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Anyone here code, either as a hobby or profession? How'd you get started?
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I got my start pretty early. When I was in primary school I found some books in the local library on programming in BASIC. They were really out of date at the time (they were for 80s computers like the Spectrum whereas this was the early 90s) and my family didn't own a computer, although a computer lab had just been created at school running machines with MS-DOS. Anyways, I got to learning BASIC and some friends and I spent hours writing out code for linear, choose-your-own-adventure text-based adventure games. When I say writing, I mean we literally wrote them down on paper :-) I think when we eventually got a chance to try them on the computers but I can't recall if any of them worked.
Later my family got a computer (initially borrowed from one of my Dad's co-workers but later we got one of our own) and around the same time we got dial-up internet. I was in secondary school at this point. I was already using Linux at this point as before we even got a PC at home I'd found out about it and ordered a 6-CD set that included a couple of distros (Slackware, Redhat 3.0.3 Picasso, some others I forget) and various contrib packages of applications. I think I was mad about Linux for a good year before I even got to run it :-)
Anyways, with the internet I somehow found out about C and downloaded a tutorial and taught myself C (compiling on Redhat 3.0.3 with GCC). Later I got a book on C++ (one of those terrible C++ for dummies books) and, in theory, learned C++ but honestly that book was pretty terrible.
By the time I got to varsity I was experienced enough (which is to say, not very in reality) that learning Java in first year was dead easy which in turned set me up for a habit of slacking that ultimately didn't help. At varsity we worked in Java (1st year) and C++ (2nd year on) for practical (which I usually did well in) while covering all the usual theory (data structures, complexity theory, etc) which I hated and tended to do poorly at in tests. In the end I didn't complete my degree and after spending 6 months in the UK looking for work (I only found shitty temp jobs outside of the field) came back to South Africa and returned to Cape Town a few months later.
Moved in with this girl (who's now my wife) and managed to get a Junior Java Developer job at a local company via a recommendation from a friend of hers and I haven't looked back since.
Started 4 years ago. Taught myself how to write a shitty C# application for work, wrote a thread here 6 months after that (worth reading if you want to know where to start), picked up "Head First Java" and now work on a distributed web service and dabble in app development while doing CS degree.