When I was around 11 or 12 years old, my friend and I were obsessed with the video game Mortal Kombat. Like a lot of kids, I spent a lot of time playing video games. Unlike most however, I wanted to learn how to make my own games.
Being the late 90’s, there was no YouTube or kids coding programs, so I used books from the library and the dial up Internet in my Dad’s office to search for tutorials and wasted way too much printer paper printing off pages of programming code.
At the time, I had my own 486 PC running MS DOS. Not the most up to date computer at the time, but it was my own, and for a kid it was awesome to have my own computer.
I discovered Linux around the early 2000s after reading the book Rebel Code. For a teenage hobbyist at the time, the brand new Windows XP was too expensive and I was looking for an alternative. I found Red Hat 7.3 on the back of a magazine and never looked back.
I built my first “real” Website in 2008, just after my first child was born. At the time, I was working as a mobile crane operator to support my new family and although I’d always had a passion for programming and computers, I’d never managed to do it for a living.
The website was for a new business my friend was starting, and he needed a simple website to start advertising. Up until then I’d been a Linux geek, hacking on Python to create small games as a hobby, but when my friend asked me to build him a website I quickly learned HTML and CSS, searched online for free website templates and found something that looked similar to what he wanted and customized it for him.
I’m not ashamed to say, it was absolute rubbish. He did pay me (and we are still friends), but it was not a good looking website at all.
After my first few attempts at web development, I discovered PHP and was able to reuse things like the header and footer, and start building dynamic websites.
Being a self taught programmer, I often struggled making the jump from toy projects in books to writing real code. PHP was a language that made sense to me, it wasn’t up tight and academic and it wasn’t overly complex to get things done.
As I got better and more confident, I started to find more clients for my now growing side business as a freelance web developer. I started taking on more complicated jobs and progressed in my skills, going from using free themes and plugins found in the WordPress directory, to building my own.
In 2012 I was hired as a Junior System Administrator for a company that built course enrollment software. My novice Unix skills were pushed to the max as I was now thrown into managing production FreeBSD servers from Sydney to Hong Kong. I picked up some Java, SVN, Jenkins and Maven having to assist in deploying their app and Drupal to manage their company CMS.
In my spare time, I code in multiple programming languages such as C, Java, Go and Clojure. I build WordPress plugins and themes for fun and I’m constantly trying to learn new things and expand my abilities.