hello, world

I’d like to welcome you to my blog with the traditional greeting of the Programmer:

hello, world

Took me long enough

I’ve done it! I’ve finally done it! I’ve finally made my own little blog on the Internet and I have the motivation to publish something to it at least once per month. This time I’m going to stick with it! My previous attempts at blogging have been half-hearted and frankly embarrassing. I’ve had a Wordpress and a Blogger and a self-coded blog (and probably others that I’ve forgotten), but these always fizzled out after one or two posts for some reason.

I’m not sure why I neglected them. I actually really enjoy writing and if you’ve ever received an email from me, you’ll find that I can get pretty wordy and long-winded. So really, I should have no trouble putting words down on the Internet!

A little bit about me

If you haven’t guessed already, I’m a computer geek. I’ve been doing this stuff for a pretty long time now and intend to keep doing it! My first computer was a Spectravideo SV-318.

Here are a some YouTube videos to show you how advanced things were back then:

I remember very little about this device, but I do remember one game I used to play with my brother called Frantic Freddy. I also remember typing in random words into what I now know to be a BASIC interpreter. I would get nothing but errors and never actually wrote or learned any programming (I was too young), but I do remember the BASIC interpreter and cursor tempting me to type something in to see what would happen.

The first bit of actual programming that I did was on an IBM XT that my family received as a gift from my uncle whose company was replacing their old machines and throwing out their ancient IBM XTs. This was a great little computer and it had CGA 16-bit graphics! I was old enough to learn how to use DOS to poke around the machine. My neighbour was a a few years older than me and he was a computer whiz. He lent me his old Pascal textbooks and I remember struggling with the basics to code up a little program to draw equilateral triangles using ASCII characters onto the monitor. I didn’t really enjoy it. I much preferred to open up QBasic to play with the source code for GORILLA.BAS and NIBBLES.BAS. I was able to make some simple edits to change the gameplay and also to cheat so that I always won!

From those early days, I was fortunate enough to have continuous access to a desktop computer at home. I never had the newest or fastest machine available, but I think this taught me to tweak things and squeeze out as much performance as I could. I did all upgrades and maintenance myself. Sometimes the computer would sit for months with no casing on it because I was always upgrading, tinkering and/or breaking things and the case only got in the way!

The Internet

Then one day in the 1990’s, I was exposed to the Internet. It must have been some time around 1998 if I had to guess. My aunt signed up to an ISP and received a box with a dial-up modem and instructions for setting up email and the Internet. I was the family computer guy, so of course I was responsible for setting everything up. It wasn’t that easy since in those days you had to manually set IRQs with dip switches, but eventually I got it working. First, there was dial-tone, then there were strange sounds from the modem, then it happened - Connection successful! Everything changed from that moment.

My aunt and I spent many, many hours on the Internet that day. Sending emails. Downloading things. Installing things. Browsing random websites. Newsgroups. Chat rooms. It was slow, it disconnected often, but it was new, it was raw and it was highly addictive.

With access to the Internet, it seemed that I could learn about anything if I found the right website (this was before Google was a household name). I have had some formal education in Computer Science since then, but I learned far more on the Internet than I ever learned at school or university. I learned about network protocols, I learned about hacking, I learned about Linux, I learned about programming. In fact, it is difficult for me to identify just exactly what I learned because it feels like I learned everything from the Internet. I guess this is what the Internet means to everybody now. It is a part of our everyday lives and our collective intelligence. It augments and enhances our own brains and learning processes. All of Human knowledge is only a couple of clicks, taps or keystrokes away. It is hard to imagine a world without the Internet.

Fast forward

Fast forward to today, I’m now very lucky to be doing all this Computer stuff professionally for money! The Internet has given me this opportunity to keep learning and I am very grateful. Hopefully, with this blog, I am able to contribute a small amount of knowledge and experience back.

I intend to post at least once a month. Topics will most likely focus on Technology and Programming, but I might have some random essays and anecdotes about life, startups and travel as well.