Geek Background

This is an informal summary on how computers became part of my life. If you are looking for an actual CV please visit my LinkedIn profile.
I was 10 years old when I got my first computer, a second-hand Sinclair ZX Spectrum. I learned some BASIC with that, but used it mainly for playing games. Two years later I upgraded to an 8 Mhz PC/XT with 640KB of RAM, on which I wrote some senseless stuff in GWBASIC and learned a bit of Pascal. Spectacular games such as Pool of Radiance or Space Quest made an impression lasting for life.
That life changed rather drastically, when, with 15, a 25Mhz 386 including 2MB RAM and a VGA graphic adapted entered into it, severely limiting my future career options to those involving some kind of software development. I learned some basic system programming, x86 assembler, and got quite experienced in Pascal. The actual products were rather trashy, such as the mode 0x13 game WormWar, some sort of multiplayer caterpillar.
I also shelled out the rough equivalent of EUR 200,- to equip my system with an original Soundblaster card, and proceeded to write an instrument editor for the FM sound generator just because it was cool. If you fail to understand why someone would spend weeks to write a tool he doesn't even need, you are probably looking at the wrong page.
Vaguely contemplating to to make a real game someday, I embarked on the obvious course of action, which was to implement a little 256-color paint program first. Two years later, when the mode 0x13 target technology was becoming increasingly obsolete, I decided to discontinue the FrogPaint project. However, it did have some really nice features, such as full control over the palette even when merging images using different palettes, and a floodfill with stochastically dithered color gradients which is probably still unrivaled by the unworthy successors in common use today ;-)
After school I studied mathematics at the University of Stuttgart, taking computer science as a side subject. At home, I continued to pursue system programming in DOS using Pascal and Assembler, developing units for all kinds of functionality from VESA S-VGA graphics to real time audio mixing. For testing purposes, I stuffed it all together to produce Gemtris - a tetris clone. Download.
Meanwhile, I developed software as an intern at the Fraunhofer IPA. I learned C there implementing a simulation for ultrasonic sensors and laser scanners and interfacing it to the simulation environment Igrip from Deneb (now Delmia). The next project used Java and implemented a Jini-based infrastructure for plug-and-play factory automation components.
After graduation, I started working as a software developer for the MVTec Software GmbH, a small independent company specializing in software for industrial machine vision. I worked on two different products and on various tasks while the company continued to grow, so it never got boring and I ended up staying an entire decade. Among other things, I got experience in VB6, C++, COM, .NET, image processing, OCR, Qt, Visual Studio, Windows, Unix, CVS, Makefiles, XML, XSLT, Perl, NSIS, and internationalization issues.
Of course, I still need something to hack at home, too. With DOS system programming no longer being absolutely state-of-the-art, I started dabbling with software for mobile phones using J2ME. Later I took a quick look at Flash and Android development but did not pursue that.
Now my off-work focus has shifted more to topics related to astronomy. I am enroled as a part-time student in the distance learning JCU Master of Astronomy Program, and toying around with the idea of applying the machine vision software HALCON to astronomical image processing. My first project will be to integrate the CFITSIO library as a HALCON extension package. Apart from that, I closely follow the POV-Ray community, and actually render an image now and then at cosmological intervals. I've also taken up playing Lexulous, favoring the computer opponent over online companionship. Now if that's not geeky ...

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