Professional interests and hobbies

As a traditional CV is too restrictive to describe who am I the following is my attempt to brainstorm what is what are my interests and what I do best.

I am an ultimate geek, that loves maths, physics, technology and especially computers and anything connected to them.

In school I was a math and physics addict that went to school competitions up to regional level.

My first contact with a computer was very early in life and I basically grew up with the field.

I remember being in kindergarten and playing at home with discarded data storage mediums brought at home by my mother.

OK , I was not playing with hard drives, they did not exist yet at that time, but with “five- and eight-hole punched paper tape” and “punch cards” 🙂

I was fascinated by all the moving parts of those massive machines churning out the punch paper tape like a big sowing machine.

The first time I actually used a computer was a bit latter around 1985 when I was able to go to my father office in the afternoons to play with an HC-85, the Romanian clone of Sinclair Spectrum computers. Obviously first there were games (the best ever !!!) then some BASIC.

Further on I went through all the history of computers and networking.

I owned and played extensively with:

  • loading data from cassette tapes. This was how you loaded stuff to a Sinclair spectrum clone
  • played with a Commodore computer owned by a friend. That was high ent stuff at some point
  • then the first PC, I had an 8086 computer linked to a black and white TV with a staggering 10MB hard drive !!!
  • then a faster Intel 386 based PC with 5+1⁄4-inch, and 3+1⁄2-inch floppy disks and a 40MB hard drive 🙂 I still own more than 100 of my floppy disks.
  • then Internet was invented !!! I had my first e-mail address in 1991, I have a beta Yahoo account and a beta Google account. Basically I immediately jumped on any new service that appeared out there 🙂
  • modems: I think I went through the full lifetime of modems 🙂 I remember the first one had 9600 baud (that is a staggering 9.6kb/sec connection ) and the last one 28800 baud. I still have my USRobotics Sportster 14.4k Fax Modem which probably still works without any issue.
  • Fast forward today I have in one home a 32 unit server rack 🙂 with several servers and extensive networking equipment with load balanced gigabyte Internet connection using two different Internet providers. In two other locations (my home office and my parents home) I have smaller racks with equipment. The home network is so extensive that I deployed s networking management infrastructure software to be able to monitor all my networking equipment (some 24 routers and switches !!! ).
  • My home back-up is done using enterprise grade LTO tape drives (nothing beats tapes). The only way to do it when your RAID 10 storage is 18TB. That was a short trip from a 10MB hard drive to a 18TB RAID10 setup for my storage. It was funny when I did a setup on one of my work clients and I actually made an operation manual for a tape back-up procedure using my home equipment as a demo model.
  • I have my own domain name for more than 20 years already.

But I am not just a computer geek 🙂 I also like stuff that is connected to sound.

That is: turntables (a vintage one and a new one), cassette tapes (my Pioneer CT-737 still rocking), radio tuners (ONKYO), CD players, DVD and BLUERAY players.

Fun fact I think I used or I still own almost every possible medium of sound and data storage.

I had a long relation (20+ years) with cryptography and computer security. I think it helped because I am an early user of computers and that I was at some point in the same research group with one of the creators of AES. Obviously I was just a student and he was a post-doc but still 🙂

Then my second big fascination was with AI in the field of computer vision. I have spend more than 3 years in one of the top computer vision research groups in Europe playing with Bayesian Neural Networks. That was a fun time. I am still following the AI domain and read some papers related to the field from time to time.

Then payments and banking started to be an interrest when I stated working at Montran. I worked in payments infrastructure projects for the last 20 years.

I went through all the stages of implementing a payment infrastructure project from green field to final stage. Even if I was supposed to do payments related stuff I never shied at helping client even install servers in racks in data-centres. I was basically a full stack DevOpt Engineer before the term was widely used.

In the last 20 years I had roles ranging from technical infrastructure expert, business analyst roles, payment infrastructure solution team lead.

I was involved in Automated Clearing House payment solutions, Mandate Management solutions, Government Securities Payment solutions, Real Time Gross Settlement payment solutions, Instant Payment Payment solutions.

I have extensive experience with SWIFT message formats like MT payment messages and also the new ISO20022 based messages. I am on one of the first teams that implemented support for the new IPS (former HVPS+) SWIFT messaging standards for High Value Payment Systems. Worked closely with the SWIFT experts that created the message standard and adapted the ISO schemas to “High Value Payment” and “Cross Border” SWIFT message formats. Some small changes which probably nobody is aware of in those formats come also from my team.

I am a big fan of micro-services. I initiated conversion of monolith applications in payments to a more micro-service oriented architecture. I did consulting for some start-ups that deployed tens of micro-services in a live environment. I even learned golang as a side-project to be able to help a friend with his micro-service architecture, writing for him several small critical services churning out thousands of requests.

I am a big fan of APIs. I implemented ways to use APIs in payment systems and I am a big fan of open banking initiatives. I always focused on security and open standards when implementing APIs.

I am a big fan of distributed and high availability systems. I was involved at all levels of designing and implementing high availability environments in payment systems. Going from the bottom (hardware and networking level) up to the top abstract level of designing and implementing software layers that catered for high availability. There is no other more critical domain that need and uses high availability than payments. You can always wait for 30min for your Gmail or your Instagram but you will be angry if your payment is delayed or lost.

I am a LINUX freak. I remember the first Linux distribution I used in the ’90s was Slackware Linux and used to install it from some 20+ 3+1⁄2-inch floppy disks.

I am proficient in several programming languages: C, C++, Java, GO, bash script etc. My mostly used languages lately are JAVA and GO but from time to time I have to use the others as well and it pays to be able to fixe some small compiling issue of some C++ written code you get from github.

I like travelling. I have been to 40+ countries already, lived in 2, work related in some 20+ countries. I have been to all continents except Antarctica. One day I plan to go there, I heard from a former co-worker there are some nice trips you can do from Australia by ship 🙂

I talk a lot (people say sometimes too much 🙂 ) and I am easy going. I know Romanian, English, some Dutch and I manage to understand and get understood in Italian and French 🙂 I understand quite well Spanish and Portuguese to the point I had to implement stuff from Spanish or Portuguese specification documents 🙂

I think this is it I will let the blog speak more about my interests. Blogging is also one of my other hobbies: I like to write down things I struggled to do in this extensive world of computers and software and share the knowledge for free to others.