I’ve been programming since I was about 6. It’s been almost 7 years since I started learning my first programming language, Visual Basic 5. Wow–now that I think about it, that’s a really long time ago. I started out making silly little projects and cloning other people’s programs. I think my first real, original program was “Word Search Suite”, a program that allows you to create and solve word searches. After that point, I gradually started to make more useful programs. Often, they related to my interests in some way, like my Resistor Calculator, which I made when I was learning about electronics. It would calculate resistor values based on their colored stripes. I also made programs such as my Alphabetizer, to help (or cheat, depending on how you look at it) on my homework.
Of course, I’ve come a long way since then. In 2002, I started seeing ads for RentACoder, an online marketplace built for safely and securely outsourcing software projects. At the time I ignored it–at least until I wanted a home theater system with a digital projector. That was in January 2003. My parents thought it wouldn’t be very practical, but I disagreed. I could buy it myself, if I had the money. That’s when I remembered the RentACoder site. My parents let me sign up, and I searched for a few weeks, but couldn’t land any jobs, so I gave up.
When summer came around, though, my interest in getting a home theater was rekindled. So, in August, I found my first job programming!
I call my small programming business DCLsoft. My first paid project, ever, came from a guy who called himself Dave Diamond. It was initially a “Down and Dirty FTP client”, but it evolved into File Grabber, a stylish and fully functional FTP client. After my first job, projects just kept coming in. I did a WYSIWYG content editor, record management program, affiliate link checker, contact form, internet broadcast scheduler, online key generator, frontend media player, message thread CGI installation, and numerous enhancements to these programs. Right now I’m working on an dynamic, web-based media player for Traders Nation.
Overall, working on software projects in my spare time is a fun, and not to mention profitable, way for me to learn and practice my programming skills in real-world applications.