29
shiv379
4y

Tl;Dr - It started as an escape, carried on as fun, then as a way to be lazy, and finally as a way of life. Coding has defined and shaped my entire life from the age of nine.

When I was nine I was playing a game on my ZX spectrum and accidentally knocked the keyboard as I reached over to adjust my TV. Incredibly parts of it actually made a little sense to me and got my curiosity. I spent hours reading through that code, afraid to turn the Spectrum off in case I couldn't get back to it. Weeks later I got hold of a book of example code to copy out to do various things like making patterns on the screen. I was amazed by it. You told it what to do, and it did it! (don't you miss the days when coding worked like that?) I was bitten by the coding bug (excuse the pun) and I'd got it bad! I spent many late nights on that thing, escaping from a difficult home life. People (especially adults) were confusing, and in my experience unpredictable. When you did things wrong they shouted at you and threatened to take you away, or ignored you completely. Code never did that. If you did something wrong, it quietly let you know and often told you exactly what was wrong. It wasn't because of shifting expectations or a change of mood or anything like that. It was just clean logic, simple cause and effect.

I get my first computer a year later: an IBM XT that had been discarded by a company and was fitted with a key on the side to turn it on. With the impressive noise it made it really was like starting an engine. Whole most kids would have played with the games, I spent my time playing with batch scripts and writing very simple text adventures. And discovering what "format c:" does. With some abuse and threatened violence I managed to get windows running on it. Windows 2.1 I think it was.

At 12 I got a Gateway 75 running Windows 95. Over the next few years I do covered many amazing games: ROTT, Doom, Hexen, and so on. Aside from the games themselves, I was fascinated by the way computers could be linked together to play together (this was still early days for the Web and computers networked in a home was very unusual). I also got into making levels for Doom, Heretic, and years later Duke Nukem 3D (pretty sure it was heretic; all I remember is the nightmare of trying to write levels entirely by code!). I enjoyed re-scripting some of the weapons and monsters to behave differently. About this time I also got into HTML (I still call this coding, but not programming), C, and java. I had trouble with C as none of the examples and tutorial code seemed to run properly under a Windows environment. Similar for my very short stint with assembly. At some point I got a TI-83 programmable calculator and started rewriting my old batch script games on it, including one "Gangster Lord" game that had the same mechanics as a lot of the Facebook games that appeared later (do things, earn money, spend money to buy stuff to do more things). Worried about upcoming exams, I also made a number of maths helper apps, including a quadratic equation solver that gave the steps, and a fake calculator reset to smuggle them into my exams. When the day came I panicked and did a proper reset for fear of being caught.

At 18 I was convinced I was going to be a professional coder as I started a degree in Computer Science. Three months later I dropped out after a bunch of lectures teaching what input and output devices were and realising we were only going to be taught Java and no C++. I started a job on the call centre of a big company, but was frustrated with many of the boring and repetitive tasks we had to do. So I put my previous knowledge to use, and quickly learned VBA to automate tasks. It wasn't long before I ended up promoted to Business Analyst where I worked on a great team building small systems in Office, SAS, and a few other tools.

I decided to retrain in psychology, so left the job I was in and started another degree. During my work and placements my skills came in use a number of times to simplify and automate tasks. I finished my degree, then took a job as a teaching assistant while I worked out what I wanted to do next and how to pay for it. Three years later I've ended up IT technican at the school, responsible for the website, teaching a number of Computing lessons each week, and unofficial co-coordinator for Computing as a subject. I also run a team of ten year old Digital Leaders who I am training in online safety and as technical experts; I am hoping to inspire them to a future in coding. In September I'll be starting teacher training with a view to becoming a Computing specialist teacher. Oh, and I'm currently doing a course in Android Development in my free time.

And this all started with an accidental knock on the keyboard of a ZX Spectrum.

Comments
  • 2
    Well worth the read and amazingly motivating :)
  • 1
    @Medocore thank you :-)
  • 1
    Wow, I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for sharing!
  • 1
    Your tl;dr is too long
  • 0
    @DarkMukke my apologies! I have yet to find an accepted specification for the character length of tl;dr. Does it depend on characters? Or words? Syllables? Or calculated reading difficulty? Oh my it's so much more complex than I ever though!
  • 0
    @shiv379 i was just kidding but i tend to limit it to 10 words
  • 0
    @DarkMukke don't worry I know ;-) usually my tl;dr is shorter but it was trying to summarise such a long text whilst also hoping to encourage people to read it :-)
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