Ecommerce service which always makes me happy because it makes life so much easier for the people who work the hardest at Carleton – departmental administrators. At present I am also working with my colleague Mary Kathryn Roberts on some accessibility workshops for the web and that is exciting and important to everyone (My take is that accessibility is for everyone!)
What music are you listening at the moment?
I have very narrow musical tastes I am afraid to say. Opera is the main genre I return to, and I often listen to works I have performed in. I would say Rigoletto is my fave. I also love German language Lieder, especially Schubert’s songs. Non-vocally, I can listen to Chopin, Elgar and Shostakovich all day long as well as more modern composers like Philip Glass, Missy Mazzoli, Max Richter, and Arvo Pärt.
What are you reading at the moment?
I have been reading a lot of Japanese fiction lately (in translation, I hasten to add) as I am between trips to Japan and need to maintain my fix on Japanese culture. I am trying to read a book a week this year in an attempt to get back into good reading habits. Naturally I am cheating by selecting some novels that are only 200 pages long. Although brevity isn’t usually the attribute associated with Russian literature, I am currently reading Leo Tolstoy’s The Kreuzer Sonata which is as compellingly written as it is mercifully short.
What do you do outside of school to amuse yourself?
My big indulgence is travel. I travelled to Puerto Rico in February and I am about to leave for a month in Rome. A lot of my free time is dedicated to planning trips. I’m also busy feeding my growing anime addiction (ask me for recommendations!) I also sing a lot and have in recent years performed in several opera and classical recitals. In addition, I secretly have a few tattoos and may be planning a few more…
What exciting plans do you have coming up in the next year?
I am taking Italian lessons at the moment as I like going to Italy so much and speaking operatic Italian only gets you so far. I love running and am am running in a fun run in Rome next month. I am also looking forward to the launch of Carleton new literary journal Sumac as they are publishing one of my short stories, The King of Ithaca.