Axel Delafosse
Axel Delafosse
Thu Mar 11 2021

Not being rich made me more curious

Hacking my PSP, World of Warcraft and macOS forced me to become more curious and made me learn so much.

I just connected the dots and realized something about how hacking stuff fueled my curiosity.

Chapter I. PSP

When I was a kid, I wanted to play a lot of games on my PSP. Obviously that was not possible as I didn't have enough money to fulfill my gaming needs. So I took the family computer and started looking for a workaround.

That's how I stumbled upon forums explaining how to hack the PSP. I could finally play all the games I ever wanted.

I eventually got into changing the appearance of my PSP to make it much cooler and impress my friends. I remember adding LEDs in the trigger buttons and in the back, cutting the disk drive lid and adding a glass to see the games spin...

It was also my first time looking at a scripting language, Lua. To be honest I don't really remember why I used it exactly, but I remember the awesome feeling of accomplishment when your code works.

That's also when I discovered that my Apple headphones were much more powerful than I thought. In fact, I read that in the EU, Apple had to respect a specific maximum decibel so they added a small chip to do that. I took my iron and bypassed the chip.

It was my first time experimenting and hacking stuff. I learned so much. I've just discovered the power of learning on the internet. And probably the most important lesson: you can do it if you want -- if you are curious enough.

Chapter II. World of Warcraft

After a lot of modifications on my PSP, I eventually managed to brick it. But anyway, I discovered a game that got my attention. A lot of my attention -- World of Warcraft.

But I couldn't pay to play on Blizzard's official servers. So I spent a lot of time playing on private servers. Private servers are unofficial servers made from open source code like MaNGOS or TrinityCore. And they are bugged.

I had found a great server and I was having a lot of fun. But it was buggy and at some point I wasn't having fun playing anymore. Instead, I had fun learning C++ and SQL to debug spells and quests, improving the game experience hand in hand with the hardcore gamers.

I decided to apply as a developer on the server's forum. I hacked my way into the administrator team. I lied about my age saying I was 19 years old to get hired. I did a great job and eventually got paid 1,500€ for two months. I was 15.

That's how I got into programming. I learned about C++, SQL and open source. That was great. I just got paid to work on something I love -- and I made some people happy.

I knew that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.

Chapter III. macOS

More recently, I wanted to buy a new computer because my MacBook Pro no longer supported my workflow. It's way too slow.

I waited for the new Apple M1 chip to be released but I was pretty surprised when I learned about the 16GB ram cap. I already have 16GB on my Mac and it's not enough for me.

I couldn't spend $5000 on a Mac Pro. I couldn't wait for Apple to release new Macs. And I knew my friend Max had built a Hackintosh from his gaming PC. So I asked him how and he sent me a guide to install OpenCore.

I learned so much about how computers work. I spent a lot of time learning about the hardware, BIOS, boot process, EFI system partition, GPT vs MBR, NVRAM, Kernel extensions and more...

That was worth it. And now I have a very powerful computer running macOS -- almost as good as a Mac Pro but which costs me less than $1500.

Chapter IV. What's next?

Talking with a lot of my peers I realized this is not uncommon. It is actually very common to learn like this.

This mindset helped me learn how to create an app from scratch. I built Pool all by myself. We use it everyday with my girlfriend.

I realized that I love building apps and I'm happy to announce that I just joined Expo as a Software Engineer. It's a platform that helps you develop your app easily. You make an iOS, Android and web app using the same code. I use Expo to build Pool and I know it's the future of app development. I'm excited to follow my passion and help more people like me build their apps.

Have fun learning stuff on your own.

Stay curious.

Thanks to Léna Deloizy, Quentin Burgess, Henry Fontanier and Maxime Janton for reading drafts of this.