Code And Cocktails

Quick Review of 20 Years of 'Professional' Programming

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In May 1992 I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from WPI. That means that I’ve been a ‘professional’ programmer for a little bit over 20 years. I have to say that while on the whole it has been good I regret some things.

Firstly, I think I got a good education from WPI. However I wish I had taken it onto myself to get a better education. I didn’t extend myself enough, I didn’t really dig into things as much as I could have. I got good grades and left it at that. This is a regret of mine.

Nextly, upon graduating, I got some jobs and things went well. I fell into thinking that I knew what I was doing. I think I was, while cocksure, still a bit better than the average programmer of the time with equal experience. But it was during this approximately 10-15 year period where I fell into a lull. I thought I was good and I never did too much extra-curricular research. I did have a small piece of free software that I worked on during this time

  • but that didn’t really stretch my abilities. The work I was doing at work was good - but again not stretching my abilities.

During this time I only remember going to a single ‘conference’. That was when the local ACM chapter in Boston brought in one of the Gang of Four to talk about their book. I distinctly remember that during the lunch I was so shy/awkward that I felt like never attending anything like this again.

Sometime during the last 5-10 years I started to become dissatisfied with how software projects were being run and how quality, my own and other developers was being handled. Sometime during this time period I was exposed to Agile methodologies. Perhaps the time was just ‘right’, but for whatever reason instead of just sitting around and accepting things I did a lot of research, I started reading blogs, I started trying things out for myself, I even went to conferences and made some good connections with people.

It was at this point I started to realized 1) how little I knew and 2) how much I had forgotten.

This is where I am now. I am trying to turn myself around and learn more and all the time.

I hope my next 20 years of programming (because I plan on coding (maybe not always for pay) until I die) will not find myself falling into another rut…