Proxima Centauri is really its people. Those of us here today, but also those that came and had to go.
My dream of the most powerful SW company was a team of no more than three hard-core programmers united for life, and a secretary with three bachelor degrees (including one in psychiatry) to keep us all on track and deal with you fellows in human terms. The rest of the company should have then been just hardware and Coca Cola on the hose. It might be just about to happen.
Alexander Ioan Mihail - analyst programmer
The founder of both company and its technology. Why don't I find it at all surprising that I'm getting to write this page. I'm just going to skip the blurb about myself, my name is already on too many header files and documents.
Mihai Voineag - analyst programmer
This fellow is my primary school colleague, and dear friend. He too has been doing IT for two decades. Three years ago we've joined-up again. He is an expert on interpreters and UNIX on massively parallel mainframes. Mihai is currently writing ANNA K5's language interfaces to and from Java, C++, Delphi and DotNET. Ned I say more about the guy? The common denominator is ANNA's native language which is semantically a superset of most these programming languages. I have to be around on the project to change the semantics to suit him.
He plays guitar, I play the drums, so we never argue.
Scott Thomas - analyst programmer
Scotty is my dear friend. A honest man. A firry guy. Him and I met at Turbosoft and got to know each other under some intense pressure and fire. That was our Stalingrad. Together we dealt in railway traffic control systems one of the remote ancestors of Anna's Schematic Editor. Scott did Computer Science - the comms version. He developed a system which he called the Roster Program that placed people on their jobs at the right place and the right time. His workflow engine is now at the core of ANNA's evaluator, hammered in beyond recognition. He did a tone of communications in his time that I can vouch for, had to always come after him to make his code readable. He claims that his code needn't be readable, needs only be "writable". He knows TCP/IP better than us and he's now working on our stacks.
We often argue, cause that's love.
Georgeta Ionita - jurist
Gineta is ... well she is Gineta. And when you'll meet her it would be too late for you, pal. Gineta did most of our technical documentation, manuals and help files. She also had the hardest and most tedious task of doing data entry for the legal archive of Gaius Navigator. It was an excruciatingly painful task, I did some of that too, until Edict became capable to do the data analysis for us automatically. Gineta now keeps a critical watch on Edict's results and on the behavior of Gaius.
Dan Anastasiu - mechanical engineer
Dan is pulling our development towards mission critical applications. He wants a system to simulate certain levels of Romania's power grid. The man is an engineering encyclopedia. He programs in Excel would you believe it, things that have stunned me. All this rather special mathematics is making its way into a library of components that ANNA uses to build running schematics of the Grid. Together we're lying the foundation of a new school of thought where we treat the simulated Grid as a living being whose design is ever changing as it runs. The design needn't always be expressed at the lowest detail so long as it remains coherent and functional over pockets of uncertainty, which we call "black holes". We're applying here of one of ANNA's fundamental principles whereby evaluation can be granted even to unfinished or sketchy components, so long as they obey their declared interface, and there's a failsafe in place. Dan's prime concern is with the safety of these mega-structures with strategic importance, and he isn't going to compromise no matter how seductive our own ideas might be.
Alexandru Dragomir - construction engineer
He is the fellow who guided me to write the very first simulator for dimensioning buildings. We spent inordinate amounts of "after hours" hours doing that. We've parted in 1989, and in my hands that project became the 3D desktop of ANNA K4, in his hands it became a comprehensive pre and post processing system for Berkley SAP. structural analysis program. We are now merging his stuff into a dedicated ANNA K5 component library for mechanical design. He also has a swag of evaluators that I need to code under his specification. Dudush is the toughest of the toughest amongst the people I've met. He can calculate the stress in the chimney of a power plant just by looking at it from the hilltop.
These are my people right now. No kids here at Proxima.
