Monday, August 4, 2014

My Life as a Programmer

So yeah this post is going to be another lengthy one (we'll see ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) ). Oh yeah and if at any point this seems like rambling, it's because it is.

My Journey into the Underground Club of Being Nerdy
It's exactly how it sounds. How the hell did I get to this point? I'm going into my sophomore year of college basically majoring in being a computer nerd. Most people have this whole coming of age where they realized that they didn't actually like business school and became a doctor or something. I've always had an affinity towards computers but I was unsure how that turned into a lifestyle. So it only seemed natural that when I figured that I could go to college and learn more about computers I was going to do just that. 

Disregard what I said about it being either "underground" or a "club" anyone can be nerdy about anything. I just find it weird how I'm drawn to computers. Why is anyone drawn to anything? All I can chalk it up to is a need to have everything organized and printing naughty words in the console when something breaks. 

The whole notion of technology gets pointless. Let's take facebook for example. It's purpose is to connect you with friends and family sell you advertising. It's built on technology built solely for the internet, which was made just so these computers could talk to another. Those computers were built because a guy named Alan Turing needed something to break the German's Enigma code. Let's face it breaking a code with pen in paper is fun, but Alan was sick of doing it. Point being technology is self-serving, quite literally, it means that if I want to make use a career out of technology, I'm making money from self-serving myself, like some double-dipping greedy bastard. I think the reason is more because I'm drawn to the fundamental nature of programming

 The Life of a Computer Programmer : A Memoir

I don't know exactly how or when it started. My oldest computer memory was playing Math Blaster. This was when I was 6 or 7. Around 8 I had found my dad's old Toshiba satilite laptop from the early 2000's and I loaded XP on it. That thing had one USB 1.0 Port and a 20 gb HDD. I basically used it to make paintings and photoshops in GIMP. Fast forward to  middle school and I was in Lego Robotics doing basic programming. I thought "Cool I can make LEGOs react to sensors!". I started learning C++ and LabView starting with my experience with FIRST Robotics. 

During high school, I dabbled with Blender, making basic plugins with Python, and also programming a National Instruments CRio on a complex robotics system. Yeah, I guess that's the first time I really opened my eyes to the world of programming and cool computer stuff. SIDE NOTE: I don't really want to think about how many hours I've sat in front of a screen since then *cringe* 

Since then, I've gotten into all sorts of trouble. I rolled my own server using debian and a VPS. Done countless things with Python, C#, and CUDA C. I even built some complex digital logic in Minecraft. I was a tech alcoholic that didn't get hangovers. I did my school work in high school and got into Iowa State University. Leveraging my background in programming, I've done a good job with my classes there. This prior and out-of-class experience ultimately landed me my internships and gotten me even more experience. Was there more to this programming thing then I thought?

 It's always weird to think about how I type things into a computer for a summer job. Admittedly it's a bit more complex than that but you get the gist. As a coder or programmer you might think you're hot shit because you programmed a killer app for IOS, but don't ever forget that you're thinking you're cool because you typed something on a keyboard and made something blink. 

That brings me to my main point, yeah you're probably thinking "Wow Tom actually has a point within this pile of opinion?", that main point is that no matter how small or simple a program is, it's no less powerful than some million line space shuttle project. Taking a step back and realizing how cool it is that you've done something with just text is an important process in becoming a mature programmer. You have to realize the impact of what you just created.

This fall I'm going to be taking another step in my development as a programmer. I'm going to be the first Treasurer of a club called CyHack. Aside from managing money, etc. I'm going to be actively planning events and teaching other students with my fellow club organizers. Coming full circle, I might get the opportunity to go to a middle or high school and talk about my major and why I love computers and you shouldn't be afraid of those feelings. Just imagine, if I can inspire just one kid, then they can inspire others around them. Spreading the word about not just Computer Engineering but everything STEM and more. Opening  the world up and sharing my experiences about how I took what I loved and made it into a career, and a fun one at that. 

This is the strangeness. This is the weird feeling. I'm reaching back into my past an inspiring myself again in some ways. I want to teach the world to sing. Because the world is changing faster than ever and we need more smart people that love what they do. Something more powerful than code or a good friendship. Legacy. 

This word was most popularized by my high school principal Mr. Brady. He loved to use this word. He would talk about how we as high school students should leave a positive legacy at the high school. And by positive he meant don't get sloshed and text someone a picture of your nether regions, or be a leader or something. Going back to programming, while it's important to leave good comments and make a logical OOD system, it's also important to mentor and give back to the people who may one day be programming your wireless catheter. 

We seem to measure our lives with how much money we make or how hot our girlfriend or boyfriend is. Heck some people are extra mushy and measure it with good friends. I want to measure my life by the contribution I've made to society. Not just future programmers. Just a long as I can still make great code and build overly expensive computers. 

That's about that. If you made it this far, thank you. If you did that and liked it why not share it with your constituents?



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