Mikkel Holm Olsen

Spaceman Spiff

So who is this Spaceman Spiff-dude anyways?

My name is Mikkel Holm Olsen. I am a 39 year old male. I was born the 7th of April 1978 in Copenhagen, and I grew up in Denmark.

Hobbies and interrests

As you will surely notice if you browse around these pages, two of my main interests are electronics and computers. My fascination with electronics started at a very young age. Initially I was just playing with wires, but gradually being intrigued by the possibility to control various appliances, and eventually building electronics kits and learning electronics theory.

I got my first computer at the age of 8 or 9. It was a Commodore 64, that my father bought for me. In the beginning I was mostly using the C64 for playing games, but this was also when my programming career started with BASIC. Later I got an Amiga 500, and then a PC, and continuously developed my programming skills, with various languages, such as Pascal and Assembly language.

My interest in electronics progressed to digital circuits with TTL and CMOS parts, and when I got my first microcontroller development kit, I learned how I could combine and unite my interest and knowledge of computers and electronics.

When I started at the Technical University of Denmark in 1997, I got exposed to Linux, and liked what I learned. So in 1998 I decided to run Linux as my primary desktop OS, and I picked up C programming from writing a Linux device driver. Along the way I have been digging into a lot of different aspects of Linux, both for desktop and server systems, as well as for embedded systems. The list of programming languages I know have been expanded with Perl, Bash scripting, Python and PHP (there are more, but these are the ones of which I consider myself to have a decent level of knowledge).

As for microcontrollers, I have worked with several different families and architectures, but particularly the Atmel AVR has had my attention, and I have build a solid knowledge of both the architecture and programming in both C and assembly. I have used the Atmel AVR in several projects, some of which you can find on these pages.

The combination of electronics and computers also tied in well with my passion for vintage computers. What started out as a project of building a door bell using the SID-6581 (the sound chip of the C64), evolved into a project of even getting a SID-6581. But the only way to get them was to buy an old C64, so I got a few defective ones off of eBay, and in the end I couldn't resist trying to fix them. All in all this took me on a journey through the C64 architecture, the schematics and understanding of how the hardware worked, and how I could repair it. And later when the C64 DTV was created, and I became part of the community hacking these, I learned about 6502/6510 assembly language, and patched games to run on the DTV.

My desire to be creative also occationally spans outside the areas of electronics and computer programming. I like design, aesthetically pleasing and simple. I also like using my hands, e.g. woodworking, carpentry, metal-working, and different DIY projects. I also enjoy nature and cooking.

Education and career

After finishing 9th grade in public school at Nærum Skole in 1994, I went to Gladsaxe Gymnasium on the math./science-line, and finished this in 1997.

My education continued with the M.Sc. studies at the Technical University of Denmark, where I graduated as M.Sc. (Civilingeniør) March 4th, 2003.

From 2003 thru 2007, I have done a PhD at Ørsted•DTU, Automation. The title of my project was "Human-machine interfaces in distributed automation systems". I defended my thesis on February 23rd, 2007, and was awarded the degree.

After finishing my education, I started working as development engineer at Logos Design A/S (September 2007).

In March 2011 I was hired as embedded software developer at Doms ApS.

In June 2016 I was head-hunted to a position as Senior Embedded Software Engineer at XO Care A/S.

For more information about my education and career, check my profile on LinkedIn.

My family

In 2009 I met Hannah, and in 2010 I proposed to her, she accepted, and we got married in Las Vegas in 2011.

In 2012 Hannah gave birth to our son Leo. Becoming a father has meant a big change in my life, both in terms of the responsibility that comes with parenthood, but also the priority of spending time with the family. Being a parent is very rewarding. It amazes me to see Leo grow day by day, acquiring new skills, starting to crawl, then walk and run, starting to speak, learn new words. You only get one chance to be there with and for your children when they grow up (OK, maybe one chance per child, but it will surely not be the same). I certainly don't want to miss out on the fun.

In October 2014 our daughter Rebecca was born.

Of course this also means there is less time for the continous stream of projects, so e.g. updates on this page have certainly become less frequent, but I still try to squeeze in a lille tinkering whenever possible. And I think most people who have kids will confirm that you need to cut down a bit on the social activities as well. I wouldn't say I have lost friends after becoming a father, but the number of events that I am able to attend to have certainly decreased, and probably also the duration of my attendance. However, I don't see this as a bad thing (or a good thing for that matter), but just a fact that comes naturally when your priority changes with parenthood.

My wife Hannah and our kids Rebecca and Leo

My wife Hannah and our kids Rebecca and Leo (2016-10-26)

What about the name Spaceman Spiff?

As most of you are probably aware, Spaceman Spiff is a character of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Watterson. Calvin and Hobbes is a magnificent story about a six year old boy with a vivid imagination, and his stuffed tiger. Spaceman Spiff is a character of imagination of the main character Calvin.

I can actually not remember how (or when) I started using the nickname Spaceman Spiff about myself, but I must confess that I think I picked this nickname myself (although some people argue that a real nickname has to be given not taken). However most of my friends seem to have gotten used to it, and some of them actually refer to me as Spiff, instead of Mikkel.

Last updated: 2017.04.07