During kindergarten, I would come back home from school and turn on an IBM XT clone with a CRT phosphorous monochrome (green) monitor to play with it. It used floppy disks, ran DOS, and barely had any disk space. I would sometimes just type random garbage on it. It was connected to a noisy dot matrix printer too. I also had limited access to other better computers from time to time during my childhood.
Someday, I turned it on after coming back from school, and it would die on me. I was saddened that this would be the end of it for me. Instead, my father bought a better machine. An AT 58-6 100MHz with 20MB of memory instead. It ran Windows 3.1. Sometime later, it was updated with Windows 3.11 and (voilá), Windows 95. I stuck using it for a long time – it was actually the latest Windows version I used regularly.
Year after year, it would get the following:
- A big Genius SCSI flatbed scanner
- A Creative Sound Blaster 8x multimedia kit (which came with plenty of exciting software)
- A US Robotics 28800bps internal fax modem
- A second IDE Hard-Drive
The dial-up modem was one of the best additions. It would keep me awoke all night long to save money as you paid by the pulse and after midnight it was a single one.
Way before Chrome, Firefox, or even Mozilla came along, Netscape was my first browser. With it, I quickly discovered I too could create web pages using its Netscape Composer. I created my first webpage. Unfortunately, the Internet Archive was only able to recover its home page (which only had a link to the main page on a gif).
As years passed by, I acquired experience with lots of different technical things on the web, but mostly empirically. If I had access to methodical means of learning stuff early on, I’d be way better off today. It took a while for me to start a professional career due to a few misfortunes of life, though.
During these years, I learned most stuff empirically as I grew up and became exposed to many aspects of the web and its changes in the 90s and 2000s. Only after some time passed, I started to learn by more methodical means like reading manuals, studying books, etc.
- I learned how to adjust TCL scripts for IRC bots called Eggdrop to my needs
- I created an mIRC “script” that modified the visual of mIRC completely and added many useful actions through event listeners and commands
- I learned to use PHP to create dynamic pages
- I learned to use a SQL database to manage dynamic content
- I learned about Linux: I’d pay ~5 USD monthly to access a shell where I could run bots and serve webpages
- I learned to read and write in English
Linux, Unix, macOS
I became interested in using Linux really young. The first version I heard about was probably Conectiva Linux 4, and I bought Conectiva Linux 5 box with four CDs and some printed manuals. Afterward, I used Slackware for a few years and SUSE Linux for a few more. Then I moved to macOS, and I have been using it as my primary operating system ever since.
I really enjoyed it. However, configuring the modem was near to impossible. So I’d use Windows 98 SE with the Internet for a while and then go to Linux, offline.
I was using a softmodem, and when I finally had it working on Linux, the X server died, and I was never able to fix it.
New computer (after years using old Windows laptops). Time to try Linux full-time. I installed Debian stable and got so upset the X11 Image Server didn’t come in the first CD that the following day I moved to Slackware after a lengthly ISO download.
Why it took so long to someone to tell me how to use ld to see the linked dependencies before trying to compile stuff? Anyways, everything worked like a charm, and the new interface for KDE was really great. I ended up using it for a couple of years.
I wanted to install packages and didn’t want to compile everything myself, so I decided to give SuSE or Red Hat a try. After weighing the pros and cons of both, decided to go with SuSE. A few more couple of years with it. I was around 16 to 18 years old.
31 December 2008 at the Apple Store in Central Park is the date all changed (but not so fast). It was my first time out of Brazil. I had rarely used a Mac before. However, I ended up stuck there with many others during New Year’s Eve. iPhone, iPod Touch, Mac with Mac OS X. Plenty of new stuff to me. Back then, we didn’t have a lot of Apple products in Brazil. I was amazed and decided to do something new. My money was short, and I would spend the next 4 weeks on a film-making course and used Mac Pros and iMacs during its duration.
I had a dilemma: should I buy an iPod Touch + a regular laptop or a MacBook? I didn’t have conditions to acquire both. I wanted to develop for iPod Touch, so naturally, I bought an iPod Touch. If you know the iOS ecosystem, you should be laughing by now: I made a huge mistake. I couldn’t develop for it without a Mac.
One year later, I finally had an entry-level Macbook Pro 13-inch after convincing my father to help me get it. However, I was already too involved with the web and never really managed to do an iOS app besides following some basic tutorials.
By my 18s I was witnessing the web grow fast and strong. I was decided to be part of it.
I was enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Physics degree and dropped out to try to build something. I invested full-time working on a few different ideas, working around the clock. On my portfolio, you can see I worked on several projects of my own, such as Plifk, trazqueeupago.com, or to-post.it.
Tip: if you want to build something, try hard to find more people, and they don’t need to be technical cofounders. I tried, but not that hard.
A few years later, I ended up going back to college. Graphical design. I dropped out once again. It was too focused on typography, history, and other matters while I was growing stronger technically as a developer.
A couple of years later, I finally joined a BS degree in Computer Sciences and graduated from it 4 ½ years later. Just before my first term, I was offered a position to work as a front-end engineer at Liferay and accepted it. I worked for 5 years and 3 months there full-time while also studying full-time for the first four years. I accepted an offer to join HousingAnywhere in the Netherlands, and joined it in June, 2019.
I continue working as a software engineer writing code by day and night, and enjoy maintaining a few opensource projects on the side.
Free markets, free society