I'm such a slack, and just now getting to responding to this meme after being tagged by Derik. Normally, I can't stand these things, but there are some I like - and this is one.
How old were you when you started programming?
I was about 10 years old when Dad came home with a Tandy 1000EX. We played some games on it (Zork) and used it for homework (Mom loaded all our spelling words each week into a program that would flash the word and we would have to type it in). One night, I watched Dad use BASIC to send escape codes to the printer, getting it to change settings and that was all it took - I was now curious about the secret language of computers.
What was your first language?
BASIC was where I started, and stay for most of my time in school. I checked out books from the library and back then, Family Computing used to publish a BASIC program in each issue. I tried to teach myself assembly, but only managed to reboot the computer every time I ran my programs. I didn't know anyone else into programming, so it wasn't until college and the military that I learned about C.
What was the first real program you wrote?
The first program would be a BASIC program that played songs from Les Misérables while drawing images on the screen (the Tandy was known for it's 16-color display and 3-voice sound). The first program I was paid to write was for the military, and it was a series of automation programs in C to move weather radar and satellite imagery from proprietary systems to an Internet website (note: I probably violated all kinds of military regulations and vendor contracts doing this!)
If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?
Without a doubt, and I would have looked into C much sooner!
If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?
This is hard, but if I limit myself to one thing only, then I would stress to remember that technology, languages, platforms, etc are not that important. Software is only a tool to accomplish another task, and the less of it involved the better off we all are. As a developer, seek to understand the real problem you are solving for someone and then only apply your programming skills to solve that problem.
What's the most fun you've ever had ... programming?
Back in the military I was going to night school and met another programmer named David. David and I both loved programming and games, and did many of our programming assignments together - often going way beyond what was required. One night we had been passing our programs back and forth trying to crash each others program with bad input for a few hours, when finally we felt we had achieve indestructible code each. When the proceeded to call our wives into the room, and show off how manly our programs were - programs that could never be hacked. David's wife sat at the keyboard, and at the input prompt hit Crtl-K and caused his program to crash. She then repeated the same on my program, and it cashed as well. The wives shrugged and left - not understanding the look of horror and shock on our faces. We then spent the night trying to figure out why that one combination caused a crash and all the others were fine.
I don't think either of us have claimed to write indestructible code again.
Who am I calling out?
07-12-2008 12:15 PM
Michael C. Neel