The picture would not be complete without mentioning here some important contributions made by people that have come and gone. We were in 1997 working at Pacific Gaming Australasia, the Japanese giant manufacturing poker-machines. I was the chief engineer in charge with the OS and firmware for the prototype board there. Had about eight people on my team. The atmosphere was vile due to an element of corruption that affected the upper management. These kind of places with high dollar figures are quick to pick nasty habits such as gambling followed shortly by evasion then funds embezzlement, which is what happened. The management feels the need to protect itself by first hiring nephews, then axing the real project leaders to put heir nephews on. The Romanian reader would undoubtedly find similarities to what's happening now at the Lottery here. I was defending my design, my project and the people that worked there tenaciously. Sometimes a fellow's life can be buried in a small chip or a circuit board. I got axed in the first round along with the chief mechanical engineer who built the coin validators. And got to see some of the worst and some of the finest human behavior in a time of crisis. And I simply have to mention some of these brave people that I would go with in any trench of any war, anywhere in the world. Have to mention them because it was a privilege to have worked with them.
Tony Thompson - programmer
Tony did the 3D graphics for the game, in advance of me who had to finish the OS to support his graphics. He had the dreams and plans of anyone dealing in such a sexy zone.
Sen Lee - programmer
Sen Lee and I later became friends. He was then on my team doing the game play logic it was going to be a kind of poker. Before that he worked at Cochlea programming ear implants and prototyping bionic eyes, and what not.
Dimitry Doncev - hardware engineer.
The man was an immigrant from Bulgaria working there with his wife for much longer than us. He was a nice decent and modest man. So was his wife, a graphic artist. I had the utmost admiration for this fellow. The prototype board he made was stronger than any PC at the time, any Play Station, anything you've seen. His creation alone had us believe that we stood a glorious future.
Then, when the mob took power we were ordered to stop any more work on the kernel, on the board, on the game, on anything really, and got pulled on the side on some phony jobs so that the manger's nephews and friends had time and room to devise their strategy of doing another board, another OS, etc. a task which they had no hope of even comprehending. Tony, Dimitry and I simply couldn't give it a rest, the deadlines were pending, the OS wasn't ready, Sen's game was running on PC but had no hope there without the real graphics, etc. We were meeting subversively to do the system. I agonized there with the worst timing problems you can imagine on the board, there was something broken in Dimitri's PCI bridge. I eventually managed to boot the OS on that board, got Tony's first cube spinning there, got the flash file system going, the sound on, the console, then the parallel ports, the board came alive. Dimitry was ecstatic, Tony and Sen too, I had the greatest feeling that I just managed to save the whole crew from near disaster, the others felt what was going on and were only able to smile cause there was curfew as I explained, (the management wasn't Japanese, was Russian, forgot to mention). Then I got called in and fired with one week notice.
The days that followed were grim for all. Tony couldn't stand it and went in their office trying to talk sense into them. I knew that this would get him fired too so I tried to stop him. He wouldn't listen, he fought fiercely with them defending my OS, and Dimitri's board, we could all hear it. He got axed too. After Tony and I left Pacific they fired the whole team. I tried to find some work somewhere where they'd have manufacturing thinking of getting Dimitri something to do. His English was poor, and that can be a major handicap. I couldn't and was lucky enough to find work just for myself. In the end, I heard half the people either resigned or got fired. Then the Japanese owner came to Australia notified with serious acts of illegal behavior. and completely shut down the joint, firing the mob as well.
I kept wondering about the shameful loss of all that good crew. And thought that perhaps it simply wasn't our place in gambling. Kept thinking also that perhaps we could have turned the board into an arcade game, but those were dreams. Anyway, to me it was a loss of tremendous effort I had no backup of, and would have really wanted to rescue that project and give it another sense.
Months later, I get a call from Sen Lee who invites himself over to my place. He then puts on my table ... the prototype ORION board! And all our software that he managed to rescue before the liquidators came there.
So Dimitri's board is here at Proxima. My OS has booted several times since on that board, more symbolically. In some form or another Tony's 3D services are now part of Anna K5. The board is the only MIPS I ever had, so its time will come again when I'll port the system to MIPS and ALPHA. But these brave people aren't here with me as they should.
Sen Lee is South Vietnamese. He showed me some of their secret life as migrants in Sydney. The cheapest places on earth to eat. Simple hard working people all. Born in 68 like myself, he was just a little boy when the war was on. His father was in the Northern Army in the navy. Sen had mixed feelings about that war as he remembered intense US bombardments. He tried in all fairness to explain to me both sides of the conflict. He only managed to make me feel that it's all of us ultimately the casualties.
I hope I didn't bore you with these stories, I rather tell you a story about someone than quote from some glossed-up CV.
Send mail to
questions or comments about this web site.