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EcoMole Blog
26 March 2015
Zvon.org
Miloslav NicView Miloslav Nic's profile on LinkedIn

Starting a new blog is a good fun. The head is full of ideas and so finding an inspiration for a new post is not a problem.

Unfortunately, a new blog also has a serious disadvantage - no readership. I have started quite a few projects and so I am used to waiting for first visitors. But writing for an abstract reader is not the most satisfying activity and so I have unashamedly decided to leverage the availability of Zvon.org and write its short history as a way of luring Zvon.org users to the EcoMole blog.

I finished my PhD at UCL London in summer 1995. It took me 35 months to cross the line from start to finish. If money is in short supply it really improves your approach to writing up the thesis.

I did my graduate studies in physical organic chemistry. I was determined to return back to my country and loved teaching the choice of future career seemed to be straightforward. I had returned to the university where I studied for Dipl. Ing., and was lecturing on organic chemistry and chemical informatics.

But life is not directed by straightforward plans. I enjoyed chemistry experiments but hated washing glassware. And so I was often seduced to procrastinate behind 14-inch CRT monitor connected to an i486 PC.

After few years of coding in different languages, I came across some articles about recently born XML technologies and I had decided to give it a try. I still feel the icy draft from leaking window of my small lab in winter 1998-1999 when Zvon.org went through its gestation period.

Internet archive WaybackMachine has the first snapshot of the site taken on the 12 October 1999. It resided at a subdomain of my university and as the snapshot did not preserved images, not much can be inferred from the archive. Yet finding it after so many years, it fills me with nostalgia.

A snapshot from October 2001 already tells a different story. Many materials from this period are still available on current Zvon, 15 years later. The snapshot also reminds of an important turning point in my life. There is an advertisement for Systinet and it is not a purchased advertisement space. Because of Zvon, I started to work for Systinet before it was named Systinet. I was already there before it was known as Idoox, its previous name.

At the beginning of 2000, I have received an email from a Czech compatriot Roman Stanek who just had sold NetBeens and was looking for a new opportunity. He came across the Zvon site and lured me out of university to his new start-up. Systinet has been bought by Mercury in 2006 for $105 000 000 and Roman Stanek moved to his third project - Good data. I already left Systinet in 2002. In a couple of years the company had grown to an enterprise with 100+ employees and as anybody who worked for a startup knows, it stops to be a real fun with so many people around. But I still relish a memory of working in a successful company on a computer with the inventory number 1 and a monitor with the inventory number 2. :)

I had returned back to my university and founded the Laboratory of Informatics and chemistry. In my role I founded a few study programs combining programming, informatics and chemistry and taught many coursers ranging from functional programming to ecology. Zvon.org remained both my hobby and the textbook for my courses.

At the beginning of this decade I started to feel that I needed a new challenge and decided to go back into private sector. Over last few years I wrote the crucial parts of a cloud software package Compass for Classification of Mixtures in Less Than 17 Minutes, SDS Before Lunch.

Now with EcoMole I am getting back to my roots. Zvon has been great but it was mainly programming. Chemistry research was engaging but took ages to get some interesting results (and a few minutes to get a lot of dirty glassware). I am the oldest founder of EcoMole and so I have immediately leveraged my seniority and passed all boring roles including CEO to my younger colleagues.

I will concentrate on development of our advanced informatics services with emphasis on environmental issues. I also took responsibility for our communication strategy and gave myself a challenging task task to write a few blog posts every week. So please come later to check if I am as good as my word. :)