Who is Spectra?

Posted by – 23/06/2007

I am a Medicine Doctor (MD), graduated from Federal Foundation Faculty of Medical Sciences of Porto Alegre in December 2002, post-graduated in specialization level in Radiology and Imaging Diagnosis from Cardiology Universitary Foundation. But my history with computers is much older than with medicine.

Everything started back in 1992, when I discovered that two computers connected were more useful and funny than a standalone machine… I had begun to access BBSs. One have to remember that in Brazil, by that time, BBSs were sort of the only way to connect to something and exchange information. Of course, there was an academic network, and a military one, but I was not in college nor in the army…and even if I were, it would be rather difficult to use these networks since only a few people could have access to them. This was different in other parts of the world, mainly in USA and Europe, but here… BBSs were all we’ve got.

Back then, the largest brazillian BBSs were STI and Mandic (both in São Paulo – I lived about 900 km from there). There were just a few nearby (just 4-5 at the nearest capital city), so I quickly became an STI paying member. They had an automatic password generator for the new members (some quite common mechanism): I chose my username (it was gallant) and the system gave me my password: spectra.

I kept using gallant for some time. As BBSs started becoming more common, I became an everyday user of several different systems. Back them I kept a very bad habit: I used the same username and password in every system I logged on. One night (using the phone line during the night were far more cheaper, and it didn’t bother my parents), in one of these BBSs (I think it was ThunderNet), I came across a text file with the Spectra’s Story: the Tale of the Three. Have I mentioned that BBSs were also used by a lot of RPG players? Well…

I’d like the story very much. Its meaning of nothing being completely evil nor completely good made me very found of the name spectra, which I already used as my password. I think it was late 1993 when I adopted it as my nick in the cyberspace.

Late summer (april or so) the next year I started the Spectra’s BBS in my hometown, Cruz Alta, a 60-thousand people town in the middle of Brazil’s southmost state. The picture version of the ANSI BBS’ logo you can find at tale’s page. Spectra’s BBS were the first BBS in its region. By the end of that year I was connected to 10 fido-like networks (the maximum allowed by Remote Access, the DOS software I used), and was routing Internet email through UUCP via RENPAC (short for Nation-wide Packets Network, in portuguese).

In April 1996 Spectra’s BBS ended up its activities mainly for two reasons: (1) it was my college admission year and the amount of study needed to get into a high level course were just uncompatible with the time I had to dedicate to the BBS; (2) the Internet became available as an option for the BBSs (many other systems died due to this).

I came to Porto Alegre (our state capital) and entered a Federal Medicine School in 1997. I was not happy with Microsoft Windows and were already using IBM OS/2 for some time when GNU/Linux entered my life. I already had had some experience with BSD when I bought one of those famous InfoMagic Linux Developer’s Resource 6-CD set (the ones that brought all the TSX-11 and prep.ai.mit.edu in discs) and started messing with GNU/Linux.

I started with Slackware 96, and I learned a lot from it. Thanks to the GNU C Compiler and toolchain I remembered how good was to be a programmer (Microsoft had stolen that pleasure from me with their non-programable Operating Systems – some people still don’t see that as a form of domination). It’s truth that I messed with REXX a little, but OOP was too much for me by that time, and REXX were too different from everything I’d crossed with in 1997…

After trying RedHat, SuSE, and the brazilian Conectiva, I crossed with Debian. I think it was 2000, and the release was hamm. I was fascinated with it. I applied to become a developer and in 2001 I became one. Meanwhile, in Porto Alegre, Free and Open Source Software were becoming real famous with the work of the Projeto Software Livre-RS (PSL-RS, now child of the Associação SoftwareLivre.org, an NGO). During the 2nd International Free Software Forum, organized by them, together with three other friends of mine we started a Debian-only User Group: Debian-RS. Other groups followed us and organized themselves. I’ve being taking part in the organization of the International Free Software Forum since then.

Today, I share my time with the work as a Radiologist, my company (Propus), the Debian user group, ASL affairs (mainly the International Forum), the Debian Project, and I still have some time to code… not as much as I wanted, though…

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