James Cuff started out in the world of computing with the Sinclair Spectrum. That 48K of memory and Z80 processor intrigued and then eventually hooked him. From those early days, computing for James has just continued to get more and more out of hand. “Early adopter” is a kind phrase; “mad fool who always wanted to push the envelope with technology” is probably far more apposite. The “what if” questions he asks always result in something strange, fun or just downright simply ridiculous.
James is a confirmed embedded gadget freak. He always seems to want to make these widgets do something they probably ought not do. Linux for the Psion Series 7, embedded Linux media players running on wireless routers, native mail servers for the iPhone, the list goes on… He drives his wife utterly bonkers, because perfectly functioning pieces of kit once he “took a quick look at it” end up lying about the place in varying states of “functioning”, pretty much forever.
When not “improving” gadgets, James is the Executive Director for Research Computing over at Harvard University. There he has to take his job just a tad more seriously. Over the last eight years or so, he has been building large-scale high performance technical computing systems for science. These are literally 1000’s of CPUs all stitched together working on such large and intimidating questions as how do we inform our human genome? To working on calculations that define the very origins of our known Universe. It may appear to be a long way from his first Z80, but to James his ideas and approaches remain pretty much the same as always: “that’s rather interesting – let’s see what else we can do with it!”