Hi there! You’ve reached the personal web page of Filipp Lepalaan, a Macintosh systems engineer and web developer from Estonia, living and working in Helsinki, Finland since 2000.
My first real passion in life was music and playing drums in particular. Coming from a musical family, my parents forced made me attend piano lessons and choir practice, which I both hated with a passion. Of course as an adult, I regret not paying attention in piano class.
I started studying drums when I was 17 and even dropped out of high school to pursue my passion. A couple of years later I got my first taste of being a professional musician and did not like it at all so went straight back to high school. At the moment, my main focus in music is improvisation and I play in several projects.
In addition to playing drums, I just like drum sets in general and have owned over 20 of them over the years. My favourite brand is Tama - probably because the first drumset I remember seeing was a Tama and many of my favourite players from my teenage years (John Stanier, Abe Cunningham, David Silvera) played them. Cymbals are a bit more complicated. I would love to love Paiste already purely for their Estonian heritage, but play mostly Amedia right now since they have more of those thin jazz sounds that I tend to gravitate towards.
An Apple Fanboi
I was probably around twelve years old when I saw my first Mac, but didn’t get my very own until 5 years later, in 1997 (a used LC 475), playing Ambrosia games and hosting my very own Hotline server over a 28.8k modem. I was into electronics and video games since I was a kid, but there was something special about the Mac. They were not only elegant on the outside, but also on the inside. PCs were so basic back then that even I couldn’t really come up with much use for them except maybe some games. You could actually do stuff on a Mac. While all my PC friends were tearing their ATX cases apart because that was the most fun you could have with a PC, me and my Mac buddies were tearing up Maelstrom in ResEdit to change the sound effects.
The Mac user community was also amazing. Unlike PC users of that time that were always complaining how much they hate their computers, Mac users were always excited and keen to share their knowledge. I did my best passing that along when in 2005 we founded the Estonian Macintosh User Group with some friends of mine. At it’s peak we had over 5000 users on our forums and even organized a few conferences.
Got my first Mac-related job in 2001 doing hardware repairs for an authorised service provider and loved every minute of it. Later I was fortunate to branch into sales, tech support and consultancy. At some point I was even the only certified Final Cut Pro trainer in Finland. I got my ACSA certificate in around 2006 without taking a single course and Mactroll was even brave enough to make me one of the admins on afp548.com, for whom I also wrote a few articles. This was around the time that Apple was making a big push into the enterprise with 10.5, XSan, Final Cut Server, etc. Good times.
I still use Apple stuff and have quite a few of their posters plastered around my apartment, but probably without the same passion as I used to. Apple has changed since 2007 and not all of it for the better. To be perfectly honest, Macs kinda stopped being “cool” when you realised everyone else was using them too. :-)
I ❤️ UNIX and system administration in general. Without hopefully sounding too pretentious, I come from a time when you actually had to understand how DNS works when setting up an email address. I love server closets and think more companies should have them. If we outsource all our IT infrastructure, where’s the next generation of sysadmins going to come from?
My favourite server OS is FreeBSD and I kinda wish they would focus solely on being a server OS.
A software developer
Syntactically, my favourite language is still Ruby - it’s probably the only language where I can easily deduce things based on my previous knowledge. Things just seem to work as expected. I wish Ruby was more prevalent in sysadmin scripting (as opposed to Python). Ruby just feels more pragmatic.
I regret not keeping a log of all the programs I’ve written over the years. There’s probably hundreds of them by now. Programming is a creative process just like any artform, but it also has to work. That makes it both challenging and fun. My favourite part about the process is understanding the problem and writing the first version that actually works. After that it’s just maintenance.
While in college (ca 2005), I founded Digikoda my first company (a sole-proprietoriship). My product was a CRM (everyone and their dog had their own CRM back then) called
Haldur (“manager” in Estonian). It actually had some pretty cool and innovative features for the time - like “true” WYSIWYG editing (you could just switch to editing mode directly from browsing the site) and static page generation. I was doing quite a lot of web development at that time which culminated in my own PHP framework. Later on, I used that tech when I co-founded Mekanisti Oy. I worked on 4 projects for that company - an updated version of the CRM I wrote in college (mechEdit), a Service Management system for Apple Service Providers (that used my own PHP framework) called mechDesk and a custom webshop for Nielsen Ratings (that also ran on the same framework). The coolest thing I built was mechLink - a Dashboard widget that allowed you to upload large files and share them via an HTTP link (kinda like what WeTransfer does now, but in 2008).
In 2009 I co-founded mcare Oy with my former boss Joel. That company was a total labour of love and a culmination of everything I had learned about the service business up until that point. It was great being involved in pretty much every aspect of the business, but my main focus was the technology. I built our entire infrastructure as well as our homepage, online service checkin and custom tools for system restoration, diagnostics and data recovery. In 2013 I had a falling out with Joel and I left the company with nothing but the rights to the Service Management System I had written.
My time at mcare taught me a lot about business and I’m still very proud of what we accomplished. On the flipside, I also experienced my first burnouts during these years.
Starting from scratch
2013 was a difficult year year for me. Already exhausted from 5 years of running a new business, I now had to start from scratch selling Servo - the new service management system that hadn’t even been used in production yet. I had no capital for the company so was forced to do everything on my own. I also priced it way too low. Some time in 2014 mcare stopped using my system, taking about 30% of my company’s income with them which meant I could no longer pay my own salary. I tried finding new customers, investors and business partners, but all to no avail. I started getting pretty bad depression symptoms. Some day I will write about those times in more detail…
In 2014 I was lucky to get hired as IT Manager/System Administrator by JKMM Architects - my former customer, looking after a fleet of Apple products as well as bunch of other servers. I really came to love the architecture industry - if you’re looking for meaningful startup ideas, go talk to any architecture office and observe how they work!
Unfortunately the previous burnouts and being the only IT guy at a large, fast-growing office with mission-critical infrastructure really started to take it’s toll on me. I started getting terrible anxiety attacks and almost spouts of rage whenever something didn’t work right. After 4 years of working there I realised that maintaining systems that someone else built and someone else is using is a futile (if still important) endeavor so I shifted my focus to software development.
Better tools for working people!
Currently I’m working as a software developer at Verkkokauppa.com - one of the largest electronics resellers in Scandinavia. I chose them because I wanted to get back to what I loved doing the most - creating better tools for people. It’s my first time being a part of a development team and I’m learning new stuff every week.
For the thrill of understanding
This site is not a real blog. Real blogs write about things that are truly unique and interesting and are written by people who actually make an effort to articulate their thoughts, check their facts and references. Their author’s thrive on feedback and actually reply to their commenters to clarify or defend their statements. This place on the other hand is just about me ranting about some work-related things, more often than not just re-stating the obvious, all for the thrill of understanding. :-)
Sometimes I take pictures and make music videos. I used to play drums. I still do, but I used to, too.