The beginning of the end

Well, 87.5% done.

I haven’t talked much about it here, but back in january 2005, I went back to college – only 10 years later than usual (I’ve started working when I was 16 and never actually got a degree – I’m 30 now). The plan was to get a bachelor degree in Digital Interface Design, and it was meant to take 4 years of my life to do so.

Fast forward to this day and I’m almost there – with my 7th semester just finished and going to the last one at full speed, it’s hopefully just a matter of time until I’ve checked this out of my life’s to-do list.

This is the main reason I haven’t been posting here for a while. Also one of the main reasons why I have neglected important updates to projects like Tweener (much to my frustration, believe me).

This post isn’t one of those common “Hey, I haven’t been writing for a while, but I’m alive” posts though. It’s more to let some friends – which I know read this website – know what I’m up to and a kind of a little look back at the past few years.

Well, this last year of college is the year we’ll all be finishing our bachelor thesis. While it’s different from what you’d expect from similar projects found on universities in the United States or Europe, it’s still a pretty big project and something that’s meant to occupy all the time I have left.

My own thesis is some cool (or so I hope) image and sound synthesis software built on top of Flash 10. I won’t talk about it too much here yet since it’s in a very early state and not very usable, but I can barely wait until I have something cool to show.

The other biggest reason why I have been away is that, despite college stuff, I’ve also been focusing on doing my real work. If it wasn’t clear from this great interview by Mathieu Badimon for the FWA website or this article for the same website, I’ve been working remotely since late last year for Firstborn as a dedicated Flash developer. I couldn’t be happier as it’s actually a place I’ve wanted to work for for a long time; the story of how this happened is actually an interesting story of some wishful thinking that turned out to be true much faster than I expected, and I’ll probably have to write a few more words about it some day.

All in all, this is being a tough year – too much happening at the same time. I feel kind of like Indiana Jones running from a huge stone sphere that’s about to crush him. Still, it’s been pretty thrilling and it’s bound to end pretty soon as I finish my graduation.

Or just restart in a different fashion.

12 responses

  1. nice post, but why waste all that perfectly good money on a degree if you’re already working?

    I mean flash design and development is one of the fastest growing sectors of the digital field, (we’re in high demand) and you’d also have more time and money to develop this “flash 10 sound/visual synthesis” app that sounds very interesting…i can’t wait to hear more about it.

  2. Thanks for the support, guys.

    escee: that’s a big question and one I’ve been asked many times – and one I’ve asked MYSELF a few times too. Almost everybody who worked with me thought I was pretty crazy to go back and waste some time getting a degree (specially here in Brazil — really, one of the last things a real quality studio would look into when considering hiring me is whether I have a degree or not, and if one did, it was not a place I’d be willing to work with anyway). People still respected my decision though, so it’s not like that was ever an issue.

    It’d be a bit lengthy to answer that question now. I’ll do so in the future, but I think it suffices to say that there’s a lot I’ve learned even if, at a technical level, I know a lot more than pretty much most teachers there (the course is mostly theorical/experimental, it’s not Computer Science or anything). I guess it’s all about learning to think in different ways and listening to different people at an Academic level. Filling the gaps of knowledge. It has helped me a great lot as a person and a professional, I believe. Even dealing with my fellow students which are 10 years younger than me has taught a lot to me.

    There’s also the fact that I never had the money to do so in the past, so going back to a college and getting a degree has been a kind of a goal for me for a long time. It’s something personal. I actually had to save money for a couple of years before finally enrolling so I could have some cache to burn on tuition.

    There are negative points like having zero free time for a while, and making a lot of people angry by constantly declining to go out to drink/movies/parties. It has also had some impact on the time I spend with real working, forcing me to work every weekend. But it’s part of the price you pay I guess.

    All in all, I’ve always been strongly opposed to graduate degree *requirements* (again, specially on our local market). I still am in many ways. Maybe I’m just too much of an angry self-taught, do-it-yourself nerd. But having one is something positive nonetheless.

    And just as a reminder, my thesis project (“flash 10-based sound/visual synthesis application”) is just something I’m doing for fun. It’s not revolutionary, it’s not earth-shattering. I think it’s cute but it’s not meant for commercial applications or improving workflow or anything really important like that. It’s like a mid-level experiment/prototyping/educational tool if anything.

    If it wasn’t for the college, I don’t think I’d be building that. It was some college classes that forced me to go a bit more experimental, getting my head off the Flash/Actionscript world and presenting me stuff like Max/MSP and vvvv, which are the true inspirations for my thesis project. That I went back to AS with that project is just accidental; the inspiration for it has been a world I probably wouldn’t have met had I not attended college (or would only meet much later).

  3. Awesome Zeh. I did the same thing, got my degree before thirty by mere months. I felt compelled to also have the degree for some reason. It is an interesting path. I think I have gained more from school later on and now am exactly half way through my masters. Not sure why, but I actually am learning alot and like blogging and coding it takes you deeper into what you know.

    Good luck it will be fun, I looked at it at as an adventure it is funny you mention indy.

  4. thanks for the update Zeh,

    I had followed your blog regularly and wondered if you went on some sort of sabbatical or maybe decided to abandon the Flash platform. Thanks for clarifying the matter.

    Sucks about not having the time for Tweener updates… its still my animation api of choice even with the great strides TweenLite has made.

    Looking forward to seeing your Flash 10 thesis project.



  5. I think you should stop your degree and give more time for Tweener! 😀

    Now serius… congrats for your degree, and for firstbourne.
    I will be waiting for the history of how it happend.

  6. As a classmate, I just have to thank you for all your support and everything you have done helping me and our other classmates. We make a lot of jokes about your knowledge, but you are 10 years ahead us inside the professional world. Without your experience and pro-activity in our benefit, I believe our Graduation Course possibly would be in a very bad shape, looking at the problems we had during the process.

    And I’m looking foward to using the Fnk soon, huh ;]

    Keep it up the awesome work.

  7. Ola zeh

    Bom saber que esta terminando finalmente mais uma jornada. Espero que consiga tudo que tem lutado.. e que mais coisas venham!


    It’s good to know that you’re finally finishing your journey. I hope that you find all that you fight for.. and that new challenges came!


    Celina (aka cezinha)

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