Michael J.A. Clark
Michael Clark is a professional software developer who creates high-quality products for startups in Cambridge, UK. Skills: C#, Java, PHP, XHTML, AS3, CSS, ML.

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Queens’ win Fairbairns

The men's side of the boat club have won everything in Michaelmas. It's an astounding achievement and I was proud to be part of one of the results.

Here's a list of accomplishments in date order:

  1. Top college VIII in Autumn Head 2009
  2. First in both divisions of University Fours 2009
  3. Top college VIII in Winter Head 2009
  4. Top college in the senior division of the Fairbairn Cup 2009

This has to be the best Michaelmas ever for Queens' College boat club.

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Computer Lab Recruitment Fair 2009

The Cambridge Computer Lab recruitment fair was a brilliant event, containing some of the most prestigious IT companies in the UK. I collected a lot of information about internships and career opportunities however a variety of companies also seemed to be distributing free promotional goods.

Black Rock Studio kindly give away a full copies of Pure on every gaming platform — no one outdid this and I wonder how this benefited them. T-shirts were the next best thing, although my branded collection may never see the light of day; conveniently, the only place where they are fashionable enough is the Computer Lab. Infosys provided an aluminium bottle that I am now using every day and Bloomberg gave out tough Rubik's cubes that only my friends can solve.

Google provided useful information on applying. They only interview on the phone and give candidates problems ranging from algorithms to general knowledge about common database implementations. They want candidates who can perform straight away. For some reason my friend and I saw the Google loot as the most valuable stash to get and we were more than happy with a Google Pad and Pen.

The Google Pad now acts as a cherishable erg log book.

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Tripos result 2009

After I finished my first year tripos exams I made the mistake of predicting the amount of points I scored. I learnt a valuable lesson from this: Tripos is unpredictable, at least when using the basic mark estimates that worked so well at A-level.

I estimated that I would get a 2.i overall thanks to a high mark in one Computer Science paper and the Mathematics papers. Instead I scored much lower in these two (solid 2.ii grades) and got a higher mark in Physics than I was expecting.

Natural Science is a very intense course and you have to have your head screwed on straight from the start. The combination of a gap year, state schooling and concentrating on rowing and socialising were my main disadvantages in Tripos. Next year the focus should be on performing well. Instead of grasping for air all year I can start level pegging with every other student and work just as diligently.

The secret seems to be to consolidate Michaelmas work over Christmas and Lent work over the Easter holidays. This leaves time to study the Easter lecture courses in enough detail to answer their questions in the examinations. This year most people scored around zero on the Easter courses Probability and Regular Languages and Finite Automata.

Another secret is to do some work.

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Summer’s fluttering away

Life is “frenzied, caring, fast, anxious, fun”. A wealth of feelings rush over me every day as I look forward to climbing in Wales and exploring Thailand. Then straight back to England to embrace further employment and start a new term at Cambridge university. The summer has flown by.

My viewpoint on the world is in flux at the moment. I just finished my first Marian Keyes novel, Watermelon, and The Game by Neil Strauss. Two vastly differing books that both end on empowering and passionate notes nevertheless. After a solid Christian upbringing, becoming atheist (thanks to the internet and Dawkins) and learning different perspectives on human interaction (from Ayn Rand, Marquez and others). I want to expand further and see the world from another new perspective. Reading is incredibly powerful yet slightly frightening when you consider how much a single book can change your personality.

Today I finished my contract at Premier Media Group. Over the last few weeks I was assigned to update the Christianity Magazine web application with some new features; I am especially pleased with the improved homepage. The last few weeks have also included a trip to Dorset with Jane’s family which was relaxing and a long, wonderful week in Italy on the Amalfi coast. I want to write more about these and include some pictures but there’s simply no time at the moment.

Here’s a quick preview from the Italy trip:

View of Vesuvius from Pompei
The view of Vesuvius from Pompei is beautiful and chilling; it is difficult to imagine destruction on that scale

Must get to bed now. I will be back from Thailand on October 10 to respond to the inevitable build up of emails.

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Queens’ May Ball 2009

A magical dreamscape of pleasure and decadence, the Queens’ May Ball was one the best events of my life. It was a wonderful evening with friends, full of the fun and happiness of post-exam relaxation.

Phillip Winter, a rowing friend from Michaelmas came over to England, he bought me GBKs and we spent most of the day with Sam and Julian punting and drinking varieties of ciders. We arrived at the ball a little late and consumed varieties of alcohol in the line.

After getting into the ball smartly dressed waiters began to offer us Oysters and Champagne. Looking round Old Court, beautifully decorated, there were varieties of tents offering food, drink and music. Instead of staying we continued to look round the ball. The next portion of the evening was spent gambling in an exquisitely decorated casino. I won big!

The boys share a cocktail
Gambling, with cocktails
Jane and I having a chat in the middle of the festivities
Jane and I
The hypnotist controls my suggestible friends
The hypnotist mutes his victim

Florence and the Machine played live to a packed Cambridge audience. Her music, attractive on Youtube, came to life with incredibly powerful vocals reverberating around the large marquee. I then danced with lovely Jane to a student jazz band and enjoyed varieties of cocktails with friends who came and went.

The evening ended with the survivor photo at 6:00 am and I spent a significant portion of the day in bed before saying goodbye to Phil.

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