More About


This website is designed and run by me, Matthew J Petty, a 40ahem-year-old south-of-Englander. I am lower-middle-class and proud.

My online username is muteboy (or sometimes muteboy72), although there are others who go by that name.

I was born in Bedford, a small market town in South-Eastern England, in 1972. I grew up and attended school (at the same time) in Bedford, then started a Computer Science degree in Manchester in 1990. I completed a similar degree in High Wycombe in 1995. My first job out of college was in Peterborough, some time in Switzerland and Germany, then I moved to London in late 1998.

In June 2008 I moved to San Diego, California, USA, ostensibly with work, but really so that I could be closer to my girlfriend Cassie in Los Angeles. We’d been doing the transatlantic thing for about a year, and it was time to move to the same time zone. In September 2009 we both moved up to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Then in late 2014 we moved halfway around the world to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. While we were there, in December 2015, Cassie gave birth to our twins, Arthur and Edith.

I am a professional engineer, have been for years, and I’m still trying to figure out what it means. In fact I am a Systems Engineer for Parsons Corporation, a US-based employee-owned international engineering and construction consultation firm.

In my spare time I have been a keen amateur thespian, involved in various projects. You can see more information about this on my Theatrics page. I like to be on stage, and I also used to maintain my old theatre groups website, and designed many of the posters and programmes.

Since the end of 2012 I have produced a podcast, The Coiled Spring.

What is this?

This is that most deluded and schizophrenic of Internet entities: A Personal Web Page.

Seriously, what is it?

Maybe it would be easy to ask what it isn’t?

No, it wouldn’t. Why call the website “Petty”, you narcissist?

Well, I couldn’t think of a witty name that wouldn’t make me cringe later. So I thought I’d just go with the truth.

Why do a website at all?

The raison d’etre of this site is a mixture of spite, egotism, bloodymindedness, and misguided self-belief. Basically, other people have one, why shouldn’t I? As Munnery said,

“A million monkeys were given a million typewriters.
Hence the Internet.”

I wanted to be a monkey. Some form of gibbon at least. I have the arms for it, apparently.

When is this updated?

  • Whenever the mood takes me.
  • When I have something to say, or announce, or pontificate about.
  • When I feel guilty about not posting.
  • When I’m procrastinating.

When was this started?

In 1999, first on Tripod, then on Freeserve, then on Blogger, then on rented space with Movable Type, then on Blosxom, and finally in the current happy incarnation.

Where is the site hosted?

Hosting was provided by 34sp when I was in the UK. No, I don’t know what it means either. They’re very good though, with good support and prices. I’ve since moved over to, just because they are based in the US and were recommended to me. They are also very good, with excellent support and prices.

How is this site maintained?

I used to use a long list of free or open-source software and web-based tools to build the site. Now WordPress does it all for me. But for old time’s sake, here’s the list. I wrote it all down once, why delete it?

Software – links within this site

  • MS Notepad – free, simple, not at all powerful or convenient
  • Blosxom
  • The GIMP
  • Nvu (not that often)
  • Tidy / TidyUI
  • PSPad
  • IrfanView
  • SmartFTP (because it kept nagging me, I now use FileZilla, below)
  • FileZilla – Because SmartFTP kept nagging me to register, I stopped using it and now use FileZilla, which is open-source (i.e. free to you and me) and just as good. It does all the things I need an FTP client to do, looks fine, easy to use. It probably does various clever things with multiple connections and queues and so on, but I don’t think I use them.
  • FTPSync

Online Resources – external

Which browser is this site compatible with?

It looks fine in Firefox, OK in Opera, er, manageable in MSIE, and laudable in Lynx. It may not look the same in each one, but it doesn’t matter. The content is the important part (such as it is). The nature of (X)HTML and CSS, and the way they are displayed in different browsers, is a cause of great argument across the net. Some believe in using all sorts of tricks and hacks to make a page look identical in all browsers, even old versions of current ones. I believe this is madness.

Some, especially companies, get duped into paying some new media creatives to make an all-singing, all-dancing site, only to find than customers can’t see the the substance for because of all the singing and the dancing, or it doesn’t work on their browser, they need some plugin, or it annoys them so much they just leave.

I’d much rather see a site that loaded fast, was easy-ish on the eye, where I could find what I wanted, do what I wanted to do and leave, than, for example, one where ALL the navigation was handed over to a Flash front-end. But that’s me I guess.