How I remember the 90s

I grew up surrounded by technology, although it wasn’t always the bleeding edge kind of technology. I remember playing with an HC-91, a ZX Spectrum clone made in Romania, when I was 6-7 years old. The fact that you could write some weird, cryptic lines of characters that could load a game or make one by yourself was fascinating back then. I still remember the sound this thing made when you were loading a game. It was something similar to the modem dial tone, and I think it took a minute or two to load something, and you could hear variations of that tone.

The 90s in Romania were like the 80s in the USA from a personal computer point of view. At least that’s how it felt to me over the years. I remember magazines that had a DYI look to them, printed on newspaper-quality paper, spread all over the house. I don’t remember seeing glossy magazines until the later half of the 90s. In those DIY-looking magazines people used to write reviews of games from series like King’s Quest and Dizzy, share BASIC code for simple games and programs.

Another thing that I remember is a game console called “Terminator 2”, a cheap – even by the Romanian standards of that time – game console. It was a clone of Nintendo NES, using 60-pin cartridges to load its games. It was so popular at that time that you could find it even in flea markets, along with a large selection of cartridges.

But the most important piece of tech that I got was a PC with a 486 processor, 16 MB of RAM and a video card with only 4 MB of RAM. This wasn’t “bleeding edge” technology when I got it in 1998. I was 11 years old and some of my friends had computers with Pentium II processors and much more powerful video cards, with 32 or 64 MB of RAM. I used to go to a friend just to play Mech Warrior 3, because my computer couldn’t handle it.

Then dial-up internet connections came up. First in internet cafes, then in homes. Or both at the same time, I don’t know exactly. I remember how wonderful it felt to just type in some keywords on Google and find what you need. It felt like all the knowledge of the world was at your fingertips and Google helped you find it.

Because dial-up was a little bit expensive, companies started creating time-based offers. If you went online after 10 PM, the costs were lower. It was the time of download accelerators and “offline-mode”. At that time I started looking for things online and save entire websites so I could read them when I wasn’t connected to the internet. Nobody took digital sabbaticals back then because there was no need for such things. Distractions weren’t ubiquitous as today.

When I had a better computer – still lagging behind those of my friends – I started using Linux distributions. This is how I started learning programming. I tried every language I could get my hands on, trying out Python, Perl and bash, but I didn’t stick to any of them. They helped me understand the basics of programming, though. Over the years, I went through a few other programming languages, taking large breaks – even months – from coding anything. As I had a lot of free time to spend, this year I turned to front-end development and Processing. These things stuck. I don’t know why exactly, maybe it’s the visual aspect that made these things more appealing, but they somehow stuck with me; but that’s not the point. Right now we have smartphones probably ten or more times more powerful than the computers we had in the 90s, free and paid online classes, tutorials, code shared on Github and other services, open source apps etc. Now I am thinking if I had all these things when I was 12 years old, what would have happened? What would be different now?

Resources for the Processing beginner

Image generated with Processing
Image generated with Processing

I found out about Processing by accident. And what a great accident it was. While browsing Goodreads, I stumbled upon a book about generative art. Its cover drew my attention and I decided to find out more about this kind of art and about Processing. So I went on, downloaded Processing 2.1.1, and looked through the exhibition. When you see amazing things like this or this, and you see what can be done with lots of data to obtain beautiful and interesting vizualisations, you are instantly convinced by this language. Before you know it, you’re hooked and typing away code in the Processing IDE. Continue reading

What’s up?

Silk Wave
Multiple silky waves, created with Processing and Photoshop.

Long time no writing over here. New beginnings, new posts on my ancient blog, with an ancient theme that I will change at some point. But first, what’s up? :)

What happened exactly?

Since December I had to leave Bucharest behind and start again from point 0. *dramatic music plays* Nothing new here, but I find it funny that I was so confused back then, like the whole world was turned upside down. What’s even funnier is that I find this whole “the great unknown thing” exciting. I’m excited about learning – like I haven’t been in a long time -, trying things that I thought hard at first, but proved to be… hard, but with awesome results :). So I’m in a “forced sabbatical” if I could call it that way.

In the last few months, I tried to use my spare time in ways that could help me develop “forgotten” skills, like coding, and skills that might prove useful on the long run. Basically this is what I did:

  1. I started learning HTML & CSS;
  2. Moved on to jQuery and Javascript;
  3. Polished my Photoshop and Illustrator skills – still learning now;
  4. I began making glitch art;
  5. Glitch art was the “gateway drug” to Processing, NodeBox, and openFrameworks. Right now I’m concentrating all my efforts on Processing. I also have a trial version of Max/MSP which will probably expire before I’ll even get the basics.
  6. Got interested in pixel art, and I made a few simple things, even a Flappy Bird drawing. :D
  7. Now I’m mixing a bunch of these things to create a new theme for my blog  - probably it will take some time until I’ll finish it – and to update my portfolio.

As I want to write more about these things, I will try to post regularly here. I’ll start with something about glitch art, then move on to a series about Processing. I’ll be writing about this stuff to help me memorise it easier, and to share it with people who might be interested in these subjects.

Atelierul Produselor Creative – a doua ediție

Atelierul Produselor Creative - editia a douaSe întâmplă să ai o idee care crezi că ar putea fi transformată într-o afacere de succes. Ai stat și te-ai gândit, ai pus în balanță mai multe posibilități și te-ai hotărât: vrei să devină „your dream job” și „your business”. Dar cum faci asta? Știi care sunt pașii pe care trebuie să îi faci?

Atelierul Produselor Creative poate fi exact ceea ce ai nevoie. Se află la a doua ediție și are loc în perioada 17-21 octombrie. Aici vei întâlni mentori care te vor ghida și ajuta să îți dezvolți ideile în afaceri de succes, iar cinci echipe vor fi selectate pentru un training de patru zile.

Pe parcusul celor patru zile, într-un training intens, echipele alese vor învăța cum să-și transforme ideea într-o afacere, trecând prin următoarele module:

  1. Inovație și dezvoltare de produs
  2. Implementarea ideii de produs
  3. Comunicare și branding
  4. Vânzări și aspecte financiare.

După training, echipele vor prezenta proiectele în fața unui juriu format din oameni de afaceri, iar după acest Demo Day, va urma o perioadă de trei luni de mentorat. La finalul mentoratului, echipele vor lansa un MVP (Minimum Viable Product) – o  variantă funcțională a produsului lor.

Mai sunt doar câteva zile în care te poți înscrie, termenul limită pentru înscrieri fiind 5 octombrie.

Poți afla mai multe despre eveniment de pe site-ul oficial și, dacă vrei să vezi cum a fost la prima ediție a Atelierului Produselor Creative, poți citi mai multe în acest articol: