22 October 2007

Originally posted at my old blog geekcyclist.blogspot.com

When I last left off on my background our hero was locked in his bedroom after slamming the door so hard it broke when saving a program failed.

The College Hiatus After leaving high school I worked in retail, went on a religious mission to Brazil, and lived in Illinois just long enough to meet and marry my fantastic wife and spirit her off to Utah where I entered the University of Utah. For a while I was a performing arts major. I contemplated sociology and philosophy as majors, but finally settled on economics. I planned on completing my undergraduate degree and going on to law school.

That plan got sidetracked about 3 years in when I became a research assistant for a couple of PhD students. After years of using a computer for word processing and playing Links, I found myself introduced to QuattroPro, Excel, SAS and SPSS. I began writing VBA macros in Excel to transpose data for import into the statistics packages. And I realized that I kind of liked playing with numbers on computers.

As I neared graduation, the adviser to the PhD students referred me to a Labor Market Economist at the Utah Department of Employment Security, which was later to become the Utah Department of Workforce Services. This economist needed an intern to help run occupational wage surveys. After 9 months as an intern I was hired full-time as an economist.

The Transition Over the next couple of years I spent a lot of time dealing with Excel data files and Access database, and writing research reports on wages and economic conditions in Utah. I also found myself in the position of mediating and translating between economists and prevailing wage specialists, and programmers hired to build occupational information systems.

In 1998 I got my ‘big break’. The lead programmer on one of these projects left the state and I was allowed to take over a widely distributed Access application. Over the next several months I converted the back end to SQL Server and stored procedures and the front end to a classic ASP application. That application has been upgraded a couple of times and is about to go through a major rewrite. I was a paid professional programmer.

Over the next two years I found myself more and more integrated into a programming unit that was responsible for creating economic forecasting software, and occupational information systems. It was an amazingly good fit, and allowed me to be a programmer while still using the economics and statistics I learned in school.

Embracing the Curly Brace As the .Net framework and VS.Net became available, I made the decision to switch to C# rather than move to VB.Net. The reasons for this decision may be a good topic for another post, but for now it’s enough to know that I consider myself primarily a C# web developer of database driven web applications. I do a little SQL Server DBA work, and for the last year have been working in PL/SQL on a major web application that hits an Oracle database.



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