Who am I?

Frank Pilhofer

Well, even I don't know a definite answer to that. As my private brain care specialist usually answers, "Well, Frank's just zis guy, you know." So much for quoting the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Current affairs: Random writings.

Well, what can I say about myself? I was born in Germany, in a countryside area that nobody from the outside world has ever heard of. In 1992, I moved to Langen (15 kilometers to the south of Frankfurt) and started to study computer sciences at the University of Frankfurt. In 2000, I moved to Kalbach, a suburb on the northern border of Frankfurt, where I was working as a consultant and freelance developer. You can see part of what I used to do for a living on the official area of my Web site.

In August 2002, I accepted an offer from Mercury Computer Systems, where I now work as a Software Engineer. By doing this, I also fulfilled my desire of working outside of Germany sometime - a great chance to improve my english, I still have a bad accent. At the moment, I am living in Nashua, New Hampshire, about 50 kilometers northwest of Boston. Look for me on the roads with my "FPX-DE" license plate.

Back in Germany, I used to have a somewhat time-consuming hobby, soaring - that link takes you to the Web pages of my soaring club, which I used to maintain. My personal soaring record is to fly a 512 kilometer triangle in 7.5 hours. At the moment, I have enough on my mind adjusting to the new environment here in the States, but I will probably look into soaring here next year.

Other "part time" hobbies include biking, reading, and watching movies. Biking was the theme for the "counter" that I was having on my home page for years. Everybody else was showing counters with hits to their page, but I was showing a counter with my biking milage (occasionally updated by hand). But very few people got the joke (or thought it to be funny).

In the US, people don't seem to bike much. The few people that bike for recreational value make a point of dressing up in flashy outfits and riding expensive bikes. I have neither, so when I bike half a mile to the grocery store, others probably think I lost my driving license. That's fine with me. The nice thing about the small crowd of cyclists is that you can afford to say "hi" to all that you meet.

I like reading novels, some fantasy and some thrillers. One of my favourite authors is Douglas Adams, the unforgettable author of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. He's got a wonderfully weird sense of humor. It's a pity that Douglas used to have a terrible fear of writing and didn't manage to finish many books. Terry Pratchett's style is similar, with stories based in fantasy rather than in space. Terry's much more productive, but his jokes seem to repeat after a while. My favorites from him are Small Gods and Only You Can Save Mankind.

Another book I enjoyed is the futuristic Neuromancer from William Gibson. You can get claustrophobic in its dense athmosphere. I used to like reading Tom Clancy; his books are thrilling if you ignore their one-dimensional characters. Tom sure excels at writing about warfare, but doesn't know how to flesh out a character.

I can enjoy a variety of movies, like thrillers, drama, romance, or action. If I had to name an all-time favorite, it would probably be the Back to the Future series - they're funny, and they contain a lot of in-jokes that you notice when seeing the movies more than once. I also enjoyed Titanic, Chicken Run, The Player and Accidental Hero - an IMHO underrated intelligent media satire. In the action category, I like movies that don't take themselves too seriously, like True Lies.

I used to be a fan of Disney's animated movies, but that fanship has faded over time. Their movies and messages got somewhat repetitive over time, to the point that I thought of their movies as formula products instead of works of art. I think the company is in need of redefining itself, like they did at the end of the 80's.

My taste of music is hard to describe. I can enjoy Pop, Rock and, sometimes, Dance music. Maybe I should rather describe what I don't like - Rap, Techno and Hip Hop. So many songs follow the same formula: two times verse and refrain, then a solo, then a third verse, then repeat refrain until fade-out. I find that many songs that capture my interest are breaking with this common convention. I like ballads, where the artist uses the song device to tell a story. The two best storytelling singers, to me, are Chris de Burgh and Meatloaf. I also prefer music that has sensible lyrics in addition to good music.

I sometimes want to open up a book and movie review section on my site. Maybe I'll do that sometime.

Historically, I have done a lot with Computers. After a not too successful career in the soccer team of SSV Würgassen, I got my first computer, a Commodore 128, for my 14th birthday. It literally changed my life. I was focused on it so much that my father eventually locked it up for half a year so that I would spend more time helping in the gardens.

Over time, I knew the Commodore and its insides pretty much inside out, eventually resulting in my first software publication - an encrypted diary - in the Magic Disk magazine issue 9/90. A more high profile publication was my C64 Ram Disk in the 64'er magazine 5/91, which people then had to type in from hex dump!

After these successes, studying computer science seemed the logic thing to do, which I did. At the university, I learned to program and to develop rather than to hack. Well, lots of the things I did at the University are documented on this site, either in the student section or in the software section - most of the freeware I offer was, at least initially, developed during that time. The two efforts that have gathered the most public interest are my musings about googolplex and my UUDeview software. Even if you've never heard of it, you probably have it on your desktop, since its decoding library is part of the popular WinZip software.

What I like about the software business is that you never stop learning - because if you do, your knowledge becomes outdated so fast.

But enough talking. You now know much more about me than vice versa. That's unfair. So to learn more, you will have to invite me to dinner, so that I also have a chance to find out about you in return!

Thank you for reading this far.

Frank Pilhofer <fp -AT- fpx.de> Back to the Homepage
Last modified: Sun Nov 9 21:49:29 2003