• Date2013-04-17
  • Duration102:23
  • DescriptionMike Little is the co-founder of WordPress. He talks about his own background, how he got into coding, and his early WordPress contributions.
  • Tagsb2, stockport, open source, free software, wp-config.php


Interviewer 00:05 So first of all, I just wanted to find out when you were born and where you were born.#

Little 00:07 I was born in 1962, I'm really, really old [laughter]. 51 this year, bloody hell#

Interviewer 00:16 Happy birthday.#

Little 00:17 Next month in fact. And I was born in Manchester, in a hospital in Manchester, although to the best of my knowledge, I've lived in Stockport all my life.#

Interviewer 00:29 Okay, so your parents were from Stockport?#

Little 00:34 No. My dad was from Nigeria. I don't know where my mom was from - from somewhere around here, but I was fostered at about four months old.#

Interviewer 00:47 Okay, I had no idea you were fostered.#

Little 00:50 Oh yes, so I have never known my parents. Although my mom tells me that they were around for a whole. In fact, at one point, when I was a few years old, my dad turned up to take me back to Nigeria.#

Interviewer 01:07 Wow, that would have resulted in a different story.#

Little 01:10 Oh, yes, definitely. But she refused at the time, and apparently my mom used to come around a couple of times. Basically, the story is I got it from my mom. Now, I think it's changed over time, but that might be because she wasn't telling me everything when I was younger. But basically my dad was a lecturer at one of the Manchester universities, in mathematics. And my mom was a primary school teacher, and they got together and had a baby out of wedlock, and his family were having nothing to do with it, and neither were her family because he was black, so that was a big issue, as it was at that time - in '63, in '62. So I was put up for fostering.#

Interviewer 02:14 What were your parents called?#

Little 02:18 My original parents were Joan Stewart and Joseph Olibabowkem is the name that I got I think from my original birth certificate. And I was fostered by Bill and Beryl Little.#

Interviewer 02:35 Okay, that's where the Little comes from. So they fostered you, they didn't adopt you?#

Little 02:42 They fostered me for a while, and then I was adopted at - it must have been about nine or 10 years old. Again, just last year the story came out that the reason I was adopted, and it was actually done suddenly and in a rush, and even I vaguely recall that it just came out of nowhere, it was because my dad had turned up to want to take me home, take me back to Nigeria. So basically they pushed through an adoption, and I remember having to stand up in court and say, "Yes, I'm happy where I am" sort of thing. But it was only last year that I found out the reasoning behind that. The interesting is that they did it again and had another baby, two years later, which was my sister, and she got fostered the same, so I've grown up with one of my natural sisters.#

Interviewer 03:45 So she was fostered by the same family?#

Little 03:47 Yeah.#

Interviewer 03:47 Wow.#

Little 03:50 But, she didn't come along until she was about two years old, so I would have been four my then. I presume they must have-- or our mum must have kept her for a couple of years.#

Interviewer 04:03 That's so weird. It sounds like your biological parents kind of wanted to be together.#

Little 04:10 Yeah, I think so. I definitely get the impression it was family issues that were the pressure. And as I say, even in the 60s I kind of get the impression that she might have been a bit rural, so maybe somewhere in Chester, or something like that, wherever she was from, and as an unmarried schoolteacher with two children by a black man, that would have just been horrific in the early 60s. I can just imagine that that would have been terrible.#

Interviewer 04:42 Wow, so you met your father then, but not your mother?#

Little 04:47 No, I didn't. To the best of my knowledge I've never met my father, I've certainly got no memory of meeting him. And as I say, I think my mom will have probably steered him away at the door and sent him away sort of thing, or he may have turned up in the day when I was at school or something. But no, I never met him, to the best of my knowledge.#

Interviewer 05:10 Do you ever think of getting in touch with them?#

Little 05:13 Funny enough, no. There's probably a bit of curiosity now, just to know a little bit more about who he was and where he went, and even a little bit about my mom. Even, are they still alive? But certainly not growing up, I didn't have any particular curiosity.#

Interviewer 05:39 And did you always know when you were growing up that you were--?#

Little 05:42 Fostered?#

Interviewer 05:43 Yeah.#

Little 05:44 Yeah, absolutely, although as I say I didn't particularly know the backstory. But yeah, my parents fostered a lot of children in the early days, while I was young they did foster a lot, and often it was temporary. And I think all of them were black, as well. There's one particular family who, on and off, they fostered various ones, so they had two boys and two girls, and I think on and off they were fostered, and they were part of our family for a while. They lived in Stretford and I remember we used to go up and visit them when they were back home with the parents, but then sometimes they would come and stay with us for a few months. So that was an odd thing, but that an odd situation as well, because I know that the father there went back to Nigeria, ended up marrying another woman - as is legal over there - and having more children by her, wanted to have nothing to do with his previous wife, with his first wife, until the lads were old enough, at which point he demanded that they get sent over to him. And I know Jay, the oldest, went over and was treated quite well, and then Addy, the youngest lad, went over and he was treated abominably. He didn't know until they went over there that the dad had married again, and effectively abandoned their mom. That was a terrible situation and quite nasty - who knows, that may have been the same situation with me, that may have happened with me, if I had gone over there.#

Interviewer 07:34 Did you ever wonder-- did you ever, when you were younger, think, I'd like to go over there? Or did you just not really know?#

Little 07:41 No, I didn't. I really didn't know a lot at all, and I was also - probably these days it would probably be diagnosed as Asperger's - but I was quite introverted as a youngster, and really didn't have any great curiosity about the world.#

Interviewer 08:05 So your adoptive parents, are they white?#

Little 08:09 Yes.#

Interviewer 08:09 And did they have any biological children?#

Little 08:13 Yes, I had two older sisters, so they had two girls - and they were actually 10 years older than us, so the oldest was 10 years older than me, and the youngest was 10 years older than my natural sister Michelle.#

Interviewer 08:26 And how did they get on? Did you all get on okay?#

Little 08:32 Yeah, I think so. For a while. It's a little bit of an odd situation I had growing up. So as I say, I was fairly introverted and didn't have, as I said, that much curiosity. I don't have many memories of early life, a few-- literally less than a handful of isolated memories - a day at school, an incident with a dog that we had who wouldn't walk over bridges with gaps in them, he was scared of them, running across a railway line when I knew I should because I couldn't be bothered walking down the road to go over the bridge, seeing a grass-snake once, and a vague memory of - now this is a really weird one - I'm guessing, being in the hairdresser's with my mom, because the smell is the smell of perming solution.#

Interviewer 09:38 I know that smell, it reminds me of my granny.#

Little 09:43 Nancy Sinatra - These Boots Were Made For Walking - being on the radio, and, yeah, just that. I presumed I was in the hairdresser's with my mom, because it's that smell. But it's probably the song I think I remember more than anything. And one other thing I do remember from that time, because where we used to live there is just up the road from me, and I actually went up there just the other day, amazingly, because there's now a sports center on the road where I used to live. I was curious so I wanted to go up and have a look and, funnily enough, the house is still there, and then two doors down it stops and then there's the entrance to this sports center and playing fields and all kinds of stuff there. But the other things I do remember is slack heaps up the road - from the East [inaudible] railway line that went down-- actually the line's still there although it's not used anymore. But somewhere connected to that line there were slack heaps, where they used to unload the slack from the coal, and that used to be visible behind the shops, behind the row of shops. So there's all these just weird memories, but that's about it. I have no recollections of time at home, no recollection of any kind of family life at all. I've seen photos that show that at least one of my sisters had a birthday party once there, and that we used to sit on deck chairs in the backyard in the summer. So again I've seen photos of those, but I have no memories of them whatsoever.#

Interviewer 11:29 What was the house like, on the estate? Were you on an estate?#

Little 11:32 Yeah, it is an estate. The house we were in was semi-detached. It must have been rented because I know my parents never owned a house at all. And as I say, I don't have early memories. There's a story that at one point I got a carpenter's set for Christmas, and then proceeded to take all the doorknobs off of the doors around the house [laughter]. And then, I used to think that I left there at six, but as I understand it I must have left there at seven, because Add - the other lad, the youngest guy I was talking about before who was fostered - apparently went to the same school as me. So if I started that school at five-- no, well, I will have started... Maybe it was five and six. If I started school at five, he must have started the year after, and therefore I must have been there for two years, and I thought I was there for one year.#

