Midnight Pub

how did you start dev (for those who do)?

~tffb

I am curious about the tech savvy patrons of The Midnight (which is likely many of us, though no trouble if one is not) about how they got into (web) development, computers, in general?

I started to learn web development in 2020. Since the late-90s I *wanted* to learn *something* with code, servers, and even the elusive "command line" I kept hearing about. I didn't know WHAT people were talking about, but I would graciously inform them that "you are smart" when they spoke of it, and that "I wish *I* knew what that stuff was". Well, I wasn't gonna stand courtside and play Techie Admirer forever, so I decided to pick up on the hobby/craft in 2020. Everyone was on lockdown due to COVID, and I was in quarantine, as well, with initial COVID.

For a while, on Write.as[/tmo], I had wanted to talk to people, exchange messages, and there was no comment system to speak of on W.a at that time. And I didn't want to make my e-mail public, so I slapped together a Carrd.co contact form called `Thanx.cc` and made the whole thing look Web-app-y. People asked me how they could create an account with "Thanx", and if it cost anything. Literally 9 out of 10 e-mail exchanges I had over a three month period (Jan-Mar 2020) mentioned how they liked Thanx. Being someone who always liked the "maker community" and "indie devs" and "digital nomads", etc, I knew a rule of thumb they all mention in regards to making a successful product - user vindication of the service. If no one wants to use it, it won't take off, so don't spend too much time on a project with no future. Thanx already had "user" (or e-mail sender" USEFULNESS "vindication", so I decided to go ahead and lease a Linode.com VPS and start trying "the web dev thing".

I still didn't know what a CLI was. I had never heard of SSH. I poked and proded the Linode Dashboard and Activity Settings and everywhere I could to find what (essentially) I thought would be a "theme editor" like some Tweeny bopper would utilize on Tumblr to paste in some HTML, but I didn't find such a section. I had to go to the CLI, the terminal on my Chromebox, via Linux (beta) apps on Chrome OS in order to "do stuff".

Ok, how? I had to get TO the VPS using "SSH". And then it was two days of researching SSH - what is it? What does it DO? Is it it's own software/company? Are there alternatives? What is the answer to life? etc. It's like I had to know the hieroglyphic epistemology of the actual LETTERS "S" "S" "H" in order to move forward. So I said "this is the thing that works, fxxx it let's go".

Then I was in like a Flint. I set my PW on Linode, and I was "IN" the VPS, but then wtf? I needed something to access files to write my newb-savvy "code" (basically copied HTML/CSS/ and some JS), so I had to find an editor. I settled for "nano editor", which I still use today, because it is straight forward, and began to put stuff in each "file/folder".

And on and on and on and on I learned and toiled until a year (or more?) later, I had a quasi functional web app (thanx.cc) with log-in capabilities (UN/PW/e-mail), as well as a landing "profile" page, and eventually digging in to .htaccess "ModRewrite" rules to have the handy dandy "thanx.cc/@username" feature, as to not have it be "thanx.cc/profiles/@username".

In the end, I scrapped Thanx.cc, itself, because I lost drive for THAT project, and just wanted to get to hosting open source software, and someday write something (complete) on my own.

Always learning though. Always having fun.

another coffee, ~bartender, and I hope all are well out there! :)


xiu

I started pretty young, maybe 8 or 9. My dad had a computer and a book about QBASIC lying around. With no idea what was going on, I copied the code in the book and ended up with a slot machine program. It was a confusing "draw the rest of the fucking owl" experience, but gave me confidence with computers that developed from there.

There was a patch where I hated it and wanted to un-learn everything, but since not doing it for work anymore I love it again and am grateful to know how to code.

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tetris
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tffb

hey ~tetris! Happy Halloween!

Shout out to Newgrounds! Was on there every time I was on a computer in the late-90s/early-2000s. Have no clue what my username was, or I would look it up in the General forum archive! ;) I was a jerk on there, honestly.

Haven't heard of "R" before, I don't think.

Thanks for posting, and I hope you are well!

~bartender, a Red Bull for me and ~tetris, as is "the rage" in the 2000's era, and I need energy to stay awake until 3:00 AM playing Pico, Raiden X, and Pimp's Quest! :D:D

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tetris

Alien Hominid, and the excellent Madness games!

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tffb

Alien Hominid was excellent, esp for the PS2! 100 levels and I got to 80 at one point, I think :) Castle Crashers may have started on NG, too, but when I got a copy for PS2 it was horrible. Fun gameplay, but I would on a single screen for five mins just button-mashing enemies and no scenery change at all.

