Welcome to WebDude.co.za

So I've been meaning to start a blog for a long time now, I've just never got around to actually doing it. So I thought "What the hell" and went ahead and starting one.

So hear it is!

My name is ... uh ... WebDude I guess, and I've been a Web Developer for almost 9 years now. Now, time for my life story...

In the beginning
In my early career as a web developer, I started using Dreamweaver and MS Access to create web site.
Rather embarrassing to admit, but at the time I never knew the difference between VBScript and JScript.
I would actually go into the source code and change it, sometimes using VBScript and sometimes JScript, and really perplexed as to why the F-ing syntax kept changing.
So you can imagine my shock when a fellow developer assisted me and couldn't stop laughing at the fact that half my site was is different languages.
Anyway, we live, we learn, we move on!

At some point Dreamweaver really started getting on my nerves, I found myself working more and more in the code to get the dynamic functionality I required, and along the way removing Dreamweaver's html which was far from aesthetically appealing.
Eventually I dropped Dreamweaver all together and started using Ultra Edit as my tool of choice.
At the time I was also quite chuffed that I could create dynamic web sites without the need of buying any tools to do so. I was learning the ins and outs of web developer and understood what every page did and what every line of code produced. Re-inventing the wheel several times a week seemed like a grand idea!

ASP.NET - The Light
So all the buzz was about ASP.NET which had just come out and was looking to be the next big thing. I decided if I was going anywhere in the programming world, I was going to stay up to date which the latest technologies, so I decided to buy an O'Reilly "Learn ASP.NET in 21 Days", and 21 days later I was an ASP.NET programmer! :)

I did however continue to use Ultra Edit to create my web sites, no code behinds, no compilation. I was determined to learn both VB and C#, so made sure everything I learned to do, I created an example in both languages. I was now an UBER Programmer. Didn't rely on 3rd party tools, wasn't stuck in one language ... HOW AWESOME AM I!

I continued programming in ASP.NET while working as a TEMP and finishing my BCom degree at UNISA. When I finally finished my degree, I decided it was time to move to the UK and gain some international experience. So I set off with all the hopes and dreams of making it big in the UK.

Life in the UK
Arriving in the UK, I expected to walk in a job and earn a mediocre salary. My hopes and dreams were shattered when after 1 month, I still could not find a job programming.
I was great on the communication front, but couldn't answer the technical theory questions that seal the deal in an interview. The UK is also a fast moving environment with thousands of competent candidates looking for development jobs every day. You are a fish in the sea, and unless you've got something impressive to offer, or the experience only years can bring you.

You find that after a month of being unemployed, you're South African Rands run out REALLY REALLY quickly, and I was now getting desperate for a job.
I ended up getting minimum wage data capturing for a marketing company. The hours were long, the pay was minimum, but my bank balance was at least sustaining my life style at the time.
I was capturing comments from a Chinese Medicinal franchise on miracle cures, some really interesting stuff actually.
Immediately my developer brain started ticking and thinking of ways to improve the process, and by day 2 I was now creating a database and capture forms for the other data capturers to use to speed up the process. Even though I deserved more money for the work I was doing, I'd much rather earn minimum wage for development over data capturing ... wouldn't you?

So after a month of working as a Data Capturer/Developer, I finally landed a job at as a Web Developer. This was a e-commerce service provider that supplied numerous websites to retail stores that wanted an online presence. On my first day I was showed a program called 'Visual Studio' which these developers used to create their websites.
At first I didn't understand the need to an editor that took ages to open, and seemed an awful lot slower than Ultra Edit. Needless to say, 1 month later I sat scratching my head wondering how I programmed without this tool for so many years. Intellisense, Debugging, MSDN library ... the benefits far surpassed anything I could have expected.

I learned a lot working at that company, but I felt I also gave back a lot by improving systems and deliverables. I also made the sites a shyte load faster.
However, after 6 months, I felt unappreciated and WAY under paid. After lots of broken promises, I started looking for another job. Within 1 week I had a signed offer at the salary I was looking for. After informing my manager he told me he would match the salary but he didn't think I was worth it. A**HOLE!. 4 other developer followed me outta that place for similar reasons.

I spent the next 2.5 years at this new firm where I was very happy working and made many new friends, and learned a great deal more about development.

The move back to SA
My girlfriend of 7 years at the time got into Psychology Masters at Wits University. This was an opportunity many never get in their lifetimes, so we decided to move back to South Africa.
Fortunately for me, my London firm decided to keep me on as a remote developer, and for the next 1.5 years, I would work from home doing exactly what I had done in the London office.
This was not that different as in the London office I mainly worked with US based stakeholders over Skype, msn and email. This structure worked great, but overtime I felt lonely and stagnant in terms of my development skills. When you interact with developers, your learn a great deal more by bouncing ideas and experiences amongst each other.

I missed that and it needed to change. So even though I loved my job, and it paid well, it was time to make a move.
I hit the South African market worried I would struggle to find a job. To my surprise I got several interviews setup, and within 2 weeks had several offers to choose from.
Needless to say, I accepted one of the offers and haven't looked back since. I have learned so much more, so much faster in my new environment and continue to rise from strength to strength.

Going Forward
I hope to use this blog as a platform to document my development experiences, and hopefully benefit other developers out there who face similair daily challenges like I do, or who can share their thoughts and development techniques with me.
I am also now married to my beautiful wife who is pregnant and expecting a baby girl in early December ... hopefully she's mine ;).
So, I may have random posts ranting about life with a new born baby.

In closing. This will probably be my longest post ... EVA! :)


posted @ Friday, August 22, 2008 10:26 AM