Although this document is intended to be readable by anybody, some parts of it use words like hacker and other unfamiliar (or very often misinterpreted) words that can be found in the Jargon File - a large collection of hacker vocabulary. The actual file itself is hard to read and huge in size, but luckily there are alternatives; one of the most convenient ways to browse through specific parts of the Jargon File, is to use UMEC's Jargon server that offers a way to easily search through the huge file.
Ok - End of ranting for today... Conclusion: Being a hacker ain't negative in any way; I'm a hacker, and pretty damn proud of it.
The picture above was taken sometime very close to the end of last century but don't worry, this page was last updated on June 6th, 2006. My hairstyle these days is somewhat ... shorter for a change :)
Although there might be some interesting stories to tell about me, this document mainly approaches my life from the aspect of computers and stuff like that. I don't mean anything else would be less relevant, but it just is out of the scope of this document...
On August 13th, 1977, my life changed in such a way that it'd take years to get back to the status I had before that. That was the day I was born, you see. Personally, I can't recall this event, but I've been told it happened in Uusikaupunki, Finland. I don't see any reason to disagree with this statement.
Some of my first memories from my childhood have something to do with computers. I had a friend that had MSX and a lot of games for it. No surprise, this was the place where most of the neighbourhood children spent their time because computers were not so common those days - heck, most of the people didn't even have colour televisions at the time - and the WWW was still on the "to be invented"-list.
As some people might remember, when you're a child, more years means more birthdays and birthdays usually mean grandparents visiting with loads of cash. With this ageing process, I was able to buy my very first own computer when I was seven years old. It was a Aquarius II, a mean game machine that had BASIC inbuilt. This was also the age I wrote some of my very first programs. BASIC was and actually, still is, a catastrophic language, but still, I consider this the time when I became more and more addicted to programming.
Unfortunately I'm unable to remember what has happened to this computer. I believe I traded it with a little money to a Commodore CBM 8296 about two years later. The CBM 8296D was a computer that was meant for Serious Business Use (note the capitalization). It had a humongous amount of RAM; 96K normally, but mine had a 32K extension module to bring the total up to incredible amount of 128k (you - in the back row, stop laughing, this really is a serious matter) and the retail price on a store was little less than 2000US$ (which at that time was way much more than it is today). Needless to say, I bought mine second hand, which - in general - seems to have been a bad idea. The disk drives on the machine didn't work. If I wanted to do something and not have it disappear into the safe haven of lost bytes, I had to keep the machine running.
One day the thing I had feared the most happened; the smoke that keeps computers running was blown out from inside my CBM. The machine never worked after that, and was thrown away after finding out it was cheaper to buy a new machine than to fix the old one. So... I got myself a brand new dark-grey cased Commodore 64 - the classic among all classics. It didn't have as much memory as the CBM, but it had a lot of games and BBSs were filled with details on how to get the best out of this machine. Although I learned a bit of 6510-assembly, I still coded with BASIC. For the sake of good times never to return, I still have the C64. I even use it sometimes (I'm not a big fan of emulators; they lack the "feel") - some people might call me oldschool, but I don't think that's exactly the right description. You see, I was never too interested in the demo-scene back then (I am now, but the scene ain't what it used to be anymore)
Shortly after getting my C64, I started having strange ideas. I was no longer so much interested in computers as I was in everyday stuff like girls, smoking, drinking and partying that were getting inside my head. At this point, I must've been 11-years old, and I guess it's apparent that at that age I must've been easily "distracted" from my true beliefs :-). This "regression to a simple human being" was just a short one; I noticed girls were not fond of me (but guys a bit older), smoking was something I could still do when working with computers, drinking wasn't fun at all (actually, I drank nearly nothing with alcohol-content before I turned 20... Well, occasionally, but not as much as most of the finnish youngsters seem to be drinking - all the time.). I also noticed I wasn't much of a party animal. This was obviously the fault of the dancefloors in general or the DJs in person, so I decided to start DJing myself (at that time I chose to use name "Dj UTU" since that's what I've been called - naturally without the honorary "Dj"-title, of course - since late 80's. I've recently found out that I appear to have some namesakes in Finland as well as abroad) - a hobby and, at one stage of my life, a very profitable profession - that has continued uninterruptedly to these days. Simple as that :P
At this stage it was time to move from childhood a small step towards adultry. I began the upper level of comprehensive school at the junior highschool of Emäkoski when I was 12. I had begun using computers again after a short while, and was able to get my hands on a real PC (on our school's voluntary computer classes). I got kicked out of these classes after writing a worm and releasing it on the school network. I admitted being a naughty juvenile, and was waiting for the school to raise a lawsuit against me - luckily this sort of activity was not prohibited by law at that time or the consequences could've been worse. Fortunately I got back to those voluntary classes on the next semester.
