published: Fri, 6-Apr-2007 | updated: Fri, 5-Aug-2016
Today is a day that, for all its ordinariness, is counted as being fairly important in our decimal number system. No, I'm not talking about it being the first day of the new English Tax year, but it being my birthday. The big Five-O, in fact.
Developer Express, the company for whom I'm CTO, has a Skype conference call at midnight Colorado time every Thursday night. It's the best time for us to gather the makers and shakers together (we're a "virtual" company with people spread across the globe) for a wide-ranging discussion on what's been happening within the company, to iron out issues, and to make plans for the future. Last night's was a long one for various reasons, and by the time we'd finished it had just gone 1:30am, or 8:30am in England. At that time, exactly 50 years ago, I was born in a hospital in Coventry. (The hospital no longer exists according to Dad, it having been demolished for the M6.)
The amazing thing is I don't feel fifty. Maybe it's a joke played on us by our brains, but I still feel as if I were in my late twenties. For example, I still feel as enthusiastic now about my chosen profession, programming, as I did then, although I will admit to feeling overwhelmed by it all these days. Pah! Back then, I was programming in Turbo Pascal and RPG II/III, and I felt I knew practically everything to do with those languages. I could make them sing. These days, there's been an exponential explosion in environments, platforms, APIs, hardware, and it's now impossible to know it all to the same degree as I did back then. But these days, in your chosen area of expertise, there is so much more depth to it that you feel a sense of wonder as you encompass it all.
I will confess that the older I get the more nostalgic I become. At the beginning of March, I took a few days vacation in England after the DevWeek conference. I found a small hotel in between Guildford and Dorking (and totally recommend it by the way, it's a great place in a lovely quiet village) and, of course, went to visit where we used to live when we lived in Newdigate, Surrey, nearly 40 years ago. A mega-nostalgia trip, ladies and gentlemen. I'm glad to report that things haven't really changed. The Surrey Oaks pub in Parkgate, outside which was the bus stop I stood at to get to school, now no longer has any oaks left at all; the last one that was standing when we lived nearby was already hollow, and it must have become dangerous or died in the interim. Mind you, it's now a bloody good Real Ale pub with, get this, no smoking inside. Ace food as well. Go there if you can. Where was I? Oh yes...
Regrets? Non, je ne regrette rien. Well, all right, I do have a few. But guess what? They're mine to know and to understand.
But here I am at the start of another half-century. What's the future going to bring? Well, I've been in the States now for 14 years (minus a couple of weeks), a full Permanent Alien Resident, and I'm still undecided whether to stay here (probably not in Colorado Springs, though) and take the citizenship exam or whether to move back to England and Europe. Trouble is I still feel homesick for England (part of the nostalgia thing, no doubt) and so I shall probably dither for a while longer.
Job-wise, I really enjoy the work and the people at Developer Express. They're so friendly and hard-working I feel quite guilty taking weekends off. And intelligent? Indeed, yes. I'm learning all the time from them (oh and some late personal congratulations to Mark Miller, Dustin Campbell and Oliver Sturm for all being awarded Microsoft MVP status this year). Of course, I haven't met the vast majority of DevExpress employees yet face-to-face, but I'm hoping this year in our travels I will eventually get to meet them all.
Future hobbies? I've just bought a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi, a couple of zoom lenses (one wide-angle, the other telephoto), and a few other bits and pieces and am teaching myself photography again. I got into it once, but could never really afford film and its processing, just after I graduated from King's College, London. This time, with the realization that if I goof a picture I can see so immediately and take it again with no cost, I'm going to enjoy it a lot more. I'm still not very good artistically, but I'm hoping I can train my eye for good composition. (And, yes, these pictures are mine.)
So, the half-century is dead, long live the half-century!