Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
I started writing the bio on my deviantid and then it got a bit out of control, so here it is. I kept the focus on everything dA-related and the journey that made me end up here.

I can't remember when I started programming exactly, I must have been 6 or 7 years old, with logo: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logo_%28…

As a child I kept coming back to programming as a hobby, even if it was really tough... until I really "got it" when I was about 14 and I learnt to write Pascal with no handbook, only badly written code samples. They were mostly coding exercises written by my bigger brother who was taking a Pascal class in high school. However my brother refused to teach me anything or explain anything, so I just learnt by reading working code and comparing it to what the executable did. Also, Pascal is obviously in English and I was a French kid, so it was quite easy to misunderstand a lot of the stuff.

Self-learning programming without a book had funny consequences, as my understanding of Pascal progressed, I felt like I could write a game. So I ventured to build a breakout en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakout… clone. However I didn't understand what arrays were at the time, which resulted in excruciating copypasta, I think each brick on a level was represented by 16 variables (eg. "brick11topleftpos", "brick11color", etc.). It's really a shame that I've lost the source code to that game, it would be comedy gold.

In my teens my obsession programming-wise was anything visual. I mostly wrote visual effects and small games and I started gravitating the demoscene en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demoscen… even if I never worked on any actual demo. I did participate in a couple of "fast comps" on IRC. Which was basically building something for fun on a given topic over a weekend. And I (badly) wrote a custom presentation tool for a demoparty to display the schedule and results of competitions. That earned me my first compensation for work ever, a t-shirt :) That was a huge breakthrough for me, knowing that people liked my work enough to compensate it. I still have that shirt somewhere, I think the organizer of that demoparty had no idea how valuable receiving that shirt was to me.

If you don't know demomaking, you should look into it, from a programming standpoint (visual artists and musicians are core to demos as well), I think it's one of the purest forms of programming art. Not that the code itself can be art - that's a given for me, in any context - but in the goal and in the output. Code beauty is also essential in demomaking, as intros aim to be as small as possible. It always takes elegant, beautiful programming techniques to achieve the feats some of these intros do.

I remember first knowing about deviantART through the French demomaking IRC channels where I was hanging out daily. Probably because some of the guys I knew from these IRC channels created K-Jöfol and later joined winamp, and at that time dA was primarily a skinning website. I stayed a lurker for many years and only created an account when I started working here.

Another creative passion of mine throughout the years that stopped a few years ago was 3d modelling. I remember when my brother brought home a pirated copy of 3d studio (not even MAX, I'm talking about the ancient DOS versions), I was hooked in the first hour. As a child I remember putting so much work in making 3D animations for mother's day, my family's birthdays, etc. I guess they're all gone now, which is a sad side-effect of pre-internet digital art with no tangible copy. The disks just got lost over time. Much later I moved to Blender and was quite active in the French Blender community for a couple of years. Then as things come and go, I stopped making 3D and it's been a few years now since I've produced any 3D art.

I studied hands-on software engineering for 2 years in France, but I didn't learn that much since I had been programming as a hobby for years prior to that. Then I decided that pursuing further studies in programming would be a pointless exercise, so I instead went into a Multimedia Systems degree in Edinburgh, Scotland. That course had a lot of product design and usability courses, coupled with hands-on learning of creative tools like illustrator, photoshop, final cut, etc. We produced a lot of creative work in the 2 years I was there, but the focus really wasn't on our artistic abilities, but more on the skills needed to deliver a usable product. It was very interesting and out of all the things I've formally studied, this is what I use most when working here. That knowledge helps me keep Pachunka in check :P

My software developer career started in parallel to my studies. My first paid jobs were from rentacoder www.rentacoder.com I rapidly found a client who wanted more serious work and I ended up writing some Windows freeware products for him. I'm not even sure to this day what his financial interest in commissioning that freeware was, but I got paid anyway. The flagship freeware I built for him was Startup Mechanic startup-mechanic.en.softonic.c… I think last time I checked a few years ago, it had been downloaded over 2 million times. It was basically a utility that listed auto-starting software on Windows and let you toggle them/disable them.

