pphaneuf: (Smiling)
Not entirely sure why, but flooded with memories today, this year, 11 years after.

Having run down to the metro, up to the apartment, up to the hospital. At about this time, sitting around with friends, looking at each others, with the phone ringing, knowing it was her mother's weekly call. All the people who came to help, in an amazing storm of friendship, telling each others stories, and managing to laugh together. That great service, that I still haven't listened to the recording of. Sitting on the floor in her empty room after everyone had gone, with a bright winter blue sky, crying. Her piano in my living room, with Diva whining at it.

She shaped my life in so many ways, I'm so glad I knew her, however briefly.

Broke up

Sep. 15th, 2004 12:00 am
pphaneuf: (Default)
No precise date on this event, but by that time, it was pretty clear.

It had become clearer to me that we probably worked much better as friends, but as it would turn out, it wouldn't be possible for a while. Maybe some day.
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For a while, I had been finding my work at NEC/Cray a bit... I don't know, like I wasn't going anywhere. I was making good money, and the light amount of work allowed me to work on a lot of things on the side, but I figured I should start thinking about going out and taking on something new. I just thought about it, though, and never really did anything about it.

Until December 1st 2001, that is, when Alexandre Marcoux, a childhood friend of mine, died. It wasn't entirely surprising, as he had a heart transplant about 15 years before (about the time it is expected to last), and he has had a philosophy that he would what life he had to the fullest, which included smoking and drinking, obviously not the best for that kind of health. Ironically, in the last few years, where I lost contact with him, he came around and decided that he'd take better care and try to get another transplant when it would come down to it.

That reminded me pretty strongly that no, we do not have all the time in the world. If I wanted to do something with my life, I had better get down to it, because it wouldn't happen by itself.

As I went back to work after that, coincidentally, I had an email from apenwarr, telling me that his company was opening an R&D office in Montreal, asking if I was interesting in joining them. So I did!
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That day, I started as a Cray employee, although I was sitting at the same desk, and not much really changed (they did lay off the receptionist).

How did that came to be? Well, NEC, my employer, was under the effect of an anti-dumping suit in the US, where they had some ridiculous import tax on their computers (something like 150%!!!), put on them after Cray filed a complaint. See, Cray, they were on the way down, and when NEC came out with CMOS-based air-cooled vector supercomputers which were much cheaper than Cray's water-cooled systems (all that plumbing is expensive and makes maintenance more complicated). During that time, Cray had been reduced to taking back decommissioned Alpha-based T3E chassis back from customers, retrofitting them with newer processors and reselling them, because they didn't have the money to finance R&D on new supercomputer technologies or manufacturing brand-new systems. Rather pathetic.

They were in such trouble at that time that they struck a deal with NEC where they would drop the anti-dumping suit, in exchange for becoming the exclusive re-distributor of NEC supercomputers in North America, as well as getting money. NEC went for it, because they basically couldn't sell in the US at that time, but it made my directly employer, the subsidiary responsible for North America, obsolete. They basically transferred most of the employees to Cray and it was business as usual.

This change in employer was pretty weird for me, because a long time ago, I established a personal goal where I wanted to be in a job where what I did was off-beat and experimental. I had stated this something like "someday, I'll have Cray business cards of my own" (hey, I was young and silly!). So when I had a box of those delivered to my desk, I sort of wondered what I should be doing now.

I didn't have to wonder for long.
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Earlier in the year, I was researching doing useful web sites, I found Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing, which was both very interesting and also quite well illustrated, with Philip Greenspun's own photos. It also led me to read his Travels with Samantha, which not only caused me to reconsider my stance on photography, but to take it on myself.

See, before, when I travelled and saw things, I only committed things to my own memory, because I have a dislike of "tourist photos", where people take pictures left and right, without taking the time to be there. I preferred to be part of it, rather than merely being an observer. This explains a bit the complete lack of photos from my trip to Germany, where I saw all kinds of wonderful things and had a lot of fun.

But after seeing some of Philip's travelogues, I realized that while I might still be right for the common "snapping tourist photos" type of photography, that trying to capture the feel of a place by practising photography as a craft could actually get me closer, rather than separate me from the experience, much like a painter needs to see all the tiny details.

I was also contemplating getting a non-computer hobby, feeling that my life was being a bit single-tracked, and photography provided good opportunity to develop my right brain, artistic activity, while having enough technicality to it that I could bridge over and still something fun for my left brain.

So I got myself an Olympus Stylus Epic (fixed focal with a fast lens point and shoot camera), and started shooting, doing my best to find an interesting angle and squeeze as much as I could out of such a simple camera. I did some night photography, and tried my best to capture atmospheres.

When I go and travel, nowadays, I still try to be part of the experience, and I'll often segregate my time between having the camera at hand or not. I'll go out alone with my camera bag and tripod to go do photography, or I'll leave the camera behind. I find both to be very rewarding.
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Well, we gave up at some point. I think we were in an in-between of technologies, after PC and console studios started inflating to astronomical budgets, but before smaller budget games for Palms and cellphones became viable (a segment where small game development studios seem to thrive nowadays).

