My wife and I married in 1983 and someone gave us a time flies clock similar to the one pictured here. Little did I know in my early twenties back then that time really does fly by.
My latest post previous to this one is from June 9, 2013. It’s been a blur between then and now. I’ve been consumed with one of the most challenging projects to date. Merging WebDAV, collaboration via workflows, and configuration management of documents is not for the timid. It’s been a long hard journey and here I am at the end of 2014 already.
I bought my first home computer in 1983 and delved into my 8 page booklet that had sample programs written in basic. Fortunately for me, the sample code obviously had not been proofed by a programmer and had syntax errors. I had to figure out why the program wouldn’t run if I wanted to do anything with my investment. Thus my journey into self-taught programming began. First as a hobby, then as a paying career.
Since the 1980’s were the pre-Internet and pre-Google days, I had to learn how to program from, gasp, magazines and books! By the way, they also had typos that had to be figured out. Today I don’t know how I would survive without Google and yes, code on the Internet, mostly forums, has typos also. You know the type of forum post I’m talking about, “I haven’t tested this code, but it should go something like….” Well, why did you waste your time on this post then?
It was during those early years that Dr. Dobb’s magazine was one of my sources of learning and inspiration. So, it was sad to read the farewell post from Andrew Binstock saying that Dr. Dobb’s would “sunset” at the end of this year after a 38 year run. I’ve been following them for 31 of those 38 years. So, it’s like losing a friend and a reminder of how times are changing.
I no longer have shelfs of past Dr. Dobb’s issues in my library, among many other magazines and books that helped me to stay relevant in an ever changing career and industry. But, their influence and the influence of everyone who contributed lives on in what stuck with me. I’ve tried a few times to complete a college degree in my field, but I always found the classes so disappointing compared to learning from some of the masters in the field via the printed media, and now online media. It just seemed like a waste of time and money when I had plenty of people wanting to offer me jobs.
In the early days, I only needed one computer programming language. Today I need several for building multi-tier web based business systems. I’m constantly having to switch my brain between multiple syntaxes and it’s hard to remember them all. But, I can type any programming topic in a search engine like Google and instantly access multiple approaches to solving almost any problem. I can choose to implement them as is, or modify them to fit my need. With the advent and proliferation of blogs, it’s tough for traditional magazine formats to keep pace and give users an incentive to keep coming back. We’re all numbed by banner ads and click advertising. Thus new ways of monetizing content have to be invented. As Andrew points out in his post, even though Dr. Dobb’s is facing its sunset, it has proven that there is still a demand for content for software developers.
I have noticed the recent proliferation of paid video media for programmers. It’s as if reading has become too laborious for both the author and the consumer. My attention span usually wanes watching videos longer than five minutes. I prefer to skim through material and focus in on a specific aspect of the topic. Current video formats don’t allow me to do that. I can see the need for tagged instructional video that allows me to skip to video segments on specific tags. Or at least a printed script along with the video with time markers so you can skip to that segment.
Time will continue to fly by and many more sunsets will occur as the software development community continues to evolve how we construct, share, aggregate, and market content meaningful to our industries because we still need to learn from one another.