Another interesting product that guy made me build was called MP3 Shield download.cnet.com/MP3-Shield/3… (I'm amazed it's still online, it's pretty useless nowadays!). Basically around that time the RIAA or a company comissioned by the RIAA had figured out a way to break the hashing used by KaZaA en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kazaa and a few other MP3 sharing softwares. So what they would do would be to generate a file that had an identical hash to some popular song, except it would just be a bunch of noise. Then they'd connect to KaZaA and seed that file. The end result was that you'd be downloading most of the file from legit users and chunks of it from that poisonous peer. Then when you'd listen to the MP3 you'd get the song, mostly, with chunks of pure noise intertwined. What MP3 Shield did was create a local proxy that would get all the traffic in and out of KaZaA and it would detect that noise and reject the corresponding packets, blacklist the peer, forcing KaZaA to get these parts of the file from another peer. It didn't work 100% of the time but it was very effective and the majority of downloads were clean thanks to it. Anyway, that was my small victory sticking it to the RIAA.

There was an interesting incident regarding the last project I did for that guy. For a period of about 2 months there was a known vulnerability in Internet Explorer and Microsoft didn't give any news on issuing a patch. So I built a patch. I can't remember the specifics, but I recall that the way it hooked into IE was a cool hack I was quite proud of. However my employer, excited that this unofficial IE patch made us reach the front page of slashdot and had major newspapers talking about us, released the source code of my patch in the spirit of transparency. Let's just say that my C++ skills were not as good at that time as they are now... and there was a potential buffer overflow in my code. The backlash from slashdot was brutal. A security patch with a potential security vulnerability in its code, that made us look really stupid. Lesson learned, I knew how to avoid buffer overflows after that!

I had a bit of a break from programming when I studied my multimedia degree, and I took a job for the summer working as a remote sysadmin for Sun Microsystems. The job was good money for a student, so I stuck around and delayed my degree by a semester. I was working on shifts, in retrospect it was a pretty bad job and quite boring, I wish I could have these 6 months of my life back. But it paid for a trip to Japan, my first vacation very far away from home. I went alone, I had only started dating very recently and I didn't know my girlfriend well enough for her to join me. It was a fantastic experience, I could write entire articles about those two weeks. Nowadays I don't enjoy travelling alone anymore, but at the time it was exactly what I needed as a life experience. It's during that trip that I discovered my love for photography. It was just me and my camera, experiencing a radically different culture from a very introspective point of view.

After spending two and half years in Scotland I was craving sunshine and was still in travelling mood, so I moved to Australia for a year. Many of my best memories happened there. While over there I worked for SMS Central, a small company that provided premium SMS services. A secretive industry that I found very interesting to discover from the inside. I worked on writing a highly scalable messaging system in J2EE that was to become the backbone of all the services the company provided. I left before it launched, though, and I'm not sure what happened to the project in the end. Fun times, I learnt a lot. One of my luckiest breaks happened in Australia, I won a photography competition in a backpacking magazine and the prize was a three-week-long vacation around Queensland with my girlfriend. The deal was that I had to take a lot of photos during the trip. The Backpacking Queensland organization still uses the photos from our trip on their website and in their printed communication. I often go back to the memories of that trip when I need to feel better.

After I came back from Australia I was in an entrepreneurial mood. I had decent work experience, it was time I had my big startup idea and became a millionaire or something. Right. Didn't turn out that way, obviously, but in the process I created a photo competition facebook app which later turned into a website: inspi.re It's now run by a friend of mine. I worked on that site for a year, and it was a very intense experience. There was some very happy highlights, but I stopped because I couldn't take the constant harassment of some users anymore. It was a community-oriented site and some highly critical users basically bullied me out of wanting to work on it. A handful of them thought they owned it, and acted that way. In retrospect I think the mistake was that I worked on that project alone, which meant that I took agressive criticism towards the website personally and it crushed my spirit. I needed a break, so I stopped adding new features to the site and I took a job at Amazon. I hated working in that department of Amazon because they had no work ethics, so I left very quickly when I realized that the very large dysfunctionality of that department wasn't going to improve since directors were very happy about the way things were. I've since met other people like crousto who have worked for Amazon and I know now that these issues aren't widespread in the organization as a whole, I guess I just randomly ended up in the worst part of Amazon.

