My first experience with computers was on a TRS-80 at school. I remember begging my parents to buy a computer, and the following Christmas a TI-99/4a was under the tree. I voraciously read anything I could get my hands on about computers and programmed my fingers off (mostly because games for the TI were fairly crappy). I won a couple programming contests at school (not a big deal, there weren’t many entrants) and eventually while in high school actually had a game for the TI published by a very small publishing company based in Ohio. I think I might have gotten $20 in royalties from that one.
My first experience with the idea of sharing ideas with my local community began at that time. My Dad actually heard about the local TI Users Group and took me to a meeting. Keep in mind my Dad isn’t a programmer: he actually claims he doesn’t know a lot about computers, but he knows more than he lets on. I remember finding all of the things people were doing to be fascinating and I got roped into giving some training classes (probably without a whole lot of success).
College came, and it was time to get a real computer. I remember the Packard Bell 286 I bought before my sophomore year. No more fighting for time in computer labs to write papers for me!
My first job out of college wasn’t supposed to be programming – it was actually supposed to be mostly data analysis with some programming on the side. My first project was programming, and I never did do any data analysis.
In the late 90’s, I went to work for a regional Microsoft Partner consulting firm. There in addition to consulting I taught Microsoft training classes, mostly VB and SQL Server. I added a few more certifications at that time (I had already obtained the MCSD) and enjoyed the experience.
Today I am the chairman for Pittsburgh TechFest. I used to be on the board of directors for the Pittsburgh .Net User Group and help coordinate the Pittsburgh .Net Code Camps, as well as speak at those groups. I have started branching out to speak at events around the region – in December 2010 I presented for the first time outside of Pittsburgh at the Northern Virginia Code Camp. I enjoy talking to other people around the region about software development. If you need a speaker and are within a reasonable drive from Pittsburgh, drop me a line!