Coding

After a very long hiatus, I'm starting to code again. And it feels good.

This week I've released my first "real" plugin for Movable Type. Real not because it's public (it's not, sorry*), but because it runs on a client site, and not a small one. Plus it's written in Perl, a language that remains fairly new to me (and that has scared me for many years). I had never written anything "for real" in Perl before.

I started programming 29 years ago. I learnt Basic, Logo (actually some sort of stupid French political rewrite of it), Fortran, Pascal (even taught that in engineer school), C (never got very far into C++), various assembly languages for the MOS 6502, Motorola 6809 and almost all of the 68x00 family (my preference for Motorola chips and big endian processors started with the Zilog Z80 and my despise for Intel and CISC started with the 8086 and had some consequences in my preference for the Mac later on), and PHP which is what I use most on the web. I manage my way around Javascript and Java, although I don't consider myself capable of writing anything ambitious with it (but that's what I've been telling me about Perl :p). During my last trip in Australia, I picked up a few books on Ruby, Rails and Ajax for keeping up with a project (and nurturing my procrastination habit).

About ten years ago, I somehow lost my interest in programming. I was laid off from Netscape Professional Services because of my refusal to turn into a Javascript developer on the spot (yet still be sold at outrageous prices as a "consultant" to clients — my then manager told me I'd never make a good consultant, I guess the problem was that my definition of consulting didn't exactly match theirs and I've never made a better living than what I did afterwards as a freelance consultant). After that unfortunate episode with Netscape Crappy Management, I persuaded myself that I was rotten for coding, and that it would only get worse as time passes.

I guess I was wrong. Of course I'm not as productive as a young fearless programmer who's not even graduated yet, and I'm way behind the latest best practices whatever they are. But I'm very good at understanding how things work (and can go wrong), and taking informal needs for crazy integration stuff on heterogeneous systems and turning them into reality. I'm a professional artisan in Uncle Bob's terms.

And what my friend Patrick Chanezon told me at Netscape a decade ago (gosh, time flies fast!) still resonates with me. You've got a zillion times more leverage with software than with selling your time. More changes and interesting times ahead, as always...

(*) This plugin sends a specially formatted Atom file by FTP to Yahoo! each time an entry is published or modified, for syndication purposes. If you need something similar, let me know. :-)

1 Comment

Cool :-) Congratulations ;-)

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