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Falling In Love with Information Technology Again PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tim Wray   
Sunday, 14 September 2014 00:00

I saw it, as I scrolled through my LinkedIn feed.

"Looking for Computer Work?"

I snickered a little. Absolutely not. I don't want to repair desktops, laptops, anything, anymore. Just appliances to me now. I want to CODE! I want to learn ALL of the newest development as fast as I can!

Only recently did I find, or perhaps, rediscover my niche. My fit in the IT world, if you will.

It took leaving a job that had become very chaotic, for a more focused developer position with a new firm.

I've spent some time over the last couple of years really searching myself, asking those age old hard questions to the man in the mirror.

"Is this really what you wanted to do?"

"Are you even any good at this?"

A little background story: In the weeks after I left my previous position, I realized again a freedom that had gone missing many years ago. This previous position had encompassed EVERYTHING you can do in the field, IT management, Project planning, Implementation, a LOT of custom development, all the technician work on hardware, OS installation, and configuration, Linux, FreeBSD, embedded operating systems, Windows Workstations and servers, Cisco...you name it, we did it, for 3 companies. It was a great opportunity, where I was given the huge opportunity to establish the IT department.

Steadily at first, then explosively in the last 3 years, one of the 3 companies grew. This was a good thing, but there was one major caveat: The management team and IT were kept the same size, and expected to do more. The management alone, technical work removed, was a full time job, and we were on call nearly 24/7 aside from most holidays (and some of those were being worked, which put us on call anyway.) We did everything at once, none of it well, time no longer allowed.

It was awful.

I knew I was discouraged even as I worked, because all the creativity and excitement about my work, about development, was completely gone. Without delving into the sordid details, I felt like I had been cheated financially, did not feel like part of the team (more like I worked FOR the team, and was an outside observer), and felt that I was taken advantage of at times due simply to the environment being a free-for-all of lots of chiefs and no Indians, and being made to feel as if you're not a team player if you ever saw a reason to say no to someone else's "amazing idea". I quit offering up new ideas, because I mentally and emotionally could not handle it, or afford the time to put more work on myself.

I had an old friend, referenced many times on other places in "The Backwood Realm", who I knew to be a great dev. I managed to get him hired. I knew he had all the development skill we needed. It took three tries and two other people getting hired and leaving to prove it, but once he was in the door, we were really rolling on some custom systems and reporting. Deeply automated stuff, .NET dev that could read from PLC's in realtime, with realtime reporting, some seriously good development.

I began to feel like I couldn't measure up to his skill. Everyone started going to him for everything. Looking back, I was jealous. He was the code superstar now. As the IT manager, I learned, both by practice and from advice from others, that you want good people under you, with skills you don't have, to keep your department moving forward. I didn't have the practice he had.  I didn't have the focus. Our backgrounds are different, his allowed far more time for study and experimentation. While I did some code, and it was pretty good code, his development output vs. mine was probably 5:1 or even higher.

He. Was. FAST.

The problem was, I got into this to BE that guy, not the IT manager installing Windows and deploying workstations all the time. I became so resentful that 90% of my time was making sure engineer Joe that we hired two days ago got his fancy new laptop and screens RIGHT NOW. I began to fear I was stagnating, stuck at one level technically.

All I wanted to do was code, but the flame was out, there was no motivation. I felt I was not good enough anyway, why try?

Code is why I started writing QB in high school when all I had was a 386 with DOS, Win3.1, and a 30MB hard drive.

Code is why I created "The Backwood Realm" website and all its predecessors before it.

Code is why I took the job that grew into a monster. There was opportunity to code.

I didn't get into this to "fix computers."

You can't be the IT manager, System Admin, Webmaster, Systems Analyst, Developer, Helpdesk Associate, CAD software expert, IT Technician, printer guy, "I don't know how to use Excel, teach me" guy, etc...and have any time to make real, decent code. I only wanted to code.

I began to hate my IT career. I spent a lot of time sitting on my front porch, after work, dreading the next intrusive text message that something was down, cell phone call, and that morning would come and I'd be headed back to...that place.

Then, new opportunity. Better income for my family. A work environment where I felt as if I belonged, where everyone is rather equal. A multiple person, task-divided IT team. A place where expectations are normal, and projects are spread amongst the whole team based on the part they play in the department and as a whole in the company.


Suddenly, one day, I found myself on the couch, with a laptop, developing a console-based logging program in VB.NET for door usage on the BBS, back-ended with Microsoft SQL. Did it in two days. The next work day when lunch time came around, I wrote an ANSI generator in VB to list out who had been using the door games and how long for the BBS off the data from the logging program.

I then began a port of the biggest finished QBasic project I ever did, as a teen, "Livin' In Buddha", to PHP initially, but that then led to learning more javascript, and now I'm headed toward AJAX as well within it. I began to learn more about HTML5 to do some of the animation and gameplay involved.

I began a clone of the board game "Battleship" in QB64, and will likely code it in other languages too. It's already complete other than the gameplay mode, you can place your ships, the computer can properly randomly place it's own. Did it in 2 afternoons one weekend on my oldest son's suggestion, after playing a round of the real board game with him.

I found the flame. It's like I'm in 2000 again.

If you are in a stagnating job that you cannot stand anymore, YOU NEED TO GET OUT. Take the skills you've picked up and go shine, you can do it, and you are worth it.

As corny as it sounds, "Life has no remote, get up and change it yourself!"