Geekiness comes naturally to Prashant Kumar, founder of PromptCloud, one of the companies that launched at UnPluggd. While interacting with Prashant, we realized his die-hard geekiness and decided to have him share his geek journey with NextBigWhat readers.
Prashant started coding since Class 6 and was one of those *serious* guys we all probably were always compared with – the one who finished off class 12th course in class 9th!
In his own words:
I started coding in Class 6 on BASIC, etc. I think they taught some DB (probably it was called foxpro) and MS-Dos :) Then in 11th and 12th we had CPP and other standard stuff. Our computer teacher was pretty energetic and enthusiastic guy – he would encourage us to try out stuff and teach interesting things.
But to keep the things in perspective, being good at Maths and Physics at that stage added more to my abilities more than being good at CS.
At college, what you get out of it, I’ll say, depends upon your bent of mind . For some of us (or for our parents :)) doing an MBA after BTech was the key. I was primarily a hands-on guy. Apart from my inclination towards higher studies, deep within I wanted to become a ‘complete package’, that given a problem and a computer I should be able to solve it end to end- sys architecture to network setup.
Solving 12th standard math problems in class 9? Hello IITs.
Not all but quite a bit. Some of it I learnt in 10th :P. I am sure some of us did that as kids, but here is something I’d like to bring out. Our Maths teacher kind of tricked us – he would say in IIT and other competitive exams they ask you questions from BSc, so if you do reverse counting you should be doing 11th in 9th, 10th in 8th. He was a great motivator if not a good teacher (with all due respect to him) and used to induce head-fakes that Randy Pausch talks of in this video.
Interesting projects/areas you worked on while at IIT Kanpur?
IITK was basically where I got into deep tech. From installing Linux on friends’ machines to trying to fix a corrupt hard drive. I still have that desktop on which 10 year old installation of debian is running with all those bells and whistles like firewall, proxy caching, RAID etc.
In the summer of first year, I(along with a friend of mine) built a fingerprint matching system and later got that up and running with nfs etc.
At other times, I spent a lot of time with Linux systems and kernel. In my later years I was more into parallel programming, distributed computing and theory of programming languages. Those days I also worked on STM(Software Transaction Memory) which is gaining traction now in many programming languages.
Fav IDE? Oh wait, what are we asking!
I am primarily a command line guy – those old fashioned green on black ones :) Vim has to be IDE over here, I am in love with it since my student days. Other tool which I can’t live without is screen(gradually shifting to tmux though) and mutt(email client). Other tool of choice is my window manager, imaginatively named ’awesome‘. It is a tiled WM and with the help of tags things become quite organised.
This list will be incomplete without mention of Debian, I have been using debian sid(rolling unstable version) for about 10 years and breathe on it. On servers I play a bit safe and install current stable versions though.
At Yahoo! when they replaced HP laptops by Mac, I removed OSX and installed Linux. Some colleagues would taunt me that Steve Jobs would cry hearing of this :P
NextBigWhat? How is a geek managing a startup?
The questions thus far were related to things from my past. The present day activities differ a lot. It is mostly running around replying to client mails and doing code review in day and writing code in off hours. Sometimes it also includes playing an office boy and at times talking to the data centre technicians to fix the broken hardware.
Life outside computing?
I used to read books, lot of Paulo Coelho stuff and Buddhism related books but don’t get enough time of late. I love doing photography whenever I can.
Earlier in this series:
If you are a geek (definition: coders ++) and want to get profiled in the ‘big Bang Geek series’, do share your details here.