50 years of geeky adventures

2014

I was a geeky kid.

I got my first computer in 2003 and the internet came a couple of months later. I do not remember much from childhood, but I consider that time being the beginning of becoming an intellectually mature (-ish) person. I grew up in a small town, so the internet played a crucial role in my mental development by giving an easy access to big ideas, all kinds of information and interesting people.

Internet was much smaller back then. That was before the Twitter, Facebook and the rest of that social media craze. Blogging was pretty much reserved for geeks (at least in the Lithuanian part of the internet). We had some big websites (delfi.lt was around since forever), mIRC, ICQ, forums, many goofy personal websites and that was enough. It was fun and simple.

The web fascinated me since day one. I learned to create my own static websites fairly soon. Somewhere around 2005, I started toying with JavaScript. A little bit later I took up PHP, which opened the whole another dimension to me. At that point I started considering building a career around that.

That was a rather long introduction, but this post is not exactly about me. It’s about my geeky friends and stuff we used to do.

Today php.lt is dead, but back in the day it was THE SHIT. Being around since 2000, it probably was the most active community of web developers in Lithuania. Sadly, in 2005 it was already outdated as it had been forgotten by its creators some time ago. Nonetheless, being part of it was great, as I got to learn from a friendly and smart community.

Lamers and script kids were annoying, flooding forum boards with their stupid questions and requests, so the least we could do was to have some fun at their expense. This is where it all started.

The core of the community started replying to all the silly questions and requests in short and simple pseudocode that we called P4I (Programming for Idiots – yeah, subtle, I know). It would go something like this. It’s the earliest use of P4I code I managed to find.

It went on for a while. I remember some code snippets being long, detailed and hilarious. It was an inside joke, and we loved that joke.

This coincided with discussions about the state of php.lt as a platform for community. It was getting old and no one seemed to care about it anymore. We felt that we could do better.

A skype group was created, consisting of “P4I activists”, and I was one of the first members. There we decided what our action plan should be.

Thus, P4I.LT was born. To make it less offensive we translated the title into “Programming for Intellectuals” (so smooth).

At first it was just the forum, but soon it also became a blog where we wrote articles on programming. Let me be the first to state that the content wasn’t of high quality. Nevertheless, that blog was quite popular in the Lithuanian blogosphere at the time. It went on for awhile.

People came and went away, but the core stayed the same. P4I.LT was not the only thing we did together. We collectively participated in the Programmer’s day competitions few years running, which was exactly as nerdy as it sounds. Several Christmas in a row we did stupid little holiday projects, such as this and that (it has sounds, which only works in Chrome and you have to wait a bit for them to load).

The last blog entry (I managed to find) was written by me on 2009-01-24. The blog was active for about two years and then we just got bored. The forum lasted a bit longer, but not by much. Soon enough project P4I was declared dead.

But the Skype group continues to exist. We still talk, but not as regularly as we used to. People have moved on to other things. I mean, I was in the 7th or 8th grade when it all started and next year I’ll be graduating university. I was the youngest of the bunch. Others have created families by now. A lot of time has passed. But it’s there.

Eric Reiss has calculated that one calendar year is equal to 4,7 internet years. This number should not be taken seriously as it’s there only to emphasize the sheer speed of the virtual world.

So yeah, I’ve been playing and working in the virtual world for more than 50 internet years now. When I first got to it, the web was 4 times smaller than it is today. Let’s see what another 50 years will bring to the table.

P.S. Here’s some information that was hosted on P4I: http://p4i.armandas.lt