I was born in 1977, so I'm probably older than you.
I'm a passionate computer programmer, having started when I was only nine. I love to write; I'm a published author. Also, I'm a licensed helicopter pilot and I love to fly.
I have the strongest opposition to smoking you've probably ever seen.
Smoke. Misspell. Assume I speak Hungarian. Litter. Suggest Java. Ask me to fix your PC.
Use your skills constructively. Care.
And your question...?
As I was saying earlier, I was born on June 18th, 1977 in Blaj, Romania.
I learned to read and write when I was about five years old, and I became interested in computers when I was only seven, going on to write my first computer program two years later, in 1986. That was before I had even seen a personal computer -- indeed, before most people anywhere had. So, one could say that I evolved together with them. As you can guess, I was the stay-home-with-a-book kind of kid. Not everyone's favourite kid to have in their football team.
About the same age I started two other things that became pretty important in my life: playing guitar and (you may not expect this, or even know exactly what it is) radiotelegraphy.
My mother is a former teacher of Mathematics, and my father was an artist who taught Photography and Painting. (Yes, he still lives.)
I also have an older sister named Lili, and she has two kids (Valentina and Traian). They live in the US.
I had a -- what's the word? "Feeble constitution", I think? Anyway, my parents became worried about that while I was in secondary school, so they decided to sign me up into some sport programmes. I tried Athletism for a while; I wasn't so bad, and I had a good teacher, but I didn't like it too much. I then tried Wrestling, but gave up when I accidentally threw a mannequin up on top of me and ended up with a nosebleed. Eventually, my parents sent me to an illegal (yes, the Communism regime had it banned!) Martial Arts instructor.
Traditional Karate became a very important part of my life, and I guess it still is. It has taught me how to know myself, while computer programming taught me how to operate with that knowledge. We used to learn Shotokan after nightfall on the deserted streets of Blaj and later, clandestinely, in a school gym. My sensei was Vasile Tomșa, and I'd really like to know what became of him. He became one of the leading figures of the 1989 Revolution in my hometown, and received an honorary citizenship for that, but then he vanished. I owe a lot to him and I'd like to say thanks.
So yes, secondary school meant, among others, the end of Communism. I was banned from the windows, for fear of stray bullets. Back then I thought it was all very exciting, but today, as a parent, I see those days with different eyes...
Anyway. The Revolution, or coup d'état or whatever the hell it was, eventually provided me with access to better computers, a better guitar, and the beginnings of the Internet. When my school got a 2400 baud modem, I used to sneak in at three in the morning and dial into BBS nodes -- the predecessors of the predecessors of the Web.
As soon as I could get a decent modem (14.4kbps -- about a billion times slower than today's fiber optics) I set up my own BBS named BlueBoard (I was into blue things back then and signed software as BlueSoft) and I ran that all the way through highschool until I was well at the University (pulling strings there for a free UUCP connection...)
I studied Computer Science in highschool, and I probably learned a lot more programming there than later at the University, but let's keep a positive note. During highschool I did some nice things. I surprised everybody in the ninth grade by solving a problem, at the Olympics, using a matrix indexed by items of arrays which were indexed by another matrix. This threw me into the Nationals, where despite some rather poor programming, I came out the sixth. At the time I saw that as a great achievement; today, when my nine-year-old daughter is already a multiple national dancing champion, it just makes me smile.
I started my first band, and also sang with a couple of others. I played lead guitar, but also keyboards for a little while, and managed to win first prize in a contest. I was (and still am) very pretentious with what I listen to, and due to a very good audio memory and sharp ear, I learn music very easily.
Contrasting my good hearing (and sense of smell), the video dimension is very poorly developed with me. I have no visual memory capabilities whatsoever, and I am uncapable of forming an image in my mind. Apparently it's a birth defect of some sort; suffice to say, over years I've developed a reflex mechanism that helps me identify people I see often. However, that still leaves me very embarassed when I don't recognize people I've just met, such as the waiter in the restaurant or a new cute employee in the elevator.
Faced with this problem -- most of my friends learn by xeroxing a book page in their heads, which I never could -- I never did too well in school, except for foreign languages and programming.
