Historic notes

My computer career started in 1982 when I was 14 after attending to a one-week programming camp. Between 1982 and 1987 I passed some of my spare time by writing simple BASIC programs on a TRS-80. My father was at this time the proud possessor of a Tandy TRS-80 with 64 KB of RAM and a graphics resolution of 127 x 64 black and white pixels.

Before becoming a programmer, I studied Biology at the University of Namur (French-speaking part of Belgium), during two years from September 1986 to September 1988. Although I abandoned these studies, I think that these two years were not lost for me. They had a deep contribution on how I look at our world. I am most thankful to J.L. De Sloover for his teachings.

In June 1990 I finished my studies of Gradué en informatique.

After my studies I worked at Siemens-Nixdorf in Liège for 18 months (from September 1990 to January 1992). I got in touch with the operating systems UNIX and BS/2000. One of my projects was for example a parser who read a database definition file and generated a PostScript file that visualized entity/relations diagrams of the database.

In December 1992 I resigned at Siemens-Nixdorf because I had decided to change my vocation: I wanted to become a primary school teacher. Although programmer was a beautiful and secure job, I was not fascinated by what I was doing. In Belgium it is theoretically possible to make a diplome by learning on your own and passing a state exam (“Jury central”). I applied for acceptance to this exam. While waiting for an answer from the government I started a half-time job as programmer at PAC Systems in Eupen (January 1992). Half a year later I received the answer of the government: I was the only person asking for a state exam as primary school teacher, and they would not organize such an exam for me alone. This answer was not so disappointing to me because meanwhile I was enjoying my new job very much. I switched to full-time on September 1st, 1992. PAC Systems was at this time a company with three employees. Now there are 5 employees and three trainees.

During the next 8 years I worked at PAC Systems (renamed to AbAKUS in 2008) as software designer and programmer. I developed TIM, a customizable software application for small and medium-sized companies, used for invoicing, accounting, stock management, etc. TIM is written in Clipper (now compiled using Alaska xBase++) and runs on MS-DOS. Besides software development I also gave hotline and technical support for our customers. Besides working on TIM I gave computer lessons about Office software (MS Word, Excel, Access) to end-users in our training center or at the customers’ offices.

In 1995 I started to work on a “TIM for Windows”, using Borland C++. In March 1999 I switched to Java.

In August 1998 I met my future wife for the first time in Taizé, in January 1999 I met her again in Milano. In April 1999 we met for the third time for three days in Eupen and I fell seriously in love with her. In June we met the fourth time in Tallinn. (…)

In February 1999 I passed the “Ausbilder-Eignungsprüfung” in Aachen (Germany) and became responsible for the training of a 19-year-old future software application developer (IT-Fachmann, Fachrichtung Anwendungsentwicklung).

In August 2000 I announced to my employer that I decided to move to Estonia. I agreed to stay another year so that they have a chance to find a successor for me.

In October 2000 I married.

In August 2001 I moved to Estonia where I started a sabbatical year: continued the Java port project on my own and without getting money for it. I once tried a PHP port that got quite far but is now forgotten.

In August 2002 I announced to the TIM users in Eastern Belgium that I would continue to maintain and give support for TIM, but at new conditions, requiring a yearly fee. About half of the users joined the project, which was enough to provide a decent salary. My vision received a financially sustainable base.

In 2002 I discovered the Python programming language and abandoned C++, Java and PHP without tears. My first Python product is called TIM Tools and is used by others since December 2002.

When I discovered Django in the end of 2008, after having worked many months on my own database model, I was quickly fascinated. Django’s ORM and database model are simply genial. The way of how this is integrated into a web application server system: genial. But a few things disturbed me with Django, and I felt that I need to change them before I can be satisfied. That’s why I started to write Lino. After some search for a valuable user interface, I started to use ExtJS in August 2009.