Slavikus in da house!

Note: We’ve got a busy week planned on the Wildbit blog. Over the last month we’ve added three extraordinary members to the Wildbit team. Each one of them wrote an incredible post to introduce themselves on Basecamp, and we thought you’d like to get to know a little about each of them too.

Today, I’m really happy to introduce Slava. He’s an OS X developer joining the Wildbit team from St. Petersburg, Russia.

Hi, my name is Slava “slavikus” Karpenko, I've been married to an awesome girl (Masha) since 1999, have three kids and one Maine coon cat Dipsy (1.5).

I have always been fascinated with computers and technology. When I turned 8, my parents got me my first computer — something called BK-0010, with sensor keys that made funky squawks when they were pressed. It had the FOCAL programming language and you needed to connect a tape recorder to store and load data. I had no other choice but to start learning to program. A few years later, I made my own money by recording software to tapes and selling these to other BK-0010 users by posting ads on the buildings of outside streets. I made enough to afford a new and upgraded BK-0010.01 which carried BASIC, so this was a second programming language to learn and master.

Sadly, both FOCAL and BASIC (what’s up with capitalized names, anyway?) were severely limited in what you could do by using them, so there was no choice: I had to learn Assembly language. Fortunately, Russian computers used a CPU that was a clone of PDP-11, so this was pretty helpful later on in my professional life. At some point in late 80s I switched to ZX Spectrum and learned Z80 ASM, and then on to IBM PC to learn C and 8086 ASM.

In 1990 my father introduced me to a computer that changed my life forever: a used Macintosh Plus that had been used in some organization he worked for. Fortunately, they allowed public access to the computer for kids twice a week. So every Tuesday and Thursday I traveled across the city to learn and interact with something that had a graphical interface and a tool that awed me with inspiration: HyperCard.

Since then, my life went downhill (just kidding). After a year or so, my father managed to get ahold of a better (still used) Mac, SE/30. Since it was at our home, I had much more time to learn and improve. So it went — computers and technologies changed, and I kept learning and learning: THINK Pascal, THINK C, 68k ASM, MPW, C++, CodeWarrior, PowerPlant, PowerPC ASM, first publicly available software (QwertyBot for IRC), first bot script for IRC (Bar in TCL for Eggdrop both for #beer channel).

While on IRC, I met Dmitry Boldyrev. He made a music player that could decode the new MP3 format to allow you to encode CD quality music and then transfer a song of 3 Mb in about 3 minutes through a modem! It was a revolution of sorts. Unfortunately due to some personal problems Dmitry couldn’t carry on the development of MacAmp so he handed off the project to me. In 1999, two great things happened — I got married to a wonderful girl Masha who could cope with a geek who spent all his nights staring down the monitor and MacAmp 1.0 was released, gaining huge popularity on the platform.

This begins the era where I was stuck making various MP3 audio players that lasted from 1998 to 2002 — MacAST, MacAmp Lite, Echo, Mint Audio. Not much to say about this period other than it was very interesting and fun days, up until Apple acquired our competitor, SoundJam, which later became iTunes.

When Apple introduced MacOS X, with that old school spelling :), of course I had to dive into Objective-C and all that Cocoa stuff. This to say, MacOS X 10.0 was missing a lot of stuff I got used to on MacOS Classic: for example, “window shading” to allow windows to windows by double-clicking on the header to quickly peek below, or the ability to customize the Apple menu. Without much hesitation, I formed a new company with two of my IRC friends. We named it Unsanity, and started making little tools that filled these gaps: WindowShade X, FruitMenu, and many others. To name the apps, I made up the word “haxie” (a mix of “hack” and “os x”). Turns out, we were not the only ones missing all this stuff, so various haxies became immensely popular on the platform.

In 2007, Apple introduced the iPhone. It was pretty limited at that point: no App Store and no Russian localization or on-screen keyboard. Since internally iPhone was quite close to Mac OS X, aside from the fact it was based on ARM processors, it was just a question of forcing applications into the system and starting to make haxies for iPhone as well. 2007-2009 was the era where we made various hacks for the iPhone, under the name Ripdev. These hacks included support for the Jailbreak community and we made a tool that allowed to install third party software with ease — Installer.app. This all was before Apple introduced an iPhone SDK or even announced the App Store.

In 2009, seeing the emerging market for mobile devices, I co-founded a company Unreal Mojo to produce software for iOS, Android and then Windows Phone. It is quite successful now, producing software for the largest Russian banks, airlines, and IT companies. Since the start of Unreal Mojo, we decided we didn’t want to host our own version control systems, so the answer for me was obvious — being on the “scene” for a long time, I followed Wildbit’s blog for couple of years by that time, so choosing Beanstalk as our SVN provider was a no-brainer.

In 6 years, Unreal Mojo became one of the leading outsource software developers in Russia, and I became more and more frustrated with having very little programming to do and lots of administrative tasks. When I saw a Twitter post from Wildbit stating they were hiring an OS X programmer, it was a moment of truth for me: no hesitation, and like a lightning bolt sparkling through the air, I had to apply. I already virtually knew the team behind Wildbit, from their blog and the products they make, and could see the passion they put into each of their products. Deciding to join the team was really a no-brainer.

So bingo, here I am. I’m extremely proud that I can now say “our team” when referring to Wildbit. So for my first post from the Wildbit blog: Hello world!

TL;DR: Been in active programming training since 1988 to join Wildbit in 2015.

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