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Junior Programmer

It’s a rare event when I actually go to bed at 8:30 in the evening, but tonight it’s happening because I’m whipped. A few months ago a coworker and I went through a crash course in .NET development using the custom GIS controls our company makes, and since then I’ve served as “Junior Programmer” (my words) for made-to-order projects when all of our mainline developers are otherwise tasked out. This week has been another such occasion, and I’ve spent its entirety coding a new custom application for a client as well as managing and organizing their dataset upon which the application relies.

Although that may sound dry to some, I’ve been thrilled to do it. I always thought of myself as the graphics guy, but in truth I get much more excited when faced with a programming challenge to solve. Since I took on these part-time duties as a developer, there have been days when I couldn’t wait to get back to a project — one I even remoted into my machine at work and spent the better part of an evening working on the code still further. It’s just fun to see logic you wrote transformed into something functional. I even enjoy looking at how I’ve structured things and coming up with ways to cut it down by creating routines to do the same work repeatedly or clean it up to make things easier to maintain.

No doubt this is all very basic Programming 101 for anybody who spent their formative years on the coding side of things, instead of the visual/frontend side like I did. Having missed out on (or no interest in) that at the time, now that I’m discovering it I think it’s great fun. So far I’ve written two projects in C# and one in VB.NET, although I come more naturally to the former given my past experience writing JavaScript and dabbling with the old 16-bit C of Wolfenstein 3D.

There are still some building-block coding concepts that I’m sure don’t have a firm grasp on, but more importantly to my current workplace, I now know a good deal about how the main parts of our .NET controls work. I’m also one of the few employees qualified to write technical documentation. Since better user guides have always been something our customers have pushed us for, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a mash-up of my tech writing and development skills being called upon simultaneously at some point in the future. Assuming there’s ever enough time!

So despite being pretty exhausted tonight, I’m already excited to return to my ongoing project tomorrow. For the moment, though, I don’t think my eyes can stand looking at a screen much longer, so I’m going to call it a night shortly.

Oh! I finally scored one of Gearbox Software’s SHiFT codes tonight, earning me a Golden Key in Borderlands 2 (a disposable trinket which can be traded in once for a randomly-generated set of rare and powerful weapons). Normally when Gearbox posts these codes on their Twitter feed, by the time I thunder over to the Xbox and key them in, they’re all fully redeemed — either that or I’m not even anywhere near my console in the first place. But tonight’s codes were good for thousands of redemptions, so I snagged one. Alas, despite that, I was too tired to play the game this evening. I’ll save it for later.

I also picked up the Xbox 360 version of Doom 3: BFG Edition this week nearly cost-free, thanks to a GameStop trade-in promotion that got me a goodly amount of money for a game I no longer had any interest in playing. (Spoiler: it wasn’t Skyrim.) Since I’m a well-known Doom addict who first met his electronic opiate way back on the 6th of January, 1994, I’ll have a dedicated post on the new BFG Edition soon. In advance of that, though, my first impressions of it so far are as follows:

  • The framerate is ridiculously, whipped-butter smooth. Apparently the game runs on id Software’s Rage engine, otherwise known as id Tech 5. (For reference, the 2004 PC release of Doom 3 was powered by id Tech 4, and some say the original Doom was id Tech 1.)
  • Ambient lighting has been altered. The game seems less dark, and highlights are really blown out. Doesn’t feel right. But then, I was playing it on my old rear-projection TV, so there’s that.
  • You can now activate your flashlight while holding a weapon. (I actually played through the entirety of Doom 3‘s “original flavor” on my PC, where it was either gun or flashlight, never both at once.) As a tradeoff, the flashlight now has limited battery power but quickly auto-recharges when it’s turned off.
  • Although the game now runs in 16:9 natively, the PDA screen art hasn’t been updated to take advantage of this as everything still displays within a roughly 4:3 area of the screen. Even worse, they’ve changed the email text typeface from its original Gothic-style cyan font to a terribly condensed, white, generic-Helvetica type of thing. Very unfriendly to rear-projection screens. Really hate this. Need to try it on my plasma to see if it’s any more readable.
  • The XBLA versions of both Doom and Doom II are included on-disc, and in fact are great fun to play even after all these years. (Since I was always a “keyboard player” back in those days, the gamepad doesn’t feel any less precise, so the experience is very natural.)

OK, OK, that’s it. Really. If I don’t stop now I’ll get all giddy talking about games, and will drag my zombified self out of bed to play something, to the great detriment of my health tomorrow. So goodnight already.

2 thoughts to “Junior Programmer”

  1. Wow! – Your comment about it being “just fun to see logic you wrote transformed into something functional” is like deja vu to my younger work days in the automotive plants. Seeing those cars being routed through intersections to different levels and destinations and knowing in advance what the decision protocols were that I programmed….. then seeing it work (mostly) without crashes…… ah it’s a great feeling! I happy for ya!

    1. I thought you might like that part. 🙂 In your case it really was logic writ large, with a lot more at stake than just an image drawing on a screen. There was real steel being jockeyed around by your command!

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