Interviewer 12:41 Where did you move to next?#

Little 12:41 Where I moved to next was somewhere that again probably felt like a long way away at the time, but was probably ten minutes away by car. Basically my mom got a job as a doctor's receptionist and we were allowed to move into the accommodation above the doctor's surgery. It was a big, old Victorian house - a massive old Victorian house. If I could have that house now - I should imagine there is still a doctor's surgery, not the same doctor - but I should imagine that house is worth a quarter of a million now, easily. It's huge - three floors, plus a cellar, massive rooms, space at the back, we had a garden and built a garage at some point in the back. But basically we were allowed to live there rent free.#

Interviewer 13:41 Wow, that's nice.#

Little 13:43 So [inaudible] from the doctor. I think she got paid a token amount, she didn't get paid a lot, and we were allowed to live there rent free, and as far as I know he paid the bills as well - paid the gas, electric.#

Interviewer 13:57 That's a good deal.#

Little 13:58 Yeah, it was, but it meant an unusual life growing up, definitely. So weren't ever allowed to make any noise, because the surgery was always downstairs. We were never allowed to use the phone, for example. So I grew up having never made a phone call [laughter]. I know it sounds weird now. But up until I was, probably 16, 17, I had never dialed a number on a phone. I was allowed to-- sometimes a relative would phone up and I'd be brought to the phone to speak to then. But I never made calls and I was never allowed to give the number out to receive calls, in case a patient rang up. So it was very strict - no noise while surgery was on, that even included Saturdays as well, so there was a Saturday morning surgery. And then we used to have to help clean the surgery, do things like that, so that was weekend chores - one my hands and knees polishing the floor of the waiting room, for example, and polishing the brass nameplate outside the surgery, and things like that.#

Interviewer 15:14 That doesn't sound much fun.#

Little 15:15 No, it wasn't.#

Interviewer 15:18 So was there four of you there and your parents?#

Little 15:20 Yep, so there's four of us there, and my parents. And again, not a huge amount of memories from the very early days, from being very young, but not an ideal existence. Because of the surgery and the way my mom was we weren't allowed to have friends round. Here's a funny thing, up until I was about - well, I was in sixth form so I must have been 16, maybe even 17 - I didn't know that kids could visit each others' houses.#

Interviewer 16:03 [laughter] That's so sad.#

Little 16:05 So the only people that came to our house were relatives or work-- I never went to anybody's house other than a relative. I didn't know that people could have their friends round, and things like that, I didn't know that happened.#

Interviewer 16:23 God, that's so sad. What did your dad do?#

Little 16:30 He just worked in a factory. I think when I was very young he worked in a steelworks. There used to be a steelworks near where I was on that side of Stockport, till it closed down. And he worked there. I know when they were younger, before we came along, they both worked in a cotton mill, that's where they met, so there used to still be a working cotton mill in the 50s, even 40s actually - and I know both my mom and my dad worked there. After the steelworks, when that shut down, he went working in a rubber factory where they made shoe heels and rubber mats and things like that. So, classic working man, dirty job. He would come home dirty and knackered everyday. Didn't earn a lot, I don't think, although he got to supervisor level. He wasn't one of the world's movers and shakers.#

Interviewer 17:39 Do you know why they decided to foster children?#

Little 17:43 I have no idea because in the later years it seemed like they didn't like them, and I honestly to this day have no idea why-- and as far as I understand it, at some point they might have had eight, nine, 10 children in the house. And I don't know, maybe they liked toddlers. My mom loved having little kids to dress up and look after, but they didn't like them when they got older. I don't know. I've kind of touched on a bit of the horribleness of my growing up, my sister had a much worse time of it. She was physically abused - it would be called physical abuse now, at the time it was constantly being smacked and constantly being shouted at and all the rest of it. And unfortunately for her - I mean I get on well with Michelle, my natural sister - but she grew up with a terrible situation of not being as good as your brother. I flew through school without any effort. In later years I joined Mensa, IQ of 152 and all that stuff. And she struggled through school and she used to-- that's my most prominent memories of home is Michelle being shouted at, Michelle being hit and all of that stuff, all of that to go with that - and to my shame me hiding in my room, trying to avoid it, trying to ignore it.#

Interviewer 19:37 Well that's what children do. Did your other sisters, your older sisters, did this happen to them or just to you two?#

Little 19:49 I don't know, I don't think so. They certainly did leave home as soon as possible. So Rona, the younger sister, she left as soon as possible, and at one point - at probably what would have been the late 70s, so she'd have been-- well if it was late 70s I'd have been mid teens, so she'd have been mid-20s - completely abandon all connection with my mom after an incident at the flats she lived in, which it turns out to be very typical of my mum. We'd gone round to visit - so she lived in Flats round the corner, not round the corner, but the other side of town in Stockport still. Student area so it was all - and this was the 70s - so it was all flared trousers and very-- And we'd gone round and Rona wasn't in her flat, so we'd gone looking for her, because she was always out visiting one or the other flats, or she might even have been in the back garden or something, it was the middle of summer. And I think we were still outside, or we ended up staying outside or something as kids, and Rona went back to her flat to find my mom in the flat looking through her drawers. And from that moment on she kicked her out and never had anything to do with her whatsoever. When Michelle, my natural sister, got old enough she decided to have nothing to do with her whatsoever, and she's had therapy because of the abuse growing up and stuff like that. And I've abandoned her on more than one occasion. The only one who really stuck with her was Carol, who was the oldest sister, and she died recently. She died beginning of this year after a long time of illness. But I fell out with my mom a couple of years ago, or she fell out with us over some imagined slight, and at the time that Carol was dying I basically took the decision to not have anything to do with her whatsoever, so I've not spoken to her since.#

Interviewer 22:24 She doesn't sound very nice.#

Little 22:26 No, she doesn't, and I had already parted company with her for a years, and then when we had Jamie, my daughter, Jan said she should meet her family members. So for a while we reestablished a relationship with my mom. My dad had died by that time, and we've let my mom look after Jamie but when it got to the point where Jamie was kind of old enough to understand what people were saying around her and things like that, we decided to curtail that relationship because my mom's life consists of - and I think it might be typical for people of her age - slagging off everybody that she knows behind their backs, basically.#

Interviewer 23:22 I know people who do that, yeah.#

Little 23:23 You know what I mean? It's the classic--#

Interviewer 23:28 Yeah I do.#

Little 23:27 Working class housewife, who slags off her neighbors, has nothing good to say about her family members or people who call themselves friends, and it's all behind their backs - and to their faces it's a different story. And we just didn't want Jamie hearing that all day long.#

Interviewer 23:45 Yeah, I know exactly the type of person you mean.#

Little 23:51 I think that's what she was. To the best of my knowledge she had a terrible upbringing as well, and she wasn't liked by my dad's family, and my dad's family has a big fallout when-- Jan did a, my partner went and looked into the family history and stuff like that, and was able to tell me that my dad six brothers, I think it was, that I never knew of, and two sisters, and I only knew of one of them. So him and the one sister were estranged from the rest of the family - I'd never even heard of the rest of that family, and whilst I knew my mom's sisters, mostly the one that I liked was the one she didn't get on with, because she was a step-sister. Dad married again and she was kind of younger and hipper - she had a boarding house in Blackpoll, and I do just remember that yes, she was very different from the rest of the family. The kids were different, we actually liked her kids, whereas the rest of the cousins we didn't really like when we saw them [laughter]. Oh dear.#

Interviewer 25:11 When did you move out?#

Little 25:15 I moved out at - I was probably 18 - at the earliest opportunity I moved in with a girl who fancied me, which was a stupid, ridiculous mistake. Probably not something that should go in the book, but she abandoned a lesbian relationship to shack up with me because she wanted a brown baby is what eventually came out. So having moved in there--#

Interviewer 25:49 That's crazy [laughter].#

Little 25:52 I know, it's utterly, utterly weird. So having moved in there - she lived in a council flat on one of the poorer estates of Stockport - probably the first few months of the relationship, and I don't even think it lasted more than about five or six months, most nights were spent ignoring the banging on the door as her ex-girlfriend was banging on the door, trying to get back in and threatening me.#

Interviewer 26:18 That's funny. It won't go in the book, but it's funny.#

Little 26:23 Oh, it was really, really odd. And strangely enough my next girlfriend had just split up with her previous girlfriend. It's utterly, utterly-- you wouldn't believe it, well yeah, my first two girlfriends were both lesbians.#

