Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Not a programmer?

In the early 1980s, our classroom received its first computer. It was a TI 99/4A which ran some educational software but more importantly had a BASIC interpreter.

I sat and watched as the teacher asked if anyone in the class knew how to use it. One kid did, a popular boy named Tim. It was ... maddening ... to my little nerd self. I was the smart kid. I knew math, spelling, science. Tim was supposed to be the popular kid, who could beat up anyone in a playground fight and always got picked first at kickball ... how dare he know something academic that I didn't?

That shit would not fly. That summer I took a "Advanced BASIC Programming" class (yes, I jumped right into advanced; the beginner class was full) and a typing class, and by the start of seventh grade I was well on my way to being the kid who knew the most about computers in the class.

Little did I know then how much of a big deal this would be. The rest of my education in some way or another was centered around computers. Computers would dominate my spare time and hobby cash spending for years to come, and would even lead me to my first girlfriend.

As a sophomore in college, some Math professors sat me down at a table and tried to talk me into changing my major from Computer Science to Math ... but I would have none of it. Writing software was what I did. I couldn't imagine leaving it behind.

And now, in a way, I am.

Starting in mid-July, my job title will no longer contain the word Engineer. I will be a Manager. UML diagrams will be replaced by Microsoft Project Charts. If I do my job right, not a single piece of new code with my name on it will make its way into the final product after that day.

This is big, really big. It's a huge departure from what I've been doing for longer than I've had to shave. And while it scares the living daylight out of me, I'm thrilled and energized by the challenge.

I'm sure I'll be writing more about this as I actually transition into the role. For now ... I just keep thinking of that kid who wanted to make computers "do cool stuff." I hope I can feel some of that enthusiasm again, in helping other people "do cool stuff" instead.

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