On these voluntary classes, I got introduced to a new way of programming with BASIC, a structured version (with sub-routines and all) called Microsoft's QuickBasic. A nice thing was the fact that programs done with QuickBasic were able to be compiled into *.EXE-files (in contrast to translating and executing them within the programming environment) which made for some pretty fast programs. I became quite a wizard with QuickBasic, and compared to other BASICs out there, I gladly welcome anybody interested in programming to take a look at it. But keep your hands off from the stripped version, QBasic, that was at one time dealt out with MS-DOS and Windows 95
While at Emäkoski, I began dating a truly marvellous girl; intelligent, beautiful and one of the nicest people I knew at the time. The reason I'm stating it here, although it is not connected to computing in any way, is just to demonstrate that even hacker nerds like myself can have a social life. My dating with this girl continued for nearly four years, during which time, I was out of the comprehensive school, was absolutely unaware of what to do next and decided to go into college. Unfortunately I decided to go on the same college my girlfriend was at, and the rest, including our relationship, was over soon after one of my stupid checks to the other side of law. I still am very thankful to her for everything, including my deeper introduction to the world of Amiga 500 through her little brother's computer.
A little after breaking up with my girlfriend, I decided it was time to gain some independence. So I quit college and moved out of my parents' house into the middle of big nowhere, in a house that my best friend was already living in. I believe being 16-years old back then. Some people might ask where I got all the money to move out of home at such a young age, but the answer is simple; I was doing a lot of DJ work on my spare time, and those jobs pay well.
My friend soon had a computer, a 386 PC (very popular and cheap at the time), but for some reason he was rather unwilling to use it - must've been something wrong with the guy, I can't understand such people (I'm of course kidding here). Actually he didn't even actually have anything to do with such a machine, so eventually it seems that all the machine was running were stuff I put in and needed. Later on I bought the machine from him for ~20US$, upgraded the display to EGA-compatible that had 640x400 view with 16 colors or 320x200 view with 255 colors (originally the machine had Hercules-compatible white-and-black display... yes, white-and-black, it was black text on a white surface. Scary, huh?). You can't believe the amount of visual effects coding I did with that machine (it must be remembered that the last machine I bought before this was the C64 many years earlier). I was also introduced to Pascal-programming at this stage. It seems a bit strange, that with all of my coding experience, I still am unable to understand even a bit more complex C-coding, but I read Pascal like it was my first spoken language. Later on, I've moved from Turbo Pascal to a bit more complex Object Pascal; a cross-platform version of which is known as Delphi/Kylix (well, there are others, but this is Borland's product, that is fairly well known).
It was about at this time (early 1994) when I was first introduced to the world of Internet (well... actually WWW, but for some reason many people think these words are synonyms to one another) by a friend of my studying at the Tampere university of technology. All of the sudden, the world seemed like a lot smaller place than it used to.
As I was living alone, dating with girls became so much easier. After about half a year, I started going out with a girl I eventually fell in love with. I moved with her into a new place, and - it must be noted here - bought myself a new computer at the same time. This again is one of the things I later on have regretted a lot, since it seems like my girlfriend found it very difficult to having to compete with the computer. I spent hours coding and doing stuff with the computer. After we had dated for four years, she decided it was time for her to move on. I still love her, never the less. Looking back, it seems like four years is crucial to my relationships with women. Next time I'll hopefully be wiser than before.
Now we'll take a minor step back in time... I opened my first website at http://www.pp.pitek.fi/~utu/ some time on winter 1996. Unfortunately this website no longer exists, just like the company that hosted the site. After a while, I moved the website into http://www.icenet.fi/~utu/ - on another ISP that doesn't exist anymore. I moved the site, because I had learned quite a bit of Perl-scripting and wanted to have CGI-rights (possibility to run my own programs) on the server, but PiTek wasn't ready to give those rights to me - so I said byebye to them and moved forward.
