Coding in the Winter

Winter is always a bit of a nostalgic time for me. Despite the negative connotations surrounding it (snow, cold, its inept ability to make people drive really poorly), winter is my favorite season for many reasons.

I have a lot of fond memories of winter growing up. There are also some things that I do as a sort of “winter-ritual”. For example, starting the first day that snow falls, I start playing the first Parasite Eve game until completion always starting from a new game with a new file (don’t get me started on my Parasite Eve obsession). Coincidentally, that day is today so I’ll be setting aside about five hours tonight for that very task.

However there’s also something really close to me about winter; more specifically the month of November. This month, eight years ago, I wrote my first computer program ever. It was quite snowy at the time so there’s obviously that association as well but I won’t ever forget how stupid excited I was that I actually had something compile and run without bugs (although not optimized in any way).

To provide a little background, I am your stereotypical kid who grew up indoctrinated by video games. My mom and dad bought me a NES when I was two and ever since then I’ve been involved in gaming in some way. At some point during that time, up to 2004, I had the notion that I wanted to create a video game. I’m pretty sure that every gamer at some point has this idea. The only catch here was that I never actually owned a computer up until about 2001 so I knew absolutely nothing about how games worked, how software was written, or even what software was. All I knew was that I had all of these ideas in my mind that I wanted to see translated into something interactive like what I’d been seeing and using my entire life.

When the opportunity presented itself, during my twilight years in high school, I took up a computer science and networking program at the vocational school near my home school. This was when I learned about writing software and everything that’s entailed with it. What happened here, more importantly, is that I learned independence. I only spent two years at that course as that was the length of it and I’m a college dropout. But everything that I do know has been self-taught. I’m not going to get into an argument about me being comparatively superior to someone with that level of education but what I did do was throw myself into the fray and developed an ability to learn new things extremely quickly. Without that learned independence, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today.

My first programming language was Visual Basic (VB6). Not the greatest language on the planet but despite its shortcomings, putting out Windows-based programs quickly was very possible and satisfying. The first program I wrote with it was a mock inventory management program. This wasn’t a database-backed program like it should have been. Instead it was based around fixed lists where you could enter, delete, edit, and clear items. Nothing fancy but at the time, it was pretty awesome to me.

This was exciting to me. Ever since I learned about software engineering, I’ve always looked at the world a bit differently. I see the things around me and wonder how something like it, say for example a portable heating unit, could be expressed via software. How could I observe what it does, how it behaves, how it responds to interactions from different things, how it looks, how it feels and describe all of those things in the context of code. This seemingly biological analysis of animate and inanimate objects is what compels me to write code and drives me forward.

Winter brings all of this back to me. All of the drive, all of the over analysis, all of the feeling of creating the world I want in terms of software. I’ve never really written software to be used by masses of people; that was never the goal. I’ve always written it so I could use it. Every piece of software I’ve written has always been part of this grander expression of the world around me. But if other people like what I do then that’s very cool.

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