Have a Pint With PRK

by PRK

iiNet’s been sponsoring Profs and Pints – a series of discussions and banter on various topics, organised by Scitech. The last one for the season, which I’ll be participating in, starts with two questions:

“Is science fiction good for science fact? Does it inspire or raise unrealistic expectations?”

It’s a fascinating topic, one which I’ve often discussed with friends (as an SF geek tends to do!), and I’m quite chuffed to be selected to represent iiNet at the event. Working at iiNet and seeing how and why the Internet (itself a topic of many older SF novels) evolves is fascinating. Some of the Internet developments over the past 10 years seem to have either been accurately predicted by SF authors or developed by people who were influenced by SF.

If you’d like to hear about this, and many other aspects of SF, join Dr Alan Duffy, Grant Stone and myself at The Flying Scotsman’s Velvet Lounge, Mt Lawley on Tuesday July 26, from 6pm.

In the meantime, check out following Q&A to learn a little more about me and my passion for SF.

First up, is your name really PRK?
Yes, well… kind of. My initials are PRK, so it’s the username I chose when I joined iiNet in the mid 90s. Back then everyone used to be known by their username, which is where I started being called PRK, Perk or Perky. I got used to it, found I actually preferred it, and now that’s the name I go by everywhere.

You first joined iiNet in the mid 90s?
Yep, As a customer. iiNet was my first ISP when I left University and I signed up for a dialup account in 1995. I first joined iiNet as a staff member in 1997.

You say “first joined” as a staff member? You’ve done that more than once?
Yes, four times in fact. We joke about iiNet having a revolving door hiring policy. If you leave on good terms you can always come back later on, and many of us have. I’ve left iiNet several times and always find myself drawn back by the great people, environment and sense of purpose the company has. It’s been eight years since I last re-joined iiNet, and I’m still loving it.

Eight years in the same role?
Heck no! In my times with iiNet I’ve had almost a dozen roles. I’ve had a couple of roles in customer service, had several different roles in the systems, networks, voice engineering and operations teams, a couple of management roles and currently I’m a Senior Systems Engineer.

Wow that does sound quite varied. A Senior Systems Engineer; what does that involve?
I’m the Senior Engineer in iiNet’s Systems Engineering Team. We’re the team who design systems and deploy systems infrastructure (servers, storage, load balancers, etc) which support most of our in-house developed software (eg Toolbox, the corporate website, authentication, traffic accounting etc). We also design and deploy many of our customer facing systems (eg DNS and email). We’ve got some big stuff coming up over the next year so stay tuned!

Sounds complex! What do you do outside of work to relax?
I’m a self described sci-fi geek and occasional gamer. On the sci-fi or speculative fiction side, I read most SF books I can get my hands on, watch a lot of the genre TV shows and the occasional genre movie. I’m a regular attendee at Swancon (an annual WA Science Fiction Convention), often one of the committee members running them, and I’m on the Board of the WA Science Fiction Foundation. In my rapidly diminishing spare time, I’m also a casual World of Warcraft player, and am working on a PhD studying team leadership within World of Warcraft.

Is science fiction good for science fact? Does it inspire or raise unrealistic expectations?

One comment

  1. Graham says:

    No doubt. Science fact as we know it could barely exist without SF. Take the geo-synchronous satellite – first postulated by SF author Arthur C Clarke. OK, he wrote serious papers as well. Many SF authors have worked in the science fields, and many of them were inspired by earlier authors. You have to dream it before you can do it.