Someone recently asked what my programming experience was. In a nutshell, not much. In detail:

In 1982 I wrote a five hundred line BASIC program on an IBM PC, single floppy machine. My aunt used it for nearly a decade to invoice her clients in a little landscaping business. She had to stop when the sales tax rate changed in New Jersey and the floppy had gobbled the source code.

In 1985 I took CS100 at Cornell University. It was the lowest level course available (therefore a pre-requisite for all other interesting CS courses). It was filled with undergraduates trying to do the least possible for their computer science requirement. It was a course in top-down programming, and it was taught in Think! Pascal on the Mac (when I last checked in 2001 it was taught in Java). I loved it.

In 1987 I started programming a lot in Turbo Pascal on various IBM clone machines, all running DOS. I started working for Penn & Teller and wrote an email system for them. This evolved into The Jungle Drum, and it's companion offline reader, Bongo. The community created within the software was called simply, The Jungle. I continued working as Penn & Teller's computer hacker until Spring 1997. I wrote thousands of lines of Pascal code and MS-DOS batch files.

In 1989 I took CS211 at Cornell. It was also taught in Pascal, but in 2001 they were teaching it in Java. I learned a little more about pointers, and about recursion.

In the spring of 1997 it became clear that the C++ programmer hired to replace me in Las Vegas, NV was not up to the job of re-creating the Jungle. (It was, at this point, just a discussion group, Penn & Teller moved their own private email needs to Eudora and similar products.) I rewrote the digest software as a HyperCard stack, linked to the Claris Emailer email client for the Mac OS. The link is accomplished by a couple AppleScript scripts that I didn't write, I just found a guy on the Internet to provide them.

In June of 1999 I realized that I wanted to bring the technology of The Jungle to a wider audience on the World Wide Web. I tried hiring consultants, but they were all too expensive and wanted hundreds of thousands of dollars. I read Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing at the suggestion of a friend. I learned tcl, html, and sql. Another friend set up a Linux box for me and installed Oracle. I worked with Dean Cameron (who tested and helped with the html) to creat a web service backed by a database. In the first two years it gathered a population of ten thousand users, which was a fine proof-of-concept test for my purposes.
That's it. That's all I've written and learned about programming.

created: May 23 1999
last updated: May 31 2001

Copyright Colin Summers 2006 and other years.