Raskolnikov felt sick, but he couldn’t say why,
When he saw his face reflected in his victim’s twinkling eye.
Some things you’ll do for money, and some you’ll do for fun,
But the things you do for love are going to come back to you one by one.
– The Mountain Goats, “Love, love, love”
Coding and web design started of as things I did just for fun. I’d always had a knack for using technology. Growing up in the late eighties and early nineties, I was part of the first generation of children who grew up having a computer in their home. Mine was an Apple II GS. As a result of being part of this group of early adopters, I learned to navigate through file systems in DOS (before the days of Windows), and I remember the very first basic HTML webpages popping up on the World Wide Web (which we searched with a web browser called AltaVista).
This generation of “coders” exchanged files, scripts and snippets of code in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) rooms, not on college campuses. Chat rooms were where we learned our chops.
To be honest, my first exposure to real MODERN coding was when I was at Stanford in 2005 and first installed a Linux operating system on my huge, heavy laptop. Linux re-introduced me to navigating file systems via command line (or “Terminal” if you’re a Mac User), SSH-ing into servers and altering the internal workings of your computer by modding the kernel. I relearned some stuff I’d forgotten, BASH scripting and Perl, and went to town (so to speak).
Around this time, people started coming to me with techie-type requests: asking me to help them upload or download something from a server, to design a logo for something, to put together a webpage for them … easy stuff. Eventually these “requests” became frequent enough that I started asking for stuff in return—sometimes coffee, sometimes cash.
Now I charge $45/hr for my services. This isn’t that much actually, but I’m far from being a “professional.” I’m really just a dude who loves computers and is able to copy and hack code (Python, PHP, BASH scripts, Ruby, HTML, occasionally other stuff) and make it work for other purposes. I have done this for a number of people: academics, musicians, non-profit organizations, radio talk shows, … the list goes on. One day I will put together a portfolio and link it here.
So there you go. I started hacking code because I thought it was fun, now I do it for money. I don’t know if I love it enough to make a full time career out of it, though.