What is my programmer competency, you ask? Let’s find out…
- Computer Science: Level 1. This is not surprising to me, as the only formal computer science training I have is an Introduction to Programming class I took in college. I got an “A” in the class and spent half the time telling my classmates that the teacher was wrong. The class taught Pascal, a language I learned to use in 1984, because I was a 14-year old geek who wanted to learn programming beyond BASIC.
- Software Engineering: Level 2/3. Before becoming a programmer, I was a systems engineer who scripted just about everything you can imagine (which is programming, too, but traditionally not looked at as such). In fact, me and a coworker scripted all Year 2000 compliance testing and updates for 2,500 users in a Fortune 500 company. We used to challenge each other to see who could do more work in one day without leaving our desks. We weren’t lazy; we just preferred to move around during lunch and for the 3:00 half-price cookies in the cafeteria.
- Programming: Level 2/3. This is a huge category, so it’s hard to say anyone would be a solid “3,” but I feel I’ve mastered a good chunk of the items in here. The one I think I’m best at: “communication.” (Ask anyone who worked with me — peer, subordinate, or manager — and I think they’d concur.)
- Experience: Level 2. I’m a programmer by evolution, not by initial choice. I’ve spent as much of my career as a programmer as I did as a systems engineer, so I lose points here.
- Knowledge: Level 2. If I had time to read everything I want to, I’d be better in all categories above.
Looking at that, you can pretty much figure out what type of programmer I am. I consider myself a “programmer by accident” — I became a programmer because programming became a means to an end. There were two driving forces behind my desire to learn programming.
- Why point-and-click when you can automate? It started as sysadmin scripting and evolved from there. Manual tasks made automatic is the greatest improvement someone can make to their job.
- I wanted to write a baseball game. Always, since I was ten years old. Before computers, I wrote pen-and-paper baseball games (using probability and Dungeons & Dragons dice). When computers came, I wrote them on computers. When I found the web (and WeBL), I realized this was the medium for my dream — and I went for it.
Having said all that… what’s your programmer competency?