Madness, yes, and even in the *early* days of Newgrounds they had what I consider a Madness precursor with "Stick Death" (many people getting ideas from StickDeath.com and making their own (better?) versions and putting them on Newgrounds). Fun!

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tetris

I can't believe how much we've regressed without flash. We truly experienced a renaissance

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tffb

Yea, HTML5 does the same stuff, apparently, but a lot of the old NG archives had to be changed/re-worked from what Tom Fulp said, and of course some things got lost in the shuffle.

I never learned Flash, but I bought a copy of "Flash 5 for Dummies" back in the early-2000's, and realized I have little tolerance for apps that have layers upon layers of menus and options. Similar to GIMP, which I have never been able to get familiar with. I become overwhelmed.

Instead, I stuck to General forums and being a general nuissance, lmao! ;)

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tetris

Ah yeah the rufflejs port, though it only supports AS2 last time I checked, so only the truly old Newgrounds stuff is supported right now.

As for GIMP, I love GIMP. Suffocation by choice!

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starbreaker

I started in 1996. I knew before I had turned 18 that I wasn't likely to ever make a decent living as a musician or a writer, and I wanted a job that paid a hell of a lot better than sweeping floors and cleaning toilets. I had discovered that I had a minor talent for fucking around with computers in high school, so I decided to take advantage of it.

I'm not passionate about tech. TBH, I low-key think the Butlerian Jihad is a good idea. But the work still pays reasonably well so I keep doing it.

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ew

At university it dawned on me, that without knowledge of that new fangled computer stuff, future would be kind of hard. So I learned Pascal, Assembly, C along with some embedded programming (motorola 68k) and numerical simulation (hand crafted stuff in the realm of plasma physics). Since noone would write the programs I needed for my thesis (C, Fortran, perl) I had to do it myself. I'm still sailing on this stuff 25 years later, emacs, shell and all! On Linux, in case you wondered.

~bartender? A nice Scotch, please, and a toast to my emacs configuration:

; 1993-02-01 --- started with emacs

Cheers!

PS: At $dayjob I do systems integration. Create a bootloader, linux kernel, minimal userland for embedded "computers" plus everything needed to make the application feel at home.

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tffb

hey ~ew!

That's a fair amount of education/training/experience! :)

I remember hearing of Perl back when my brother-in-law graduated college in the early-90s, and I remember looking at one of his textbooks and reading *about* Perl and thinking: "that is complexity on a stick right there!", lmao! IDK if I would ever learn/need Perl in my life.

Which distro of Linux are you using, by the way? Always curious as to what distro people are using, at the time of their reply, lol!

Thanks for the response!

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ew

Howdy, ~tffb!

perl: I still use perl once in a while. I never got the hang of python.

Linux: I started out with Suse (ca. 2000) then someone gave me Debian 2.2 potato --- I never looked back! Then came the day where OpenSuse was a thing at $dayjob. But my current job also involves Debian. I have dabbled with Gentoo, tiny core linux, and more recently alpinelinux. This last one is a thing i like for its minimalism. I can install a perfectly usable system without python and even perl! Very nice!

Cheers,

~ew

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tatterdemalion

I was given a Commodore VIC-20 when I was a kid. Nominally, I programmed in basic with it, but mainly I made character graphics, typed in games from magazines to play, and played cartridge games from a store that rented them.

My dad had an IBM PC he got for work, and I used it for school. I played some games on it, but it wasn't capable of much, even compared to the VIC-20. It had a 1200 baud modem, and by my senior year in high school, I was going on BBSes and the local university's public dialup telnet server, which I mainly used to telnet to MUDs.

In college I minored in CS, mainly because I had fallen in with a bad crowd of CS majors. Put OS/2 on my 386, played a lot of DOS games, was busy on Usenet just before/during the dawn of the WWW. Went to grad school in something completely different (anthropology), but was porting Unix programs to OS/2 as a hobby and eventually installing Linux. When I was done with classes, I moved so my spouse could go to grad school, got a job as a Linux sysadmin at a web hosting company, and dropped out of grad school.

Since then, I've moved from system administration with system automation coding into pure coding jobs, for a succession of public agencies. Doing web development in a couple of programming languages I don't particularly care for, on a platform that isn't Linux, but it's fine. Keeps a bright line between my work computing and hobby computing.

