Programming and I
I’ve always had an underlying desire to figure out how to make computers do something. However programming and I have had a stormy relationship. It all started with my first program – a Golf game on MS-Dos on the family computer in the mid-80’s. I copied the source code from a magazine or a book, I can’t remember which one. But I do remember the frustration that followed. The program wouldn’t compile. Then once I got it to compile (actually my Step Dad got it to compile) then it wouldn’t run. I think he got it running, but I don’t actually remember. The work that was required to program a computer was beyond what I was willing to put in. Programming Pain: 10
I graduated from college with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. As part of the ME curriculum students were forced to take a Computer Science course. The recommended course was Fortran, because, you know, there are millions of lines Fortran out there. Fortran is a horrible language to learn as an introduction to computer science, perhaps to learn for any reason at all. Furthermore I have never seen a single line of Fortran “in the wild”. Needless to say I realized that programming and I had unresolved issues that we hadn’t worked through. Programming Pain : 10
Fast forward to 3 years into my career as a ME – I ended up on a team that was involved in merging an acquired company’s technology with our own. As part of the acquisition we had to merge ERP systems which involved a lot of database mapping and merging. This was another bag of hurt, though not because of the database technology, more because of mapping unknowns between the systems. Programming and I were back on speaking terms. Programming Pain: 6
Finally after another year I wanted to do some reporting for a team I was leading. For the record: reporting is the gateway drug into programming. Most people with a non-programming background discover their first programming needs as a result of trying to pull data from somewhere. For me it was trying to pull MRP job information from the aforementioned ERP system. Since I didn’t know how to program I had to use MSAccess and standard ERP reports in order to pull the data and combine it into something useful. Finally, this was fun! Programming Pain: none at all, I’m cured!
Desire is Rekindled
After my Microsoft Access experience (around 2002) I was open to programming again, and the web was growing like crazy. At this point (2002 – 2004) I wanted a website. I don’t even remember the exact reason for wanting one, probably just curiosity, and I’m not sure that it matters; desire is the key. I started reading up on HTML and CSS for programming, and FTP for publishing in an effort to build and deploy websites. This served my needs for a while. I was in school, going for my MBA at the time, so I really didn’t have time to dedicate to anything else. However, once I finished my MBA in 2008 I decided to focus on really learning software.
I enrolled in a few programming classes and approached Habitat for Humanity to see if they wanted someone to help build their website. And I also started doing a lot of programming in my spare time. After 2 years I got hired as a programmer with my current employer. After another 2 years I got hired by a different company as a programmer in a different language. It took a long time to get proficient enough to get paid for programming, but it was well worth the effort.