My work, my ideas, my faith, my life


My Programming Autobiography Part 12

By Rex Goode

Man Doing the Splits

You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I’m flexible. I really am. No kidding.

So, I may not be able to do the splits, but if you look over my long career, you’d have to admit that one of my strongest character attributes is my flexibility–my willingness to change to fit what is needed.

My last job doing TCL is an example of this. I didn’t know TCL from any other language. I had never heard of it before I got that contract. I just turned on the computer and started working. I figured the language out pretty quickly.

Look at what I’ve learned since BASIC. I’m not just talking about languages here, but languages, operating systems, technologies, not to mention work cultures, geographic cultures, and whatever else needed doing.

I’m still quite a bit like my old students at OMSI, the children who really didn’t even need me to tell them how to program. The learned because they were still young enough to be flexible in their thinking. So, I’m 54 years old. I’m still flexible in my thinking.

Since my time at that last contract, I’ve built several web sites and can code and engineer software as well as ever.

Here’s a list of the things I’ve learned within a few days if not hours when the need arose:

Languages and Tecnologies
SQL, Perl, C, C++, TCL, BASIC, HTML, PHP, JAVA, Javascript, PostScript, XML
Databases Sybase Adaptive Server Enterprise and Replication Server(v12.0), Informix,

MySQL (v3.22), Microsoft SQL Server 7.0

Operating Systems MS Windows (2000/98/NT/3.1), MS DOS, UNIX(Solaris, SCO, Linux), VMS, Linux

In today’s computer consulting game, they still want to know how many years you’ve been working with a certain language or technology. I recently applied for a job where one of the requirements was five years working with Javascript. Really?

Do they really think they are going to find someone who sat down and coded Javascript for five years straight, never looking at another language? That would be a job that would quickly drive you to despair. Yet, that’s the way hiring managers seem to think.

Some people would say that the variety in my experience makes me a jack of all trades but a master of none. Maybe they are right. I would say that I am a jack of many languages, but what I really am is a master of flexibility at learning new things when new things come along.

If you’re a hiring manager, consider this. I may not be able to claim the years you want with a certain language, but I’ve done enough different things that I might even be better than someone who knows how to do only one thing.

Consider this too. Since that lay off, I’ve operated my own web building company. Haven’t made a lot of money, but I’ve made a lot of web sites.

The best thing I did was that I went back to school. If you read Back to the BASIC, you will hopefully remember my high school Medical Careers teacher who thought I should become a psychologist because I’m the kind of person people like to tell their troubles to.

Me At My Graduation

I received my Bachelors Degree in Social Work in 2007 from Concordia University. I graduated Magna Cum Laude and was honored by the staff as Outstanding Social Work Student of the Year.

For several years now, I’ve taught life skills to developmentally disabled adults. I help them with behavior problems. My flexibility and willingness to adapt is probably the best skill I bring to this work as well.

1 person likes this post.

4 Responses to “Flexibility”

  1. Rex Goode » Now THAT Is a Mountain! said:

    […] be continued in Flexibility. Like Unlike Posted by Rex Goode under Career,Creativity,Family,History,Personal,Sybase,TCL. […]

  2. Steve said:

    I’ve seen too many people who emerge from Java Programmer Mills universities with CS degrees who simply can’t program computers in any real sense of the word. You don’t want to be a “jack of all trades, master of none,” true, but I don’t see that as a language issue unless your only goal is to be the best person to write a program in one and only one system (also known as the one on the team who sees every problem as a nail since he only has a hammer in his toolbox).

    Looking at a resume like mine or yours (or many people who deeply drive themselves to program for the love of the craft, and not just take it as a useful skill) I would look at the variety of tools you can use, and what you did with them, and see how they shaped how you approach problem solving. From PostScript, assembly, and Forth maybe I learned about stack operations at a deeper level than if I just wrote a little Java state machine once. From LISP, SQL, or Python maybe I learned the power of what functional programming could be used for. Or from C++, Python, Smalltalk, C#, and so forth (but ZOMB please not Perl), I picked up not only OOP but different ways of approaching OOP, and that what has evolved as common patterns in one language (*cough*Java*) might not turn out to be the best ideas everywhere (or anywhere), which I might not have known if I only saw one system. From Perl I learned the awesome power of the one-liner (Stand back! I know Regular Expressions!) And from TECO I learned how much power can be packed into something completely unreadable by mortal eyes. (From TCL I learned I don’t want to write sizeable applications in TCL. πŸ™‚

    I want to hire someone who brings all of those experiences to the table, not just knows how to code up some shoddy XML to patch the gaps between the code his IDE wrote for him in C# and what he cobbled together around it.

  3. Steve said:

    Aaaa! Where’s the “edit” button?

    That ZOMB should of course have read “ZOMG” or maybe “ZOMG for the love of everything holy, unholy and in-between do not use Perl to learn OOP!”

    pant pant pant.


  4. Rex Goode said:

    Thanks, Steve. It’s great to hear from someone who understands me. Don’t blech too much, but I learned a great deal from interpreter BASIC too.

    My absolute favorite OOP language ever was TADS. πŸ™‚ It was just plain fun, even if it never helped me get a job.


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