Interviewer 26:44 That's a good anecdote though [laughter].#

Little 26:44 It is, yeah.#

Interviewer 26:48 Did you do A levels at school though?#

Little 26:51 I started, so I went into sixth form, and I was doing very academic stuff. I was doing math's, advanced math's and physics - A levels, three A levels at the time. I find it boringly easy, basically. And then had this discovery that there was a world outside home and school, and it was one of those funny conversation where one of the guys was describing - because this was late 70s so we were all into hi-fis with lots of separates and flashy lights and things - and one of the guys was describing this new setup he'd got, and how he'd got his speakers on these rubber mats to isolate them from the ground so they wouldn't vibrate, and this, that and the other. And then literally it was one of the other guys saying, "Oh yeah, you should see them they're brilliant." And I literally just said, "How have you seen them?" And he said, "Oh, I was round there on Saturday." And that was that light bulb moment that actually told me that people were allowed to do that, and could go round to their friend's houses. Up until that point, I honestly had no concept that that could happen. You knew people at school, and even you'd call them friends, and relatives came round to your house and those were the only people allowed to come round to your house, and you would sometimes go to relatives' houses, and that was it, that was life as far as I knew.#

Interviewer 28:35 So you didn't go to any of your friends' houses at school?#

Little 28:38 No.#

Interviewer 28:39 What was your school like?#

Little 28:45 Primary school was a fairly standard primary school, but the secondary school I went to was one of the last grammar schools in Stockport, so my year was the last year to take 11+ in Stockport - it was voluntary at the time, as I found out later, Sanford continued to do it for a few more years. But yes, I went to a grammar school, which is an all boys school. Very academic, although they were into the sports as well. But, yeah, it was all streamed and things like that, and I was pretty much in the top stream for everything.#

Interviewer 29:28 What was it called?#

Little 29:29 It was just called Stockport School, it's a really odd one because people don't know its name. So they it's called Mile End School, because it was on Mile End lane, and they often call it that to distinguish it from Stockport Grammar School, which was a separate fee-paying school. So although Stockport School was a grammar school, it wasn't Stockport Grammar School, which was across the road just to confuse things even more [laughter].#

Interviewer 30:03 So, Stockport School, Mile End Lane? It's a nice building.#

Little 30:06 Yeah, and it's still there and it's a mixed comprehensive now. God, they let girls in, how terrible.#

Interviewer 30:13 I know, isn't that awful? [laughter] I went to a mixed grammar school in Belfast. When you were at school what did you want to do when you grew up?#

Little 30:25 I had no idea [laughter]. No idea whatsoever. I remember in fifth form having to go to the careers officer, and the reality was it expected that we would all be going onto university, but if you didn't, what would you want to do. And I literally had no idea. and they said, "What do you like doing?" And I said, "Oh, I like a bit electronics." "Oh, well, there's a Royal Navy Art Artificer, where you get to do radar and stuff like that." "Oh right, yeah, I'll do that." And that was it.#

Interviewer 31:06 But you didn't join the Navy did you?#

Little 31:09 No, I didn't join the Navy, but that was the first time I actually even thought about what I might do as a career, and that was something that was suggested to me that was like, Oh, yeah okay, that sounds interesting. Alright. Yeah, so I had no idea at all and, as a I say, went into sixth form, and to be honest the expectation was that I was going to take three A-levels and then go onto university, which I didn't do.#

Interviewer 31:45 So you didn't finish the A-levels?#

Little 31:47 No, I dropped out before the first year had finished. In fact, I actually ended up dropping out probably after the second term, so probably would have been around Easter time. But actually before that I almost stopped going. So we'd had this revelation, as I say, and I tried to do something about it, so I actually asked if it would be possible for one of my friends from school to come around to the house. At that time I was into a little bit of war gaming - you know, with soldiers on a table and maps and dice and stuff.#

Interviewer 32:30 Oh yeah, what's it called? Games Workshop?#

Little 32:35 Yeah, it's a bit like that now. But at the time pretty much everybody was doing historical stuff, so it was Napoleonic wars, all that kind of stuff. So I was doing a little bit of that, we used to do it in the school library. I actually was allowed, arranged for, one of my friends to come around on the weekend to do a bit of this, and I think it was a Saturday afternoon and he was only allowed to come into the doctor's waiting room. He wasn't allowed into the house part of the-- our living accommodation. Not allowed in, No, he can't come in. And it was after all your chores are done, and he was allowed in and I think he was allowed to stay an hour, and we tried to have a bit of a game on the lion floor of the doctor's waiting room. And yeah, it never happened again after that.#

Interviewer 33:37 Right, yeah, that would put you off. That would have been - you dropped out of school when you were 17?#

Little 33:44 Yes, that actually happened just before I dropped out of school. That was me trying to do something and have this life that I'd suddenly discovered could happen. But with that, and I just got really cheesed off with school and cheesed off with my life. That winter was a really, really bad winter weather-wise. I think it was partly because it was probably at the tail-end of the three day strikes and the fuel shortage and all that, and what I remember was the winter was so bad that schools were closed. So you couldn't go back to school in January, and what I remember was, even when the school opened again, not actually going back to school. I used to go out every morning in my school uniform, but I didn't go into school. I nicked off, on and off, for the rest of that term, and then at the end of that term I just went in and said, "I'm going, I've had enough." I just walked away from school.#

Interviewer 34:47 And did you move out then as well?#

Little 34:53 No, I was still at home at that point. Yeah, I was still at home at that point. I went down to the job center the following day, I think it was a Wednesday. I finally handed my books in and told my teacher that I was definitely leaving on the Wednesday, and did whatever I needed to do. I went down to the job center on the Thursday, and got an interview on that Thursday afternoon to go down to a company to see about a job, and I started that job on Friday.#

Interviewer 35:29 What was the job?#

Little 35:32 I was working with a company called TVA - TV aerials was what it originally stood for. But while they did used to do domestic aerials, I was on the other side of the company, as it were, where we did communal TV aerials - so you know like in a block of flat, where you've got one aerial on the roof and amplifiers and distributors and all that stuff. We used to do one call systems, so you know the stuff in old folks' homes where they pull on a string to [inaudible], you used to do that. And also door entry systems as well, so where you've got anything up to 100 buzzers on a door, and it all rings up to the flat and lets you in the door. So I used to do all that, and that was just from that electronics side. Again it was, went to the job center, "What are you interested in?" "Electronics." "All right, there's something here." And obviously I must have impressed them because they just said, "When can you start?" And I said, "Well, tomorrow." "All right, come along." Yeah, so I started working for that company, and I did extremely well [laughter].#

Interviewer 36:41 How long were you there for?#

Little 36:42 I was actually only there for about just over a year. But as I discovered at the time, I did so incredibly well that within three months I was a trainer, training the new people coming in. The odd thing was that because of the nature of the job you needed to be able to drive, so we were driving out to building sites as these places were being constructed to put all the stuff in and put all the wiring in and things like that. Or going out to old places to maintain them and service them and things like that, and I actually didn't have a driving license at the time, so I was being encouraged to take lessons, which I was. But before I'd even got my driving license, I was teamed up with new guys coming in who could drive and going around teaching them the job and stuff like that. That was interesting, that was my first real experience of meeting people who weren't school buddies or family, and even just going to different places. I almost never left Stockport up until that time, apart from the awful ritual of holidays, as they were, which were either in Blackpoll or North Wales, and they were terrible experiences as well. Up until probably my mid to late 20s I actually couldn't understand why people raved about holidays. Why would you go on a holiday? Holidays are horrible times. Why would you do that?#

Interviewer 38:37 I can imagine with your mom they must have been...#

Little 38:43 Yes, yes, they were. Oh yes [laughter].#

Interviewer 38:43 What was your next job afterwards?#

Little 38:47 By that time I was - actually before I left school - I was seriously into music. This was the early days of punk, so I think I bought my first record in '77, I think. I was really into music and there was a local independent shop so I really got into all the independent music, got into the punk thing and things like that. So I used to go down there every weekend, hang round there all day Saturday. Knew the staff, knew the music. I used to read both Melody Maker and NME, and basically it ended up that I would be hanging round the shop all day long, and used to know the stuff better than the staff did, so I used to be helping out customers and recommending stuff to them and all the rest of it. And Brian, the guy who ran the shop, said, "Come and work for us please." So I started a Saturday job, I was still working at TVA, started the Saturday job doing that, and then eventually they said, "You really need to come and work for us full-time." And so I abandoned my previous job and went working for the record shop.#

