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Tuesday
Dec172013

C#, ASP.NET, and Other Stuff. Mostly Other Stuff

I haven't written anything in a while.  Not intentionally, I just find that this blog is the first thing to go when I get busy with other things.  I also need to address something that I feel is weird. It involves the nature of this blog. I don't know if it's generational, or a personality thing, but I just have trouble with social networks.  Anytime I think about starting to use one, I can't help but ask "Who cares?"  To which I never have a satisfactory answer.  I don't own a business or have some cause that I'm promoting, and while I happen to think that I'm endlessly amusing, I'm also self-aware enough to know that very few (if any) share that opinion.  I have other ways to keep in touch with people I care about, so I can never muster a good reason to get involved with any of the networks beyond lurking.  But I know that anyone in a technology field looks like a weirdo without some kind of online presence, so I got this website.  I don't know why, but writing on here feels different.  I think it's because people have to seek it out.  Moving on, the weird thing that I referenced earlier is that anyone who is likely to read this is already very familiar with what's going on.  I guess I should approach this without an audience in mind, but I don't quite know how to do that.
 
So here's what's been going on during the writing break.  I have decided to become serious about programming, and have started down a path that will hopefully lead to a new career.  I've been flirting with this idea for years.  I got a Java programming book when I was in college, but never really had time for it.  Then I got into PHP after college, and started working on web apps that I would eventually deploy at work.  I can't remember how much of this I've talked about before, but I do IT support in Seattle, and there are many day-to-day tasks that I do manually that could be transitioned to a database with a web front-end.  So that was where I started.  I did all the work at home, and I thought I would write about my progress.  Now maybe this is just me being shy, or part of that "who cares" reaction I have to social networking, but I didn't really tell anyone about this.  My wife didn't even know I had started writing on here again.  After months and months of inactivity, I can't blame her for not checking.  Somewhere during this time, though, my sister found the blog and was probably horrified that her sweet, darling little brother had turned into a degenerate who rants about video games, scotch, and amateur web development.
 
Somewhere in the process, my sister tells me that her husband, Adam, would be willing to show me the ropes.  This is where talking about this stuff gets weird.  I knew Adam was a software developer from way back when we were all still living in NY and I was a smartass teenager needling both of them over any little thing, but it had never occurred to me to reach out about this.  I think part of it was because I wasn't 100% sure at that point if I really wanted to take programming past the hobby level.  The offer to teach me really made me start thinking more seriously about what I wanted to do.  I didn't want to waste Adam's time by jumping in and then deciding 3 months later that I didn't actually want to do this. So I decided that if I could make something reasonably complex (for my skill level at the time) and actually finish it, then I would take him up on it.  I know myself, and I know that I'm real good at planning and starting, but I tend to lose steam near the end.
 
The surgery tracker that I've written about in the past was borne from that test.  It's kind of crazy to look back at that, even as recently as I made it, and see how much I've changed.  There is some rough, ugly code in there.  That was written with PHP and first MySQL, then adapted for MS SQL Server.  One of the first things Adam did was introduce me to C#, and shortly after that ASP.NET.  My familiarity with object oriented languages was largely theoretical at that point, so it's been slow going, but I'm making progress.  Some of the other major changes that have come from this was Adam dragging me into modern day web programming practices.  Stuff like Github and Bootstrap, and using an actual IDE to write code in (I still love you Notepad++).  I learned HTML and CSS during the time (or from a book written during the time) somewhere between the utter chaos of early HTML, where tables and iframes reined supreme, but before the div tag became the standard structural element of all web pages.  I remember the book stressed the importance of separating the structure of the page from the appearance of the page, but it didn't really offer any suggestions on good ways to do that.  Just being exposed to some of these things has helped me tremendously.
 
Currently, I'm working on a tracker for hard drive based backups that I'll use at some point at work.  I'll write more about that at a later date.  I'm still getting used to ASP.NET, but I'm making progress.  Well, I haven't made much progress lately.  At work they decided to renovate the biggest clinic over the course of 2 months, and I'm playing Christmas elf at home.  We're having my wife's brothers up for Christmas, and it's the first time at least 2, if not all 3, have seen the house, so we want to make it special.  I'll take some pics and put them up here somewhere when it's done.  We keep adding or changing things, so it's a work in progress.  Isn't everything?

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