For as long as I can remember I’ve been intrigued by computing technology. I’ve spent years glued to a monitor knowing that this was my favorite place to be. The possibilities seem endless and I want to learn more. I am a developer and I have been since I’d written my first line of code in HTML during the late 1990s. Decades later I spend time reflecting on the experiences I’ve had in life using the first joystick I interfaced with as a kid to play Atari. I had always enjoyed the experience of video games but never understood what it took to create such entertainment.
My family didn’t have any money to send me to college, so I was fortunate to get financial aid and go to community college. I had a lineup of classes from Baking, Food Safety, Mathematical Measurements, Psychology, Basic Computer Stuff, and English 101. Let’s point out quickly that my English 101 teacher dropped the line that only 15% of the class would remain after the first 2 weeks. She made sure that was true. I struggled to keep it together, I couldn’t focus, so I fell into the English teacher’s statistical trap, and eventually I gave up.
I really needed a good therapist to help me understand what I had experienced for the first 19 years of my life. I dropped out of college and went back to work making less than $8 an hour. The odds of improvement seemed pretty impossible but I got a steady job at a convenience store and used my talents to run the till, do data entry, count the fat stacks of cash for the corporation, and order inventory. I also got a side gig at GameStop which I thought would be a dream job. It was not. Try convincing someone that Super Mario Sunshine was better than Barbie Pony Adventure or whatever for their kid. It was impossible.
Eventually, I landed my first entry level IT job. I absolutely loved computers in the first place so this was a good fit. I was a bit overwhelmed at first but hit my stride and started learning more about PCs. I had never really used a Mac as I had grown up using Windows. After a few years I went to become an Apple Certified Mac Technician with a few hours spent on a Mac. I went from repairing PCs to repairing Apple products and learning about macOS. I won’t touch on all of the skills I learned but it has helped me to get to where I am today. For many of the users I helped I was a hero, but there were always more tickets and more broken devices. I started learning about server management and virtualization. I craved knowledge. I was outgrowing the role I was in.
Still, with little college experience I was able to learn numerous skills through what I see as a work study. Yet, I had not taken the time to actually work on myself. I got into mountain biking and I started to take better care of my health. It didn’t make up for the years of apathy, but I had met wonderful people and made friends. I learned a lot about myself and how the cumulative events of the past had left some pretty serious scars. Ever forward I progressed into the future.
In my lifetime I had never really purchased any software except for video games for myself. I had installed them for end users but had never really dove in and learned any application for myself. I dabbled in some open source stuff, and really didn’t know what I wanted to do. It was time to start piecing together all of the skills I’ve learned overtime and start to develop.
In 2015 I dove headfirst into Unity without any idea of what I wanted to create. I only knew a few things: I enjoy video games, I enjoy computers, and I’m some kind of artist. I purchased a Surface Pro 3 which I still have and use today, and an iMac to run Unity. So over the past few years I started to get into deep thinking, and deeper dives into what makes technology tick. Admittedly, I still know little about it all, but this thirst for knowledge was the spark I’d needed all along. I discovered what C# was for, and now I finally had an objective to learn coding.
Jump to 2020- I started buying stuff to learn more about IoT, machine learning, and computer programming. I purchased my second Mac and turned to Arduino to learn a bit about circuits, voltage, current flow, and resistors. I programmed a board and wired a light to flicker at a specific rate. It was exhilarating. Then I picked up a second Arduino project with sensors to measure temperature, pressure, humidity, and natural light. I programmed a board in C++ to do things. It felt amazing to see the code come together in live time and output a result. So now I had a basic understanding of some subset of programming and engineering. Then I noticed a similarity in code, and was learning a new language. This led to applying physics to an object in Unity and I felt like I was on top of the world.
So where do I go from here? What’s the best fit to spend years learning about video game design, musical composition, programming, 3D modeling, and still have time for everything else? I’d spent years on taking a step back, slowing down, and starting to organize so I could figure out what I really wanted to do for a career. As Kid Cudi would sing, keep moving forward.