Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Post that Borders on Glurge

So, I'm at the beginning of my fifth month as a code monkey, which, full disclosure, is not something I ever pictured myself doing.

I always assumed that programming was beyond me. I took one programming class in college (a necessity for my math major) and decided it was most certainly not for me. Part of it was the language: Pascal. While a useful teaching tool, Pascal is not something that is widely used (or was when I took the class in ca. 2000) and has not, in fact, been revised since 1992. But mostly I blame the instructor.

Lectures took place in the computer lab, which would have been useful if we were allowed to turn the computers on. Her lectures were hand-written on the white board (if ever there was a class that could make use of a PowerPoint presentation, it was this), and typically the first half of any given day's lecture was spent covering the second half of the previous lecture. She also was useless at giving us contexts for what we were doing. This woman had written her own gradebook program, but her real-world example was always "something you could program a robot to do", which is a little too vague for students and not nearly cool enough for those of us who were out of junior high (that is to say... all of us).

So I washed my hands of it and simply assumed that it required a caliber of smart that was above me. So I can't thank Evan enough for introducing me to Java and giving me the resources to learn it, and opening up an opportunity to do it for a living, because it turns out that not only am I capable of programming, I've actually got some talent in it.

Granted, of the four months I've got under my belt, I've easily spent two and a half of them without any clear idea what was going on. But I muddled through what I could and kept learning, but it was some point in the last few weeks that I finally hit critical mass and began grasping the bigger picture. Suddenly it all started making sense, and I can say without reservation that I'm a much better programmer today than I was a month ago. And I think my boss would agree.

And because I have a better understanding of the context, I'm now able to assimilate information more quickly--which is good, because there's an awful lot to learn in Java. So I'm writing better code, and avoiding making the same mistakes more than once or twice. And even more importantly, I'm making worthwhile contributions to salable products (rock bottom for me in retail was the better part of a week I spent rearranging toothbrushes--four whole days on toothbrushes... ay-yi-yi). I'm not trying to brag here or sound cocky (I don't have any delusions--I'm well aware that I still have lots of room to improve), but it genuinely astounds me: this is not something I would have foreseen ten years ago... or even two years ago...

In short, life is good, overall. We've got a new home, good prospects, comfortable income. We could be a bit more socially active, but we have friends we do stuff with. And in my entire life as a working adult, I don't think I've ever been quite so happy with my living/working situation. Granted, part of me is kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, but if I weren't just a little paranoid, I wouldn't be me.

Still, for now. Life. is. good.

Anyway, I should try to sleep,

1 comment:

The0 said...

You never know where precisely you'll end up. You're not just improving on those fronts. You're drinking less and you're more motivated in the band. Things are beginning to look up all around, just in time for the coming spring. Looking forward to the condo-warming party.