Jay Harris is Cpt. LoadTest

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Michael Eaton started it, and it sounds interesting, so I'll jump on the bandwagon, too. I need to post something, and maybe this will be a good writing exersize to get the posts flowing again. So, in 500 words (exactly, not counting the bold questions), how I took a flying leap into software development. And feel free to post your own answers, too.

How old were you when you started programming?
When I was 13 (1992) on the family's first computer: a shiny new 486DX2-66, with 8MB of RAM, and those big-honkin' VLB I/O and Video cards.

How did you get started in programming?
Before that computer, I had never used one before, other than typing class in school or playing MathBlaster or Oregon Trail in the library. I destroyed that machine a quite few times by running every .com or .exe on the machine just to see what it did. (FDisk is a very bad application for the uninitiated to play with.) Knowing how the thing worked led to manipulating it for my own motives: a full set of startup configurations in config.sys/autoexec.bat to eek out every last Kb of base memory. Anything to make Wolfenstein or Doom run just a little faster. And the obsession with video games led me to start writing my own when VB3 launched in '93. Woo-hoo, I could write games!! And I could trash that computer even faster.

My mother bought a Iomega Ditto drive to back up her files every night, so that when I trashed it she wouldn't loose anything.

I started playing around with web programming in mid-94 with my AOL account, and completely bailed in Windows programming in favor of Web in 1995 when I signed up for one of the first accounts on GeoCities.

What was your first language?
Batch Language. Or Visual Basic.

What was the first real program you wrote?
A vertical scrolling shoot 'em up in VB3, similar to Raptor (I loved that game) or Tiger-Heli. Even made my own sprites and bitmaps in Paint!!

What languages have you used since you started programming?
Classroom-only: C++, Perl, PL/SQL, Scheme, and QBasic.

Personally/Professionally: ActionScript (Flash), ASP, C, C#, CSS, HTML, Java, JavaScript, Lingo (Macromedia Director), PHP, Ruby, T-SQL, VB, VB.Net, VBScript, and XML.

What was your first professional programming gig?
The first code-for-food was in 1995; I got about US$150 for building a few web pages Baypoint Communications.

The first full-time gig was in 1999 at Navistream in Rochester, NY (Now BrandLogic) as a New Media Developer. My college's career center didn't have any positions for Web Development, and I was having a tough time finding an internship. I weaseled my way onto the Career Center web site for RIT (near my home town) and found a posting for Navistream. I contacted the company directly and landed an interview. When the interviewer asked me how I found out about them, I told them the story. They were impressed with my initiative and I got the job.

If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?
Yes. Absolutely. It is a little difficult at times, but it is definitely something I love doing. Unless I could have been a professional racecar driver.

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?
Do it for You, not for Them. In this business, it is essential that you keep the passion and spirit that made you like programming in the first place, otherwise it becomes a chore. Find a company that will encourage that passion, and stay connected with other like-minded people through things like user groups, conferences, or even Twitter.

What's the most fun you've ever had...programming?
I particularly enjoy projects that are off the reservation. Amazing things happen when developers get some down-time to go code whatever they want.

Friday, June 6, 2008 11:11:51 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #    Comments [0] - Trackback

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