I was born. January 1. Not much else to report until...
My first exposure to a personal computer: an Apple ][. I had a friend with one, and my school had one. My "accelerated track" school buddies and I got to play with it once a week (the three of us had to share the single computer). I liked the PLOT and HPLOT commands the best :-) And Choplifter.
Another friend gets a Vic-20. We made some games and POKEd and PEEKed around.
I get a Commodore 64 to take to college. At the time, seemed a risky choice over a typewriter. Now I haven't even seen a typewriter in a decade.
I am exposed to the campus DEC VAX as part of my computer science coursework. I use Pascal to make a few programs. The intro class to comp sci uses "pseudo-code", and I am bored stiff. I had been attempting to milk departments for scholarship money by declaring a quadruple major (Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Computer Science), the comp sci people were the first to figure me out and cut off the funds. That, in combination with the boredom, put an end to my weak aspirations for a CS degree.
More DEC VAX, more confusion. Why is the printer on the other side of campus?
This is where I actually become interested in programming. A "methods of teaching science" course offers me the chance to create an educational learning experience by combining: a Macintosh, a laser disk player, HyperCard, and a student. After some initial confusion with HyperCard, I am hooked.
Digging the Mac "GUI", I get Geoworks for my C-64. Lame.
By pure coincidence, I happen to be hooked up with a Math department advisor who is HOOKED on the web and all its promise for the future. He says it will be the next big thing. True to form, I don't see it. I was thinking FTP was way cooler that the WWW - who needs all those physics papers?
He took a trip to the NCSA and brought me back a couple disks - a beta of Mosaic, which would later become Netscape Navigator. Straight from Marc Andreesen to me. I still thought FTP was cooler.
I actually drop some bucks for my own Mac - a Centris 650. It was $2850 at the college bookstore: ouch. I continue to play with HyperCard, and become enamored with the possibilities for CD-ROM development. I think they are mega-cool.
I still have the Centris 650. In an odd twist of fate, it is presently running UNIX (which I now like, despite my bad start with the VAX)
Work progresses on "The Yellowstone Project", wherein I set forth to develop an educational CD-ROM on Yellowstone National Park.
I also gained some more web experience during this time; some of my grad studies (M.Ed. in Educational Technology) covered the web. My connection was this: I used a 2400 baud modem to connect my Mac to the school mainframe (a VAX again) using a terminal emulator. I then did my "surfing" via FTP (still a favorite of mine) or WWW using a text browser. If I wanted to "see" a page, I had to download it to my user directory on the mainframe, and then use kermit to move the file from my account to the Mac, and then open the file in Mosaic. Nothing was worth that much effort.
I spend the summer putting some final touches on the beta version of the Yellowstone Project. I developed it in HyperCard. I pick 12 educational publishers to send the beta to, and mail them all intro letters. Nine of the twelve pass on the deal. Two have interest (Scientia and Broderbund), and one is a pure publisher - they'd distribute it when I was done, but won't help me finish.
In 1994, CD burners were not as easy to get as they are now. Purchasing one cost about $10,000 and there was little good software for mastering CDs. In order to send a demo to my two prospects, I purchased an external drive ($600 for a 500MB drive - ouch). I then sent the drive to them! It is quite funny to me now how naive I was.
Broderbund passed, but Scientia expressed interest. They wanted it built in Macromedia Director, however. They gave me an advance and some equipment, and I purchased Director. Scientia then folded, and I never heard from them again. The Yellowstone Project materials remain in my basement. The big deal here was that I purchased and learned Director.
I started using Director and my scanner to produce video "slide shows" of photographs for people. I was getting the hang of Director and making a little $$$ on the side. I was a teacher during this period.
I took my summer off and said "this is the summer I figure out this Internet thing." Got a dial up account and a modem (33.6 - fast!), and off I went. My first few attempts at designing a web page were hideous. I gradually improved.
Macromedia released "Shockwave" during this period - it allowed you to save Director files in a web format and embed them in your pages. I began some work to make my Yellowstone content Shockwave-ready.
This particular summer I took a course at the local University and met up with a professor who was interested in my multimedia talents. A few months later, he called me at my school and told me he had just hooked up with an Educational Technology start up that was going places - they needed some multimedia talent and he was wondering if I was interested.
At the same time, my wife and I were trying to figure out how we were going to have a family and a single income. Teaching did not look like the path for this, so it seemed time to put my computer skills to use. I took the new job (check them out: http://www.edventures.com) and away I went.
