March 21

My History

Background

After finishing high school I completed a youth training course in HTML. I had no real interest in learning it but I got paid to study and thought that it might be useful someday in the future if this internet thing takes off.

After completing my course I thought it might be an idea to improve my basic computer skills. I had a decent grasp on how things worked so I thought that it might be interesting. At 21, recently married, I decided to complete the European Computer Driving License. It basically taught me how to use the Microsoft Office suite and to use internet and email tools.

First Steps

A few years later, after completing a higher course in Electronic Engineering and various years tinkering with computers, I know more than the average Joe. I now live in Spain and have just started a job working in tech support, repairing computers and fixing user problems on the fly.

One of my duties was to take stock of all the IT equipment and log everything in the in house inventory software. This involved painstakingly adding each field of each item one by one into the web form.

The software gave us many advantages once the equipment was registered, but the process was tediously slow and soul destroying. It turned a job I really enjoyed into a nightmare because of these monotonous tasks.

By basic IT training gave me a pretty decent knowledge of Excel, so I decided to use excel to tray and speed up the process. Using the drag handles to automatically populate names and so on. This was a huge improvement as now I could copy and paste a large part of the work from the spreadsheet. But what if I could take the whole sheet and import it directly into the database behind the software without using the web form?

My first training plan was born. The idea of being able to “Learn SQL in 4 hours” was potentially a perfect solution to my problem and required very little investment.

This new skill combined with my also growing knowledge of Excel, finding new functions which helped me to generate the SQL queries, was now paying dividends.

The Shameful Days

So now I have the bug. I’d studied something relatively easy; It was more difficult figuring out the tables than it was learning SQL; and I had huge results. So how can I skip the Excel completely? This idea gave birth to the interest in learning PHP. I started to make my own forms which allowed for bulk insertion using some very basic principals. This was another huge improvement. With time my skills improved and so did my forms. I was saving unknown amounts of time and getting some really impressive results. This is what I want to do!

On reflection, this was a period when I was absorbing information like a sponge and I didn’t take much notice of the best practices, they slowed me down! I was doing just fine on my own.

For this reason I’ve titled this section “The Shameful Days”. Ignore the advise of those much more experienced than yourself at your own peril. Any programmer reading this can guess where I’m going here. I was writing “spaghetti code”. But on a level never before seen. I wasn’t just mixing HTML with PHP and Javascript (Yes, By this point I have Javascript in my arsenal too) . I was using SQL to generate huge amounts of HTML using concatenation.

Today

After working as a programmer for the last 6 years, I’m happy to say that I have cleaned up my act (and code) and I now use the MVC standard in all of my work.

Wherever possible I reuse code by using Object Orientated principals such as encapsulation and inheritance, but more on that in the blog.

If you’ve managed to reach this part of the document, i’d like to officially thank you for your patience and welcome you to the site. I hope you will find something of interest and please feel free to leave comments, ask questions and suggest future content.

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