The Ruby Craftsman
My earliest memory of using a computer was a computer running DOS. To login my dad had made the password the numeric part of our address so I would memorize it. I remember one game that was side scrolling game where a kid was bouncing on a pogo stick.
After that I think my family got a mac llc, the ones shaped like pizza box. My dad brought home a modem and he called into the high school where he was a teacher using fetch, the one with the dog that took over the cursor. He downloaded some shareware games that took forever to download most of them failed before they finished. I spent most of my time playing games like Sim City, Kid Pix, and the Oregon trail.
In school, we had to get internet licenses to get online that required taking a quiz identifying all the computer part. (RAM, HD, Disk Drive, etc.) In 4th grade I was the kid the teacher came to get help with the computer. I installed games on the class room computers. I remember her asking me if I could find more educational games and I think I did, all shareware software.
I continued the path to high school where I created the school website. I would update the site manually every morning getting a email from the school secretary with the lunch menu and sporting events of the day. I had the site hooked up to the school weather station where every time you refreshed the page see updated charts of temp, humidity, etc. This school mostly let me do my own thing until I added a message board then the Principal took notice. She had me remove it because it was a liability. Her reasons were what if some kid posted that they were having a party and someone got hurt the school liable be responsible. To me this was silly, it was the equivalent of a kid writing on the bathroom wall that they were having a party and thinking that school would be responsible. Not knowing how to code, but really just hack and tweak, I copied the design of my favorite mac rumor site, SpyMac. Some people online found out and emailed the principal.
I setup Google new to email me every time the school name came up. I curated a list of interesting news stories about the school. Most the stories came from the state wide paper the Oregonian. The Superintendent found out about this and came into one of my class, computer lab. He found out that I had linked to news articles from the Oregonian and he asked very accusingly if I had check if the stories were true or not? Not really know why he was saying this I said that I didn’t, not knowing what to say. I had remembered later that there was some article about him physical abusing a student. He had claimed that it was not true. What he failed to know was that I had never linked to those articles because I wasn’t going to put bad press on the school website. Whether it was true or not he was definitely jumping to conclusions before knowing the facts and publicly embarrassing me inform of the whole class. This was really a hard situation and it framed how I interacted on the internet. Made me realize that what I did on the internet has real world consequences.
After that I wanted to create a place that was just mine without Superintendent or Principal over site. I created the school underground message board that I only told my friends about. I setup a competition for who could make the best logo for it. It had a special password protected area to post that that I only told close friends. Here I learned not to use passwords that were common words because I made it too easy and people began to guess and get in.
I never coded much when I was younger, except for trying to learn a little apple script, but that didn’t go very far. I had people encourage me to learn, but I was too intimidated by it all. It was not tell much later that I got into programming, but that’s for another post.