Interviewer 39:56 What music, what bands were you particularly into then?#

Little 40:02 At the time I was into anything that was punk and eventually went into the new wave and stuff like that. But actually, already at that time I was quite wide taste. I was into the Pistols and the Stranglers, but I was also into all the electronic stuff - early days Human League. And also just some quite odd stuff from the early days as well, things like industrial music - Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and people like that. And then I was into the ska stuff and got into reggae, and just everything really. And once I actually worked at the record shop and I could listen to stuff that I didn't have to buy first, then the sky was the limit. Anything, I would listen to anything, and I still to this day have very, very, very wide tastes in music.#

Interviewer 41:02 That's interesting. Here's an interesting factoid, my husband used to live with the singer from Throbbing Gristle.#

Little 41:10 Wow, Genesis P Porridge?#

Interviewer 41:11 Yeah, I'll tell you about it sometime.#

Little 41:13 Wow, yeah, yeah.#

Interviewer 41:16 Yeah, I've got some good Gen stories for you#

Little 41:19 Wow, yeah.#

Interviewer 41:21 But not while we're recording [laughter]. So did you get much involved with the music scene there?#

Little 41:30 I started to, yeah. The local musicians, it was such a big that the local musicians used to be coming into the shop all the time, and I got to know them, and really got into the local music scene. There was one guy in particular who was trying to organize gigs and did a fantastic job. I remember - okay, these were his figures so maybe he was bigging himself up a bit - but he claimed that Stockport went from one month only being able to see about three live music events in Stockport, and one of them would have been a folk band at one particular pub and the other two would have been jazz trios somewhere, to having a gig every single night somewhere in Stockport the following month. Literally anybody who could pick up an instrument, he would find you a gig somewhere. He was a great salesman and he went around to all these pubs and working men's clubs and stuff and said, "Put a band on and let these kids in and they'll buy your beer," sort of thing. And yeah, we developed a cracking music scene in Stockport and went onto actually starting to work with bands in the studio. There was a recording studio set up in one of the side buildings in Stockport market. And really got into the scene, got to see a lot of bands, got to see a lot of music. We were actually one of the chart return shops. Do you remember the concept of chart return shops? There was actually a documentary on the tele the other day about it. But it used to be that sales were recorded from a selection of all the music shops in the country, and literally you would record your singles sales and your album sales by title, and put them in a locked box on the outside of your shop on a Saturday night, and they would be picked up overnight or Sunday morning, sent down to the collation center in London, and that was where the chart came from. And the idea was that it was secret as to who were the chart return shops, nobody was supposed to know, but of course they all did. We used to get all the promotions because obviously they only want to spend the promotion money in the places where it counted, literally counted. But it meant that we used to, in the record shop, we used to get free records. So they would give us free copies of singles, free albums that they were promoting, and the idea was the owner would discount them or give them away in competitions of whatever. But actually what he used to do was put them on the shelf, share them amongst the staff, sorry, and say - especially when we got a lot of stuff - and just say, "You can either have that or you can swap it for another one. I don't care, as long as I sell something and make the money." So that allowed me to really whack up my record collection and really get into a lot of different stuff. But also we used to get free tickets, and used to get to go along to the gigs and all that kind of stuff as well.#

Interviewer 45:01 Did you ever see Joy Division?#

Little 45:04 Yeah, I saw Joy Division.#

Interviewer 45:05 I'm so jealous.#

Little 45:06 At the Russell Club, before the Factory existed. In the same bill, I saw Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire and the Druitt Column - which was what's his face - I've forgotten his name now, although he doesn't play anymore, he's had a series of strokes I think. Vini Reilly, that's right. Although I didn't like him at the time, I knocked about a bit with Tony.#

Interviewer 45:42 Tony Wilson?#

Little 45:42 Yeah, yeah. Because I remember a mate of mine used to take us up there and she took us to the Russell Club first time, Tony used to fancy her - or so she claimed anyway, but maybe he just fancied all the girls around there at the time. But I do remember giving us out some bloody fanzines to distribute and to sell, yeah to sell them, and we got really cheesed off with that, because he made us do a bit of work, but we did get in the club for free. And actually, funnily enough, I've probably still got it somewhere in a box in the cellar - I do have the, god what was the German car company other than BMW, the next one down, Mercedes, that's right - so I still have the Mercedes hood ornament from Tony's car [laughter].#

Interviewer 46:45 Did you nick it?#

Little 46:46 Yeah, we got so pissed off with him we [inaudible] front of his car. "Oh that's Tony's bloody Merc. Show off bastard, oh, well, we'll have that." And I've still got that somewhere.#

Interviewer 47:01 Because that would have been quite an exciting time to be in Manchester.#

Little 47:03 Oh god yeah [laughter]. Oh yeah. I saw so many bands and went to so many gigs it was unbelievable. I saw U2 when they'd just got the record deal, and I don't even know if the first single was out. They were third on the bill, behind the Slits and Big in Japan, who later went onto be - so Holly Johnson was in Big in Japan, and he went onto what's-a-face, the ones who did "Relax" and all that lot.#

Interviewer 47:32 Frankie Goes to Hollywood?#

Little 47:33 That's right yeah, some of them went onto become Frankie. Yeah, it was brilliant. And you know what, as much as I do this software all day long, and as much as I've done software development as a career, music is still my first love, it really is.#

Interviewer 47:50 That's interesting that both you and Matt both have backgrounds in music.#

Little 47:55 Mmm, yes, yeah. Yeah, it really is. Although I've never learnt to play anything other than, I might tinker about on a keyboard every now and then, and I've tried to learn a few chords on a guitar.#

Interviewer 48:10 But still, not necessarily playing, but being immersed in a music scene.#

Little 48:15 Oh yeah, I loved it, loved it, loved it. And actually, when the record shop shut down. Brian sold it to a local distributor, who were buying up independent record shops as much as they could in the early 80s, and they immediately changed things around and made me go and work at a different record shop. They sent me off to one Prestwich, which was actually really, really crap and not very busy. And they actually closed it down very soon after. I later found out that the person who was in that shop was somebody that they wanted in the warehousing in Central, so they basically bought the shop because they wanted this guy, and they'd known him as distributors - they were a distributor first, and that's why their people knew all the record shops in all the Northwest, and so they'd chosen the ones they wanted to buy, either because it was a brilliant shop or, in this particular case, because they wanted the staff. So they bought the shop so they could get that guy in, but in order to keep the shop running for a while they moved me up to there, and I hated that, I hated having to travel that far every single day, and it was an awful shop. And so, probably within four or five months of being there they shut it down and I was made redundant.#

Interviewer 49:43 So what was the first record shop called that you worked in?#

Little 49:45 Ah, so it was BG Records. The original owner was Brian Gilbert. And the weird thing is people at Stockport will remember it for the giant space invaders painted on the windows, which was really weird because what actually happened was that we had a particular promotion on for - do you remember Hot Gossip?#

Interviewer 50:13 Vaguely.#

Little 50:16 They started out as a dance group on Top of the Pops.#

Interviewer 50:19 Yup, that's right, that's right. Yeah, yeah, yeah.#

Little 50:22 And somebody decided they should make a record, because one of them could sing. Actually, it was what's his face's wife.#

Interviewer 50:28 Ah, Anna... Yeah. Anna Baker, was it? No.#

Little 50:33 No, no, it was... Oh my god, the who wrote Phantom among others.#

Interviewer 50:42 Phantom, I don't know what Phantom...#

Little 50:42 Lloyd Webber, Andrew Lloyd Webber.#

Interviewer 50:44 Oh, is it Sarah Brightman.#

Little 50:46 Yeah, so Sarah Brightman was with Hot Gossip. The original name was Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip, until she disappeared. But they had a song, so they did I think, Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper, that was a big hit. And then she moved, because she could sing and the rest of them were there to look good, because they were a dance troupe, not actually a band. But they had a another song out that was something to do with Space Invaders, and their record company were doing a promotion, and they were actually sending these people down to our record shop, and it was going to be a big promotion day and all this, that and the other. And so a boyfriend of the manager of the shop, Phil, Philomena was the manager, and her boyfriend was an artist, and we got him to paint basically the whole front of the shop - so we had a massive plate-glass window on the front of the shop - done up to promote this Space Invaders related song that was coming along, and we never took it down. We took the wording down, but we had these two Space Invaders either side of the window, and that stayed on I think until the shop closed. So most people will remember that the shop looked like that with these Space Invaders, but actually it was done as a promotion for one day when the band came along. Which was great fun trying to fit seven or eight glamorous girls and a couple of very effeminate boys behind the counter for the whole day.#

