This is my story
It is all about me, the point is to help you understand why I did certain things I will explain in future posts.
Who am I?
Since I was a kid (8 years old), I used to go to work with my father, he was tailor, as far as I can tell he was good in what he is doing, he was a good designer too, I saw his learning process usually it involves reverse engineering the dresses he like.
Then suddenly he decided to change career and he started a trade company with my uncle, they were very successful and there was lot of operation in the new business ,I was in that too because as you know (I used to be with my father most of the time), I have learnt a lot from this 2 businesses, the first is about users’ taste and the other is about needs, a down side is I tried a lot to impress my father but I couldn’t, it was exhausting but at some point I got over it and had my own life, which was about code.
I think my first time to get in touch with a computer was 1992, I was n’t interested by any means until 1996, I was more into the old stuff so instead of learning Windows 95, I went for MS-DOS and Windows 3.11, for my luck I started my “Thanawya aka High school or pre-college” -this was 1997- and the machines was old you need OS disk to boot it up, which was heaven for me, I was looking for this, I have learnt lot of patience and tricks to get over the slow machines.
I was so in love with the idea of talking to machine that I used to write code in notebooks and when I get a chance to have the computer I write it.
I sold my first application to 3 clients, I made around $1000 it was huge for me because I was just a student and made this money from code.
Finding a master
One of the things that was kind of irratating for me, I couldn’t find a master who can teach me what I wanted, my question was a lot and I liked to talk about this all the time, I think no one was able to followup with me, I turn to books, I read as much as I could, I was eager to learn, I didn’t even know what is algorithms back in that time.
The only thing I was good at is finishing something quickly because for some reason I used to read about many things and the mix usually helped me, the other thing was challenge ALWAYS excited me.
Building my own tools.
I used to write code the help me in my delay tasks, for instance, there was a challenge at the university to draw images super fast using Pascal, what I did simply was writing VB Script that reads bitmap and turn it into Pascal code (later I found what I did is a sort of XBM file format).
Multi-tab browser in 2001
I did my own browser in 2000 (I was using IE as base for my work), simply what I have done was trying solve my problem of having too many opened instances of IE, I didn’t know what to do with it, there was no channels to distribute my work like app store or something, luckily a journalist saw it and liked it.
My own students network in 2002
I started a new mini network it was mix of forums + a way to exchange lectures and notes + other cool stuff, I hardly got 120 student to use it, didn’t get much success.
After this attempts I started to focus on other stuff like building operating systems, I was crazy enough to write a bootloader + mini kernel, it took me around 3 months to reach to this point, in the way I had to learn assembly and some machine code, the big benifit of this was the reverse engineering lessons + the crack me challenges.
Moving forward I started my first job right after being 100% graduate + not requried to serve in army, my job was to build a component to protect the company’s application from being cracked, it was sort of exciting and scary, it took too many iteration to reach to the point where the component is ready for shipping, then I moved to business reporting tools, it was fun and exciting too, I never did this before and it was a good chance to learn from people way older than me + it is totally new thing.
Then I decided I will be a freelancer, I couldn’t sustain it for long time because I had no name + my interest was not in the jobs that I used to get, I started working on a book for ASP.NET and I released it for free, it took 2 months to write this book.
My second job was sort of a dream, it was with Imaginet one of the most super awesoem companies back then, they used to do the Arabic component for Windows Mobile (4/5), I was hooked, I worked there for a year, I have learnt ton of things about many thigns, actually working with this low specs phones was the real deal.
1.7 GB to 120 MB on K-JAM
It was a freelance job, I was asked to put the Egyptian telephone number director on smart phones which was back then “Windows Mobile” and “Symbian”.
What I have done was remarkable and I have learnt a lot form it, I learnt about algorithms in this project like never before, it was full of indices/trees, it needed different way of debugging, It was pure fun and I did it in 21 days.
I also managed to put 50K of business information in 3.5 MB, it was super fast in data retrieval too.
While I was developing Neatly we used many tricks from this project, mainly trees and how we used to compress them.
One of the most cool stuff in this project too was hacking windows mobile and having some low level tricks on the phone.
Working with money
The job after my job was to develop a payment solution to be used in Hamad Medical Corporation, I was part of the team who wrote the code for the transaction server and terminal software (Xenta and Xentissimo) + some a very slight contribution in the cards printing module and backend :D, techincally I touched every part of the system and I was lucky enough to be part of the deployment team, it was a chance to see how ugly delivery a multi million dollar product.
Getting into research
My next job was Software research engineer, and it was all mobile and security, it was fun job and full of challenges, the good thing is I had chance to work on most mobile platforms.
Talking to users.
The job after that was at Sarmady, the dreamland of digital media in Egypt back in the time, it was good experience because I had this questions about “why users complaint all the time” and I think I got some answer to see how things work and how users decide everything for them selves.
Doing my own shit
After that I started F16Apps, my startup, it was all about apps, my dream was to make it easy for people to live their life and techonlogy be just something to make their life better and not to stand in their way.
My proposal for Flat6labs was to develop a hub for users to have all the content (email, facebook, twitter, news) in one place and help you interact with this based on what you like and what you need at the moment, giving more time for more important stuff.
Flat6labs management told me that the dream is so wide and I need to pick something and work on it, so we picked Twitter and we built Neatly.
Flipping the ship
For many reasons I was big part of F16Apps crash, I wish I can recall as much and start writing about it.
If you reach to this line then you are a hero, I really don’t know how to thank you, it is really nice to have someone really keen to know me.
At the end my name is Ahmed Essam and I consider my self empty container trying to collect whatever valuable from life and hopefully I can give it to someone.
I wish I can keep writing, it feels better and I hope someone find it interesting.