Ah, foreign languages. I've always been in love with all of them. I started with English when I was eight, then German at ten, and outside school I started learning Swedish when I was thirteen. Since then, I've caught up more or less with a few others. I started learning Czech in 2007, and Norwegian a few years later, but switched back to Swedish because it was easier to practice.
It was also in highschool that I got my first job: I taught an entry-level computer course. Looking back today, I'd love to be able to see me doing that...
Soon after that, I took a little side job working at a local printing firm -- that's when I first saw the new 100MHz 486... I did desktop publishing before Word was invented. I remember we never knew what our work would look like on paper before we actually printed it; that element of surprise disappeared when WYSIWIG editors came in. (And they came in heavy; Microsoft Word took up a box of thirty floppy disks.)
I graduated highschool fairly well, with maximum or next-to-maximum grades at all subjects, including sports. And, when the time came to go to the University, I first tried Economics, and gave up because I couldn't learn it mechanically. I then tried with Geography, and failed even more miserably -- I couldn't remember a map if I had it painted on the back of my eyelids. So my mum did the only thing left for her to do: locked me up for two months and worked with me for ten hours a day, teaching me just enough Maths to get me into the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science of the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca.
I did OK at all three exams and I moved to Cluj-Napoca to be a student.
The first year was pretty boring -- back then the curriculum of the faculty was mostly (and aberrantly) useless -- and I mostly just hovered around the big computers, having a good time and not knowing what to do. One day I was pretending to be doing something in the lab and the then director of the Communications Center, dr. Boian, walked in, twice my size and very nervous, and threw me out on account of my age (and, I suppose, my state of panic).
Exactly one year later -- learning from an assistant that I showed some interest in hacking the University's SMTP servers -- he offered me a job in the University's Comm Centre, where I worked for the next couple of years or so. This -- not school -- is what I did in Cluj-Napoca.
At the Centre I was dial-up chief, network administrator, often developer, and generally did stuff ranging from drilling holes for cable, to configuring HTTP proxy servers on RedHat 4 boxes.
Health and family problems urged my return to Blaj, where I moved back and started working in various places: a mobile phones store, a local radio station, or doing DTP for a living. Soon, with my good friend, Silviu Margin, we started our own ISP and computers shop, which didn't do too bad considering the horrible economic situation; also, in the same time, I started teaching programming at a highschool and at a local college.
This ISP business came out pretty neat. Our servers handled post-paid and pre-paid customers, had a billing system with real-time customer care, dial-up and leased line, web/ftp presence and a fairly good QoS control system. Everything was developed in-house; we didn't have to pay for a single line of code.
So I was now a teacher-developer-designer-networker-publisher, and on top of that, I took up music a bit more seriously and recorded a few songs in a more professional environment.
Another event related to this is the invitation that I've received from the Romanian Radio League to Bucharest, regarding a piece a software that I had developed during few years, that apparently had made easier the lives of many people from many countries. That was my first real visit to Bucharest, and it lasted for 2 days. I was overly impressed by the appreciation shown to me, and I continued working on that software until 16-bit platforms became obsolete.
One Christmas night, a former higschool mate got so upset over how little money I was making for all these things, that he actually convinced me to send my CV to Vodafone Romania (then called Connex). To my surprise, I was invited for an interview in Bucharest, which lasted for seven hours and consisted of five distinct sessions. And so, in February 2002 I moved to Bucharest, as Services Developer in the "Technology and Services Development" Department.
During the first 3 years at Vodafone I did many things, mostly covered by non-disclosure contracts. But generally they involved technical relations with vendors, software development, some design, audio recording and editing, video work, even directing and scripting a couple of ads, something called " vip skills " and generally a lot more than I thought when I took the job. Later, I made a lateral step in my career, by moving to the Marketing department, where I worked as a Consumer Market Project Manager. I was in charge with the MyX web portal, and then with the Video Streaming part of the Play portal (which then became Vodafone Live!).
Soon I got really tired of the corporate way of doing things and, almost a year later, I returned to IT, joining an awesome team of professionals: Modulo Consulting. And almost another year later, I became the Managing Director of the Romanian branch of a Belgian software company named Twodecode Technologies.
