When I was younger, I was an avid fan of the website ‘neopets’, a site where you take care of virtual pets and make virtual money. I had four starving neopets (who cares, they’re not real and can’t die) and 2 million neopoints because I figured a way to hack this wheel-of-fortune-esque game. I manipulated the url and was able to give myself an unlimited amount of spins. This was probably the first time I ever felt really crafty when it came to computers. I was ontop of the Neopian world, I was the wolf of Neopian Wall Street, and this is probably where my god-complex began to evolve. Just kidding...but anyways..
I continued to explore my “technological prowess”, using Neopets as my tool for learning the ins and outs of the web. Each pet came with a default "pet page" which was essentially just a crude HTML/CSS mockup detailing the neopet’s breed, history, etc, with a lot of glaringly ugly .gifs, scrolling marquee headers, and flaming text (literally flaming -- the text appeared to be on fire). It was very reminiscent of geocities/angelfire webpages. Many people on Neopets would edit these pages and customize them, creating (relatively) beautiful layouts and photoshopped graphics. Quickly, I learned how easy it was to right-click, view source, and copy other people’s web designs and paste them into my own pet page. This was for personal use, of course. I didn’t know what a "div" was, but I knew how to make it a certain color, width, have a specific font style, etc. Trial and error, experimentation and manipulation — this is how I learned of the inner-workings of basic front end development. I was never exceedingly proficient in HTML/CSS, but I did get to the point of owning my own domain name (it was a fan website for the German industrial band Rammstein...), and that was pretty damn impressive for a 12 year old, in my opinion.
For reasons unbeknownst to me, I stopped dabbling with code. It was a combination of highschool being quite demanding, and the fact that I did not see the point in trying to pursue this stuff at a higher level, because I was never exposed to learning such things in an academic setting. I just thought I spent too much time on the computer — which I did -- but without logging all of those hours on the internet, I doubt I would have developed such a deep love for computers.
LONG STORY SHORT, after dabbling in a hodgepodge of subjects, and eventually earning a B.A. in History, I came across "software development". That name always sounded incredibly daunting to me because I associated it with building complex machines, or something really scientific, far beyond my realm of knowledge. I researched a bit more and began to get my feet wet in "programming", which I found to be a much more approachable term. I apologize if there is some official technical difference I am overlooking between "developing" and "programming" -- but hey, I'm still a newb!
I picked up Chris Pine's "Learn to Program", which teaches you to program in Ruby, a language that I had taken a liking to because it seemed a lot more approachable than C and Java. I took my time going through each chapter of the book, completing the exercises with care and frustration -- but it was a good frustration, because no matter how bad I wanted to pick up my laptop and bash it into the wall, I knew that the feeling of solving a problem was unlike anything else. Those 'Aha!' moments that have been documented by new and old developers are very real, and very rewarding.
I fumbled around with Ruby on Rails for a few months, using online resources and videos to help broaden my scope of knowledge. Eventually, I hit a wall. I had achieved all I could on my own -- I wanted more. I wanted to be a developer, not just a kid who watches a video, copies some code down, and calls it a night. I wanted to be surrounded by people who shared the same interests as me. I wanted to be instructed by developers more knowledgable than me, I wanted to fully understand the innerworkings of the Rails frameworks, and beyond.
Metis has provided me with the opportunity to satiate my programming needs, and much, much more. I am so thrilled to finally be able to pursue my dream. I didn't know what I wanted to be until I actually became it -- a developer -- and I am beyond excited to continue to expand my knowledge and skillset, with the help of the amazing instructors at Metis, and my fellow students.