Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Growing Up Geek

In India,being a geek(a self-proclaimed one) ain't no walk in the park.Sure we love our coding and IT industry,but getting our hands on the latest smartphones or tablets is a gift of the priviledged few.Convincing the family,how a 30K phone is worth every penny or why you need a tablet when u already own a laptop,is a skill which everyone tries to master.I for one am still trying really hard to acquire it. 

Having being born in the early 90s,when computer industry was booming in the west,here the computer was used only to launch satellites.Even TV sets were a rare sight.
I was blessed to be a part of a family,which owned a TV.We owned a 20 inch coloured TV set,sans the cable connection.With a maximum of 12 channels on the set,the non-cable connection provided us a choice of only 2 channels.Surfing channels probably my first hobby,while I was still in my diapers,a hobby which I avidly follow,till date.

A few years later,I was introduced to the world of video games,when my uncle passed on his Atari videogame console onto my brother.The console stayed hidden somewhere and was only taken out during vacations on the consent of my parents(Told ya,its difficult!).Though I didnt understand what my brother used to do,it used to give me immense pleasure to see a ball roll down a lane and bring down the bowling pins.

Growing up,I was exposed to a lot of devices,ranging from VCR to walkmans.Whatever be the device,I always made it a point to screw up the device,one way or the other.Soon,I laid my hands on the beautiful Atari,pressing the buttons and controlling the joystick,completely unaware of its purpose.Though,I still loved it !
At around the age of 5-6,I remember visiting my uncle.He used to work for a magazine,and was probably the only relative of mine who owned a PC.It was this visit that I first fell in love with computers.Be it the senseless doodling on Paintbrush or endless hours of Dave and Prince of Persia,I loved it all.A trip there during vacations was something which I always looked forward to. My love for computers grew more and more as I made my parents enroll me in computer courses.Even in schools,I opted for extra classes for computers.

Seeing my love flourish,my parents finally decided to buy a PC.It was a 486,running on Windows 3.1.I used to show off my skills I'd learned from the courses I'd taken,to everyone.Sitting for hours at end on the PC,trying to find each and every wrap zone,trying to defeat Jaffar in an attempt to save the Princess,or the Pac-man marathon,started annoying my parents,which is probably why they didn't bother fixing or replacing the PC which had gone kaput.
As tapes were soon replaced by CD,it was time to move onto CD players.Ah,just pressing the next track button,instead of holding onto the FF was such a boon.
Playing tetris on an hand-held video game was my latest addiction then.Finally giving into my demands,my parents bought me a new video gaming console.Vacations were then spent my me and my brother,playing Contra for hours at end.Super Mario was another game which we were addicted too.

By the age of 12 the tool boy in me had woken up.No device was safe from me.The interconnected wires,the circuit-boards,all fascinated me.In the process,I rendered many perfectly working devices to the state of RIP.Though,that didn't stop me from ripping apart every I came across.
It was the beginning of new millennium that we got a new computer,500 MHz AMD processor,running Win 98.It was with this machine that I was introduced to the world of programming,HTML being the 1st language I learned.Fiddling around with Frontpage and Word was another pass time,with gaming ofcourse being the favourite.
Connecting to the internet meant having a bulky external modem,with a deafening tone.Thankfully,technology had advanced by the time we got our PC,as ours came bundled in with an internal 56.6 kbps modem.Though the tone had dampened a little,it was still loud.Pages used to take forever to load.I still remember typing in my yahoo id and password,on an offline page,before connecting to the net in order to save time.

Having cleared my major schooling years,I finally got a chance to upgrade my PC onto a P4 and 1 Gig RAM 
and a 64-bit onboard graphic support.Yeah,yeah .. laugh all you want,but this was the BEST config the day I bought it.

Soon,I was off to college where CDs and cassettes were fossil,MP3 was the thing.Exchanging pen-drives and discs full of games,movies and music were like the only thing for which we attended college.It was here that I was introduced to hardcore gamers,who in turn introduced to me Counter-Strike.Soon,I became a part of the clan.Be it home or away,I was hooked onto the game,so much so that the mouse had the shape of my hand traced on it and W-A-S-D were the cleanest keys on the KB.
Around the same time,I had picked up the guitar.The net provided me all the tutoring needed and speakers provided me the jamming partners.As time passed my brother upgraded to an electric.And then further brought a processor,further enhancing the experience.Still amazed at how a such a small device can do so much just by varying a the frequency of a sound-wave.

My father had always been a shutter-bug.He tried a lot to teach me,but I never really understood what ISO,aperture,et al meant.It was only until my brother brought the first digital cam,that I started getting a little hang of things.The quick preview and ample storage made me understand the jargons.Digitalization is truly a boon !

Medical or Engineering ?
Well it wasn't a tough choice for me,as I felt I was destined to end up somewhere in a pile of computers. 
It was during my graduation that my gadget love flourished.Fellow geek friends,tech forums made a major role.The insatiable need to keep myself updated with the latest in the tech world,was satisfied to an extent by those forums.Oh,internet,how I love thee !

Figures like 2.5 MHz,overclocked,4 GB meant more than 36-24-36.Na,just kidding ! :P

A picture is worth a thousand words.
It was these 4 years that completely transformed me into a geek.Now,I lie in a room surrounded by computers,discs,portable drives within arms reach.Room a complete mess,with cords lying on every freaking table.Cupboards filled with broken devices(they aren't trash for me),boxes from all the gadgets I ever owned lying everywhere,different set of headphones for gaming,watching movies,listening to music,etc.Even though mom gets pissed with mess,I pride myself in calling it my room.Plethora of digital data,that even over a TB of storage space can't containc.Games which developers take a year to make,we finish in couple of days.Sheer bliss !
Assembling computers,installing and further re-installing windows,so much so as to byheart the key,playing Counter-Strike,while sitting for practicals,staying up downloading movies and games,clicking weird pictures and making them even more weird using photoshop,are few of my best memories from the graduation years.

Though its not feasible to own every single device,I try my best to lay my hands on them at a tech store,trying out everything on the shelf.Gosh,if only time would permit,I'd still do that !
It gives me a sense of satisfaction when people turn up to me for advice while going in for a new phone or a computer or any gadget for that matter.Makes me wonder if I should become an agony uncle.

With an assumption(wrong one though) that I had acquired all the programming knowledge,I landed a job in one of the top IT companies of the country.As glamourous as I thought it'd be,it turned out to be really disappointing.Lets hope the next project I land up on is one for Apple,probably working on the next iPhone,or sitting somewhere in Mountain View in my 3/4ths,thinking about the next dessert,which would perfectly describe next iteration of Android.
Till then,its just me and the 10x10 cubicle,with the stream of sysouts and ever wandering mind,thinking about the  gadget to be bought with the next salary !


  1. True story. Brilliantly written :D

  2. Awesome. I can relate to each and everything. Got my PC when I was 8. Rescued Mario and Prince of Persia's Girlfriends, Dave, CoD, Became Pro in CS, FIFA. And still have whole 4 years of college. Geeks rock!

  3. hey!

    Though the post was all about..erm..machines (yes thats what i call your gizmos..)..it was a nice read! :)

  4. @Kaz : thanks man .. appreciate it
    the world wud've been so much complicated w/o us ;)

    @Demure : thanks a lot
    they say "whats in the name" ;)