Before I Begin

I've never considered myself to be a "know it all" person. I simply talk about what I know and I try to know more about what I do. I've spent quality time learning and practicing and also sharing knowledge with others. I was giving to others way more that I was getting for myself. I guess it's time now to pay attention to myself and try to show everything I can about my journey in this life.

Early Days

My first experience with digital (analog at that time) was in 1982 when we bought our first family SOUNDIC SD 061 TV SPORTS game console(*). Even that it looks so silly now, it was the most fascinating thing we saw back days. We did challenges and spent hours trying to beet the machine the best we could. 

The experience was amazing and it actually opened our minds more to the outer world. I'm saying this be cause we used to live in a very small village on the top of one of the highest mountains in the southern part of Saudi Arabia.

I won't be bothering you more about personal stories. I may write about that later in a different place.

In 1986 we bough our next fascinating game console. It was Atari 800XL(*). This is very different than any other game console at that time. It's different because it has external storage unite where you can store your games and data on a cassette tape. Yes, that right. You can store anything in a regular cassette tape. It was also different because you can write programs in it using Atari BASIC. My older brothers found it more interesting when they found that and tried to make something out of it. My older brother wanted to calculate students grades but he couldn't do what he wanted due to the lack of learning resources. My other older brother found a book teaching how to draw and make moving drawings using BASIC. He made 2 slides and then stop because the console memory reached its limit. I wasn't actually trying to do anything because all the statements and function they were writing were beyond my understanding. That was the case until I reached 28 years old.
To read more about Atari BASIC click here.

The 90s

It's 1990 and programming is till not the thing I would consider very interesting. I guess my mind tries to avoid none visual type interactivity with technology. Basically if doesn't have interface then it must be too complicated.

In 1991 we bought out first PC from a local company called "Sakhr"(*). This company has a significant role later in my life. The PC we bought was XT with not more 1MB of RAM. The only access to that PC is through 5.2" floppy disks. We have to load DOS first to the memory and then use another disk for other software and games. We also bought a Brother printer so we can use it to print out documents we type in the only word processing that can be used with our PC which was called "Word Perfect" if I'm not mistaken. I personally was enjoying playing Sierra games and still wasn't really into programming yet. Sakhr company is still exists until now. They stopped making all kind of devices and PCs. They only now providing software and solutions. To know more about it click here.

In 1995 I bought my first personal PC with the new MS Windows 95 that everyone was talking about in the news that time. I was saving up for long time until I was able to buy a PC. I remember that I decided not to just use it for just playing games and having fun. I decided to learn how make something useful about it. So I installed Microsoft Word and bought a book on how to use it. I actually got caught by all the things I can do with it. Soon I was known in the family that I can design and make all kind of documents.
What I noticed, but couldn't really try, was Internet Explorer. There was no internet at that time and I didn't even know it exists. I also noticed that when I install some new software it installs Netscape Navigator with it to show its documentations. To those who have never heard of it, it was the only competitor to IE back then. Netscape was bought by AOL later.
So both browsers were interesting to look it when it shows something but couldn't really know why, how and what to do with them.

In 1998 I landed my first job as a sales person in a computer company. I wasn't actually planning to have a job at any specific market field. I was trying to find a good job. Remember the company "Sakhr" I told you about? Yep, that's right. I got a job there selling solutions to companies and government agencies. I had no idea it was that company when I applied for the job. I knew about it when I was called for an interview. I don't know why companies here hide their info when they advertise openings.
My duties were to find leads and try to convince them to buy the solutions we had. Most of the sales we did were hardware. Companies are yet to trust the local solutions we used to make. To be honest, the solutions we had were not up to the level that you can trust. I used to get so many bugs when I show clients the solution features. I always blame the laptop I had and promise them to show them a better demonstration in a second meeting.
Later that year the company opened a new branch to provide internet. It was one of the first ISPs in Saudi Arabia. I was named "Alalamiyah for Internet". Since I was an employee in the mother company, they gave us free dial up internet accounts to try. I used to use companies phone line to access the internet. I spent all free time home to explorer this new world and learn how it works.

This world has got my full attention and I tried to make something and show it to the world but I have no clue how. I learned how to make basic designs with Photoshop but I don't how to make that design into a web page. After long search I found MS FrontPage. That was the only tool I can get and try making web pages. I didn't know what to do with pages I made and how to upload them. Those pages were built using WYSIWYG because I know nothing about HTML rather than CSS or JS. I try to stay away as much as possible from them. I'll be sharing some of those pages later when I find a way to capture the result.
Aside from being a sales person for not working properly solutions, I was known in the company for being good in graphic designs and web designs. I wasn't really good at all but I was better than anyone in the company. I started doing more graphic designs like brochures and booklets beside doing my daily sales routines.
I personally think that's the serious beginning of learning about web sites and how to make them. However, there was a problem that time which is finding proper way to learn. There was no YouTube courses. There was no good websites that give courses on how to learn web developments. Local libraries were not selling web development books because the internet has just started and the focus was 100% on software programming, local networking and server management. My internet search skills were not good to find the proper websites that provide more information about web development. I couldn't even know what technical terms I should use to search. I only knew about the terms web design and build website and few more useless words. In addition to that, search engines were not so good to retrieve proper search results. The best search engine was Yahoo. We used other known search engines back then such as AltaVista and Infoseek.
Maybe I wasn't giving it a real try or was somehow easily giving up. Or maybe I didn't see it as a future path in my career so I just make it something aside. But I loved working on making web pages and I knew I would do a lot better if that was my career choice back then.

The Year 2000

The year 2000 when everything was destroyed and the whole world went into a real mess because of the millennium incident when PCs all over the world got damaged because it couldn't recognize the two zero digits (00) after 99 which indicates the CPU clock year. None of hat bullshit happened. It was just a marketing thing to convince companies that if they don't upgrade their machines, they'll loose everything. Their machines will stop working, electricity will go down and even air planes will fall off the skies. They weaved their stories so well and they gained millions of profits that year.

What I said about the year 2000 isn't important. What was important is that I quite my job and stayed without a job for a while. 

I had no idea what to do except two options that I wasn't really sure about. One is to work as a freelancer. I wasn't sure about it because I wasn't really good in web developing. All I knew was how to make simple website in Photoshop and then use FrontPage to make the design a simple static website. However, I was lucky to find few clients to work with. The photo on the right above is one of the websites I did in 2001.

The other option I had was to join two of the employees who were working at the same company. We had few meetings to come up with ideas on how to work together. We picked a name that represents our goals and objectives. The name was "United Web Developers". We didn't last more than few weeks when one the team members was diagnosed with brain cancer. His name was Ibrahim. He was Egyptian and very interested in web development. I still remember the books pile beside his desk. He wanted to be the best guy to work with Macromedia tools back then. If you know about Macromedia, then you are old enough to know that Flash, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks haven't been part of Adobe until years later when Adobe acquired Macromedia.

Ibrahim died a year later after struggling a lot with cancer. I lost contact with the third musketeer, Hazim. The idea of "UWD" has gone forever. Now I'm all alone to continue this journey.

(*) I still own all of those consoles and devices.