How I got here

Believe it or not, I’ve had a few people ask me recently my coding routine and basically how I have been teaching myself to code. I figured I should write a quick post about it because a lot has changed since I started early last year.

I should start with why…Well, short story is that all my life I have built things. Things like furniture, houses, boats, beer..well you don’t really build beer but you get the point. In some ways I like to think of myself as a craftsman, and in certain respects I am. The way I see coding and software development is no different than I see building a chair, or crafting a tasty brew. It all requires planning, problem solving, resourcefulness and execution..among other things. Ultimately, software development shares the same characteristics of those other crafts I mentioned above and thats what I love about.

Actually, if we go back to my college days I began as a computer science major. During my two semesters studying CS I decided I hated it. In retrospect, perhaps I didn’t give it enough of a chance. Most of my days were spent in calculus classes with the random Java class thrown in the mix. While I wasn’t horrible with the math, I just didn’t like it and the Java programming we were doing was just not interesting to me at all as I didn’t understand what we were doing or why. Anyway, this among other things led to me changing my major to Management Information Systems. I believe MIS preps you to be something of a systems analyst of sorts, we did learn a bunch of SQL back then which was cool.

Fast forward a couple of years, I am working for a renewable energy company installing solar PV. This was actually a great job fresh out of college, working with like-minded individuals doing something good for the environment…building something! That role quickly morphed into a foreman, then finally a project manager where I would basically check in a jobs and make things were going OK.

Fast forward some more…I save some money with my then girlfriend, quit, buy a small sailboat and take off for a year sailing. Upon our return we decide we want to live in Maine as it was a place we always loved. I end up finding a job for a well know custom yacht builder managing their “renewable” division building stand-alone renewable energy generators (long story).

Now that I’m sure your bored with my rambling, I’ll get back to coding. So while living in Maine, I decided I needed a career change. I didn’t want one I needed one. The project management thing just isn’t for me. Back in high school I had built a few web pages for friends parents and such and started looking in that again. I really became interested in back-end web development but thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. I started studying some IT stuff pertaining to networking etc, but was quickly bored. I immediately jumped back into web development dead set on learning it!

For the first 5 or 6 months I would try to get in about 20/hrs a week of coding. This was after working a 10/hr day and spending time with my wife and young son. I did pretty good not always 20 but close. For the most part I worked on different ruby or rails tutorial and projects. I had a slow couple of weeks while I worked on our house getting ready to sell so we could move south closer to family.

Today, I code about 35-45 hours a week. I am working mostly on my own projects and some projects I am contributing on for code union. How am I coding full time? When we moved back close to family I took a job with the former renewable energy company I worked for, after working there for about 2 months I really just couldn’t take it anymore and resigned (very very long story). Here I am. Now, I am extremely fortunate to have the encouragement of my wife who is supporting the family. I myself am working harder than ever to be in a postilion to be employed once again. I feels strange, in one respect not working as I have always had a job since high school…on the other side, I feel I am working harder now than I have in a long time making this journey come true.

Enough rambling. Feel free to ask me any questions you have if I didn’t cover it here. Till next time!

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