I just noticed that I'd saved a questionnaire from 2008 about my job and computers. I think this might have come from my college as a way to help prepare students for entering the computing workforce. Back then I was working for a car company doing Perl and Java. Some things have changed since then (I'm no longer doing anything with Perl or Java and I'm OK with that. Also starting salaries have hopefully increased since 2008). But what's more striking is how some things haven't changed (I still want to help people. I still use vi via vim) and how computers have intruded in our lives (smartphones, smart TVs, and the Internet of Things).
So here it is, typos and all; a glimpse into what I was thinking back in 2008 about my job and computing in general:
- What do you like about your job?
I like the daily challenge of the job. I love solving problems and working out puzzles. I enjoy working with computers and seeing them do amazing and cool things. I enjoy helping out people whenever I can.
- What dont you like about your job?
I dislike it when the technology or political issues get in the way of helping me help out people. I hate the politics that can come in any corporation, especially if they make no technological or other sense.
- How did you decide to go into that profession?
I've always enjoyed computers, ever since I was little. I would see computers on the television doing amazing and incredible feats, and knew I wanted to be a part of that. I would read the World Book Encyclopedia and look at the pictures of computers and dream about building or working with those machines. Unfortunately the encyclopedia we had was several years out of date, and the pictures I associated with computers being mammoth, room filling machines were quickly replaced by pictures of Apple ][, Commodore VIC 20s, Timex Sinclairs, and my first computer, the Atari 400. The idea that I could own a computer and use it was foreign to me, but I quickly got over that and pestered my parents at length to let me have a computer.
- How do you use computers in your job?
I use them to maintain and develop web-based software. I use UNIX, Perl, and Java to help provide financial and performance information for a major automotive company.
- How have the computers changed since you have been working?
I started working in 1993, and the machines have changed dramatically. In 1993, the SPARCStation 20 was the machine to beat, and the 486 machines were the fastest processor most home users would have. I gravitated to UNIX and Linux early on, because they were similar to the machines that I had used in college. At that time it was unheard of for home users to have UNIX at home. Now, it's more commonplace for people to use UNIX-based operating systems. When I started working, computers were seen as single-tasking machines. You brought up your word processor, and that was it. Now, you can have multiple programs running simultaneously on a machine without even thinking about it. Viruses were a common problem on DOS and Windows machines, but you had to pass around a floppy in order to be infected. Now, it takes 15 minutes for a Windows machine to be completely compromised. When I started working, the network was a scarce resource. Now, the network is considered to be ubiquitous.
- What types of software do you use?
I use vi, Perl, Linux, Solaris, and Apache for Development. I use OpenOffice, Lotus Notes and Lotus SameTime for office communication and groupware.
- How does using computers make your job more efficient?
With the right scripts and programs, I can take a mound of data and turn it into something useful in a matter of seconds. I can use the computer to help my task management and methodologies for improving my work flow. I can send mail to several people to ask for their input without leaving my desk.
- What type of degrees do you have?
I have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.
- What would be the best way to get starting in a profession like yours?
Curiosity. You can't learn everything from a book or from school. School gives you the discipline, but finding out the answers yourself and from other mentors is the only way to really hone your skills.
- How much is a typical starting salary?
- What is a typical task you do on the job?
I do paperwork to handle the corporate policy changes. I fix a little code here and there when it breaks, and handle customer requests for new features.
- Do you think computers will be forever changing?
I think there will come a point when we won't consider computers as a separate instrument anymore; they'll be so ubiquitous that we won't think about using them, we'll just use them. Television and radio hit that state a while back, yet they still are in constant metamorphosis. Computers found their way into many electronic devices we take for granted, like cable boxes, microwave ovens, and desktop calculators. I think we'll see more and more innovative uses for computers as time goes on.