It seems everyone’s path seems a little different. Different paths in arriving at our destination makes us unique and contributes to making life interesting.
Though I’ve been involved in IT from around 1977, it has been a very unique career path for me. Graduating high school I wanted to become a programmer. Life had different plans for me as I didn’t make it to college right out of high school. When I did make it budget wouldn’t allow me to attend college. Opting for a technical school and obtaining an AAS in Mechanical Design Technology, I thought I was ready to go upon graduation. Again, life had different plans for me as the bottom fell out of engineering during the mid 1980’s I’ve never had opportunity to put this degree into practice. Upon graduation companies could hire fully licensed engineers for about $1 more per hour than they could graduates holding an AAS. Yes, the market was that horrible especially in smaller markets where I was living at the time.
The next road was to take my AAS on the road to Colorado Springs. Still not finding a job in mechanical engineering I took a job doing maintenance at a mall. I enrolled in Colorado Technical College to start my degree in computer science. Okay, life is good, I’m back on track and have an income coming in to help pay for college. Wrong. My Dad’s health took a turn causing him to retire. This caused me to return to Wisconsin to be closer to him. I enrolled in Architectural/Residential design to obtain an AAS in the field. Unfortunate for me the technical school where I was now living only offered a data processing class which was no where close to the computer science I was looking for. Architectural mades sense coming off an AAS in mechanical design technology.
Graduating with a fresh AAS in Architectural/Residential design was a fresh start. Employment was found and I worked for 17 years as a structural architect and in structural engineering.
Computer science in me wouldn’t let go, the drive for something more wouldn’t let go. So I learned Auto-LISP where I began writing custom AutoCAD plugins for my employers to help automate out CAD processes. This was followed by a short stint writing a third party plugin using Auto-LISP. Soon this wasn’t enough so on my own time I dove into more programming, purchasing a Borland C compiler, Visual Basic compiler and even tinkered in the very early beginnings of web development. I also worked on the side to move my architectural experience forward. To say I was ambitious; well many consider it an understatement.
Though I learned more and advanced my career in architecture; finally reaching the point I was now qualified to write the state of Wisconsin exam to become a registered architect; programming was still there. Family commitments can keep you moving forward in a career even though you feel you want something more. This was the case for me.
The year is 2001. I’ve taken some of the tests to become registered as an architect, things are moving along smoothly. 9/11 comes. The bottom falls out of architecture and engineering. Construction stops, new projects we’ve been working on are canceled and/or put on indefinite hold. For the second time life has decided my career needed a change.
I enrolled in Penn Foster, a school that had affordable payments and an ASB in Computer Science. The time had come to make the jump to the career I originally intended for me.
My first job upon graduation was with the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin as their web developer. At the time it was only part-time which worked well for my situation at this time. Their website was fully static HTML. So the job was simply updating static web pages. Slowly I developed a more dynamic prototype for them showing how we could improve and enhance the website. Soon the job turned into full time with the title of Web Programmer. Two years later as I took over server management and creation of an intranet the job title changed again, this time to Web Architect. My time here was a vast learning experience in their culture and how things differ with a Tribe compared to the world the majority of us live and work in. An experience today I can proudly say I wouldn’t give it up for anything. But as is the case sometimes in life, it was time to move on. As was the case with my father, this time the case with mother-in-law caused a decision to move from Wisconsin to Montana.
I accepted a job with Carroll College in Helena Montana. Education was a new environment to work it and again turned into an experience to today I can proudly say I wouldn’t give it up for anything. The job title was Web Programmer. The site was built on open source technologies over the years of several different lead programmers. I’m there about a month when a page didn’t load correctly, throwing an error. When discovering this error there was also a major security flaw discovered. A decision was made to write a new CMS from the ground up as this option would take less time than cleaning up what was currently in production. A security patch was put out to address the now known issue.
While at Carroll I developed a content management system with inline page editing, fully database driven including some much needed connection with some internal systems to expose information visitors needed to have access to. Technologies of this development include: Smarty Templates, PHP, MySQL, jQuery, jQuery UI, Adobe Flex and TinyMCE to name a few. The CMS I developed was in production until about 1.5 years after I left Carroll, it was then replaced with Drupal.
Upon leaving Carroll I accepted a job writing CNA/CMA testing software. This job was an experience again proudly remembered. Technologies included Laravel, NGINX, MySQL and other open source technologies. The arena of the software was again an educational process. As the position allowed working remotely it was also my first experience here. This allowed me a move to Washington, again due to health of my mother-in-law, without having to find a job prior to moving. My employment continued here until I was approached by my current employer.
Currently employed by Pay Plus Benefits and making the transition to their development team; I was able to experience many things. One was transitioning to C# having come from a background predominantly open source stacks. It was here I was given my first introduction to ExtJS.
As with all jobs I’ve held, I dove in head first purchasing books on these technologies. Soon I learned first hand the great framework ExtJS is. It truly was like no other framework I’ve had opportunity to work with. ExtJS is the first framework in a long time I felt offers something more. This meant I’ve spent money, hours and everything else to get up to speed on this product. As when starting with this position we were working with ExtJS 4.2; we realized time had come to update to a newer version. Enter Ext JS 6. Again books, hours and personal play time to keep on the front of this technology. Today I’ve become the “go to” person on ExtJS within. Yes, I believe in this framework this highly. Though as I’ve stated to some inside Sencha, I do not agree with their license model. But that is okay, because I don’t like a license model does not mean I don’t love a product.
It has been an interesting road I’ve traveled. Been though many different changes in IT throughout my journey. I’ve worked with a vast number of technologies on a wide array of scopes. I know my travels are not over, some roads are just opening up, some are rough to the point I don’t care to travel them again.
As I’ve bored you with details so far, come join me and you will discover other areas I’m driven still today. You will find more about my love for the technologies I use; okay; I’m tolerant of C# but as programmers we all have our preferred programming languages and our preference does not make us either right or wrong about what is “best”. It makes us someone who prefers one over the other. Of course this doesn’t mean we don’t write blogs about our preferences, working to sell our preferences to other programmers and often times to our employers.