The Mind of Benjamin

Ramblings about code 'n stuff.

So I'm blogging again, that's neat.

After many years of reading blogs of all sorts, I think it's finally time to step into the ring and see what I can contribute!

This isn't my first dip in the blogging pool, or having a personal website, but a lot has changed since the last time I've attempted anything. Not only have I grown as a Software Engineer, but the internet that I develop for has grown as well. We've made such great strides in website design and usability that I'm embarrassed to look back at what I've done before!

What I hope to accomplish with this collection of my ramblings is to give back to the developer community that's already given me so much. Hopefully my struggles and accomplishments will help someone else find a good idea or solution to a problem they're facing, and they'll be free to think about other problems we haven't solved yet. It's all about forward progress, right? Since this is my first post in years, I'm going to go ahead and call myself out on rambling on - but this will just get it out of the way so from here on out, expect only gold! Until then, let's take a look at how I've gotten to even be writing again.

In the beginning, Geocities was the place to be.

My first website was an old gaming site that I created on Geocities. I can't remember the name of it, but it had something to do with emulators and ROMs, and I'm sure it had links to download my favorite games (I almost think it was required to do so if you used Geocities!) It was complete with a guestbook, hit counter, and a webring. Animated gifs, DHTML mouse trails, page transitions - oh my was it a treat! I'm glad the internet has moved away from all of those gimmicks, because it was complete garbage.

Free hosting and PHP, what else could you want?

Once I started gaming online with my friends and family, I started to look into setting us up guild sites and forums. Nobody had any extra money for hosting, or even a credit card, so we had to make do with whatever random web host was least bogged down and allowed simple PHP scripts. Download the latest YaBB SE, grab a template, modify it, then create a few pages outside of the forum and we were set! This started to get me interested in programming, so I often tried to see if I could re-create other types of sites using PHP. I loved it, but there's only so much you can do without guidance and fast internet.

Next, there was shared hosting.

It wasn't until I'd been in college for a few years before I started developing a site for myself. At this point I had developed a few cheesy sites using custom PHP scripts riddled with security flaws and thrown into extremely slow, extremely Russian, free hosting services. I designed all of the templates in Photoshop and thought I was actually pretty good. Oh how wrong I was. Once I had a job I started paying for a shared hosting service and had some random domain name (turtlebanana.com, I think?) that I would test different code on. Eventually I was a senior and started looking for jobs, so I bought my first professional domain but failed to actually do anything with it.

Finally, my own server to do whatever I want!

In May of 2010, I graduated from Carroll University. Shortly after, I landed a job as a Web Application Developer for the Wisconsin School of Business. This was my first exposure to having unmetered bandwidth on servers with a decent amount of power. I was in heaven! Not that I could use them for my own personal activities, but I did get to manage the servers we used and learned a whole lot. Working with designers was a first for me too, and it really opened my eyes as to what the web can do. This is what got me hooked for good.

Since I left the WSB to work for Sonic Foundry, I've lost my exposure to server management, but I've managed to dive way deeper into development than I've ever been. I'd say that I've learned more about programming in the last year than I have in the first 3 years of my professional career - and that's why I'm here now. With my own server to do whatever I want on. Make mistakes, make projects, write about good ideas and bad. Whatever I want to share with the entire world, I now can do. How cool is that?

All in all, I hope a few people stumble across this site after Googling some error or a new technique they want to investigate for their job or project. Best case: they find it useful and their life is a tiny bit nicer! Worst case: it makes their job harder and breaks more than it fixes. Either way I can tell my friends that I have a blog now, so that's neat.