Interviewer 52:23 Oh god. Was it a big record store?#

Little 52:31 It was quite big, yeah. Compared to some of the properties around Stockport it was quite a big place, yeah. It was on an area called the Underbanks that they're trying to revive at the moment. But yeah, it was well know, it was the last of the independent record stores in Stockport, definitely. I stood longest.#

Interviewer 52:54 It was 1982 that it closed?#

Little 52:57 Say again?#

Interviewer 52:57 Did you say it was 1982 that it closed, or was that when you were made redundant?#

Little 53:01 No, it was probably '82, '83 that I was made redundant, and I'd moved on to a different store by that time. But that one, I think it managed to stay open until about maybe '84, '85, something like that.#

Interviewer 53:16 And is that when you bought the video shop? No, that's how you got into programming.#

Little 53:21 Yeah, so after losing my job there I basically - I can't even think where I was living at that time - but I ended up going and sharing a house with one of the local bands who I knew through the record shop, and been to the gigs and all the rest of it. They were happy for me to share the house with them, and so then I started roadieing for them.#

Interviewer 53:55 What was the band called?#

Little 53:56 The band was called, so at the time they will have been called Belgian Bitch.#

Interviewer 54:02 Belgian or Belgium?#

Little 54:04 Belgian, as in belonging to Belgium. I should just type it in shouldn't I?#

Interviewer 54:10 Yeah. Belgian Bitch, they've got two compilations, two things on Out of Town Records.#

Little 54:18 Yeah, Out of Town Records was that local record company that I ended up working with. Phil Ellis was the guy behind that, and we got a few local musicians and managed to get - I think we ended up with about 10 or 15 singles releases, two compilation albums, which were brilliant, which I just recently went and looked for and found that I have still got them. I'm so pleased that they didn't get destroyed in the flood, I actually have still got those first two compilation albums. And there was a third that was recorded and never pressed. At point I even had the reel to reel mix downs of those, the quarter inch mix downs of that last album, and I don't know where it got lost at some point.#

Interviewer 55:09 You said they were getting into glam?#

Little 55:13 Yeah, basically they abandoned their original singer, which was this Phil Ellis' brother, Dave Ellis, who I heard died a few years ago. Dave Ellis abandoned and went onto another band, so Phil took over and tried to make them a bit more glam. He'd actually, on and off, tried to launch a pop career since the early 70s, actually. Phil was a little bit older than most of that crowd, although he really didn't like people to know it, and you wouldn't think it to look at him because he seriously dressed under his age. But he was clever bloke and a bit of a salesman and he was always trying to push the band and push various things and push the record company and so on. I started roadieing, literally jump humping amps about, very quickly showed that I could even plug the wires in, which the previous guy couldn't do and get it right. And yeah, Phil wanted to change the nature of the band. He wanted to get them a bit more glam, and also he was still promoting bands and stuff like that, and I very quickly gained a reputation of being able to program these new-fangled digital synthesizers that came out. So everybody previously was using the analog synthesizers, and basically you programmed them by twiddling the knobs until it sounded good, or sounded weird, or whatever you wanted to do. And then the digital ones came along, which was much more mathematical. So the digital synthesizers, they made their sounds by adding their sine waves together, and then using different sine waves to modulate them. And that was seriously over the heads of most of the musicians, but I understood that, that made lots of sense to me, I really liked my physics. I kind of got a reputation for that and pretty became one of the go-to people in that crowd to just get the best sounds out of the synthesizers and stuff like that. But then, yeah, I think as I mentioned previously, Phil had this great idea that he wanted to do these computer graphics at the side of the stage when the band were playing. And by that time they'd acquired two blonde sisters, one was the guitarist's girlfriend and his younger sister, who was underage for an awful long time. So he had this great idea that we would have these computer graphics of some description on TV, stacked on top of each other at the side of the stage. And so somebody acquired a Spectrum 128, as it was, I think we called it a Spectrum. And I was tasked with making this happen, so that was my first proper foray into programming. I did a little bit in sixth form, but this was really doing it properly, and I read the magazines, read the instruction manual and just started coding. And as I've mentioned, basically got a program that turned what you typed into 3D letter on the screen. This is all 8-bit and it was probably 320 pixels maximum across or something like that. It might have been 16 colors by that time, or maybe it was eight colors, but we did a passable representation of 3D graphics. And then another one that would bounce objects around the screen, so it would do collision detection and change direction correctly, using the physics so that it looked right. And I managed to combine the two programs so that I could create 3D graphics and bounce them around the screen, which was very, very satisfying and something I absolutely loved doing. And then we couldn't figure out how to get that one image onto multiple TVs up and down the screen, so the actual execution ended up not being done, but by that time I'd really, really got interested in computing. So, what happened then? Let me think. I was pretty much full-time with that band at that point. The recording studio in Stockport had shutdown, because basically it couldn't make any money. Phil had pretty much shutdown the record company as well, as I say, he'd managed to get this third compilation album recorded, but then nobody had any money to press it. And so I was working pretty much fulltime with Phil, and we got into video as well. By that time I was a video camera man and again, it started trying to do videos for bands to promote them, so whilst I don't think MTV had started at that point, but it was--#

Interviewer 1:00:52 It was kind of when they were starting music videos.#

Little 1:00:55 Yeah, music videos were becoming the thing. They were on Top of the Pops all the time and it was brilliant, and every band wanted a music video. We were doing that and also I was doing the editing and stuff like that as well. And this is all old analog equipment, so the camera we'd be using were what was called ENG cameras. Do you ENG? Electronic News Gathering?#

Interviewer 1:01:21 Nope.#

Little 1:01:22 Basically it was substandard for proper cameras, professional cameras, but it was considered good enough to show on news reports. It was actually broadcast quality, but it was low broadcast quality, and that was the classification. It was good enough for electronic news gathering, was the idea, but because it was portable - you could put one of these things on your shoulder and film with it. And we used one inch pneumatic tapes, as it was, and again it was the inferior quality, but it was okay to use in the studio in certain circumstances. So that was the quality we were doing, and it was fine to mix down onto a VHS tape, and for bands to show us, promotion and stuff like that. We were doing that, but we were also doing basically any filming jobs we could get. I remember doing an opening of, or a re-opening of a outdoor swimming pool, which was quite interesting because one of the things that went on as part of the promotion for this was a Miss Wet T-shirt competition, so we seriously enjoyed filming that, I have to say. And we did things like fashion shows at textile factories, anything basically, anything we could do. And again, I really enjoyed the technical side of it, I really enjoyed the editing and stuff like that. And then from that was when I got into doing the video shop. The reason for that was that the guy's equipment that we were using - so we didn't even actually have our own equipment because it was incredibly expensive at that time, this guy had bought it through some connection or the other - and the studio where we did all the mixing and where all the main equipment was stored was above a video shop, and so we kind of got into it through that.#

Interviewer 1:03:27 Okay. Did you buy it with other people or did you rent it?#

Little 1:03:32 What actually happened was we rented it for a while. These two guys between them had, I think they actually had at one point four or five video rental shops around Manchester, and the North, well just around Manchester actually. And then the two guys had a falling out, so it was John and Chris I think were the two guys. John kept two of the shops, Chris kept another two, and they were going to sell this third one. And I was with Jan by that time, and she was working in one of Chris' shops, and basically we decided that we would try and make a go of it. But we couldn't afford to buy the shop, so we rented it for a year. It was basically the least profitable shop that they were trying to get rid of, so we said we would take it on and try and build up the business. And what was really interesting was that we had a contract that said, one, we would pay so much each month for renting the property and also renting the stock, so we were able to start with a shop full of stock, but we had to give back the stock on a monthly basis. We had to give so many videos back to Chris on a monthly basis, basically at the rate that new videos came out. We were buying in new stock that was ours and we were having to give back the old stuff. But the really interesting things was that at the end of that 12 months we had the option to buy the shop, and it was done at a fixed price. I think it was 18,000 pounds to buy a commercial property on a busy street, and that was like, Oh my god, that's a lot of money, when we took it up. And quite literally 12 months later, that shop was valued at 35,000 and we had a piece of paper that said we only had to pay 18,000 for it. Because I mean that at that exact time that that property boom started happening in the 80s.#

