How Did I Get Started in Software Development?

Joel asked me to give my response to the How Did I Get Started in Dev meme so here it goes!!
How old were you when you first started in programming?
When I was 8 years old my Dad bought me a Beeb. Along with the computer I was also given a book on the BASIC language. I read the book and wrote computer programs on the computer for a whole year (I guess you can tell the geeks early on!!). Amazingly after that year of coding, I did not touch a computer again (for productive reasons) until I was back in school at the age of 20!!
How did you get started in programming?
I already stated above that I had the year of coding from 8yrs old – 9yrs old. What was I doing between 9 and 20? Video games, sports, goofing around. you name it. My wife and I got married at the tender age of 18, only a couple of months after high school graduation. For the next 1.5 years after graduation my wife and I worked in a family Dollar Store. I could not stand the job, and it was a chore to get up in the morning and feel fired up about what I was going to do that day at work. After one particularly nasty incident in the store I sat down and prayed and God told me that this was not His plan for what I was to do with my life. Some of my friends had decided to go straight from school into computer science programs at local and remote universities. I started picking their brains about some of the stuff they were doing. I got interested and decided that I should go back to school to study programming. Unfortunately, I goofed off a little too much in grade 12 and did pretty poorly in a lot of key subjects. So at the age of 19 I went back to high school to redo the core. As an aside, I was on honor roll from grades 9-11, so I knew that it was just a matter of me focusing and doing the job properly. After re-graduating, I applied at a local college in a 2 year technology program that would allow me to transfer into a computer science program. This is truly where I started to get into programming!!
What was your first programming language?
What was the first real program you wrote?
At the age of 9 I wrote a pong game. I was so thrilled with the end result, even if the graphics were nothing to write home about. The sense of accomplishment and the ability to express creativity in code were things that remained with me even when I took the long break from software.
What languages have you used since you started programming?
C++,Assembler,VB,VB.Net,C#,JavaScript,Ruby,Boo,PL-SQL,T-SQL,Open VMS
What was your first professional programming gig?
Working in a student records administration office at Medicine Hat College, working against an mainframe system using Open VMS.
If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?
Definitely. In reality, I would have most likely not taken the break and carried on learning programming between the ages of 9 and 20.

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

One thing that has helped me maintain satisfaction and success in this profession is quite simple. Always make sure you are having fun. Don’t get caught up in meaningless chases to be better than person X. If you can acknowledge that you will never know it all, and that there is always someone who knows more than you do, you open yourself up to chart your own course for how you navigate your career path. Making decisions that are actually right for you, not because you “think” you need to do it. When I look back to when I first started to right now, there is not a single point along the way where I can say that I was not having an absolute blast doing what I was doing. Even when I was not using agile methodologies, or big into unit testing, I put a high priority on having fun and exercising the creative nature of the work that we do!! Keep it fun, and the rest will follow. For the Christian developers out there you may also appreciate these words from the bible, that I read a looooong time ago and have always kept close to my heart:

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

My entire career has been an absolute blast. I have to say that doing the Nothin But .Net courses and being able to be a catalyst for the growth and reignition of other peoples careers has been a blessing and an opportunity that has resulted in one of the most satisfying experiences for me. Being able to say that I am having a positive impact on the professional as well as personal lives of others is something that cannot be quantified!!

Who am I calling out?

Mo Khan

Sean Feldman

Justice Gray

Joey Beninghove

Scott Cowan