Batista R. Harahap

Lost and Found

Over the years, a lot has changed since I first venture into making opportunities available for myself. Throughout most of the years, there is only 1 thing staying consistent: hunger. Call it a hunger to better myself in more ways mostly personally which impacts directly into my professional life.

My first intro to programming was as early as my first instinct to get to know how to speak English. Subtitles in past TV serials helped me a lot and my Grandparents, they talked in English sometimes but mostly left me to figure it out on my own. That was the first time I learned by myself how to understand a foreign language.

When a BASIC interpreter showed up if I don't have my DOS disk with me, it tickles me. Found a book about Apple BASIC my dad bought only to realize that it's not the same BASIC interpreter I saw. I struggled learning 2 languages, English and BASIC. Finally was able to do a "Hello World" and life took a different direction.

I tore down the 8088 XT I had and tried to figure out which is which. It cost me the PC itself, I broke it accidentally, can't remember which got broken. There was a PC Expo and my Grandpa bought me a Pentium 120 MHz with 32 MB of RAM and 1 GB of hard drive. That was the first device I had capable of internet access with a 14.4 kbps modem.

My first MP3 download happened right there too, it was Eric Clapton's "Change The World". During that time, I was amazed with HTML. So I signed up for a free website at Geocities. My first website was there.

I saw an opportunity. Before I continue, I confess I downloaded pirated music and make profits from it.

My friends liked the content I had so they kinda asked me to download some more which I did. Was lucky enough in high school, I got Cable TV and Internet. When I first signed up, the speed was 512 Kbps although they downgraded all the subscribers to 128 Kbps after a while.

MP3 was full of fun. I love music and I play a few instruments so I downloaded much more. At the time, my music collection is as rich as it can be. As long as I can find the MP3s on the internet, I have it. I started selling mixed tapes, literally, not CDs but an actual tape cassettes. It was analog so you can imagine how unscalable the business is.

I sold for Rp. 10.000 per 60 minutes mixed tape cassettes. The margin was more than enough for me have happy weekends at the time. And then my PC got upgraded to a Pentium 4, her name was Gia. I was the only person with a CD Writer in school. So I upgraded to selling CDs. Christmas was full of joy, I sold more. Most of the sales were Christmas Carols and religious songs.

I learned that vertical/themed contents can sell for more than the usual price. I sold them at Rp. 20.000 - 25.000 depending on who my customer is. Back then I was just plain stupid, the money was made for fun and the lessons I learned was again for the fun of it.

After a long conversation tonight with Api Perdana at Lokananta, I came to find what's been missing in my head for the last few years.

The missing thing was: The Unknown.

I was always great in dealing with uncertainties, doubts and jumping head first. Just a right dose The Unknown made me learned all the knowledge I have right now, enabling me to create.

The other thing I realized is that I am a soloist. Back in college, I can't talk about codes or any other geeky stuffs with my own college friends. I was majoring in Computer Science & Mathematics, a double degree. So nerds and geeks are all there but their not who I want to talk to when it comes to geeky stuffs like the latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux or even how to code a classic Nokia Snake game using Linked Lists. There was no passion, just an endless pursue of grades before midterms or finals.

Rama reminded me of who I am as a soloist a few years back and I don't get him at the time. I only knew Rama for a few months at the time but he saw right through me, you should get to know the guy.

Nevertheless, every life decision comes from how well we exploit The Unknown right? So it's fair to say that I settled for what I needed rather than what I really want back then.

Wise men will say I made a sound choice but it's just not me. Tried so hard to be someone you're not and got lost in middle of it all. There are responsibilities for every choice so it's about being responsible to myself I told me.

So it's about one last effort to create once more. Whether the shit hit the tanks or even though it will skyrocket, I must call it a day soon. In a few months, time will tell.

For me, success is defined by 2 simple things Good Food and Enough Sleep. I can't ask for more than those 2 really, it's all I ever really wanted. As a side effect of the success, catering the needs and wants of as many people as possible is the short term goal.

In the spirit of The Unknown, I am venturing into something I have no knowledge about. In high school, I once got 3 out of 10 grade in my trimester report card in Accounting. I really hate accounting, I don't want to know how much other people or company is making, I don't care and it cost me a year of my teenage life.

Not about accounting in specific but more about finance and investments. The long talk with Api tonight gave a lot of perspective of how Stock Trading works. In essence, as a developer, I saw a potential of adding context and value into dull stock quotes data.

I build websites and is accustomed by the discipline to see things from the user's perspective. There are 3 things highly successful websites (once startups) do:

  • Creating a platform enabling its own users to give value to the collective's data
  • Let machines learn about the data and give value to it by modelling previous learnings (The Real World)
  • The combination of the 2 above

So I am challenging myself to create something from the vast amount of data available from the Stock Trading market. I will need to learn about a lot of how the analyst, traders and investors think while crafting the end product. The ideal way is to have the knowledge in advance but where's the fun in learning without doing? I want to get my fingers busy.

Still have no specific concept for a product but as I go along, gonna be documenting the effort here in my blog. I find that writing about things I learned before strengthen my understanding about the topic. Our brain is very much analytical.

My next blog post will likely be with screenshots or other conceptual thinking visuals. The weakest and also the strongest part of a developer is always their curiosity, it'll be fun to exploit my own way of thinking.

24 July 2013 by Batista Harahap on api | choice | code | concept | finance | found | life | lost | market | product | rama | responsible | stock | trade | unknown
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