Interviewer 1:05:58 Did you buy it then?#

Little 1:05:59 Yep, we bought it. Not even with a mortgage, we bought it with a business loan, which later we discovered was a bloody stupid thing to do. But yeah, we bought it on a business loan short-term, maybe 12 years, 10 years, or something. Horrendous payments, as it happened. Probably within that second year we bought a computer to help us run the shop, so it would do the rentals for us. We actually bought the software and the computer came with it almost to run it on - an old green-screen PC with this software to run it on. And I got back into my computer, I'd kind of-- I was still doing a bit with home computers, I think we were on our second home computer at that time, and I was trying to do some programming on it, but it was actually quite difficult to do programming for home computer if you want to go beyond Basic.#

Interviewer 1:07:07 Yeah, so you learnt basic. Then I think you said learned, is 650--?#

Little 1:07:13 6502 Assembler.#

Interviewer 1:07:16 Is that a language?#

Little 1:07:17 Well, 6502 is a processor, so it was a 8-bit processor from Motorola I think. It wasn't Intel, oh no, it was an Intel I think, or it was a company that Intel eventually bought. Basically it was an 8-bit processor and that was common in all the Atari family of home computers at the time. So I learnt that, which was the way you could get the most out of that machine, once you got beyond Basic and hit the restrictions of Basic and it was slow, it was [inaudible], so if you wanted to do anything fast, like computer graphics and all the rest of it, you would have to learn some Assembler stuff, so I did, bought the books, learnt how to do it. Then I went onto a 16-bit home computer, still with Atari, so I stayed with Atari. And at the time the two big rivals were Atari and Omega, and you did Omega if you were into graphics and you did Atari if you were into sound. And because of the music thing, and MIDI was big by that time, and Atari had a MIDI interface built in, but the Omega had the superior graphics chip, and the old classic is that Deep Space 9, do you remember that?#

Interviewer 1:08:43 Yeah, the sci-fi?#

Little 1:08:44 Yes, so it's the sci-fi. It was the Star Trek spinoff. Deep Space 9, certainly the first series of Deep Space 9, a lot of the CGI was done on an Atari, on a home computer.#

Interviewer 1:08:57 I had no idea.#

Little 1:08:57 For that TV series, yeah. Sorry, not an Atari, on an Omega. And to this day the Omega fans will tell you how significant that was that broadcast quality TV graphics was done on a series of Omegas. But by the same token, some of the best musicians at the time will tell you that they were writing songs on Atari STs and, in fact, Fat boy Slim still to this day uses an Atari ST as part of his studio environment. I went with the music side because music was my first love, as the song goes. But then got onto the PC and really started learning to program in PC--#

Interviewer 1:09:45 So--#

Little 1:09:46 Go on.#

Interviewer 1:09:46 Sorry, carry on.#

Little 1:09:48 No, I was just going to say, I literally taught myself how to program in a new language. I was buying computer mags by that time, finding out what was interesting, what was popular, just trying to get into this computing thing. Literally from that idea, not even considering it a career, but just because it was so bloody interesting. And I taught myself Pascal, so I bought Turbo Pascal. At the time, Microsoft were highfalutin and very expensive. If you wanted to get the Microsoft developer tools you were talking hundreds of pounds, at a time when a weekly wage might have been 30 or 40 quid - well no, probably a bit more than that. But a company called Zorland, as they were at the time, had a C compiler that they brought out - or was it Zorland, or was it Borland first of all? No, it might have been Borland first of all actually. But it actually turned out, I think it was Jack Tremilo was related to the Atari brothers or something, who brought out his old rival, a C compiler originally, and then he brought out a Pascal compiler, which was Borland Pascal, and that's the one I got first of all.#

Interviewer 1:11:14 Once you started working on WordPress and started blogging, what computer did you have then?#

Little 1:11:19 Then I will have had a Windows PC, but actually by the time I started WordPress I probably would have been running Linux most of the time on it. Yeah, so it's dual boot, yeah, so I was running Linux by that time. That would have been early days Linux, one point something kernels - will probably have to check that actually, I can't remember [laughter]. But yeah, it was still early days Linux. I will have been running - god, I can't even remember what distribution I would have been running, Ubuntu wasn't around at that time, and I didn't like Red Hat, I remember that I didn't like Red Hat, so I'll have been using something else, I can't even remember what distribution it will have been.#

Interviewer 1:12:09 Let's see, I'm just looking at the releases. The initial release was '91. So 10 years later when you were blogging would have been - I can't find it. I'll find out [laughter].#

Little 1:12:26 Yeah, yeah. Most of the time I would have been doing my own stuff in Linux, but it was a dual boot machine because I do remember that by that time the company I was working, which will have been Unite - I started there in 2000, so Unite - we were writing a Java e-commerce app, and if I needed to work on it at home I'd have to boot into Windows to use the development environment. So I was dual booting between Windows and Linux.#

Interviewer 1:13:10 What--?#

Little 1:13:11 Sorry, go on.#

Interviewer 1:13:13 I can't remember what I was going to say. Sorry, carry on.#

Little 1:13:17 Oh okay. Actually I probably would have been doing WordPress on both.#

Interviewer 1:13:27 Was it a desktop or a laptop?#

Little 1:13:29 It was a desktop.#

Interviewer 1:13:30 Did you have a home office or did you have it set up in your living room?#

Little 1:13:34 This will have been, this was set up in the cellar.#

Interviewer 1:13:38 Is this the same house you're in at the minute?#

Little 1:13:40 Yeah, oh yeah, yeah.#

Interviewer 1:13:42 What was that room like?#

Little 1:13:45 Initially it was quite nice. I actually had some quality office furniture that I got from a previous company that I worked for. When they moved office they sold off all their old office furniture, which was actually top quality Ikea office furniture. Ikea used to have a separate office range that was probably three times the price of their cheap stuff, their home stuff, which they don't do anything. But it was really, really good stuff, and I think we got my brother-in-law to come along with his van and help us shift this stuff when I bought it from when they were shutting the office down. It was a proper office setup, it even had a filing cabinet, I remember.#

Interviewer 1:14:43 I have a filing cabinet right here beside me now.#

Little 1:14:45 A-ha, I do now but at the time I remember having that. So I had a proper setup, I think by that time I will have had a 17-inch monitor, a CRT, so it will have been two foot deep - big old thing.#

Interviewer 1:15:06 When I think cellar I just think dripping pipes, but I'm assuming it had carpet and--?#

Little 1:15:13 Yeah, it was what's called tanked, which meant it was lined with plastic to keep the damp outside the cellar environment. It had carpet in there and we actually had all our books down there, so it was dry enough to keep our books on bookshelves down there. What else did I have there? All my CD collection was down there, by that time I had quite a significant CD collection.#

Interviewer 1:15:45 Did you keep your vinyl?#

Little 1:15:46 Sorry?#

Interviewer 1:15:46 Did you keep your vinyl?#

Little 1:15:48 Oh, now, there's a tragic story behind my vinyl.#

Interviewer 1:15:53 Oh no, my husband has a tragic vinyl story too, they're too sad [laughter].#

Little 1:15:57 Basically, in fact it was at the time-- it was after I'd been sharing a house with a band. I then got to share a house with a couple of lads and I had a huge record collection by that time, after so many years working at the record shop. I mean, huge, like 2000 LPs. No, I had 1000 LPS, 2500 7" singles and probably about 1200 12" singles, and a few hundreds of cassettes as well. And the guy I was sharing the house with went mad, literally, he was institutionalized - and it turned out his sister was as well, so it ran in the family. But basically we got kicked out of the house that he was not paying the mortgage on, as it turned out, when he was collecting our rent. One of our neighbors who'd just lost his driving license for drink driving and sold his car had an empty garage, and said, "Oh, I'll store your stuff for you, till you get yourself sorted." I think at the time I went sleeping on my sister's floor, in her flat, which will have been actually the only time I've ever lived outside Stockport, however briefly it was. And by the time I'd got myself sorted out with a flat and went back to go and collect my stuff the guy had gone.#