I got married once, in 2002, but only did the civil ceremony. Unfortunately that proved to be a mistake which cost us a long divorce. Two years later, I married a SMURD emergency doctor named Carmen (she's a very capable, smart, strong but delicate woman and I must remember to bring her flowers more often), and she is now sleeping 2 steps away to my left.
Apart from the job, after I came to Bucharest I tried joining a number of rock groups, but hardly found the time to commit to music. I joined an excellent Wado Ryu club (learning from sensei Nukina Nobuyuki - 4 dan, former national champion of Japan itself), but after a few months I developed severe nerve problems in my left elbow and couldn't keep up. I currently hold a green belt. (3 more left before the black one, in case you're wondering.)
In 2004 I published a book on the philosophy of web development (so, a rather technical book) which was called "Programarea Web... altfel".
Soon after that, our little girl named Alexandra was born. And, becoming fed up with Bucharest, we moved to Tîrgu-Mureș, where I started a small outsourcing business called Indigenious Development .
In late 2009 I found out that I suffer from the coeliac disease. This actually turned out to be no big deal. Giving up gluten bread was a breeze; it was pizza that I missed the most. I kept the diet for about six years, then repeated the tests, and they came out negative, which was somewhat of a surprise, considering that the coeliac disease is generally accepted as incurable.
On April 18th, 2010, my wife gave birth to our son, Matei Răzvan. So with that, we're a family of four.
In 2012 I completed a course in Journalism (graduating with the single maximum mark), after having produced my first short documentary in 2010, about my hometown. It's called "Sunrise of Romanians" and, if you have ten minutes, you can watch it at SunriseOfRomanians.com .
I've always been fascinated by helicopters. I started flying in June 2009, on a Romanian-made ultralight plane (the Aerostar Festival). I kept a blog about that. But I soon had to accept that I was really still dreaming of helicopters, and so, slightly discouraged by other things as well, I decided to give it up after only twenty-three flight hours.
And so, in March 2012 I started a serious, proper helicopter flight school, and there's a blog on that too. I graduated the Romanian Aviation Academy, passed the exams and I am now a licensed private helicopter pilot.
In October 2013 my second book got published. It's an illustrated thriller novel written in Romanian (with drawings by Darius Panaite), about a pilot taken hostage in a rather original manner, and who is recovered in an even more original manner. And that made me an Amazon Author .
My third book is in English, and it's a sci-fi novel. It's called "Starship Doi", and it's about a Dacian, a medieval young girl and a modern day Englishman, plus an alien starship.
All things considered, I've had a good life so far, and I plan to make the best of every moment. I don't waste too much time planning, because, as a man I otherwise dislike said, "life is what happens while you're busy making other plans". All we have is the now, and I intend to make the best of every fraction of now that I have.
This technical book is now out of print, and because much of what's inside is now more or less obsolete (as it happens with most books about programming) I've decided to not revisit it.
An illustrated thriller novel about a Romanian helicopter pilot taken hostage in Iran, in a sealed room with full access to the internet and a live streaming camera. With illustrations are by Darius Panaite, the book is enjoying good reviews.
Foxo is a collection of interactive tutorials and exercises that are designed to help the beginner achieve algorithmic thinking. It uses diagrams to represent algorithms. Users are given small problems of increasing difficulty, and they have to draw flow-chart-like diagrams to solve them.
This is a short doc about my hometown, Blaj. It was the first, at the time. It's in English, and it takes about 10 minutes for brief historical and social introduction into the subject.
Liverpie is a proxy between Freeswitch and your own web app, regardless of the framework in which you choose to write it. It can help you create an Interactive Voice Response system by organising it as a web application.
I've kept a blog during the whole of my time at the Romanian Aviation Academy, hoping that one day it will inspire someone else to take up flying (and it has). It's written in Romanian. And there's also another blog about my fixed wing school, such as it was.
A theatre company in Bucharest asked me to translate Neil Simon's play into Romanian, which I did. They've used my translation to put together a very successful production .