(Primary pestering tactics: "I can do my homework on it! Mom, you can store your recipes on it! Dad, you can use it for work!" I never once mentioned aloud my secret hidden thought: "I can play video games on it!" Of course it became largely a family video game machine, though I did use it and our subsequent Atari 1200 (I think that was the number? 1100? Complete with a mouse and a GUI, long before windows came out!) to write all of my school papers as well. I messed around with BASIC programming a little bit, but I didn't really get bit by the programming bug until much later. Senior year of high school.)
Anyway. When I went to college in 1989, I wanted to be a math major. I thought computers were fun toys, and I'd loved my programming class in high school, but it still didn't occur to me that one could make a career out of them. I quickly discovered that I hated calcuseless, and was turned off the whole concept of mathematics. I started taking philosophy, because I liked the logical thinking of it, and the strict rules for proofs - like a game, almost. I cheerfully wrote long-winded philosophical ideas on my IBM PS/2 286, with frequent breaks for Tetris and "vaxing", which is what we called playing around (emailing, chatting, etc) on the colleges VAX/VMS system. My father was horrified by the thought of my becoming a philosophy major, with its great opportunities for high-paying careers....
It wasn't until halfway through my sophomore year that I had a hole in my schedule, and in looking for something to fill it, I remembered enjoying my high school computer programming class. I was hooked all over again as soon as I started it, and was surprised that I'd ever stopped programming. Talk about logical thinking and problem solving! I started working in the Computer Center, took more computer classes, and discovered I was becoming practically a real geek, not just the pseudo-borderline-geek I'd been before. I even got lured into participating in a weekly role-playing game, although I never got really into that stuff.
So back to around 1991. I found (what I considered) a hilarious poster called Real Programmers Don't Eat Quiche, and I posted it on the door of my dorm room. It was just a piece of paper, and ended up getting hacked and torn up, and finally lost. The Internet is a vast resource though, and today I was talking about quiche with somebody, and I dug around a bit and found an approximation of the version I had posted so long ago. It's still pretty funny, although I don't think it has all of pieces I remember, and it's got a few that I don't recall from mine. Here are my favorites, anyway.
- Don't eat quiche. Real programmers don't even know how to spell quiche. They like Twinkies, Coke, and palate-scorching Szechwan food.
- Don't comment their code. If it was hard to write, it should be hard to understand and even harder to modify.
- Don't use BASIC. In fact no programmer uses BASIC after puberty.
- Don't use Pascal, BLISS, ADA, or any of those sissy-pinko computer science languages. Strong typing is a crutch for people with weak memories.
- Never work 9 to 5. If any are around at 9 a.m. it's because they were up all night.
- Don't play tennis or any other sport that requires a change of clothes. Mountain climbing is OK, though, and real programmers often wear climbing boots to work in case a mountain should suddenly spring up in the middle of the machine room.
- Don't like the team programming concept. Unless, of course, they are the Chief Programmer.
- Like vending machine popcorn. Coders pop it in the microwave oven. Real programmers use the heat given off by the CPU. They can tell what job is running just by listening to the rate the corn is popping.
- Don't bring brown bag lunches to work. If the vending machine sells it, they eat it. If the vending machine doesn't sell it, they don't eat it. Vending machines don't sell quiche.