About Myself...

Should I write this in the first or third person?

Hey stalker, thanks for dropping by. This page was created specifically for you! I am a software engineer living in the Philadelphia suburbs. Sure, I have a bunch of other hobbies; but we’re here to talk tech.

I knew I wanted to be a programmer at age 12, after a family visit to my father’s office, at IBM. We toured the raised floor areas around the huge mainframe computers, watched tapes spin and whirl–just like in the movies, and large printers spewing green-bar paper with endless reports. It wasn’t the impressive hardware that I found intriguing, but the little Tic-Tac-Toe and Star Trek game on the terminals. Something, my mind shouted, or someone told the computer what to do and how to do it! So you can see I was immediately hooked.

After High School and College, I got my first job, not programming Star Trek games, but working with COBOL. Oddly, I didn’t do nightly batch transactional reporting, but instead worked for a TV Listings publisher, doing of all things, string manipulation and layout formatting, and pushing that data to typesetting systems.

After that, I did work with other publishing systems, financial systems (where I finally did get to touch the overnight transactional processing systems), and stumbled into the Startup field in the late 1990’s.

I downloaded Netscape Navigator 0.96b, my first encounter with the internet, and again, I was hooked. Nothing before allowed people to connect to information on this nascent Wold-Wide Web. I found a free (but long-distance–still expensive back then) SLIP/PPP dial up account to access this Internet and I explored all there was, the CIA website, gopher, FTP, and the Usenet.

After moving to NYC in 1997, I took a job working at theglobe.com, an early community website offering chat, forums, email, clubs, and news feeds. It was a great group of people, I learned a lot from them, and enjoyed working plugged-in with the internet.

After the 2001 dot-com bubble popped, I took up work with a new email list hosting company called Biglist, and single-handedly wrote software that cut out new territory in the internet chapter. We were awarded US Patent 7315883 for “System and method for mailing list mediation”: methods for generating dynamic mailing lists.

Even since then, I get excited about the possibilities that the current internet can give us: smart phones, social networks, and the better methods of web development: AJAX, Javascript Frameworks, and connected everything together with the internet.

I am a technologist, but also a pragmatist. The shiny new thing is only exciting when it fills a real need. I discovered this back in 2005 or so, when I read about Ruby on Rails, and was instantly wowed. The ruby language was beautiful, and DHH’s opinionated framework ushered in a new age of web development. We can solve real problems still, but in less time, and actually smile while doing it!

I still look forward everyday to building new and better solutions to old problems, making the users of my code as happy as I am writing it. I am excited about the next 20 years as I am of the last!

If you need to reach me, contact me by email at the CURRENT_YEAR (1999 if this was that year) at allenfair.com and say “Hi!”