Interviewer 1:17:33 Oh no, with all of your stuff?#

Little 1:17:35 With all of my stuff. Apparently he'd sold the house owing electric bills and gas bills and poll tax, at the time, because poll tax was around by that time, and owing thousands in poll tax, and just gone and nobody knew where he'd gone. I'd later learn, or heard, that he'd moved to Wales, but yeah, with all my stuff. With my whole record collection, my book collection - I probably had 1000 books by that time - some clothes, bedding, and as my sister occasionally reminds me to the day, her typewriter. Do you know what? That was such a blow that I didn't buy a record for nearly 10 years.#

Interviewer 1:18:30 Yeah, I can imagine.#

Little 1:18:31 Actually probably six or seven years. I just couldn't stand to go into a record shop and see all the stuff that I no longer had. And it was impossible to - I wanted to replace everything instantly and of course didn't have the money for that, as well as still buying new stuff. It was just such a blow, and literally by the time I actually decided that I wanted to buy some music again, all the vinyl had gone and it was CDs, so I started a CD collection.#

Interviewer 1:19:08 So that's what you had in your office at home?#

Little 1:19:10 Yes, yeah.#

Interviewer 1:19:13 And what was your Internet connection like then?#

Little 1:19:17 By that time that will have been - that was still dialup, but it was dialup over cable. By the time we moved into this house we were with 9X, I think they were still called 9X at the time, and became Cable and Wireless and then became something else before they finally became Virgin Media. But yes, we had cable. Although it was still analog dialup, by that time it was probably a decent speed - maybe 56k. 56k was pretty much the last one before people went onto broadband, wasn't it?#

Interviewer 1:20:02 Something like that, yeah.#

Little 1:20:02 Might have been, yeah it will have been 56k, because it was-- Actually no, I'm telling lies. It was 56k dialup, but it wasn't with 9X at the time because that was broadband that they got in, so I was actually still with an independent ISP, Demon.#

Interviewer 1:20:27 Oh yeah, yeah, I remember them.#

Little 1:20:30 And rather oddly I actually still have my original Demon account. I don't know why I'm still paying 10 pound a month.#

Interviewer 1:20:39 You should cancel that!#

Little 1:20:40 I really should, but I've actually got - there's an old website that I need to put up somewhere else at some point that I just haven't done or got round to. But yeah, I was still on dialup around that time, 56k, because I remember that basically that was an expense that I chose to take on. Staying online for four, five, six hours at a time, helping out in the b2 forums was something that showed up on the phone bill every month. But the dialup rate would have been a penny a minute or two p a minute by that time or something. It was a few quid a night that I would pay, knowing that that was coming in on the bill.#

Interviewer 1:21:36 I've got a few clarification things before we've got to go soon. One thing you said was that b2 is a typical one man project. I'm just wondering what that means and how that affected the code?#

Little 1:21:48 What does it mean? It means that you write code how you think of it. If you've got a logic problem to solve, and often people, especially when they're beginning programmers, they don't think of it as a logic problem, they think of it as, I need to get this on the screen, or, I need to write this to the disk, or whatever it is. You write it basically as it comes to you, and you keep writing code until it does the thing that you want it to do, and when you need to make it do something different, or you need to change it or expand it or whatever, you still know how it works and so you carry on from that and you make it do something different or you add some extra features in, and it kind of grows organically. As soon as somebody else needs to work with that code, and particularly somebody who maybe is as bad as you, but they don't know your code, it becomes an issue and it becomes quite hard to manage and to add to it, unless you're literally working in the same bit of code. And it's something that I came across with my first professional computing job in 1990, was that I was dropped into a team working environment in what is the worst possible conditions. You're actually writing compiled code in a shared directory, which means that as you add new things it stops the code compiling until you've made changes in all the places. It's a ridiculous environment to work in, and yet most self-taught programmers start that way and actually most of them don't get beyond that, unless they either start working for a company that knows what they're doing, and so many didn't at that time, or they end up working with an open source project that has had to solve some of those problems. And it's basically-- [loud squeaking] [inaudible] things are modular, that isn't these massive interdependencies, so just changing the bit that you're working on breaks half the other stuff. But actually b2 was like that in the early days. It was massively a single module, it was one guy's vision of how to make these things work and it was, yeah, you made the change in one place and this other stuff broke that was not related to where you were working. Although it was probably a bit better than that, just simply because the nature of PHP means that when you're writing web interface PHP code often it's modular in that this page, this filename .pup that's web addressable does one thing and another one does something else. There wasn't a huge amount of includes, even what we would call a theme these days was the core of the application. Index.php was what you hit with your url and that started doing everything else.#

Interviewer 1:25:33 That had the design and everything in index.php.#

Little 1:25:36 Yeah, and went off and called the database functions and, yeah, it wasn't a separate theme as such. The only modular things about it was that it pulled in a file called layout.css, and that was where you started changing what your site looked like.#

Interviewer 1:25:58 If I wanted to use a hack, say like your b2 links plugin, did I have to get your hack and copy the code into the right place in index.php.#

Little 1:26:08 Actually no, for the administration side of things it got better than that. It would be a different PHP file that you went to do the administration thing, and he actually by that time had developed a menuing system as such, so there was a txt file where - vaguely, off the top of my head - the format will have been something like, 'name of the menu item,' it might even have had a user-level to access it by that time. I think it had multiple users by that time, and then the name of the php file to call, when somebody clicked on that. It actually had a menuing system that would read this txt file and then display the built-in menu items followed by the ones in this txt file, and if you clicked on any of those links it would take you to a named php file. So to add a hack for the administration screens, which is what my b2 links did, you would drop your php file, your standalone php file, into the admin directory, and you would add a reference to it in this menu file, so that when you ran the code it would now have a new menu item, click on it, and it would call your file. Then you could call some of the other stuff that b2 did, and so that would, in my case, would allow you to put stuff in the database basically, and manage that, but then if you wanted to bring that stuff out onto the frontend, you would be going into your index.php and adding - in fact, would it have been a separate sidebar by that time? Not even sure if it was a separate sidebar file. But basically in my case with links you would then call my functions that I documented to output your links in the sidebar, and so it would call my functions and my functions would go and do the database query - completely independent database query and put something on the screen.#

Interviewer 1:28:11 If you updated b2, did that overwrite--?#

Little 1:28:15 It would overwrite your menus file, yeah. You'd need to remember to save your menus file off the one side. You also needed to save your settings file, so you had a b2settings.php, and that had your database connections stuff in it, it had your-- you could do language translation in there, so days of the week and months of the year were translated in that file, and variables and settings, any hacks you wanted or even any-- b2 had some configurations, things you could set, and you would set them in that file, so you 'd have to remember to make a copy of that file, update to the new version and then copy yours back in, so you had the potential of, if you forgot to do it, you'd lose your copy or often - not often, no it didn't happened that often - but the potential was that new things that came in, that needed to be set in the settings files, you wouldn't set because you had your old copy. But all those issues around that with updating and losing your changes, as well as the b2 links that I put in there, one of the other significant things that I think I added to WordPress in the early days was wp_config_sample.php, so the fact that the distribution was sample and could therefore never overwrite your configured one, and as bizarre and obvious as it sounds now, that was actually a very rare thing and it was something that I've been praised for in a number of other projects that I've worked on, that the configuration was separate from the distribution [laughter]. I sounds daft now--#

Interviewer 1:30:03 It makes such a difference because it must have been a pain in the ass to have to--#

Little 1:30:05 Oh absolutely, it was so many times people would - and that would often be the support thing, you know, I've got the new version and menus have disappeared on the admin screen and I've lost my settings, it can't connect to the database. Did you remember to save away your own copy of it? You know, absolutely not.#

Interviewer 1:30:27 At what point did the config file come in? I could probably found out.#

Little 1:30:36 Yeah, I think it will have been. Was there a b2_config. No, I think b2_settings was where your configuration went. I think config will have been a WordPress thing that therefore Mark will have introduced it maybe - or maybe I did, I don't know - but then very quickly introduced the sample one to stop that override happening. That will have absolutely have been before the first release, it's a technique I'd picked up and figured out working in my day job.#

Interviewer 1:31:09 I'm just having a look on track to see if can find it.#

Little 1:31:14 It is in there. I do remember seeing that I did put a release in there for-- put comments in there for [inaudible] The config's in there somewhere.#