After rage-quitting that job - I did take the time to explain in very polite terms during a meeting to a guy just under Jeff Bezos why I thought he was a major asshole for running things that way and treating employees so badly - I was back looking for work locally in Luxembourg where I lived at the time. It's a small country, so I wasn't excited by the prospect of working for a small web agency building restaurant websites. Then out of nowhere, 20after4 hit me up on gtalk. I had probably not spoken to him in a year. We knew each other from when we were both writing Facebook apps and I created a banner exchange app for apps, 20after4's app was providing the largest amount of pageviews to the exchange. Our IM chat that summer went something like:

"Hey dude, are you looking for work?"
"Well, it's funny you ask, because YES, I'm actively looking for work right now"
"So you know I work for deviantART, right"
"Yeah, I remember seeing you joined them around 6 months ago"
"Do you want to work for dA?"
"Well, that's cool and all, but I don't want to relocate to california"
"You don't have to, you can work from home, like I do"
"Oh, OK"

Then of course I had actual job interviews over the phone with randomduck, mccann and kemayo (maybe I'm forgetting one more person who was there? jekor maybe?) and I got the job. Another lucky break, I have stayed with dA longer than any job I've had before, which is obviously a sign that I like it here.

If you've read it all until here, then wow, thank you for taking an interest in my long story :)
Add a Comment:
 
:iconbanks:
banks Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012
Thanks Gilles. Cool to hear the background. I guess I should write up my version but it would be much less interesting :)
Reply
:iconmoonlight-fox:
moonlight-fox Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Interesting ! I think codes are very interesting since I first time I used Adobe Director to make simple games only 3 months ago ^^; I think making games is interesting :p

In any case self learning codes is just WOW 0_0 I tried learning php codes by myself the basics anyway and it took me around 3 days before I got simple contact form to work...and I had the internets as reference~ wow you must have a lot of passion for codes ~

I think I see you in a new light after reading the recent drama and then this...goes to show you can't judge people by how the masses would tend to see them :)

Anyway keep up the good work!~ I haven't really used sta.sh yet since I always write personal journals rather than news but I'll try that soon enough~~ so kudos~!!
Reply
:iconzilla774:
zilla774 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
great journal, very interesting. Would be great for all the staff to do the same! In fact... i might have to do just that :) although i suspect mine wont be so exciting as yours!
Reply
:iconlaurenkitsune:
LaurenKitsune Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
I remember back when I had the most basic understanding of C++...and I was trying to apply it to a video game I was playing, and I tried to think of it in the same way. Bad guy at the top left: If hero in front of him, swing, else walk (random) down or right. Bad guy at the top left 1 pixel to the left...etc, etc.

I'm so glad that's not actually how it works!
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Well, if you go back far enough to 2D games on NES and the like, that's pretty much the kind of logic the bad guys were running on :)
Reply
:iconscrapsaurus:
scrapsaurus Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
i read it all, i do believe i deserve a shot of jameson.

THANKS.
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
Here it is, delivered in a cute little cup: :icondrinkplz:
Reply
:iconscrapsaurus:
scrapsaurus Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2012  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
hahaha how cute!!! :P
Reply
:iconnamenotrequired:
namenotrequired Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2011  Student Interface Designer
When I was that age I played with LEGO not LOGO :laughing:

That's a lot of interviews for one job, is that normal? o.o I assume they were several interviews, since talking to several people over the phone at the same time sounds complicated :confused:

Interesting story, thank you for sharing! :hug:
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Just two interviews. We always do them with a few people at once. We're just used to taking turns asking questions.
Reply
:iconparallellogic:
parallellogic Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011
~I didn't understand what arrays were at the time, which resulted in excruciating copypasta
:D I did the same thing with Java and Connect Four, we didn't learn arrays until a least a few months into the class, but I hobbled it together regardless :roll:

~it would detect that noise
You were looking at the frequency spectrum to determine if it was a noise sample?

~I knew how to avoid buffer overflows after that!
A try_catch block? Or is there something more sophisticated in C++?
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
I can't remember how it detected the noise but it wasn't anything very elaborate, I think it must have been using some basic open source audio processing library and I played with a few functions until I found a "sauce" that worked.

I was just using strcpy improperly, not checking for the length of what I was copying. To be honest it might not have been a real problem in the context, depending on where the data came from, but it's considered bad practice and easy to pick on. That mistake has been the source of countless security vulnerabilities in browsers and desktop software. Generally people prefer to use strncpy to mitigate these mistakes.
Reply
:icondxd:
dxd Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for sharing that Gilles!
Reply
:iconfartprincess:
fartprincess Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011  Professional Writer
This was fascinating to read. I was talking to Luka about it last night but I'll reiterate it again: The large variety of work you've done seems to have had a very obvious impact on how practical and thoughtful a coder you are :)
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Thanks for the compliment :) It was fun digging into these memories! It does seem like my project focus when I was programming as a hobby was set to shuffle mode... I remember a half-life mod I spent two years working on, an assembly 2D library, a Pascal 3D engine, a 3D molecule viewer using that engine, a DOS batch (.BAT) self-replicating (harmless) virus, a neural network OCR that could remember up to 4 digits, a virtual desktop manager, screensavers, a 3D sediment buildup simulator, 3DS MAX plugins, blender plugins, a LAN chat client using a custom protocol... I have no idea where the hell I managed to find all that free time! I guess living in a village and having no way to see my school friends who all lived in a different town helped :P

