The computer has been a two-edged sword for me since I was born. It has given me access to an amazing world of learning and resources, helping me to be up-to-date with a vital set of skills for today’s work environment, and has been the main tool for our income in the last 5 years. On the other hand, it has been an enormous source of wasteful distraction for me, and has established patterns and habits that I find very hard to change, and that tend to make me want to spend less and less time on the computer.
Early on in my youth, I got hooked on computer games, and they became my main source of entertainment, at the expense of physical exercise. That being said, I read quite avidly (even though it was medieval fantasy and sci-fi, not the most enriching reading!), and spent a lot of time on the piano and painting, so I had a balance of interests, although the computer took the largest chunk of it all.
This might have changed if I had not taken a sudden interest in programming when I moved to Australia. I don’t know why it interested me, I can’t remember how it started, but I remember borrowing a book on Java and being amazed at the possibility of writing little programs without having to spend a dollar on any expensive programming software.
Needless to say, the Java book was way over my head. Little of it made sense and it took me a very long time to get a programming environment set up and to write my first program. However, I started to understand the concepts of variables, functions and types, and by the time I returned the book to the library I felt a keen interest in the topic. It wasn’t until several months later (if my memory serves me right) that I again picked up where I had left off, and gave programming another crack, still as a hobby. Eventually, after over a year of trying various things on and off, I discovered PHP. With the help of the zillions of resources on the Internet, I learned the ins and outs of this rather simple language, of web servers and databases etc. I was hooked!
Still without spending a penny, I spent more and more time tinkering with this technology, creating little useless programs here and there, always in my spare time of which I had much because I wasn’t able to work due to not being a permanent resident for the first 2 years of my stay in Australia.
To cut a long story short, this little “hobby” of mine became more serious, even after I had started studying psychology at Edith Cowan University, because I decided that it would be a good back-up plan in case I couldn’t get a job with just an undergraduate degree in psychology. I must have been guided by the Spirit when I made that decision, because it turns out that by the time I graduated, my degree was hardly worth anything in the workplace, except to get into postgraduate degrees. So, my hobby became a part-time job during my second year of university studies thanks to Ian, who paid me peanuts, and my next big job was for Moodle in Perth.
Now, after over 6 years of getting paid for programming, I want to get away from it. I have spent countless hours sitting on a computer chair typing away on the same keyboard, somehow wearing down the C and V keys more than any other (go figure!), struggling to stay fit despite the sedentary nature of my job, getting dry eyes for lack of blinking, probably damaging my eyesight, not making enough friends, and getting constantly distracted by wikipedia, youtube, facebook and the occasional webcomic. It’s enough, time to move on and say goodbye to this occupation!