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tffb

Hey ~tatterdemalion, thanks for posting! :)

I had an unlikely crossroads (over time) with old(er) computers and venturing into any type of development - be it web development or fussing with hardware.

In the hardware realm, it actually started with me always feeling that I was clumsy with anything "electric" related or mechanical - then I (unwisely) bought an "EGO 2.0" electronic cigarette (which are trash devices) in 2012, and from the assembly, disassembly, reassembly of that device and it's related chargers and cartomizers and atomizers, and other ephemera, I realized that I wasn't THAT "inept" at fooling with an electronic device. Then in 2015 (out of sheer boredom + personal interest) I asked my brother-in-law if he had a use for an old PC tower he had in his basement, ready to be trashed. He said I could have it, but I would either need a Windows license or put Linux on it. I said "I will figure out Linux", and after a lengthy diatribe, testimony, love-profession of Linux Mint from a friend "R" (who said he used that OS on *everything* in his life), I decided that was the distro to try. I got into the tower's BIOS settings, and was able to boot from a flash drive with Mint (16, Cinnamon (I think)) and was off to the races. Then disassembly/reassembly of that tower to swap out a power supply, then fooling with a few RPi models, and then just a general desire/fascination with hardware since.

Software and (web) development, I shared that in the initial post, haha

Now I am on the Commander X16 forum daily and seeing/learning XYZ about things, and in Jan setting up a type of "retro computing" rig, albeit with an emulation device, not authentic hardware.

In terms of CS, itself, it's a hobby for me. But one I've been fascinated with for several years now. All good fun! :)

~bartender, I'll take a Wild Cherry Pepsi, as it will match the can I have sitting next to me IRL, haha.

And one for ~tatterdemalion, or whatever beverage they prefer :D

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owleyarc

I got started on the path when I got told in elementary school that my handwriting was so awful that my only hope was to do everything on a computer. Then it was lego robotics, then in middle school it was using AppleScript on the school computers to annoy people, to switching my laptop to this thing I saw online called "linux" and never looked back.

Long story short, I just got promoted past the new-grad level at my software engineering job. (Backend though, I haven't done any frontend web-dev work since high school. I feel like I just don't have the aptitude or will for it.)

Thinking back on it, I also owe a lot to two particular computer teachers, one who gave an intro class that seemed to mainly be him, a computer person, teaching whatever he felt was important. Probably terrible as a "curriculum", but very helpful for getting a lot of the lingo and exposure to other things I didn't yet know (SQL and visual basic really stick out in my mind). Another who ran the AP class, let me T.A. and got me my first job as a CS Tutor.

I'm always curious how people go from computer users to computer people, so a very interesting post, thanks ~tffb!

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tffb

Hey, ~owleyarc! Congrats on the promotion! I double the sentiment about backend - I've learned that I prefer to work with things in relation to VPS management, and I (surprisingly) took a liking to deal with MySQL stuff, as I am always repeating XYZ command(s) to access a table/column to make a change or whatever. One can't help but become accustomed to getting the overall "basics" of navigating a MySQL db over time. Figuring out the proper stuff to put IN such and such db, such as connecting a PHP script for UN/PW input on the frontend, that's another story ;) I also consider MySQL as a possible "marketable" skill in freelance type of stuff, because a lot of devs/designers and CSS gurus don't want to touch a db with a 50 foot pole, lol! (not knocking the CSS gurus out there)

Funny you mention the Lego robotics thing, because I asked this same Q/told this same story over on the Commander X16 forum just after writing this here, and a guy mentioned some Lego robotics devices he built ("some from kits, some with mods").

I have no idea if I'd make dev a full-time gig/job, but I am a passionate hobbyist, and would even do a freelance thing at some point (maybe) should I be well versed enough in a certain area to confidently charge money for my service.

Thanks for the response!

~bartender, a round of anything for folks about The Midnight this AM. And a hot coffee for me, thank you! :)

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owleyarc

Yeah, server management can be a lot of fun (see also, reinstalling my OS all the time). And lol, I don't know about "can't help". I deal with `$EMPLOYER`SQL most days and I still can't remember more than a basic select statement without looking at the docs again. Speaking of UN/PW entering... my first internship in HS, total nepotism gig, my first day I was looking over the PHP codebase and was like "What are all these bind statements? That seems redundant." and removed them all, introducing like twenty SQL injection vulnerabilities. I would have felt worse about it, except my coworker who had years of experience approved the changes. And yeah, SomethingSQL is a good skill to have!