I have that classic picture of me somewhere when I'm 15 or 16 in my parents' attic staring at a Turbo Pascal window on a 14" CRT monitor wearing a robe 4 sizes too small. I guess not much has changed when I find myself in the middle of the afternoon writing PHP and realize I forgot to put pants on since I got up.
Reply
:icongodofodd:
godofodd Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011
Very interesting! I used Logowriter in school. I really enjoyed it, but I could barely wrap my head around BASIC, so it did not foster the same interest in coding that it did in you. I wish I'd stuck with it, now that computers, software, and the Internet are everywhere!
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
All the kids at my school loved logo, it was just pure fun for kids to command the turtle on the screen. I hear that they have little robots now that accept logo commands, I wish we had something that cool at the time!

I took me years to get BASIC as a kid, I remember that I would copy BASIC code from magazines painstakingly, not understanding the commands. And most of the time it didn't work because there were so many different flavours of BASIC depending on which brand of computer you had. Then at some point (before the Pascal period where he decided he wouldn't explain things) we ventured to build a platformer game with my brother in BASIC. It never got very far, but we had a character running around on the screen shooting from a gun and I learnt enough BASIC to write very basic stuff - print a rectangle on the screen and fille it with a gradient kind of deal.

Oh yeah and in between logo and BASIC there was also a period where I had that pretty advanced Lego Technics command box that would activate pumps and motors and could also move a robotic pen writing on paper. That was pretty awesome and it had some programming logic to it, which was useful knowledge in later understanding actual programming languages.
Reply
:iconlost-angle:
lost-angle Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
nice history! I always find it interesting to see where people are and how they got there. I was struck when you mentioned Startup Mechanic. A friend of mine installed it on my computers when they were having issues when I was in electronics. He didn't actually explain it or how to use it, so I didn't actually use it, but I can't help being amused none the less!
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Heh :) Well I'm glad it was good enough that it felt recommendation-worthy to your friend!

It was very popular for a while, I remember my mum making Excel sheets tracking the download stats on all the major freeware sites. I think that was the definining period when she realized I wasn't just "playing" on the computer. For many years my parents disliked the amount of time I spent on my PC and especially on the web when we had to pay the connection per minute, thinking it was mostly time spent on games. To be fair, there was a lot of dicking around on IRC talking about nothing, too :P

Now they both spend more time online than I do.
Reply
:iconlost-angle:
lost-angle Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
haha! My dad's always been a computer nut, he's been building his own PCs since they ran DOS (up until my sister convinced him to go mac ><). They've always been on my back about spending so much time online doing nothing when they spend more time than me online. They realized I wasn't just playing last summer when I got a job designing a social media plan for a small business. The internet is where it's at!
Reply
:iconartbit:
ArtBIT Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Nice read :)
It has put bits and pieces I knew about you in perspective.

Thanks for sharing :thumbsup:
Reply
:iconpickley:
Pickley Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011
Great read :la: Nice to see another dA dev who doesn't have a Bachelors in CS :P
Reply
:icon20after4:
20after4 Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
I never finished my degree. Formal training is useful but real world experience is just as valuable.
Reply
:iconpickley:
Pickley Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2012
:nod: Sounds fair to me, just getting past some employers without a degree in New Zealand is hard.
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
Actually lot of us, if not the majority, don't!
Reply
:iconpickley:
Pickley Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011
Oh true.. :P
Reply
:iconkouiskas:
kouiskas Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
*a lot
Reply
:iconallixsenos:
allixsenos Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011  Hobbyist Photographer
and the world makes sense again, if only for a moment... :bow:

thanks for sharing
Reply
:iconrandomanimegirl789:
randomanimegirl789 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2011
Brilliant. :D
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
December 22, 2011
File Size
93 bytes
Submitted with
Sta.sh Writer
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
4,519
Favourites
4 (who?)
Comments
29
×