So we open sourced Quadra under the Lesser General Public License, and those of us who were working full-time on Ludus Design went back to day jobs. I still have the domain, as of 2006, looking at progressively retiring it, or at least the server behind it.

It's kind of cool seeing the community of Quadra players still alive, but the development on it is very slow. There's a few interested people I'm trying to hand it off to (as of fall 2006), but just like me, they do not have a lot of time to work on it. Oh well...
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Sometimes in the month of May 1998, Stéphane, Rémi, Sylvain, Guy and I started Ludus Design, our own game development company. We initially only had Quadra (now open source, and called "Remtris 3" back then), which I was porting to Linux/Svgalib.
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I remember reading the announcement, linked from Slashdot I think, that Netscape was going to open source the upcoming version 5 of their Navigator (of note there never was a version 5 after all, they jumped right to 6, heh).

Ah, those were the good old time, where people like [livejournal.com profile] jwz threw parties with people like Mistress Midori as host for a free software release...

In Montreal, [livejournal.com profile] elliptic_curve threw a party, where I met her as well as apenwarr and Pat for the first time. It was an Internet café, with a bunch of Windows workstations, but someone brought their Linux computer, with an NFS server, serving a small X terminal setup, allowing us to go from one computer to the other with a Linux boot floppy, temporarily turning the place into a Linux-running café...

I remember finding [livejournal.com profile] elliptic_curve rather interesting, which took me all of, hmm, 7 years and a half to come out about. This speaks volumes about myself, LOL!

I remember the underlining on hyperlinks, when apenwarr managed to compile it, which was over the links instead of under, for some reason. Discussing the architecture of the FEs over IRC and in person at the same time. Exciting times!
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Rather quickly after being hired at Calculus, I decided that it wasn't really the best place for me to work at, after being told I came in late to work by a manager (I came in at 10am instead of the 9:30am maximum time), after having worked until the wee hours of the morning.

I remember being one of the last to leave work on my last day, as the weather was really bad and people were given a break to leave early, but I stayed until 6pm or so (pretty late by the standards of that place) to finish hacking my last piece of work there. On the bus ride home (it was in Laval, and I took the bus to the Henri-Bourassa metro, and then to the Laurier metro, near my place of the time), while the bus was stopped under electrical lines, a chunk of ice fell on the roof of the bus, denting the sheet-metal. This bad weather would get worse and worse, and would turn into what became known as Ice Storm of 1998. I had planned some time off, but ended up roaming about to some friends apartment, and then hosting a few other "refugees" from the South Shore at my place afterward.

Getting hired was a bit of an adventure too. I went to the interview, and was rather perplexed by the first part of the interview, which was more them pitching their company to them than asking me about myself. The second part was thankfully more "normal", but I was kind of weirded-out already. Being still a bit young and everything, I was all dressed very carefully, but in the bus on the way back home, I noticed that I had forgotten to shave!

Turns out it didn't matter much, as a few days later I got a call from the headhunter who had found me the position with an offer. Again, I was spooked, as she asked me if I found it good, and I started saying "I don't know...", meaning to finish with "but it's better than what I have, so I'm good with it", but before I could say that, she interrupted me to tell me that she'd call back later. An hour later, she called again, and the offer was a few grands higher. Easily the easiest negociation I ever went through.

Turned out to be a pretty laid-back job, but still learned a lot. Basically, they didn't mind too much the lack of experience, as all this super-computer stuff wasn't taught much and training was going to be on the job no matter what. There were very nice toys, weird HIPPI networks and cabling that looked like it could kill a man. There was barely enough work for one person, most of the time, but due to the high requirements of the stand-by duty (maximum time between call and arrival of analyst, and such), we were two, so I got to work on all sorts of personal projects, such as Mozilla and co-founding a game development company.

A great time, for sure!
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Started working at SIBN Calculus (the SIBN standing for "Société Informatique de la Banque Nationale"). That was interesting in a few ways, and rather depressing in others.

This was the first time where I got an offer on the spot at the interview. Wasn't anything massive, but that's the moment I started paying income taxes, so here's to a milestone in my life.
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That's the day I "got together" with Mélanie, with whom I spent almost eight years.

I can put a date on that one for a pretty good reason: there was a definite "not togetherness" followed by a "togetherness" when her boyfriend of the time agreed to open up their relationship.

Now, you have to understand, we're in a 50,000 inhabitants small town of Québec, we don't know what "polyamory" is, we don't have much to guide us but our guts and our meager life experience. We hardly had any access to the Internet, and we hardly knew what to look for anyway. This was kind of nuts. Basically, we just made it up as we went. I think we did pretty well, all things considered, as he remained with us for six months, the break up being rather amicable, not the big blow up that a lot of people expected. There was a healing period between him and the two of us, but after a few years, we were very good friends, once again.

I guess they were right after all, and that it there is a good deal of stupidity involved in courage...

Breaking up

Dec. 1st, 1996 12:00 am
pphaneuf: (Default)
Éliane and I broke up that day, for good.

