Well, talking about personally having a computer, that takes me back 5 years.My brother bought me a computer just 10 days before my 12th board exam. All I knew when sitting in that car from Trichur railway station to Edappal with the computer at the back was that I could play games without depending on anyone any more.
I remember computers when I was four years old. At that time we were in gulf and my brother owned a PC. That was in 1992 approximately and you could imagine its configuration. Frankly, I don’t know its configuration but I’m guessing a few kBs of RAM and… Man, I don’t even know how low I can go with this!
Right now, thinking about the first time that I remember seeing a computer brings this scene to me. I’m sitting on the floor in my brother’s room at our apartment and playing with some toys. I look up a and see my brother playing the “Simpson’s Arcade game”. I don’t know why but I still feel good thinking about that game and I vaguely remember the scenes from it.
Mom comes with food for me and I remember my brother sitting away from the computer and letting me sit in front of it. He put the game “Fox” for me and I would sit and play that while Mom gives me my food. I’ve been able to gather that Fox was one of the really popular games at that time.
There you go! That’s my start with computers.
From then on it has been the equation, computers = games, for me till roughly my eighth standard when I was introduced to MS paint at my school.
I’ve been a raving video game addict from my childhood onwards and it has been only two or three years since I’ve rid myself of that addiction. These days I don’t play games at all and I kinda miss it.
Thinking back, lots of my memories are about playing video games with my cousins, my brother, my dad and my sis. Most of them are pleasant memories while there are unpleasant ones too where my addiction was exploited and some of my cousins wouldn’t let me play their games.
So far I’ve owned 15 8-bit games, 5 16-bit mega drives and 3 PS-1s and 1 Game Boy Advance SP. The number of cassettes and the cheating and transactions are so much that they are better off for another post.
My addiction for computer games only grew when I realised that there were cooler games. There was this computer center near my home and the guy who owned it would let me play some racing games on his system. I only knew “Up, down, left and right” and one day he showed me how to change the desktop wall paper which was like this “great” knowledge about computers!
My brother had by this time bought a Laptop (one of his dreams) and would let me play Sands of time/Deus Ex on it whenever he came home from Bangalore.
So things went on like this until the day I got my computer 10 days before my 12th exam. My brother took it all out, assembled it and turned it on for me. He showed me a menu that comes at the beginning (which I later on realized was GRUB) and told me to select Ubuntu. I did. It was version 7.10 or something back then. He told me to check it out. I was introduced to Linux.
Obviously, my first question was “Where can I play games from!?”. He showed me a few games in Ubuntu with which I wasn’t amused at all. He told me how to restart and logged me into Windows. I don’t exactly remember how it kicked off but my guess is that it was Deus Ex itself. An awesome game even though pretty old.
He simply gave me an advice that if I wanted to hear songs, play videos, look at photos, insert video cds, etc, I were to use Ubuntu and whenever I wanted to play games, I could use Windows.
My brother also did not let me play any pirated games. He told me to never borrow games from my friends. Whenever I wanted a new game, I was to ask him and he would buy me an original one. I did not know what was wrong with him then but today, I think I understand what he meant.
Now and then, he would tell me about Linux. That what I was using was free and I could make any changes that I wanted in it. At that time my freedom was that I could delete the panels, resize them, change the applets on them whereas in Windows the start button and the panel at the bottom would remain the way it was. I even remember telling this seriously to someone making my point that Linux was free.
Oh and the all too familiar belief of viruses not affecting Linux was also there.
Till reaching college, such was my life. It was only after reaching college that I heard the word ‘programming’ and ‘computer languages’. It was then when the things that my brother told me started making a bit of sense.
It was during this year that I moved further into using Linux because one day my Windows was affected with a virus and it was a complete headache until my brother came and reinstalled it for me. After that, I became a supporter of Linux with little knowledge of what ‘free, open source, Ubuntu, Fedora’ etc meant.
First year too went by uneventfully with me playing Oblivion, the elder scrolls. My brother would tell me to read Dennis Ritchie and practice coding. But I guess I never listened to him. Now that I start understanding the world of computers and programs, I realize more and more the mistakes I have made in not listening to my brother. I seriously had not done any sort of coding on my system during my first year. I would copy some seniors programs and show the output in our labs.
Optimistically, my brother bought me a laptop during the end of my third semester. But then too, the only thing that I used it for was to listen to music and everyone at hostel even termed it as my ‘walkman’.
The first time I did a program on my system was when I was learning for my s3 university lab exam I guess. At the end of that year was when my brother introduced me to GSoC. He helped me download and install the tuxmath game. It was then when I started experimenting for the first time.
That was my entry into open source.
From then on I started hearing and seeing things related to it and from then on did my journey further into the world of freedom began!