Interview with Altair / ODDS


Hi Altair!

Hey Hugi (:

Introduce yourself and write about everything you think that could be interesting to the readers.

I'm a 22-year-old comp sci student from Finland. I have been living in a 180k-ppl-town called Tampere for 4 years now where to I moved from my hometown Raahe after graduating from highschool.

How did you get to your first computer?

The first time I got my hands on a computer was at my friend's place when I was 7 or so. It was a C-64 and my friend was playing Summer Games with it. I was let play only little tho, because I was so young. After whining a while to my parents I got my own computer, Spectrum 48 with its kewl rubber keys! It was so cool to trade games with friends by copying cassettes, tho hard, because at that time I didn't have double deck and you had to connect two tape recorders.

When did you start coding? Tell about your first impressions, experiences,...

After playing some time I started to get curious how these programs were made and what these "print" etc. texts on the rubber buttons ment. By browsing the ZX Spectrum manual I learnt my first computer language, ZX-Basic. It was so kewl to make your computer to do what you wanted (after a few hours of bitching) but incredibly slow. How did they manage to make things to run so fast in games?! I had no clue. I heard about assembler from my mom who had been working in some sort of computer factory as programmer or sumthing. But still, the secret of assembler staid unreachable for me. When a computer magazine called Mikro Bitti got released there were a few pages of hex numbers which I keenly wrote to my Spectrum. A little basic program came with those numbers and it ran fast! Was this assembler? Bunch of hex numbers?! What kind of person wrote bunch of hex numbers and made your computer to do something reasonable?! Not very normal that's what I thought.

How did you get to the scene?

While I was playing with my Spectrum my parents had bought a 8088 computer with an intergrated monitor. I wasn't too interested about that because there were no games for it and the monitor was only able to produce monochrome text on green display while Spectrum pushed out 16 colors, whoa!

Later when I was around 10 my parents bought a 10MHz 80286 with EGA display. Then I leapt into the PC world, first learned GW-Basic, later Pascal. I also tried C but it seemed to be an incredibly stupid language since it was case sensitive, heh. When I was around 15 I got my hands on the mystery I had faced before, assembler, which this time was much more understandable since I had got a compiler and manual. Now I would kick some ass!

When we got a modem I started to call to Bulletin Board Systems. Those were places where from you were able to download alot of things and chat with other ppl through different kind of discussion groups. One day I called to a BBS at Tampere (my current hometown) called Neutral Zone. It had several phone lines and ppl were able to chat in realtime there. Once I was chatting there I met a guy who told me about some computer gathering thing called Assembly, what was that? Assembly... something to do with the programming language? No, it was a demo party! I had seen some demos made by Cascada and some other groups like Future Crew before and those were so cool and incredibly fast!

We decided to found a group with this guy and my friend. This guy also knew two other guys who could draw graphics and compose music, now we got a group which we baptized to Onyx! We set our goal to make an intro for this Assembly happening and we would win, of course!

When the day had come, we travelled to Helsinki to have our first concretic touch to the scene. And it really was great. Early at that day there was alot of ppl with their computers and other equipments waiting for the doors to get opened to the party place, Assembly '93, everyone full of enthusiasm like I was. Thought I had found my companion in misfortune (:

What place did your intro get?

We got 4th, which was pretty good because our music system sucked badly. A guy next to me just pushed his fingers to his ears trying to block the noise and I don't blame him. The music was nice tho (:

What happened after Asm'93?

We released some minor products and then joined Anarchy PC. We released an intro at Assembly 95 which got the 13th place. Since Anarchy PC had a kinda splitted atmosphere (mainly because part of the members were from Germany) we quit and founded ODDS entertainment with one of the members living here in my current hometown.

Where does your handle "Altair" origin from?

I browsed through a name list of the stars and hit on it. Later I found out that also some guy from the Atari scene used same nick. It seems to be pretty hard to find some name which isn't in use of the scene in some way or another already.

You won Hugi Size Coding Competition #1. Describe the atmosphere during the compo and the feedback to your success.

During the competition, the athmosphere was very nice. The competitors who were in the IRC channel #coders just kept friendly teasing each other about the pieces of their code which were a few bytes smallers and others just wondering and trying to squeeze information from others "How you did that? Did you use this instruction? Does your implementation follow the rules exactly?" After the competition it was not that nice because you had to listen whining about rounding of the rules which is very much normal in this type of competitions.

What do you plan for the future?

When I will have got out from the army (yeah, I'm doing my military service now which will most likely last 12 months) I'll continue my studies and try to concentrate more on them. I would like to get a part time job as game engine coder or something like that so that I wouldn't need to care of the funding of my studies so much then. I also have a couple of larger projects which may help me kinda to get that job.

Do you have any other hobbies except computers?

Well, currently my hobbies are pretty much army-like (= Before army I went to gym and Krav Maga.

What are your favourite demos?

Second Reality. Watching it gives a nostalgic feeling (: I haven't been watching new demos and intros for a while so I'm not so well aware if there has been released some fabulous demo lately.


Cronologia (:



...paper magazines?

Calvin and Hobbes


Assembly is the only one I have been at. Too bad I missed it this time because of the army. I wish I can be at Asm'99 and maybe bring some production for a compo. It would be at time (:

What is your opinion of the scene today in general?

The scene is like a kids' playground, people learn by playing. It's also full of enthusiasm, self-confidence and will discover new things which makes it so nice to be associated with it (:

Do you have an advice for the readers?

When you have set up some goal you want to reach in any field, go for it without later giving up because of lack of trust on your own skills or because of someone else's opinions. There are always some setbacks when reaching something bigger and it may often come into mind to give up, but do not. A common trend in the coders' scene is trying to break others' dreams. You just have to trust your own skills which bears the best fruits. It's always better to reach even a bad goal than no goal at all.

Is there anything else I should ask you or you want to talk about?

The interview seems long enough already, so maybe next time (=

Do you want to greet anyone?

Greetings to my friends Warp and Peak and everybody on #coders.

- adok^hugi