Projects I’ve worked on
Android OS development
I believe I got my first smartphone in 2010 after a lot of research, checking reviews, saving up money and, of course, asking my parents to renew their phone subscription so I could get it partially subsidized (don’t fall for it, folks) I got the wonderful LG Optimus One (P500). It wasn’t long until I got bored of it and started hacking, porting unsupported versions and features from other Android flavours. You can find below some examples of my work:
- Oxygen ROM 2.3.2 (Android 2.3.7 Gingerbread)
- Oxygen ROM 3.0.0 (Android 4.0.4 Ice cream Sandwich)
- SlimBean ROM 3.1 (Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean)
The XDA community was awesome and really helped me out and encouraged me to make things better. They were also super kind and donated to keep the servers alive for me to build the (then) newer Android versions. You can check out some of the posts about this here.
Even though I started out with Android, I was always fascinated by Apple and all of their wonderful products. Also I was excited to start creating apps rather than working at OS level. I saved enough money to buy a MacBook Unibody (which still works btw) and the path to iOS development was right in front of me. Here are some of the projects I worked on:
GPS Navigation by Scout
The first real-life iOS app I’ve worked on. Delightful to use, super popular in Europe and with a great team behind it.
I started out from implementing basic UI/UX specs and worked up to owning a few major components like the audio service, networking, referral system and also led a major refactoring effort (Monolith, BOO! Reusable components, YAY!)
Download the app here: GPS Navigation by Scout
ZenQ was my first contact with the startup world, that’s why I’m not going to go into much detail about it here. There is a special section below dedicated to all the amazing startups I’ve worked on so check out the story there.
More iOS specific here, I hacked together a fully working iOS client app at a Startup Weekend event which we released later, mostly unchanged (yeah, it was that good). With a Tinder inspired interface implemented from scratch, social media integrations and, later on, notifications, and in-app messaging the app quickly grew in the hearts of many.
You know enough about me so far to understand that I don’t really stop. Challenges are my lifeblood and Catwalk15, a cool app targeted to people looking for feedback on their outfits, came at a perfect time. The team was so fun to work with and they had a nice vision for their startup.
I helped rewrite their iOS client from scratch, set up iTunes Connect accounts and prepare the final app for release. With heavy use of networking, camera and cool UI/UX, the app was a pleasure to write and I learned a lot from the experience. Swift was the new thing back then so, obviously, I wrote everything in it.
I heard the team recently made an exit so congratulations to them!
Check out Catwalk15 at their official website.
After a while in my career I realized that I was super effective at building apps using open source components that I mostly just took for granted. So I looked into how I could contribute to the open source community.
The first step I took was to start a small blog (appcluj.ro - Now redirected to Medium) where I would write small articles and tutorials about the cool world of mobile development complete with the philosophical questions that led to them. A great side effect of this was that I got to publish the related code on Github and people actually started using it.
One example of this is the KeychainItemWrapper.swift, a Swift implementation of Apple’s example, which gets a new fork every now and then, together with a Github star and which I wrote mostly to demonstrate how to share data between apps in iOS.
Just like most mobile developers, when I heard people talk about web development I was thinking about this bloated, inconsistent platform, where weird workarounds like <insert word here>.js were advertised to cure all the issues but, in the end, they just added more complexity to the entire technology. That, obviously, made me extremely eager to check it out. My conclusion after a few years working with it?
I was kinda right.
But still, the web is constantly changing and evolving at a pretty crazy pace. You can find below some of the stuff I’ve worked on.
Started from a huge pain that is Facebook Events and how I was invited to events by my friends but I was never in the initial invite list from the organizers.
Eventmap is just a map of the local events (revolutionary!) but it serves its purpose well. With a Python backend which serves data scraped from different sources (Facebook, Meetup), a cool interface written with Vue.js, rendered server-side and hosted on S3 and everything containerized, I believe I hit the sweet spot for an application that needs basically no maintenance and just works.
You can check out Eventmap here: eventmap.online
Looking forward to expand this list
I’m looking to do some more work on the web, especially open source, so make sure you head to the contact page and pick a way to follow me or get in touch if you are interested in how things develop.
I found out about startups and the entrepreneurial world in 2014 while attending a Startup Weekend event. It absolutely fascinated me and I had the pleasure of working with a great team to build an even greater startup.
I’ve mentioned it before as part of my iOS experience but it is way more than that. ZenQ was the context for a very important change of mentality in my life.
ZenQ, “ze way to say thank you”, was a service that allowed you to attach positive traits to your friends in a very easy way. Swipe away, see a friend and a trait. Does it match? Is your friend Jane insightful? Then tap on that giant check mark and she gets a notification saying that you appreciate her insightfulness. Attach a nice message to go with it and you have an easy way of letting your friends know how awesome they are.
We got 2nd place at Startup Weekend followed by some positive feedback from our users, made it to a startup accelerator, but ultimately we decided to stop developing it.
The experience, however, will stay with me for a very long while. On the one hand I got to work with an amazing and diverse team which pushed me (even without them knowing) to be better and to stay away from my comfort zone. On the other hand I now have the founder’s itch. That means my priorities have shifted dramatically from a regular guy that wants to do his job good to “I want to do good, express myself and be a driving force for something bigger than myself”.
The ZenQ website is no longer online but you can check out a presentation video here.
I couldn’t stop there so I went back to Startup Weekend the next year, this time ready to pitch my idea: an internet platform where people who wanted to learn new things could find people willing to teach them. I called it Tutora.
I got some great feedback after pitching, gathered a team and started working. By Sunday we were ready for the final pitch with some great researches, a small, hacked-together POC and a lot of excitement. Judges were impressed so we got 3rd place and the opportunity to continue working at some local co-working spaces. We continued working for a while but the enthusiasm slowly faded away.
After some time, I met with a friend I worked with on ZenQ and she was very interested in joining the Tutora team. She had some really great ideas on how to refresh the startup and do it better so we pivoted hard.
Nowadays, Tutora is a regular offline meetup where people get together and share things from their day-to-day lives and other people listen and give some feedback or ideas. Everything happens in a safe and fun environment, usually around a table full of alcohol :)
If you want to learn more about how it works check out this awesome post describing the concept and benefits: https://medium.com/@zornitsatomova/why-you-should-get-a-mastermind-group-5248f86f5e7c
I like to learn stuff and stay up-to-date with any developments so I’m always looking for new things to do. I have a bunch of projects in progress, some open-source, some not, which I will add to this list once they are complete. In the meantime you can find some info on the contact page which you can use to check out the progress on them.
I was super intrigued about Docker at one point but the concepts were pretty hard for me to understand. I also wanted to learn a bit more about how the most popular Python solution for isolating environments, virtualenv, worked. So, you guessed it, I built a virtualenv clone that isolates environments directly in Docker containers.
You can check out the code here: https://github.com/macostea/cage
And the Hacker News thread here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13461100
One of my core beliefs about the entire tech world is that technology should be accessible to everyone without too much compromise. That’s why I believe low-powered computing devices will be key players in technology adoption in the future.
I started playing around with some Raspberry Pis, first just as media centers (using the wonderful OSMC), then as NAS servers (using the equally wonderful OpenMediaVault) and then started building my own stuff mostly for entertainment.
One of the projects I loved building is the Light Matrix, using an Arduino Uno, a string of WS2812B addressable LEDs and 25 plastic water bottles. A Medium post about this is incoming so stay tuned.
You made it this far so congratulations! I’m super happy you took the time out of your life to read about me.
Like it or not we now have a special bond so make sure you get in touch with me (details on the contact page) so that I can learn about you as well.