Gijs van Dam

About me

Researcher, developer and business founder in no particular order.

I live in Malaysia. For all intents and purposes you could say I live in the amazing city of Kuala Lumpur, but that would rub the real KLites in the wrong way, since I don't live in the city proper.

Before that I lived in Amsterdam.

Background

It is a bit of a mixed bag. I have a master's degree in veterinary science. I have never worked (and wouldn't be allowed to work) as a veterinarian, since I never did a residency and that's a requirement for a license to practice veterinarian medicin. By now it has been so long since I finished my studies that I have a hard time telling apart cats and dogs nowadays.

I was always a computer nerd, and from 1995 onwards focussed on web development in my spare time. While finishing my studies, I started to work full-time for a web company in 1999. I enjoyed the peak of the dot-com bubble, and also the bursting. When my then-employer went bankrupt I thought it smart to start my own web development company, called Mindbus. This was in 2002. That company has been my sole source of income since then. At it's peak we had shy of 30 people working for Mindbus. Untill 2020 we had two offices, one in the city of Leiden, the Netherlands, and another in the city of Lisbon, Portugal. Currently Mindbus is a nimble company with one office (the one in Leiden) and a distributed team of people. We mainly work on this e-commerce platform that we developed for brick-and-mortar book stores. It's allowing Dutch book stores to be like the indomitable Gauls holding out against the invaders. But this time the invaders aren't the Romans, but Amazon and (only known in The Netherlands) Bol.

We moved to Malaysia in January 2017. My wife and I always had this dream of living in a foreign country for a few years. So when she could get a job as an assistant professor at a Malaysian university we didn't have to think twice about it. We moved with our kids, then 5 months and 4 years old.

In an unexpected way moving to Malaysia opened up the opportunity to make a career switch. I wasn't spending as much time on Mindbus anymore (and it thrived, so I am not sure what that says about my involvement) and the cost of living was such that I could afford to do a full-time PhD at the National University of Malaysia. So that's what I am doing now: A PhD in computer science. My research is on privacy in the context of second layer cryptocurrency solutions.

In my spare time I work on two open source projects. One is a fork of the static site generator Metalsmith, called Jonas, that runs entirely in the browser. The site you are currently looking at is built with Jonas. The other is a tool to easily make papers, posters and presentations in LaTeX, using markdown and Pandoc. It is called Boilerplate Paper. Both projects are a long way from a 1.0 release, but in the spirit of eating your own dog food, I use them both extensively.