They set me up with a PM 8600/300 and some cool goodies: After Effects, Director, Flash, the works. While I had fun playing with these programs, it turned out that my new employer really needed someone to do some more web/database related work. I was game.
We had ColdFusion 3.1 on hand, and MS Access for database work. I was off and running. It turns out that I really enjoyed the challenges associated with creating dynamic content. I had a great year with them until our start-up encountered some cash-flow issues. Then things were a little less fun, and I went looking around.
My looking took me to Creative Source International, who needed a web/database programmer. This was my first experience in a marketing environment, and I found I really enjoyed the creativity of the people I was working with. It also turned out that I was quite good at estimating the scope and costs of projects, while my supervisor was quite bad. He was dismissed and I was given the lead of the department.
Whoa - I was supposed to be writing about programming. During this time, I was finally developing a love for UNIX (what, 10 years after first seeing it) and also learning more about larger database apps (SQL Server). I did a lot of ColdFusion development on Windows NT for our clients, and also spent a lot of time using Director and After Effects in CD-ROM development. It was a very busy time, and I have about 15 CD-ROMs and dozens of websites to show for my efforts in a two year period.
The department grew and we did a lot of cool stuff.
More growth, more cool stuff
In September of 2000 I started my own company, and went nutty getting a Solaris box (an E250), ColdFusion 4.5, and Oracle. This was tremendous learning, but a poor decision fiscally (the above cost about $15,000 all together). After some time, I sold it all and got a hosting account, learned PHP and MySQL and was all set.
I had always wanted to create software, but was always too busy with web development work to learn much about it. This year, however, I attended Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. I got a hold of Mac OS X and the developer tools and I was hooked.
I toyed around with developing shareware, did lots of work for lots of clients, and questioned the wisdom of starting a company in the middle of a huge tech recession.
I don't do much multimedia work now as there is little call for it (but I did edit a pretty nice AE piece earlier in the year). Web/database is still bread and butter, and I use PHP and MySQL almost exclusively. And now I have three shareware apps out for Mac OS X. Life is good.
I've been teaching (Physics and Math) at a local high school, broadening my consulting work to a wider variety of clients, and garnering some extra income with the popularity of my shareware projects. Amid all this, I'm becoming more interested in focusing efforts into a single field... but what? More remains to be written on this topic this year!
... but what? More remains...
I've cut the cord, and now develop shareware and consult full time. New tech? I've learned some Ruby, and WebObjects, but PHP/MySQL are still hard to beat - they are free and everywhere.
This was the year I cut back on the clients and focused on software development for Mac OS X. I spent a great deal of effort reworking my bread-and-butter app (NetScrape, or Pandora as it was later known) with great success. Sales climbed steadily, as did my knowledge. I would now consider myself adept at the Foundation and AppKit frameworks, with extended experience in Distributed Objects, Cocoa Bindings, and Control/Cell architecture. I also dabbled into OpenGL (to make my slideshow) and Quartz 2D drawing (to speed up my minesweeper game). It has been a lot of FUN this year!
This was the year a client made an offer I couldn't refuse. I signed a lucrative contract to act as a VP in a large regional bank. It has certainly cut into my code time, but I made special efforts to attend WWDC again, as well as a Leopard Summit on the Apple campus. This year I wrote up a sudoku game using Core Data to get more familiar with it - I'll be incorporating it (Core Data - not sudoku) into Pandora in the near future, as well as writing up a new BombSquad from scratch using all of the new Leopard goodness!
Blargh - a day job sure takes up a lot of the day.
Funny but true - I really enjoy fighting crime as a part of my job! Who knew?
Well - I've managed to carve out some time from the day job to write some fantastic networking code. Looking to incorporate it into a new and very much improved BombSquad. Fun, fun, fun! I also got a change to be a speaker at the iDev 360 conference this year, talking about networking (the TCP/IP kind, not schmoozing). And finally, I switched day jobs - back to web development with PHP/MySQL. Lovin' the atmosphere; a big change from banking!
Released a complete re-write of BombSquad and put it on the App Store. It's got this fantastic OpenGL-physics-engine combo for a special effect that is really fun (and startling). Really proud of this code.
Sold my bread/butter app (NetScrape/Pandora) to Fortunate Bear; it has now become Skyscraper. I casting about a little for the next big thing...
This story is still being told...