Monthly Archives: May 2012

Late to the Game

This is my first foray into blogging. Be forewarned this is TL;DR and it’s about me and how I got to where I am now. I am an independent consultant located in a small town in Canada. Be gentle in the comments, again, this is my first time.

If you had told me in high school I was going to be a software developer, I would have laughed. My hopes and dreams were a hockey star or basketball star. I knew nothing about computers. It was around 1993 when a lot of my classmates had computers and I was marveling at the idea only having to type an essay once. They could save, edit, and reprint their essays with ease. I thought that was a fantastic idea. I asked my parents for a computer to help with writing essays. I got a typewriter. In all fairness to my parents I was a huge gamer and would spend countless hours on my Sega/Nintendo in the basement. Almost every weekend my buddy and I would pool our money and rent a Super Nintendo and Street Fighter II: The World Warrior. I completely understand my parents’ reasoning for not buying a computer. At the end of high school I still had no knowledge of computers.

University, the first time, is when I really got introduced to computers. My roommate had a computer. There were three of us sharing this one computer. Really we just took turns playing games, usually Civilization II. Three guys, one computer, eight hour shifts. I got the midnight to eight am shift. Let’s just say classes were not regularly attended by me. I was always tired and the classes were really uninteresting. I was majoring in chemistry. By the end of the first year I was placed on academic probation for a low GPA. Not much changed in the second year, except I took one computer course. I did really well in that course because I was interested in it. However, it was not enough to bring my GPA up. I was on academic suspension for one year. Those two wasted years at University gave me an introduction and a passion for computers.

Immediately after being suspended, I enrolled into a community college. This time would be different. I had a direction and a purpose. I enrolled into a Computer Technician course. I learned the inner workings of computers and was introduced to programming for the first time. It was Turbo C and assembler. It was very minimal programming as this was a course on how to repair computers. Still, the problem solving involved in programming got me hooked. After this ten month course I graduated with flying colors. I was now a computer technician.

I got a job fixing computers in a small city. Things were going well. Over time though, my job evolved. Not in the direction I wanted. I worked in a small office equipment repair shop. We started seeing fewer computers and more photocopiers. We were the Sharp dealer in town. We then also became the Pitney Bowes dealer for the area. This meant an influx of photocopier repairs. I learned how to repair and maintain photocopiers. I saw this as a step backwards from where I wanted to go. I wanted into software development. I enrolled back into University, this time for a Computer Science degree.

As a side note, in the 2002 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs I joined a hockey pool. I bet big on the Carolina Hurricanes as the underdogs. They did well that year and made it to the finals losing to the Detroit Red Wings. I won the playoff pool, and with the money I bought Microsoft Visual C++ .Net Standard.

This second time in University was again different. I still had a goal and a direction. I was focused, determined, and working full time. The first year back in 2002 went great. I was excited things were going extremely well. In 2003, I enrolled again in University, but couldn’t fix photocopiers anymore. I got a new job, in a different city as a support person for a software company. This posed a problem as it was too late to transfer to another university. I didn’t want to give up the entire year, I was disappointed. Luck was on my side as the course I was enrolled in decided to change their time slot to being once a week on Wednesday night. I was thrilled. I didn’t have to give up my entire year. Yes, I was only taking one course, but it was something. It was a difficult year. Every Wednesday I would leave work early, drive two and a half hours to make it to class for 6pm to 9pm, and then drive two and a half hours home. There were a couple of times I didn’t go due to snow storms and there was one time I did go through the snow storm only to find out when I got there class was cancelled.

After that year of traveling, I transferred to the new and my final University. I worked and went to school part time for a few years. I was able to work my way into being a part time developer, but mostly support person at that software company. Then my girlfriend (now wife) gave me a chance to finish my degree faster. She let me quit work and go to school full time. She was already a software developer, an independent consultant with two clients. I took her up on that offer and promised to make it up to her. I finally finished my degree in 2008. Twelve years after my initial entry to University.

The reason I am telling you this is I was late to getting into computers, but it really is never too late. I go to conferences, they are the greatest thing a software developer can do. You meet so many awesome people, hear so many stories, and gain so many new friends. You do hear a similar story, a lot. They grew up with computers, what their first computer was at the age of ten to fourteen, what they started programming with and so on. I didn’t get really into computers until I was twenty. I didn’t really get into software development until I was twenty four. I was late to the game. I’m sure my story is not unique. It’s just a little different. I’m sure there are others out there like me that had a later start and a difficult road to get into software development. I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and where I am in the development game. I also look forward to where I am going, and what other accomplishments I haven’t achieved yet.