John Jennings


A prospective Computer Science student.

About Me

After the twentieth time you are handed back a personal statement covered in angry biro scrawl, you realise that the final product is anything but personal. The dodgy language choices and meaningless waffle are as much a part of me as any academic achievement or shoehorned extra-curricular activity. Contrary to what my UCAS application may tell you, I am not in fact a robot with BBC received pronunciation.

The truth is, I am person with a life, a family, some friends and a cat. I live in my bedroom watching YouTube videos and eating chocolate; only venturing out when the cocoa runs dry or my sister breaks the internet for the fourth time this hour. I have an amusingly odd walk, based on my love for going very fast in one direction; something that also inspires my interest in sports such as running and skiing. I have somehow managed to get to grade six in guitar without actually knowing any songs.

By now you will have realised that like any good computer scientist, I am at the cutting edge of sarcasm and cynicism. The juxtaposition of trying to sound eloquent with a light brummie drawl has amused me since I began to talk. Hence, I apologise if I've turned you off with this more genuine look into who I am as a person but I wouldn't want it any other way.

Examples of Work

Since beginning to learn Visual Basic at the start of last year, I have worked on many projects in my free time. While the vast majority of them remain unfinished, I feel that I have gained a lot from them in both knowledge and entertainment. Here is a small sample of my favourite projects although be warned, some of the code is from my first month of learning so it may hurt to read.

'Flappy Dave' is the unofficial name of my most popular creation. The beginning of my coding career happened to coincide with the small craze surrounding Dong Nguyen's 'Flappy Bird' app for android and iOS. Within the Computer Science class, there was fierce competition for the highest score and I hypothesised that if I understood the mechanics of the game well enough to make it myself, I would surely emerge victorious in the 'Flappy League'. This proved to be very true as I was the first to reach the prestigious 100 point milestone; a fact that impresses small children to this day. While the code itself was not the prettiest or most elegant, I was immensely proud of my first functioning program with any decent level of complexity.

The game has also been increasingly effective at getting pupils from the lower years interested in programming. On the open evenings that I frequently attend, this is the killer app that students will fight to have their turn at. While I would hate to perpetuate the stereotype of computer science being a subject where you sit around and make games, there is no better way to get a child enthused about programming than telling him that he could do this within a few months of learning to code.

A more recent project of mine that I particularly enjoyed is the website that you are currently reading. I have always wanted to have my own presence on the internet but I could never think of anything to put on it. When I started looking at universities, I realized that I could essentially bypass the tyranny of the personal statement upper word limit by directing people to a website instead.

Using some online classes, I taught myself HTML, CSS and the basics of JavaScript so that I could realise my creation. Much to my surprise, it was relatively easy to develop a website, especially with the help of Brackets - a webdev IDE and Bootstrap - a CSS document that gives a kick start to styling through pre-defined descriptions of common components such as thumbnails and navbars. I plan on keeping this website updated as I progress through my education as I am sure it will prove useful as a portfolio when applying for work.

I have also written a dissertation on the topic of online piracy as part of my extended project qualification. Piracy is a very polarising subject for many people. While the reasons for it being illegal are obvious and agreeable, some of the methods used to prevent piracy are more damaging to content owners than the downloads themselves. I also touch on the topic of surveillance and censorship under the guise of protecting intellectual property. I believe that the internet must be as free and unregulated as possible, illegal activities included, lest we sacrifice the powerful tool of universal information exchange.

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