Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Doing archeology on my digital memories

This will be a little post concerning what I am doing these days and the thoughts it emitted. When I left for London to start my MSc, that being September 2009, I also left all my retro junk at home. Since I started a new life there, I didn't bothered much, and my parents transfered a lot of these stuff at our village. Few days ago I have visited my village (which is situated near Chalkidiki, a place in northern greek where you can easily travel to the sea) after such a long time with some friends so that we stay there and go for a bath to the near sea. The first thing I did was searching for my old stuff and deciding what to salvage at the moment. As I didn't want to take too much stuff with me, I decided I would only take one hardware (and that is CPC :) and then the smaller stuff (GBA cartidges, cables I was missing, CDs with important old stuff, etc).

These days, apart from running demos and games on my CPC (The last time it was August 2009 I think, last demo I had tried on the real thing was From Scratch by Vanity iirc) I spent a lot of time searching through my old CDs. Except from some original stuff (Mindcandy DVDs) and other unimportant CDs (warez I can also find on the internet) I have salvaged a big stack of CDs and DVDs with regular backups of my old stuff, from 2003 to 2009. Random downloads, backups of old code and other works of mine, several stuff I might not have kept on my current PC right now. It's a tedious work, searching from all the tons of random downloads and triple copies of the same backed up source codes, trying to save the essentials in your HD but it emmited memories finding a lot of old rare stuff.

First of all, my very old emails. In the past, I managed to save all the thousands emails I had ever received from my obsolete hotmail account with outlook express. Then I did this again in my more recent yahoo account. Till 2002-3 I think. Nowadays I don't do that. I stopped. I think that whatever email I get just stays in my mind or maybe I forget it but it doesn't matter. It's the same with backups. I stopped hoarding every random thing I download in tons of DVDs. Though, it brought tears into my eyes reading parts of my endless ruminations, huge emails, old friends I miss, my old enthousiasm when I first met the demoscene community, my stupid obsessions, huge website with tons of text I build, silly irc logs from the old scene, my past. Even if I sometimes wanted to forget it, it was more powerful than now. Currently, I feel a little strange or laugh hilarious reading some of my old stuff. Was that me? Have I changed? Do I wish to go back?

Sometimes I do. Looking at the things I was building back then, with all the presure, the lack of freedom (I was growing up, studying for my university and arguing with my parents about the extensive use of the computer, even though I was mostly coding or writting, not playing much games) how did I manage to do all these? Even if they look ridiculous now, ugly websites with tons of boring text, mediocre demos, being too obsessive, to desperate with that hobby, also obsessive with geek girls, do not forget that (I think I really scared them back then :P) and the scene, the same and the same disapointments, arguing with the scene, with pouet, becoming a wreck yet I continued doing stuff with great force. I was dead since 2003 yet I really decided to cut the crap after 2008. I know it by reading my private old texts reminscing my situation. I was emotionally shattered since 2003. Yet I still pressed myself till 2008.

What do I want to say? I don't feel like my past self. I still did some things for the scene (Chunky Chan was a small comeback on CPC, followed by my little Spectrum/CPC/C64 tiny intro releases) and wish I can do more. I still code, I will never leave code, especially the one where motivation flows and you don't do it because you have to release something, but out of own curiosity and experimentation (For example I am trying OpenWatcom C on my 386 again without planning a demo or something). As long as I do it in the healthy way it's good for me. I think I have put those rules on me, for example if I feel like I am pressing myself I avoid doing it. (For example, last dbfinteractive competition, image processing. I was planning something but I didn't do anything for this reason. Thinking only about releasing something under pressure, not having fun). It's good for me to follow that road. Yet this is not my old self which is good but then I miss something. I miss the times when I was active. I look at my old stuff and see that even if it was obsessive, there was that stuborness there, the one that fueled the whole thing. I feel like I lost my energy now, I can't do this again anymore.

I even had several websites I updated frequently. I want to start my new website on my new place but I can't even think about doing the work that it needs. How could I spent half of the time updating so many sites (optimus site, cpc scene site, greek demoscene site) and even doing lists of demos in pure html style and not with some automated script back then? Doing it the stupid bruteforce way. Insisting stuborness. I see the works of the past and I am scared. It scares me because I remember the pressure under which I did this. It's not bad now, when you see your works it's like you see your soul. I just realized I can hardly do this anymore. Maybe I will be coding at rare times, or possibly a good team might motivate me. I will be doing it for fun, not because I should. But that was the force of the past. Without it, I would possibly just do nothing and only play online games. Sometimes this is one of the forces that makes geeks do the hard work they do without getting anything in return.

Nowadays things that I need to resolve in my real life makes me avoid getting too obsessed to start a new project. There are a lot of things I still want to do, either things I have started recently or things I want to start, but I am afraid to touch. It's kinda logical, I am 31, hopefully got well with my master exams recently, next step being to find a job and try to settle down my life. I hope that after this I might feel more free to work on some new stuff inbetween. I miss it. Yet, I love that I am free of the obsession, thus if I feel like, I can decide to not work on my next scene project today. It's a dileema.

Still nice to revive some old memories back by looking at the contents of those backup CDs. Also, I fixed my CPC drive cable yesterday so that it's registered as drive A and not B (It was easier than I thought. So many years I was afraid to touch it because I am not the hardware guy but there is a way where you don't need to solder). This is essential for running Batman Forever among few other software that don't like drive B (Symbos too). Last thing I did at night was finishing again Orion Prime in a big three hours longplay. It was a great experience and I had two years to touch a real CPC.

I still have a bunch of old CDs to go through this night..