I first acquired an interest in computers when a Commodore 64 showed up at my home as a kid. I didn't yet have a good grasp of reading or writing, but I quickly discovered LOAD"*",8,1 made the 5" floppy disk I put into it work. My earliest days with computers are evolving versions of the same story. In the early home PC days, I created menus in batch files driven by GOTO statements to quickly switch memory usage and sound card profiles when I wanted to run different games. The technology was in a place where if you couldn't do stuff like that then it just didn't work right, if at all. The games themselves were littered with professional developers dealing with the same sort of limitations. It was all just a weird thing everybody was more or less doing for fun, and aside from a few key visionaries nobody seemed to understand all this stuff was rapidly changing the world.
In high school, I was told I had to pick a career path, pick a college, and commit to them or I would be set back for the rest of my life. I was told that it would be best if it was something I had a genuine interest in and could excel in. I picked "computers" over my other interests of baseball and automotive mostly because I come from a blue-collar background, and I was actively watching a lot of my elders deal with the aches and pains of physically demanding careers. I did not understand how fortunate that choice was until I started actively selling visual basic programs and website designs to business owners long before I graduated.
Throughout my career, I've moved across a spectrum of technical specialties. I started in development, and the dot-com crash shifted my interests towards infrastructure and information security. When virtualization started to take off and the software-defined data center became a real thing it made more sense for me to shift back to development. As I was transitioning back to software development, virtualization largely transitioned into cloud, and it became trivial for a small team of people to utilize world-class infrastructure. I was tapped by a former superior to join them at a start-up to help grow and develop that company using all greenfield projects. Over the next several years that company would grow year-over-year until it was acquired by a much larger competitor. Anybody who has worked in a company at that stage will tell you that they gain 10 years of experience every year they are there. It is very demanding, it is very intense, and if you're a weird sort like I am it is very exhilarating.
These days I still favor small companies and small teams, and I spend much more time managing teams and solving business problems instead of technical ones. I believe I have the same level of passion for solving those problems, but it has reopened software development as something I enjoy doing as a hobby. What they never told me back when I picked "computers" as a career path, is that one side effect of doing what you love is that you rarely want to do it for the love of it anymore. That's fundamentally where the interest in developing this site, a portfolio, and contributing to the open-source world is coming from. The timing of regaining those interests is serendipitous as my daughter is about the age I was when my interest first started. Together we have developed some really interesting Botley tracks.
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