For me it was an after school club, so IDK what was a kit and what was random legos the school had. I do recall they had little IR communicators on the front and I could use that to cheat at the club's main event, robot fights, by making the other robot just back out of the ring.

And ooh, the CX16 project looks so cool! I can't wait.

Freelancing is hard, but I'm sure there's always someone around who need computer help with their website or something. But yeah, doing it for work takes a lot of the fun out of it, and since working fulltime, I'm no longer near as passionate of a hobbyist as I used to be.

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tffb

Yea, in regards to anything, be it MySQL, PHP, or even HTML syntax, I always have to look back at exactly HOW to implement such and such line of code, command, punctual specificity, etc. Computer SCIENCE, eh?

I never went into robotics, or had a very deep interest in it/them either, really. I guess I'm boring in that way, but I can see some moderate amusement in Lego'ing together a moving mini machine and having it "do stuff".

CX16 is probably the "coolest" of the hobbyist dev projects out there today. A boatload of compatibility and opportunity to be had with it. I look forward to getting one - likely sometime after I get a Color Maximite 2 Deluxe, as the CX16 will not be avail en masse for some time (even then, I could see it facing an "overwhelming (hobbyist) demand" issue not unlike that of PS5, only on a smaller scale). And before the CM2D, likely an Orange Pi 800, much like the Raspberry Pi 400 (a near clone/rip-off, in some ways) only the Orange Pi has more ports and a totally different co makes the board.

Stay good, ~owleyarc, and if ~bartender has a min, I'll take a 6:00 AM coffee.

Am I a Smol-Web-aholic if I come to Midnight Pub before sunrise?

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owleyarc

LMAO, you might be

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nsilvestri

My first attempts at programming were reading the blue and yellow C book in 7th grade. Setting up a C compiler proved too difficult for me, however, so that died quickly.

I took an AP Computer Science class in my junior year of high school. It was both fun and easy for me, which meant I got to play a lot of online TRON and Halo on the school netbooks while waiting for the rest of the class to catch up.

And, well, if something is both fun, and easy, and profitable as a career, it's pretty much a shoe-in for a college major and career. Self-discovery was not in the cards for me, in that regard.

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tffb

do you still do/like dev now?

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nsilvestri

I do! I'm coming up on 3 years since my first developer position after graduating. I'm at a startup and I'm the primary application developer, so I have more opportunity to experiment and play and control what I do, which makes the job quite a bit more enjoyable.

I daydream about personal programming projects but I don't frequently end up finding the energy to work on them. I spend all day coding, after all, and I don't need to be doing it all of my waking hours.

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inquiry

I stepped on a rusty nail in my early 20s. When I came to from the delirium, I found I'd written several pages of what I soon enough learned was referred to as "8085 assembler".

It's been a downhill slide of hallucinations of curly-braced grandeur and awkward social missteps ever since....

:-)

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tffb

Does 8085 pre-date the 6502, because I read (and watched) many a things about 6502 (Motorola?) when it comes to assembly language (being a tick above RISC-V and ARM, yet "below" (in complexity) x86(32/64)). Either way, never heard of 8085.

At least now I know where the textural creativity and screentime dedication derives from: nail-stepping misfortunes of hallucinatory nature ;)

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inquiry

Respective Wikipedia entries say the MOS 6502 was introduced in 1975, the Intel 8085 in 1976.

Another key processor for me (due to being in the Commodore 64) was the MOS 6510.

(MOS was apparently created by former Motorola employees.)

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tffb

I missed the C64 boat when I was younger. I mentioned (in an e-mail to you, I think) that the folks were averse to computers in general, let alone spending *their* money on such a thing when all they did was "crunch numbers" and "make you dumb".

They also avoided reading books other than those "by" King James (hint), which is likely why I became such a literary snob at 12, and an obsessive writer (textural escape artist) at 8 years old. Didn't wanna go their route in life. haha.

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inquiry
> the folks were averse to computers in
> general, let alone spending *their*
> money on such a thing when all they
> did was "crunch numbers" and "make
> you dumb".

The way people look to me when staring glassy-eyed at their phones these days gives me the impression they might have been onto something with that last part.... ;-)

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tffb

note: "computers" - not "dopamine gambling slabs", ;)

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inquiry

What is this? A euphemism a day keeps the addiction away? :-)

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tffb

I might be addicted to euphemisms. ;)

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