Re-becoming a developer

Tom Lous
5 min readMay 5, 2016

Since my childhood I’ve always been a coder. I got started with some GW BASIC, but quickly moved to C and C++ during my high school years, though I never really considered it as a possible future occupation. It was more of a fun hobby and since my friends also did it, it didn’t seem that strange or special. Some liked football, some drawing, I liked programming.

In fact: I’ve always thought of ending up a veterinarian. Programming and hacking seemed more as as hobby to me, also because it came from and ended up in playing games (eg. trying to get unlimited ammo in Commander Keen and unlimited funds in Sim City).

So computer programming seemed fun, but I would become a vet, and that’s that. Until I was introduced to the possibility of studying Artificial Intelligence at the computer science faculty at the VU in Amsterdam. All of a sudden all pieces fell into place and I realised that this was a field of study that suited all my interests. Full of energy and enthusiasm I started my college years in Amsterdam.

The reality, however, was that although I may have been ready for AI, I surely wasn’t for university. I was not used of actually putting in real effort in my classes or study. So where the learning curve in high school was graduate, the one in college was too steep for someone who never had learnt how to actually study. I was disillusioned in classes and found the material far too dry and impractical. Also outside my peers, no one understood what I was doing.

You see, these were the days after second AI winter. And the reputation of AI was not stellar. Classes were filled with load of theory, but the practical solutions were either far fetched or not impressive.

I did love the practical assignments and that rekindled my love for developing, now in the form of Java, Prolog and some PHP for classes. But even though I really wanted to believe otherwise, my career as an AI student at the VU was at end.

The final blow for my academic adventure was when I founded my own web development company and started to work on cool new websites. I co-developed many sites, from local car dealers, taxi companies, hairdressers and even an aluminum constructor. It was the beginning of 2001: Nobody had a website and everybody wanted one.

Tom Lous

Freelance Data & ML Engineer | husband + father of 2 | #Spark #Scala #ZIO#BigData #ML #Kafka #Airflow #Kubernetes | Shodan Aikido