Who am I
Posted on April 17, 2023 • 3 minutes • 594 words • Other languages: Esperanto, Nederlands
Hello! My name is Jan van Veldhuizen, but online, I’m better known as Papa Smurf.
I’m a Programmer and Software Architect. I enjoy solving complex problems, figuring out algorithms, and diving into the world of artificial intelligence. In my free time, I love to tinker with computers and my homelab. On Sundays, I often play the organ at church. I also have a passion for languages, particularly Esperanto.
On the family front, I’m a husband, a father, and a grandfather. My wife and I love going on long bike rides. In 2022, we even rode our bikes all the way from our house to Santiago de Compostela! We live in Kortenhoef, a picturesque village in the Netherlands.
Professionally, I have been a part of the Visma Onguard team for over 30 years.
I began my journey in programming with Algol-60 in the late seventies while studying mathematics. Back then, we didn’t have fullscreen editors. We used punch cards and paper terminals to write code.
Fast forward forty years, and technology has taken giant leaps. Now, a mobile phone has more computing power than the big mainframe computers at universities in the seventies.
In the early days, I communicated with other programmers using Fidonet and BBS systems. Then, Compuserve emerged, making the world feel much smaller. Nowadays, we turn to Google when we have a question, and find code on GitHub, CodeProject, SourceForge, CodeGuru, and many other websites. I’ve always been a proponent of open source. Sharing code benefits the entire programming community.
One of the first times I contributed to the open-source world was with JanBan , and you can learn more about it on this website.
At the end of 2022, ChatGPT was launched. AI has been around for a while, but ChatGPT made it accessible for anyone with an internet connection. Suddenly, AI became a useful tool for programming and beyond. Now, we have machine learning tools that can perform programming tasks. It’s indeed an exciting time.
I discovered that I enjoy presenting on the topic of AI. Whether I’m educating other programmers about the pros and cons of AI as a development tool, or demystifying it for a non-technical audience, I find great joy in sharing what I know and have learned about AI.
Image: a punchcard writer
Image: a paper terminal
I’m incredibly thankful we don’t live in a world with just one language, as depicted in the Genesis 11 story. In that story, everyone spoke the same language, which I find quite boring. Some interpret God’s reaction to the Tower of Babel as punishment, but I see it as a blessing.
Whether I’m learning a programming language or a spoken language, I like reading programming manuals, dictionaries, and grammar books. One look at my collection of language books, and it’s clear that I have a passion for languages.
That’s why I’ve developed this website in three languages. Purely for fun. I chose English because it’s an international lingua franca, Dutch because it’s my mother language, and Esperanto because I believe it was a very good attempt at creating a universal language.
Years ago, my colleagues began referring to me as Papa Smurf. The nickname stuck, and before long, I even had a Papa Smurf toy on my desk. I began using the name online and have since adopted it wherever I can. Hence, the name of this website.