I JUST WOKE UP FROM A TECH COMA! Where do I start (again)?!
by Nard_Carlin - 4/26/12 12:02 AM
Developers, Coders, Nerds of all stripes - please read.
in 1993, i was 10 years old. my dad bought me a 286dx33, running MS-DOS. It ran chess, word perfect and a shell program called "dosshell". I was in heaven.
i spent hours in front of that thing just jumping from directory to directory, trying to draw boobs in ASCII, and making and deleting files just because I could.
once a week i'd shred the poor thing, and we'd have to take it around the corner to the local computer shop (ECS, Merchantville, NJ - god bless that place), to have two kindly guys teach me what I did wrong: Don't corrupt the bios! Don't screw with the boot order! Then they'd restore the whole system from a magnetic tape drive - all for free.
when I was 13, most kids my age saved their money for bikes or summer camp. I saved mine for a 9600bps modem and a soundblaster 16 card. I hoarded Prodigy and AOL demo disks (50 free hours?!?!? and you were going to throw it out???), discovered the world of BBS systems, and connected the dots on exactly how this whole terminal thing worked.
when i was 15, my friends and i were reverse engineering AOL instant messaging bots, learning how to lift passwords, war dial, and all sorts of other chicanery. (all for information purposes, of course).
We used card generators to send our neighbors embarrassing packages from the backs of adult magazines, built a Red Box and never paid for a pay phone calls again, got in trouble for trying to break into the library mainframe (wait... the township LAN can *69?) and started reading newsgroups about a crazy european guy named Linus who decided he was going to write his own OS.
then, for some reason, i just stopped. probably because in 1998, nerds weren't as sheik as they are now, and to a 16 year old, girls trump computers - every time.
Obviously, I was always a user of some kind, but I just used the "magic box" like everyone else. I learned Creative Suite in college, and I'm making decent money doing freelance social media/design work for restaurants. I dabble in some server administration, but let's face it - I have no idea whats going on when I click "connect" in Filezilla, and anything short of uploading and downloading files has been over my head.
But now, I'm trying to plug back into the "Matrix", for lack of a better word. I'm running a Macbook Pro, with Parallels 7 (running windows XP, Vista, 7 & 8, as well as Ubuntu, Fedora, and a cool port of Puppy Linux.) I've been listening to CNET podcasts, Leo LaPorte and the TWiT crew, and a couple others that I've found interesting. But it's REALLY easy to get lost while I reminisce.
There's little things, like hardware stuff, that I'm trying to backtrack on (the evolution has been blinding. I still have 3.5 floppies around somewhere....), but the software stuff is where I can't seem to connect the dots.
I'm returning to college this summer to pursue a computer science degree. Our first course's description talks about learning Visual Basic .Net, but I don't recall anyone on other forums suggesting that as a good place to start for beginners.
Where did you guys start? Did you go to school/earn a certificate/teach yourselves?
I'm considering building my own rig this summer (something modest, to serve as an HTPC), to become aquainted with the latest and greatest again. the last thing i built had a celeron 300 in it.
What are some hw/sw resources you guys rely on? Where are you getting your tech news? Where can I get quality nerd gossip?
I kicked myself out, and I'm trying to get back in. Please lend a few words so I have a sense of direction - googling feels so.... cold.
Speaking of which - hobbyist computing used to feel friendly, and it always had a local twist to it. Maybe I just miss my BBS days, but doesn't this whole modern web of ours feel a little.... commercial? sterile? impersonal? cold? not really "ours" at all, like it used to feel?
hope this starts an interesting convo.
Thanks for your time and contributions!