I like writing code. It comes with the territory when you’re a big geek as I am. I’ve been called a “propeller head” in an endearing way by folks that I work with. Perhaps for Halloween I’ll wear one of those propeller hats and make neener neener neener noises. I don’t know what one has to do with the other but it’s always fun to make an odd sound. It’s better than an odd smell.
I have very few regrets in life but one thing that I wish I had done was to get through the computer classes I started when I went to college right out of high school. At 18 I thought I knew it all and I felt rather insulted that I had to start from square one when it came to computer courses, even though my high school had a rather progressive computer education program for it’s time and I had been using computers for several years before going to college after high school. (I make this distinction because I went to college twice during my life). As the professor of that first class showed us what a computer was and where the power button was and how the keyboard worked, I took it all as another sign that I was completely different from everyone else that was closely paying attention to his dreck and that I knew I was going to be bored out of my mind by the second week of the semester. I asked about a computer class placement test so I could prove myself to be worthy of something more than writing…
20 PRINT "HELLO WORLD!"
… for my first project, but the professor said that everyone had to start at the beginning (he didn’t sing “a very good place to start!”, which was a shame, now that I look back on the whole ordeal). Since I thought I had better things to do with my time, I dropped the course. I hear that by the end of the course students were expected to build a program that acted as a calculator, complete with memory registers. I never understood why we programmed a computer to do something that had already been accomplished by a device that was specific to that purpose. Seems like a waste of time.
The reason I look back and think that I should have stuck it out was because I would have learned patience and discipline a lot sooner than I ended up doing and I might have built a better foundation of fundamentals when it came to writing code. I have to admit that I’m a big of a renegade when it comes to doing what I love. Who knows, perhaps I’d have a degree in computer science instead of just a ton of experience under my belt. Some employers look at these things and weigh those letters next to a name quite heavily.
All I know is that I still enjoy writing code as much as I did when I wrote my first program in 1982 on one of the six Apple ][+ computers in high school. It was a cash register program that tracked inventory, printed receipts and accurately computed tax and change. Hey that was big stuff for 1982. I probably enjoy writing code even more these days, because it seems like the possibilities are endless when it comes to technology. I like seeing a user’s face light up when they accomplish something using a program that I wrote. I love the challenge of taking a corporate bureaucratic procedure and smoothing it out with just the addition of some bits and bytes. That’s wicked cool to me, and if someone were to ask me what I wanted to do for the rest of my life (as far as employment goes), I’d tell them that I’d be quite content in my dimly lit office writing code and making a user think that technology is awesome. Because it is.
I’m thinking about this stuff today because yesterday my group at work was told about some leadership changes (meaning my manager was let go, along with a couple of others in the organization, as part of some master plan). I don’t know where I’m going to be on the totem pole right now. I still have a job and I’ve had a couple of people tell me that “they’ve got my back” (and I have theirs) but it’s hard to be excited about working when someone that you significantly admire and respect is no longer on your team.
I just have to remember my love for writing code and solving the challenges presented to me. Losing myself in that avenue of productivity is where I can still smile.