What I worked with in my life (in terms of computers)

OK, so this is mostly off-topic as the main course is concerned. Yet I thought I might share the list of stuff I worked with over the years.

I am in my thirties now and my first contact with computers was in late 80s, when I played the unforgettable “River Raid” on Atari 800 XL thanks to courtesy of my uncle. This Atari became later mine and I spent time first playing with it, but thanks to it my first non-gaming computer endeavours were about 20 years ago. I was 11 by that time and I first discovered Basic (which sucked on the Atari, especially if you had a tape drive) and then 6502 assembler. I even managed to create a simple game in the assembler (I was 13 or so).

Then came the PC. I had a 80486DX2 in 1995, which was a powerful machine then. Of course first steps were games (ID’s Doom and Doom 2, to be exact), but since I had only 4 MB of RAM (yes, memory was then counted in megabytes), I needed to squeeze every possible free byte in order to make the games run. This led me to batch files and multi-boot on MS-DOS 6.22 and further configuration topics like setting up EMS/XMS, UMB (anyone remembers those?). Then I came basic to Basic – Microsoft QBasic, which was included in MS-DOS – and tried to create a playable game. After all, QBasic turned out not to be the most friendly and performing and I got my hands on C handbook by Kerrigan/Richie. Using this and Borland C++ 3.1 compiler I made my first steps into programming. It was 1996.

Then I discovered 80386 assembler – I tried to code some graphic effects using it (up to some success, even). I ended up with almost complete River Raid clone with animations done in back buffer, most of it coded in C and graphic library in assembler. After that, in summer 1997 I got a quick job by an acquaintance for developing a search engine for website using Perl and text files (no one ever thought it’s NoSQL back then, heh). I saw Windows NT 4.0 and IIS for the first time.

Then I went off the grid completely using computer only for recreational purposes until I started a computer science course on university in 2002. I had contact with many techs (most of them obsolete now, as they were those days as well) – Pascal, C/C++, C#, Java, sockets, assembler, Ada, SQL, even Novell Netware. In the mean time I picked up PHP, JavaScript and some Python, had some XML experience (XSD/XSLT, XQuery, XPath). This list will wrap up my last five years (more or less since I started my professional career):

  • server operating systems – everything Windows – Servers 2003/2008 (with or without R2) and 2012. I didn’t have much experience with NT/2000 though. I had an episode with Linux – Debian 4 – it did work, but that’s all.
  • client operating systems – mostly Windows – 2000/XP/7/8 (consciously skipping Vista). I also tried others – Ubuntu (didn’t like it) or Debian with a GUI (didn’t work for me).
  • virtualization:
    • platforms – Virtual Server 2005 R2 (yes, someone still uses it :P), Windows Server 2008 R2 and 2012 w/Hyper-V and Windows 8 with Hyper-V Client. Hyper-V is cool, especially in version 3.0, can’t argue with that.
    • systems – SCVMM 2008 R2/2012 overseeing a home lab consisting of two Hyper-V hosts; it’s more than enough for a proof of concept 🙂
  • database servers – SQL Server from 2000 up and I feel best with 2005 or newer. I also tried Oracle 11 and have a prepared environment for playing with newest DB2 in home lab.
  • web servers:
    • IIS 6/7/7.5/8 – included in Server 2003/2008(R2)/2012. I successfully managed to make several classic ASP websites work with IIS 7.5, and it’s tough, IIS from 7 up brings many breaking changes to ASP, which need to be dealt with.
    • Apache 2.0/2.2 – did a pretty standard config, nothing out of ordinary. Most complex thing I did were rewrite rules.
  • application servers:
    • SharePoint – I know how to use it and I know how to install it. Installed WSS 3.0 on Windows Server 2003 R2 (that’s easy) and Windows Server 2008 R2 (that’s more difficult, since it’s not out-of-the-box), apart from that some lab installations of SharePoint Server 2010 and 2013. I might administer it but it would need a lot of motivation for me to think about becoming a SharePoint developer.
    • BizTalk – I tried to install 2010 in the lab but couldn’t make it work properly, still willing to give it another try, though 🙂
    • Tomcat on Windows – installed it but had absolutely no clue what to do it what it after that, so tossed it away.
    • SAP Business Connector (rebranded WebMethods Integration Server) – I did almost everything with it (versions 4.7/4.8), from installation through administration to development. Good points – it’s Java and it works; bad – it’s Java and sometimes it doesn’t work.
  • scripting:
    • VBScript – just a few maintenance scripts
    • PowerShell – even more maintenance scripts, but I’m all in for it
  • SAP:
    • I can read ABAP and most certainly I would be able to write but I didn’t
    • I know my way around PP/MM modules
    • I know just a bit about WM module
  • programming:
    • I wrote a few useless apps in C# to help me in the office
    • I refreshed my knowledge of JavaScript by getting to know AJAX and jQuery
    • Even tried to do some stuff in VBA for Excel/Access

What about future? Software world is constantly evolving and it’s speeding up year after year. You have to learn new things if you want to keep up with it. My resolution for next year is the following:

  • have a basic experience with analytics as BI will be more important wig Big Data gaining more and more
  • keep interest in cloud solutions
  • try out some NoSQL (anyone can recommend a product?)
  • work out on application design, including scalability and performance

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