re: What's your coding origin story? VIEW POST

re: First week of community college at a Computer Information Systems class. No actual coding is involved actually since the class is to learn Microsof...

Hah! I found the one OTHER "how'd you get started" post that mentions music... Here's the second:

I went to college to earn my Bachelor's in Viola Performance. Yes. You read that correctly.

However, the music school at my university shared the same campus as the Engineering school. Technical skills started dribbling in by osmosis.

I wasn't really coding until a few years later though. I spent the years after college working for a typographic media services company where I learned the craft of typography and book and journal layout. This experience led me down the street to a startup (this was the mid-90's BTW) who were looking for people who could write automated typographic "stylesheets" for their very industrial SGML-based authoring/publishing solutions. It made more sense to teach a typographer programming than to go the other way around. CSS anyone? Yeah. Stylesheet languages have never been functional, although the results of what stylesheets do have often been based on the ability to test conditionals or a function return value.

Then the XML years happened. I got my database feet under me during this time. I wrote more stylesheets and XML Schemas and configured lots of XML-based software solutions while dabbling in ebooks and WordPress just because.

Ebook and ebook production workflow architecture became a full-time job in 2012. I spent some time working with various standards committees and publishing accessibility groups like the IDPF, DAISY, and the W3. I occasionally debugged EPUBs running on various devices and reading apps. Which meant reading JavaScript and understanding the concept of frameworks. I stayed in ebooks until just last year when I made the leap back over to software by joining Deque as a technical writer who is just technical enough to be dangerous. I'm leveling up my JavaScript, Node, and other stuff these days. Especially github. Which is not as easy as everyone says it is when you've worked in CVS, SVN, Clearcase, and other version control systems. Git moves terminology around and re-orders the workflow enough to confuse people with old school version control backgrounds.

I'm also refamiliarizing myself with CLI's which I haven't had to use since the early oughties when I had a Unix terminal to work with instead of a laptop...

Any specific learning was done as needed, on the fly, and very occasionally, through a course or self-study. Lynda, Pluralsight, Frontend Masters, and the others didn't come along until very recently in my timeline. I was a beta Safari Books Online subscriber and a paying subscriber up through the first quarter of 2016.

Bottom line, growing up in a university library (my mom was the circulation lady) has its advantages. You learn how to find stuff. Growing up two doors from the computer geek family on the street (the dad was the first Computer Science PhD to graduate in my state) provided the advantage of knowing what a computer was outside of school. Macs were just becoming a thing when I started high school and my dad insisted I learn to type in case the viola thing didn't work out...

tl;dr: violist, typographer, learned to code on the fly as required, when required. Didn't have to live with mom & dad. I still play viola though. Mostly chamber music these days. I haven't decided if I want to pursue the "code by day, orchestra by night" lifestyle again.


"Code by day, orchestra by night" sounds like an epic introduction! Thank you for sharing your story! Very unique start and definitely memorable.

Thanks for reading! It is one of those stories that no one saw coming and can’t be made up!

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