Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Peek and Poke of my life Growing up in Jamaica

This was My first Computer on my dining table


  • The BASIC function PEEK returns the memory contents of the specified address

I never knew I wanted to be a software developer when I was growing up, the thought had never even crossed my mind. First I wanted to be a farmer thanks to my grandmother on my mother's side, then a scientist and after that a Nation Building finger wagging Revolutionary Politician thanks to Michael Manley. While I was going to school I never wanted to work, as far as I was concern school was my work and my holiday was my holiday, for me to do what I wanted to do. One summer my aunt took it upon herself to enroll me in a Computer Summer Camp at The University of the West Indies to which I protested until I realized that girls from all over the world also attended this Computer Summer Camp, so reluctantly I agreed.


I had lots of fun at the summer camp and met lots of people and thought that was the end of that. I was introduced to the world of computer programming, I found it interesting and easy but did not think any more of it. One day I got home from school and my aunt had bought me a computer, a Commodore 64. At first I used it to play games but I was never a gamer so I did the only other thing one could do with it and that was learn to write computer programs in various languages. I joined local programming groups, exchanged compilers, ideas and various development tools and tried to impress on others my programming skills as well as learn from others their programming skills.


My aunt continued to supply me with computers books, magazines, hardware’s and software’s and I continued to devour them and demand more. My first real job was working for the Government and then I convinced my boss to allow me to write a program to make inputting and sorting a massive list with millions of items required for statistical research easier, after which I was never again allowed in the field. I was chained to the office computers which was then the IBM Personal Computer XT 286 and later the XT 386 with PC DOS, BASIC, Ashton-Tate dBASE III, Fortran, C and COBOL and Wordstar before WordPerfect came along. I was sent by my boss to take a programming certification course and the owner of the company asked me if I could teach the COBOL programming class on the weekends which I accepted.


I was later “forced” to transfer to the Government Computer center where I developed my COBOL programming skills on a VAX-11/780 and later the VAX 8600, 8800 and 9000 after which becoming a C Programmer. During my travels I left the world of the VAX/VMS and entered the world of C-Programming on UNIX/LINUX processing financial trading data.

$ gcc -Wall hello.c -o hello
$ ./hello

I then jumped off the Linux servers and back onto Windows PC’s developing websites using Microsoft C-Sharp MVC framework.  In between all of this, I started developing in other languages and platforms because I was always interested in how things are done with other languages and platforms. Looking back I am very proud of some of the places, people and locations I have worked and the life experiences I have acquired over time.


When I look at where I'm coming from
I know I'm blessed, and I close my eyes and smile
Sometimes I feel like
The richest man in Babylon
And I've done my best
So everything's alright inside
-----------
----
Oh every morning, Oh every morning
I rise, I stare at the sun
I know it is a blessing
So when the evening comes I
Lift up my eyes to the hills I'm blessed, oh man
With my two hands in the air as far as I can
As far as I can
I can, yeah
My two hands in the air as far as I can



When I first started software development it was not a job because to me it never involved work even when I was getting paid because it was nothing but a hobby for me. I was having fun with it, I would go to sleep dreaming about coding, could not wait for morning to get back to coding and never wanted to leave work some nights, drinking cold coffee and sugar drinks to stay focus. On a couple of occasions I worked 24 hours none stop, some cases I worked on Christmas day and public holidays, many a times all by myself in the office. Why because it was fun, because I wanted to and because I preferred it to human interaction. Over the years the technology allowed us to to work remotely so not I was never disconnected, home or vacation it did not matter, I would debug and code in between swimming in the pool or after waking up at 3 am.

kill -9 666


Software Development over the years became work, hard sickening, stressful, demanding work and consulting even worse so much so that I now resent it. In the very near future when I am finally finish with it, retire from it, I do not want to see another computer for the rest of my life because I intend to completely disconnect myself from this aspect of technology. I am heading back to my first love farming, Organic Permaculture farming and homesteading.

But I owe my love of computers and programming to my dear Aunt who has been my mother since my own mother died when I was a baby. The Computer Summer Camp and my Commodore 64 started something in me I never knew I had.

I was talking to my nephew trying to get a feel for what he would like to do in life and he was totally clueless then I remember, sometimes you need to try something first before making up your mind. Sometimes young adults need to experience things first without any pressure or with pressure and sometimes they may end up loving the things they try which will help to determine their future.
  • The BASIC-Command POKE changes the content of any address in the memory address






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