A programmer, again

app_LaunchImage_320x480It was in the summer of 1983 that I landed my first job. I was 14, and just out of junior high. The last vacation before high school, which seemed very uncertain because for the most part I didn’t do a lot of school work for most of the 8th grade. But my freshman year was still a full three months away, and my first paycheck was awaiting at the end of my two-month contract with the school district, which would be delivered when the task two classmates and I were hired to do.

We had to develop a database.

Now I know what to call what we put together that summer. Back then, the school district barely had a few computer terminals and a printer bigger than my mother’s car. My second job, a couple of years later, also involved writing and maintaining a database. In college I took a different turn and changed careers and never coded anything for pay. Not in BASIC nor Pascal nor any other language beyond those two.

Not until the need to do basic programming creeped up while developing web sites. Which is why I enrolled at the local community college to get some formal training on tasks I’ve long been doing and learn new skills I had skipped on for the past 20 years.

So now I’ve gone mostly full circle.

I start a new job this coming Friday. Not a full-time job, mind you. Maybe it’s not even a job. I will sign a contract for two months with El Centro College in sunny downtown Dallas, Texas, to work on an iPhone app for the college.

I’ll skip the part where I tell you what it is and what it does because I’m not sure how much I can reveal at this time (like anyone is reading).

The app is actually already built — most of it, anyway. It was built by the five students in the fall class and presented to the college as part of an assignment. They liked it and would like to see it finished. So here we are, two of the original five, to finish the product and push it to the Apple app store.

Very exciting.

Now there’s no excuse to not learn objective C, among other things.

Very exciting.

The time machine

I have the habit of not changing the station, or the tape, or the CD, or the playlist that I listen to and I end up listening to the same album for months on end. Whether it be auto search, or song skip or whatever, I burn a song in my head until I get sick of it. As of late, I find that if I come across any of these songs, I’ll “feel” the time it was burned in my chemistry. It’s not always good. But it’s always interesting.

1982-83 Tuning the radio away from my parents’ stations

1984 Summer-school biology, with the Oz 


1986 Wasting time in high school

1987 Walking the cold sidewalks to chemistry class


1988 Driving the old Monarch, the last year it worked

1992 So, so lost in my first apartment in Lubbock

1995 In the fishbowl at The Victoria Advocate

1996 Commuting after midnight at The Fort Worth Star-Telegram

1997 Saturday mornings in the second-smallest apartment in Arlington

1999 Between here and Houston, then on the way back

1999-2000 Working at Donruss

2003 Riding the TRE, talking to my girlfriend (my wife) on the phone


2013 At the time I’m writing this post

Five ways to avoid the flu at the workplace

By which I mean, the five ways I’m avoiding getting the flu from you:

  1. Get a flu shot.
  2. Wash your hands.
  3. Don’t touch me.
  4. Get away from me!
  5. Are you sick? Go home.
  6. Avoid crowds.
  7. I said, don’t touch me!
  8. Rinse.
  9. Repeat.

Yeah, I know that’s nine, but did you wash your hands?

No list, but resolute nonetheless

The good news is that I resolved some time ago to work on two or three things at a time and I find I get more projects completed that way. Not a new idea by any means, but it’s something that’s working well and it’s really opening up some creative channels that were a bit corroded.

So now that the pressure’s off the resolutions, it wouldn’t hurt to jot down some ideas — a cloud of keywords — that will serve as a guide for the following weeks.

The iOS programming class I took in the fall was a fun enterprise and I was fortunate enough to have a solid team of classmates that really dove into our class project. We all learned new things, among them the fact that programming for the iPhone is not a mystery.

Early on in the class I found this inspiring nugget from TED Talks:

EDIT Another inspiring story, I’m sure there’s more to be found: