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My Attempts At Programming: Failures and Success

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How It All Began
Everyone had their reasons as to why they got into programming but mine was actually out of pure laziness. Four years ago I realized that making computer programs wasn't actually what I pictured it to be. All thanks to movies I had grown to think that everything was written in a very very low level language like ahhh binary....
0111000001100001011101010111001101100101
Even though writing code in a movie in 5 minutes flat that can turn the world upside down is quite cool it isn't realistic. I jumped on the internet in search of the truth and ran into my first programming language, QBasic.

As I learned two and a half years later books, although takes a while to finish, are better than individual tutorials in the long run. After finding some online tutorials I wrote my first program. Yep you guessed it, a multi-threaded server\client system. Ok but seriously it was the notorious and infamous Hello World. I can still remember it too
PRINT "Hello World"
END

After seeing that I made the computer do as I said or code I became instantly addicted with a few evil laughs here and there. I began running through loops, getting input from users, writing to files until I did what I really wanted to do in the first place, make a computer program to do my maths homework (quadratic equations at the time). I know I know it was cheap but hey all my classmates were impressed. I'm saddened I don't have the code today due to multiply hard drive and motherboard failures but I can assure you it was a beauty.

Visual Basic .NET & C++
After becoming more and more verse with QBasic I decided to make an ASCII PacMan game. It had different levels, maps and so forth. Being new to the whole 'game development' field I didn't know of game engines at the time and making maps with simple two dimensional arrays. It was quite entertaining and taught me quite a bit of how games were made. I quickly realized that QBasic couldn't do much more than I was already doing. It was back to the internet in search of another language. As you may not or may have guess it was Visual Basic .NET.

This is where I truly grasped the concepts of programming. After about a few months in the language I developed applications like a Single Player Tic Tac Toe game, a Stenography App, a model of Alan Turing's machine and a few others. I even revamped my quadratic equation solver with a GUI. VB.NET was more or less my main language for a few months until I tried C++. With still only half a year of programming under my belt I thought I could handle just about anything (newb talk). C++ literally beat the crap out of my brain and sent me back to VB.NET. My failure was due to the fact that I tried to built a house with no foundation. I attempted advance topics without knowing the basics, after all it's a tutorial. The thing is without knowing the basics you can't make adjustments from the exact code the tutorial provides. I left C++ for a few months.

As time went by I fine tuned my VB skills but I was far from satisfied. This emptiness inside was yearning for C++'s tough love. I eventually picked up the language again but this time taking it slow and from the beginning. To my surprise C++ was like a V8 engine tucked into a lawn-mover. It's flexibility and power could be unlocked with a simple syntax. To test my knowledge thus far, I attempted a program that balances out accounts and draws up a T account to a text file based on the input provided. Yes I was doing an accounts class at the time and it saved me the trouble of using calculators lol.

From time to time I like to look ahead and see what was in store for me with a particular language. In the case of C++ it was the Win32 API. My first attempt at this failed miserably since I had no idea what HWND and callbacks really were and needed for. Yet another set back on the road to becoming efficient with this language. I took a break from C++ after being frustrated with the complexity of Win32's API.

Java
Java quickly took the place of C++ since I had to do a class with it. I can remember my Abstract Data teacher driving us to do complex programs in Java. We ran through stacks and queue then sorting algorithm's efficiency and so forth. It was a hair pulling time in my life. I didn't quite like the language though for strange personal reasons but I'm glad I stuck with it, at least for a year. Even after learning VB, C++ and Java I still felt as if I wasn't fulfilling my purpose. Luckily for me I had a Intro to Web Development class next semester. Apart from making websites and understanding HTML and Javascript it really didn't prove helpful to me at the time. After making a website for my end of term project I got tired of seeing anything that looked like
<html></html>
.

PHP
The following semester after my introduction to web development I had the advance version of the course were I was first introduced to PHP. Unknowingly PHP would be my main language today I approached the course with little enthusiasm. After the first class I realized PHP wasn't a markup language but an actual programming language and the syntax looked oh so familiar! PHP proved to be a brain buster since I could never understand how in the world my teacher got a value from one page to another. All I saw her do was
$color = $_POST['color'];
echo "<body style='background-color:" . $color . "'>
and miraculously the background of the web page changed color. I sat there trying to figure out how in the world did she get the value from the form on the other page to this page when I see no clear evidence of it being transported. I didn't understand it until a year or so ago but let's not jump ahead. It was one of those things you didn't understand but just accepted. I got a job as a web programmer which really pushed my not-so-good skills to the limit. I had to learn how to mail forms with PHP and handle form data in the field. It was very stressful since well my friend and I were on a deadline. What best to do than to consult my teacher. He told us about PHP's mail function and so forth. After about a day or two running around the internet (too bad we didn't know about php.net) we managed to get a mangled email out.

Looking back at that era I really did suck at PHP but hey we all gotta start somewhere right. If you're wondering what became of the Win32 API and I then I managed to actually learn it and produced some pretty nice GUI based programs. The problem was it took me an extremely long time to develop a GUI so I didn't do much of it. Oh and by the way all thanks to Lena's tutorials on debugging with Olly I managed to understand Win32 on an assembly level which proved to be a lot of help when coding it in C++.

Conclusion and Thank-Yous
After weighing my options as to which language would profit me more in this country I decided to take on Web Development (HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, MySQL) as a career (freelance). I started reading books, which I should have done in the first place, about the various languages and in just under a year I'm right where I am today. I'd like to express my appreciation of this forum which taught me a lot of and provided a place where I can share what I know with others. I would also like to point out a few people on here that stared me in the right direction to better coding practices, Dormilich, Atli and CTphpnwb.

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