I soon decided to register my own domain, and in November 1997, a totally new website was opened at http://www.disconova.com/ - I consider it a fair birthday present for myself for reaching the age of 18 years (though it's a late one, but who cares). On this point I began to realize the importance of standard-compliance HTML and soon rewrote my website to comply with standards. After that I've been opposing browser specific web authoring in every turn possible. Believe me, it's a bad idea.
Net was a new thing to masses at that time, and there weren't so many useful services back then, but I decided to run a webchat on the site - a decicion that caused me to eventually move my server to a better place (at that time SciFi, the company that had bought Icenet, didn't have very reliable connections - and on my opinion, still haven't). The website had nice number of visitors, and at that time it wasn't unusual that there were dozens of chatters at the same time. Quite nice start for a beginning website, don't you think. Soon I started working with MP-3000F, a project that I quit recently (during 2002 - just didn't have the time to continue it anymore :-(), and decided to use Disco-Nova's website as the main release channel for the application, so the chat had to go. Sorry users, but chat ain't my stuff...
On my personal life, I was doing all sorts of things at this time. I was in a business college and attending to some classes in Tampere university of technology at the same time. This was too much, so I dropped from business college. Very soon after this I got hired into one of finnish IT-companies, PerlaNet. Due to the nature of projects I had there, I was forced to learn SQL (to be more specific; Oracle's version of the language called PL/SQL). This was a very nice addition to my programming skills.
I also attended a Java-course sponsored by PerlaNet. The course handled only the basics of Java-programming, and there ain't much I've used my skills in that area for. I'm waiting for a course for intermediate users in the future. If you like, you can take a look at my webcam - the frontend that downloads the images from server and shows them to the user is a Java-crapplet.
In 2001 I moved to Sysmä to work with one of PerlaNet's partners, PerlaSoft. During my time there I learned a great deal of PHP, and no longer considered Perl to be the best way in creating interactivity with the user on a website. I also purchased a laptop computer, HP XE3, in addition to my office workstation, but I still like the retro-type feeling I get from using old computers like the C64, and hacking around in general. I thing this is a disease that has no cure - at least not for me, that is.
After spending almost a year in Sysmä, participating in all sorts of different projects, I started to feel that I wasn't too much of a "country-person" - Sysmä is, after all, in the middle of big nowhere. I realized I wanted to move back to Nokia, and this is exactly what I did - on a short notice, little under a week, I had rented an apartment in Nokia and moved there. Currently I'm working with a big multinational project that I sincerely like a lot. Unfortunately I'm not allowed to give any actual details except that the project concerns a massive use of large Oracle databases. I'm learning more and more on that subject all the time, and am able to produce results in time before the deadlines (well... at least this is the case most of the time, that is).
In january 2003, my old laptop had a massive cardiac arrest because of a broken hard disk and I was eventually forced to buying a new one. This time it's a Compaq, 2.4GHz, 768MB of memory and... *Drooling* 300GB of hard disk space (yes, on the laptop). Only thing I'm a bit disappointed is the video adapter, but hey - nothing's perfect. This is finally a laptop I can actually work with without the need of my office workstation (well, the new laptop is about two times more powerfull than the workstation), and believe me, folks - I've been doing that... People have seen me in all sorts of different places working. Even in bars while drinking - I can tell you those times have produced some out-of-this-world type of code. :-p
Currently the laptop is history. The details include a vacation in Asia, a motorcycle drive-by, and a laptop in shoulder case. I think you can guess the rest. I think I'll get some money from the insurance company for the laptop, but it will be nowhere close to what the thing costs. Therefore I'm currently forced to working with my other machines and I'm hating every minute of it... Well - I guess I'll have to wait a while and buy similar machine wheh the prices get just a bit lower (I'm not about to settle into anything less than what I had before).
'Nuff said... Well - I still think Commodore 64 still kicks some serious butt.
On my social life, not much has changed. I've had some short-time relationships with a number of women (none of which have lasted for more than just few months (relationships, not women)). If I have problems with code, I can always patch it - when I have problems with women, only god can help me... Currently I consider that my life is just the way it's supposed to be - although I'm known to be wrong earlier too. End of story.