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Programming Languages I've used in various jobs

When I got my first computer, a Heathkit H-8, the only language available for it was Assembler. After a year or so, Bill Gates released his first product, a BASIC interpreter for various early computers, including my H-8. This made the job of programming much easier. My most complex program for this computer was a game management program for Dungeons and Dragons. The program kept track of character attributes, generated random monsters and tracked time and combat, all running in RAM on a machine with 32K Bytes or memory, and two 140KB floppy drives. How things have changed since then!

As part of my Computer Science course work at the College of Southern Idaho, I studied BASIC, Pascal, COBOL and FORTRAN. I was also introduced to the concept of relational databases. One thing I learned the hard way, you don't want to learn BASIC first if you plan on learning other languages. BASIC teaches you many things that are bad ideas in other languages. Of all of these languages, I fell in love with Pascal because of the ease of defining data structures, and the extra error checking the language imposes.

Before I was able to complete my degree, the college hired me to work in their computer center. I started writing reports for the records system, and ended up handling both database administrator and application programmer duties. I also handled installing new hardware, and the telecommunications wiring from the computer to the wiring closet. The language used by the student records system was a fourth generation language named Speedware, and much of the reporting was done with Quiz, a custom language for reports.

During the last half of my time at CSI, and long afterward, much of my programming was done with Borland Pascal. I started with Version 3, and used each version up to 6, Turbo Pascal for Windows, and Delphi Version 1. Besides the accounting programs, I wrote the software for an electronic lectern that MultiMedia International attempted to market. About that time Ben Pratt, my boss at MMI, and a mathematics professor at CSI asked me to look at the new Internet connection they were hooking up. A few hours later, they had an Internet connection and my life changed.

Not long after CSI got its Internet connection, another of Ben Pratt's businesses, Idaho Computer Service, decided to create the first public Internet connection in the area, MagicLink. I set up the Internet connections, modems, server and network and handled tech support helping new users get their Windows 3.1 computers connected to the Internet. The languages used during this time were Perl and unix shell scripting. By this time I have worked with AT&T's System V Release 4 UNIX, HP's HP-UX, and IBM's AIX variants of unix.

A couple of years later Jeff Houck, one of our customers decided he wanted to put in an Internet connection to save north side Internet users the long distance charges they were paying to connect to MagicLink. North Rim Communications was born, and I helped set it up. For a time I managed their network via a 56K dedicated line from my job site in Twin Falls. Later I worked from the Wendell office. I first started using Linux and PHP at this time.

Bob Sewell, a North Rim Communications customer, and two other people started a web design company, Internet Marketing Specilists. After a time Bob's partners left, and I joined the company. At its peak our most memorable customers were Con Paulos, A Happy Camper, Stouder Holeteins, and Impact Radio. All of these web sites used PHP and MySQL. Bob found himself unable to continue with the company, and it began to decline because I could not find anyone to sell new web site contracts.

One of the most interesting jobs I've ever had was working with deaf students starting with the Idaho School for the Deaf and Blind in Gooding, then the Angel Ramos Foundation. This project uses Macromedia/Adobe Flash for the front end, AMFPHP for remote procedure calls, and PHP + MySQL for data storage on the server. The programming project is on hold until suitable content has been created.

I have recently continued working with Borland / Inprise Turbo Delphi. I have completed programs to control the filter wheel on the Centennial telescope, and view FITS files created by its astro-camera. I am currently working on a program that combines computing planetary and lunar motions and plotting them in various useful ways.

Other current projects include vpopmail and qmailadmin, two open source projects I am part of. Both are written in c. pMailAmdin, a project that I created, is written in PHP. For more details, check out the Open Source page.

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