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Programming History and Philosophy

Let me start of by saying I'm not concerned with becoming wealthy, famous, or notorious because of programs I write. I (usually) have a job, and I make enough to keep me happy.

I'm not going to sit here and try to convince any of you that I am the be-all-end-all of programming talent on this planet, and I will be the first to admit to being one of the laziest rednecks you'll ever meet. Programming for me has always been about discovering a job that needs to be done and whippin' out some code (hopefully damn cool code) in a timely fashion, and then moving on.

In 1984, I started teaching myself (Turbo) Pascal on an Apple //e with a CP/M card in it. My first program was a utility that patched the Turbo Pascal executable to have different colors in the editor (after being told by other "programmers" it was impossible to do). The rest, as they say, is history (and history is nothing more than rumor obscured by half-truths and conjecture).

Since then, I've written DOS TSR's, estate planning software, game utilities, image capture code, programs for PDAs, medical record software, kiosk software, streaming video and encryption code, and .Net applications.

From 1991 to 2007, I mostly wrote Windows code in C++ and pretty much got a kick out of it. Programming has become quite a bit simpler than when I started out, and even I had it easy as far as Windows programming because I didn't really start doing it until after the advent of C++, class libraries, and application frameworks built by wizards. Before I got here, seemingly endless switch statements and to a lesser extent, manhandling obscure Windows API functions were nothing more than a bad memory for most seasoned Windows code pilots. I had it very easy by some definitions.

Unfortunately, the world seems to be heading towards distibuted web applications, and while I agree that there really is some need for this, it's inherantly insecure, and besides, it didn't allow me to flex my C++ muscles. Instead, Microsoft is (or was) pushing .Net along with it's 25mb runtime library - oh, wait - there are now SIX runtime libraries to deal with (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, and 4.5). For someone that didn't even like to link dynamically to the MFC DLLs, this really irritates the hell outa me.

Beginning in 2007, I started learning the .Net framework, and the subtle differences between C++ and C#. I have to admit that the .Net framework makes it a lot easier to implement more esoteric functionality, and learning all this stuff has kept me interested in being a programmer. I also have to admit that, being unfamliar with the framework, I reinvented a lot of the wheels that are already included in the framework. I don't consider this to be completely wasted time though, because I learned a lot about the framework along the way (including finding out that a lot of the code I was writing was already done for me).

By their very nature, most Windows programmers are pretty damn lazy (yeah, me too), and will whip out butt-ugly code with no regard for memory consumption or disk space requirements because Windows quite frankly doesn't care. Excessive paging to disk is seen as an acceptable trade-off when weighed against the cost implications of "doing it better". I'm tired of this kind of programming (corporate bean counters be damned), but in a commercial/corporate environment, I completely understand the need for just writing code "that works" in the interest of maintaining the schedule. I try to write the most efficient code I can, and strive to comment and document my code, especially for implementation of complex tasks.

Finally, I'm growing weary of Microsoft's propensity for completely changing directions with regards to "how coding should be done". For instance, after spending four years pushing us to learn and use WPOF and Silverlight, it seems that Microsoft is now turning its back on both of those platforms. Now, it seems that Windows 8 demands "WinRT", whatever the hell that is. I'm glad I'm nearing the age of retirement.