How did I get started in software development?

Well apparently Derik is trying to bring me out of my blogging hiatus by tagging me with the meme of the week.  🙂  My story is pretty boring, but I’ll play along in an effort to bring me out of my recent break from the blogosphere.

How old were you when you started programming?

I suppose I was 14 (9th grade) when I first started dabbling on an Apple IIe with all the joys of line numbers and “gotos”.  I enjoyed it but I definitely wasn’t as smart as the kid who created a program to generate one of those “magic eye” pictures that were all the rage at the time.  Besides, I was a band geek for most of my high school days (drums).

What was your first language?

I guess technically Apple Basic and QBasic were my first languages where I would mess with my Mom by writing stupid little QBasic programs to simulate her computer exploding.  Ahh, those were the days.  But I would probably say that my Pascal class in 11th grade was where I really started to learn how to create stuff and solve problems by typing “codes” into some crazy thing called a “computer”.**

What was the first real program you wrote?

Probably the first “real” program I ever wrote was a Pick 3 lottery program in my Pascal class followed later by a standard 5 card draw poker game, with stunning graphics!  🙂  Looking back, I’m not sure if those were assigned projects or if I came up with those on my own, but regardless, either the school was encouraging the students to write gambling software or I had some weird attraction to writing software that could possibly ruin people’s lives.  Both equally disturbing… LOL.**

If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?

Oh yeah.  I actually started my “professional” career on the hardware/networking side of things but ultimately I always knew I was a codemonkey at heart and eventually moved in that direction professionally.  Besides, the money is a heck of a lot better too.  🙂

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?

So, what’s my size limit for this answer?  😀

Well of course I’d say to have fun and be passionate and all that jazz.  To me, that’s just a given.  But also to focus on the fundamentals.  Learn *why* it’s important to make testability and maintainability a first-level concern when building software.  Get started in the community early because you’ll make some great friends and learn a ton along the way.  I could say a ton more, but I don’t think the internet could hold them all.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had … programming?

Not sure I can pinpoint a single time, but the times I’ve been able to do some greenfield projects and make testability a first-class citizen in the design, I’ve been very happy with the results.  Also the journey towards “beautiful code” is something that I enjoy very much.  Getting creative and coming up with new and useful ways of wiring something together or even just naming a method well is enough to make me happy. 

Recently, I’d say that my brief stint in the Rails world (not professionally) was the most fun I’ve had coding in quite a while.  Perhaps that’s why I’m getting the Ruby itch again.

The poor saps that I’m tagging?

Change I can achieve in