I wonder what happened to Raymond?
Raymond is a guy who was in my Windows apps development with Microsoft Visual Studio class on Monday and Tuesday. During introductions first thing Monday morning, Raymond said he worked as a systems administrator, working with RPG (stands for Report Program Generator, not rocket-propelled grenade) on an AS/400 machine, and he had no experience with the subject we were going to be learning.
That was pretty close to my own story. On Wednesday and Thursday, Raymond was nowhere to be seen in this class. I wondered if he found the class to be just a bit too confusing or frustrating for his own good, and decided to back out.
If so, that’s too bad. But I can understand.
Raymond’s background brought back some good memories for me, going back to late 1993 when I was doing a complete and total career change — going from being a managing editor at a small daily newspaper to learning how to be a computer programmer — and in the beginning I was struggling a bit with that weird computer language called COBOL.
But then along came an RPG class. For me, that was when everything started to click in my brain about this programming jazz. RPG was so extremely structured — with code positioned in exact spots, forcing you to look at a program not so much with a “big picture view” but in a step-by-step way — that I finally thought to myself, “Oh, I get it now!” From then on, every computer language that I learned in school — COBOL, C, Oracle Forms, CICS, DB2, Visual Basic — made a lot more sense, and I became a dean’s list student, even while holding down a few part-time jobs.
It’s good that I took that Visual Basic class and even had some on-the-job experience using it in my first year or two of working as a programmer. It helps me to better understand what we’re talking about now. The thing that helps with computers, though — whether you’re a user or a programmer — is repetition. And if pretty much all you’ve ever done as a programmer for the last 14 years or so is to work with an older language, learning a newer one and starting at a more advanced level than what you were expecting out of more introductory classes can be a bit of a shock to the system.
I’m wondering if that’s why Raymond didn’t show up to class on Wednesday and Thursday. Maybe it was all a bit overwhelming, a bit too fast-paced, and Microsoft’s step-by-step lab instructions — even in the “cheater’s version” — is no help.
If it was all a bit too much for Raymond, I can understand.
As it stands for me, I’m going through the labs the best that I can, trying to grasp things in the lectures and taking notes and hoping the notes that I take will all be of some use when it comes time for the exam, I’m sure I’ll still get a certificate of completion out of this course, and I found out Thursday morning that it appears there will be a wait of about three weeks between this, my second out of three classes, and my third class, and that’s before I can even take the MCTS exam. I should have plenty of time between classes to study what’s already been presented.
In the meantime, my lovely wife and I each keep a worried eye on our bank account and stretch things the best that we can … and we keep praying.
I’m seriously thinking of looking for a job selling cars — one of those “no experience necessary” kinds of deals — while I wait that three weeks between computer training classes.
This is what you call “livin’ on the edge.” It sucks.
- Visual Basic 6: Old Soldiers Never Die… (blogs.msdn.com)
- Cretaceous COBOL Can Spawn Jurassic Java (java.dzone.com)
- 2012 – Where Does the COBOL Mainframe Programmer Go From Here! (itinfralogistics.wordpress.com)
- COBOL Class Notes (docserve.wordpress.com)
- Mastering Microsoft Visual Basic 2010 (shop.oreilly.com)