Difficult question, what can I say About me? I guess the first thing that I can say about me is that I find uncomfortable answering the question “Who are you Aníbal Rojas?” To get pass this point I will resort to tell you some stories about me:
I was born, like it happens to most people, and immediately I became a spoiled kid, something that wasn’t my fault at that time. Later I continued to be a spoiled child, according to my wife and my sisters a condition that I continue to suffer in the present, but not according to my mom. I’m still working on this, because at this point it is definitively my responsibility.
I grew up as one of those unbearable smarty kids, very cerebral, incredibly bad at sports. My father and uncles were really good at sports, I tried to fake aptitude and interest in sports and miserably failed at it: Later I discovered that I pretty much suck lying in any of its forms.
I found this thing called programming when I was in high school, as a spoiled teenager I asked my father for a computer. Well, it wasn’t a “real” computer but a programmable calculator that included a BASIC interpreter, a CASIO PB-700. I was spoiled, but not a horribly spoiled brat, also my father was a scientist, and he played well his cards: “If you want a computer, you need to learn to program first.”
This was in the eighties, and there wasn’t things like Platzi, and this is how I learnt to program without a computer, from the hand of Kemeny and Kurtz and their BASIC Programming book. I was just in high school and no clue of what was a Markov Chain at that point, despite the struggle I enjoyed it a lot.
Yeah, I ended studying in Computer Science at the Central University of Venezuela (UCV), I became less spoiled and worked a lot for things like upgrading my IBM PS/2 Models 25 to an amazing amount of 640 KB of RAM or replacing one of the 3.5″ diskette units with a gargantuan 10 MB Western Digital, yes 10 Mega bytes, not Giga bytes. I also built and rebuilt my desk for the computer with scrap lumber.
I got married, participated a little bit on the bringing a daughter to this world while my wonderful wife took most of the heavy work required for this miracle to happen. Never finished my CS degree, in part because I deeply sucked at math despite I loved the subject, and at that time CS was very loaded with more math than programming. Also, I didn’t need a degree to work, something I jumped into as soon as I could.
I have worked on software development for most of my life, I think I’m getting close to thirty years of a professional career, a pretty good chunk of it as been around web development: I remember when we had to explain the customers about the internet, the browser and such. I’m that old. In retrospective, I sucked when I began with all this, lately I sucked less, maybe this is what is called experience, and it may be related to a lot of gray hair taking over my head.
About technologies, I programmed ten years in Java until I got sick of it, at that moment it was turning into boring XML sit-ups. Then I jumped into the Ruby and Ruby on Rails bandwagon, that was fun, and Ruby is still my favorite programming language despite the fact than I haven’ t write a line of code in eons.
When I embraced Open Source it was a moment when you were saw as communist trying to subvert the corporate establishment. For a lot of time I was happily running Ubuntu on my laptop, of course I suffered with the audio and video drivers as it still happens today, because it is never going to be the year of Linux on the desktop; but I could customize every single aspect of my work experience. Those were fun times.
At some point in my career, I frantically tried to keep programming while I was slipping into project management because you know: I didn’t feel productive attending all those meetings all day long. And I managed to burn out myself really bad: I was so incredibly worn out that my blood pressure dropped to 90/60, I felt like my mind processes were happening through a jar of gel, I took painkillers like dietary supplements to cope with never ending headaches and back pain.
After a lot of medication, gestalt psychotherapy, physical therapy and the support from my family I managed to recover. From time to time I slip again into Burn Out, something that I think now may be like being sober from an addiction: I have to keep a constant eye on it because maybe is one of those things that you can’t actually “cure” and you need to keep working on to avoid relapsing.
I trained as Gestalt Processes Facilitator for four years, the greatest learning experience in my life. If you are having deep issues in your life that you haven’ been able to fix, and you want to explore the way you connect with the world buscando alternativas más sanas, esta es la escuela de psicoterapia que te recomiendo.
For some years I have been working as the Vice President of Engineering for the Product at Platzi, the biggest and more effective online learning platform in Latin America, when I arrived the team was barely a dozen people, today we are closing in the hundred. It goes without saying that this has been the most complex and demanding challenge of my life, also the experience that made me grow the most with my team.
So, who am I? Well, that’s to be written 🙂