Interviewer 1:31:37 Let's see, I've been looking a lot through track.#

Little 1:31:37 Oh right. I'll tell you what I did see, I saw that you've got that subdomain set up. You copied some old posts from around the WordPress world.#

Interviewer 1:31:48 Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yep.#

Little 1:31:51 You need to fix some of the urls.#

Interviewer 1:31:53 I know, it's because I uploaded it from local and I haven't-- Scarlett did some stuff to make it work properly, but yeah. It's not ready for public consumption yet, it's just there. I've been trying to decide to make it private, but we're going to use it as a tool to do some archiving. We're going to use Wget - I don't really know much about it, but we're going to archive some stuff like Let me just see if I can find config#

Little 1:32:39 Right, here we go. It's-- No, maybe it didn't come in until 1.0. The first one that I have got in my collection of WordPress releases is 1.0. The first time I've got wordwpconfig-sample.#

Interviewer 1:32:57 Yep, I have-- configuration extra, that's not a single file, that's not it.#

Little 1:33:04 So 0.71, there was definitely#

Interviewer 1:33:09 b2_config?#

Little 1:33:11 Yeah, b2_config.#

Interviewer 1:33:16 I have the 12th of the 6th, 12th of June, you changed b2_config to wp_config. Let me just send you that.#

Little 1:33:35 God, I'm just looking at the settings in that b2_config. Things like flag to say whether you used preview or bb code, and what your file upload url was, use weblog's ping, use smilies, and then the setting for the smilies, oh my lord. It's wonderful stuff.#

Interviewer 1:33:56 Oh here it is, this is it.#

Little 1:34:00 Ah okay, you've got it.#

Interviewer 1:34:01 b2_config replaced with wp_config sample, and that's the link. That was the 12th of June, so that would have been not the first release, it would have been 0.71 or something like that.#

Little 1:34:15 Yeah, the 0.71 would have been current at that point, yeah. So 1.0, that's the first time that came in, there you go. Wowee.#

Interviewer 1:34:27 It was a good move [laughter].#

Little 1:34:30 Settings was new actually. wp_settings was the new one, where it moved all the stuff that really you shouldn't be playing with, and smilies, and the day-month translations - good god. [inaudible] b2_config, wow.#

Interviewer 1:34:43 This is good because I've been going through and tracking a lot of this stuff. I don't really know what's significant and what's not, so this is useful.#

Little 1:34:52 Also, by that time and again part of my experience of working with teams and working with configuration control, which has always been a big thing for me is decent log messages that actually say what on earth went on in that release - very important, not everybody was as good at doing that [laughter].#

Interviewer 1:35:11 Yeah, your commit messages are pretty good, they're useful. I am going to have to go-- Oh, one other just checking question. What age was your daughter when you started? You just have one daughter?#

Little 1:35:24 Yes.#

Interviewer 1:35:24 I mean you have lots of kids don't you? Jan has kids...#

Little 1:35:29 Yeah, Jan has two boys, but they're men, they're grown ups. The oldest is only four or five years younger than me. Just the one daughter - Jamie was born in '94, so she'll have been--#

Interviewer 1:35:43 Six, eight. Eight.#

Little 1:35:44 Eight, yeah.#

Interviewer 1:35:47 Okay, that was just biographical stuff. Okay, I have got to go, although I could sit and go through track with you, that would be great. If you think of anything else that you think is relevant, I'm trying to get something written this week to be honest. I have an editor and I - I don't know if you know of Christa Stevens, she used to be editor at A List Apart.#

Little 1:36:17 All right, okay. I know A List Apart, but no I don't know her.#

Interviewer 1:36:20 She was there for six years. She's at Automatic now, so I was just like, "Can I borrow you to do all of the editing?" And she was like, "Alright."#

Little 1:36:29 Really in terms of bio for me and background, the only other real thing is I think my experience at the different companies that I work for, I think really, hopefully contributed to me being able to write half-decent code in WordPress and hopefully some of the directions it went in, some of the decisions that we made were based on my experience of what's the right way to write code. And also, when Ryan started contributing, where I kind of dropped off when Ryan really started doing good stuff, it was very obvious to me that Ryan was a seriously experienced developer, with the quality of the stuff that he was putting in. And again that was, to me, with all that experience that I've got, that was very obvious that the stuff that he was putting in was that good.#

Interviewer 1:37:32 When did he start getting involved? Was it like 2004? He was like the sixth or seventh contributor.#

Little 1:37:40 Yeah, and I didn't really keep, because I was on my way out by that time, and I told you I had issues at home. And half of the reasons for me not being able to keep contributing was the fact that it was a desktop in the cellar, and it was not possible for me to spend all my evenings in the cellar. If I'd have had a laptop that I could have sat on and been with the family but still on the laptop, it would have been a different story. I didn't really notice his contributions at first, but as they started coming in, and particularly, the key one was the hooks system. As soon as he did that I though, Yeah, I could have done that. Because at the end of the day it's a concept that he's borrowed, I'm sure he's borrowed from a number of other programming languages and other programming systems. And I recognized immediately how significant it was and how important it was. It's weird, thinking about it now, it probably gave me even more leave to not be involved - weird as that sounds.#

Interviewer 1:38:54 I guess you knew it was in safe hands.#

Little 1:38:55 Yeah, almost. Honestly, it shone - as daft as it sounds - it shone brighter than most of the other things that people were doing. And that's not to say that people weren't doing good stuff, they were, but that was a step change. The hook system was a step change in WordPress development, and it was probably the first step on quite honestly making it the superior product that it is.#

Interviewer 1:39:27 Do you know when that was introduced, the hooks?#

Little 1:39:29 Good question. I think that was 1.1 or maybe 1.2. I had a conversation-- well, one of the books I was reviewing, somebody was talking about the hooks in terms of functions.php, and then, "Oh, if you look at these plugins, plugins can use hooks as well." And I had to point out to them that hooks came first and they are the plugin system, and that came later. I vaguely remember, it might have been 1.1 or 1.2.#

Interviewer 1:40:00 So it was hooks then plugin system?#

Little 1:40:03 The hooks were the start of the plugin system, so the first plugin was able to be written as a plugin in that it didn't involve you editing code, or core code, because of the hook system. And then being able to code those hooks from within themes came later, a couple of releases later at least, when functions.php was introduced.#

Interviewer 1:40:26 That's interesting, I think that's going to be a significant part. I don't think I'm going to be able to cover that in the first chapter, in the first section. But I would say that extensibility has been a major factor--#

Little 1:40:42 Yeah, absolutely. But as I say in terms of, for me and my experience, I've been 15 years already as a professional developer by that time-- One, I think, I hope that that made my own contributions good to WordPress, but it also meant that I was able to recognize that the likes of Ryan were doing incredibly good stuff with WordPress.#

Interviewer 1:41:06 I'm seeing Ryan next month.#

Little 1:41:08 Oh right, cool. Never met the guy, I would love to at some point. He's a backroom boy as well I think. He doesn't particularly get promoted that much.#

Interviewer 1:41:18 I'm looking forward to meeting him, it will be interesting to talk about hooks. Right, I'm going to have to go, even though I have to continue, but I have a thing to do in like 10 minutes. If I need anything else can I just ping you?#

Little 1:41:37 Yeah, sure, absolutely.#

Interviewer 1:41:38 That would be great. This has been really useful again.#

Little 1:41:43 Ah-huh, good.#

Interviewer 1:41:43 We're planning to have three chapters ready by the anniversary.#

Little 1:41:51 Okay, cool.#

Interviewer 1:41:53 I will send you them to read beforehand.#

Little 1:41:58 That would be fantastic, yeah.#

Interviewer 1:42:00 But if I'm able to I wanted to get the stuff done on you probably in the next day or two, so I might just send you that through, just so that you can fact check it and that sort of stuff, to make sure you're happy with everything.#

Little 1:42:11 Yeah, that'd be cool.#

Interviewer 1:42:14 Okay?#

Little 1:42:14 All right.#

Interviewer 1:42:16 All right, and I'll speak to you soon.#

Little 1:42:18 Yep, all right, take care.#

Interviewer 1:42:19 Thanks Mike.#

Little 1:42:20 Enjoy the rest of your day.#

Interviewer 1:42:20 You too, bye.#

Little 1:42:21 Cheers, bye now.#