It went pretty easily, as really, our paths had separated some time ago, and we were mostly together out of habit.

Later, I learned that she had been hitting on some people while we were still together, which I got pretty furious about. But in the grand scheme of things, I was most angry with the "together out of habit" part, because I had a clear responsibility in this (I could/should have walked away earlier).
pphaneuf: (Default)
I started working around that time with a small consultancy in Saint-Hyacinthe called Gulliver Communication. Set up networks and web sites for small businesses and a local private school.

Didn't pay well at all, barely what I needed to survive, probably less than what social security would have given me, but I had the occasion of learning many things, including starting to use Linux, at about the same time (a few months later, I was using Linux full-time).
pphaneuf: (Default)
Went back to the Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe for the third year.

Academically speaking, this was a crash and burn, where I was failing my classes for lack of attending and such, eventually leading to my dropping out.

I went through a small depression at that time, from being overly bored, where I eventually saved myself by teaching myself Borland Pascal and object-oriented programming. Protected mode programming on the 80286 as an anti-depressant, that's rather unintuitive!
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My second internship during the summer at the Réseau Santé Richelieu-Yamaska. Was hired to do an inventory of their systems, which started off as crawling under every desks of the hospitals in Saint-Hyacinthe (unfortunately, there really isn't that many attractive nurses and such, it would have seemed), but then morphed into helping them do trickier troubleshooting. More networking experience, saw OpenLook on a Sun workstation for the first time, some of my first interactive use of the Internet there, through their dial-up account.
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Started my second year of cégep, doing that one at the Cégep de Jonquière, following Éliane there.

In a way, it was a bit of a mistake, fucking up my course flow something bad and messing up with my life in a rather significant way for what was at the time a 6 month or so relationship, but hey, I'm like that sometimes. But on the other hand, there was many good times to come out of that, if it wasn't scholarly success. I learned C, which was the language they used there (good for them!). I practiced the whole starting up my life thing, settling down in an apartment. It put some pressure on me and led me to a number of experiences like breaking up for the first time, getting to realize (albeit a bit late sometimes!) that, yes, I can be attractive to the members of the appropriate sex, participating in organizing things at the "travel bureau", etc...

I was growing up.
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That summer, I worked as an intern at Affiliated. That was my first contact with Unix machines, on some Sequent 386 SMP systems. Learned a lot about terminals, serial communications and networking.
pphaneuf: (Default)
After being literally shoved into each others by some friends, Éliane and I "got together".
pphaneuf: (Default)
Started my cégep, at the Cégep de Saint-Hyacinthe, in "technique informatique". Was pretty boring, learning dBase IV businessy programming and such platitudes.

Met Rémi and [livejournal.com profile] michelemond there, as well as many others.
pphaneuf: (Default)
I graduated from high school, at the Polyvalente Ozias-Leduc, in Mont-Saint-Hilaire.

Although high school wasn't all that fun overall for me (getting bullied and such things, even when I was in the "enriched" program (bullied by other nerds, the horror!)), it got progressively better as I was arriving to the end. I managed to be exempted from English class and pick an extra elective instead (while still doing the main exams), which contributed to being less bored.

The graduation prom night was actually pretty decent, where I got to dress up in a tailored tuxedo (since I was so skinny and tall, they didn't have a rental that was close to fit me, so they had to custom-tailor one, hehe!). I even had a "date", although it was rather symbolic, it was a friend of mine whose boyfriend went to another school and was having his prom at the same time, we pretty much entered together, sat at the same table for dinner, then went off our own ways. There was a cruise on the St-Lawrence River before the dinner, where one could feel being pretty cool and awesome, on the roof of a cruise boat going at a good clip with Montreal's downtown at sunset as a backdrop, wearing a tailor-made tuxedo... :-)

After the prom dinner and ball, which was itself on a floating ballrom (built on an boat anchored in Montreal's Old Port) and where we had a non-horribly crappy DJ/MC (but wasn't so appreciative at the time), I hitched a ride with one of my friends, in his dad's Ford Probe GT. It was pretty awesome: we were in line for getting out of the parking lot, there was George Thorogood's "One Scotch, One Bourbon and One Beer" playing on the radio, and just as the song kick off (after the long foot-tapping intro), the gate opened and my friend dropped the clutch hard, taking off with screeching tires into the Montreal night. We went, raced some MGs on the Main, lost, laughed, then headed over to the after-prom party.

The after-prom party was also a (drunken) blast, my "popularity" ensured at the insistence of my (very cool) mom to buy me a 12 pack of beer, when I was a 120 pounds skinny teenager who hardly ever drank (I managed to talk her out of the 24!), and thus giving away a few beers while still being plenty messed up myself. I remember going to sleep in my tent, drunkenly looking for one last beer (which would probably have been a mistake), looking up and seeing one of my female friend on a swing, looking pretty down, lifting her head when she noticed me moving, triggering her to puke. Classy. I laughed, and went back to sleep. ;-)

It's was one of the last time I saw Marie-Claude, my big high school crush.

February 2016

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