How I got from there to here [a programmer is born];

I have been taking a journey.  And where I have ended up is the shore of an unfamiliar ocean.  I have been slowly wading in its waters.  My pant legs are damp with the stain of programming code.  What began as an endeavor  to learn the ins and outs of real time video mixing has thrown me into the world of computer programming languages and logic…..and I love it.  It seems lately that I can not consume enough information.  But the more I learn, the more I find out how much I have yet to learn (young grasshoppa).  I think the evolution thus far is worth documenting.  And that is what will be contained in following article.

I have always wanted to be  a rock star.  From a young age I felt that I could pull it off.  I didn’t quite know how but knew that if I just kept practicing my instrument and moving towards that goal, I would get there.  But as a bass player, I knew that my role was expendable and I needed to make myself an invaluable part to any band by bringing more to the table.  That’s partly why I got into recording and running sound, I mean are you really gonna fire the guy who owns the sound system?  About 1996 or so I also realized that the laptop would become the “electric guitar” for the next generation.  Not only could I envision the evolution of produced and recorded music, but new types of rock stars would emerge.  One of the things I envisioned would be the need for bands or artists to add an additional member.  The “visualist” so to speak.  This person, given the technology, would be responsible for the media being presented in real time during a performance.  I saw this person manipulating images, text, video and lighting cues via midi in real time with the performance.  Well, I think the technology is finally here to do such things.  But to do it still requires a significant investment in learning technology.  There is software out there like VDMX and VJamm that lets you do some pretty cool manipulation, but it isn’t until you couple it with a graphics development environment  like Quartz Composer(QC) where you get some real groundbreaking results.

With some instruction from Chad Udell, I started to mess with quartz composer.  But it was soon that I realized that I would need to go a little deeper.  To get “under the hood” of my MacBook so to speak.  Little did I know that I had started down a rabbit hole.  After dorking around with QC and X-Code I started to get into some simple program writing.  Some of the guys in the development cube had received some iOS development books and I started flipping through them. I made a couple crude iPhone apps. I liked what I was learning, but most of what I was doing was regurgitating lines of code from the book into the code file on my computer. I really wasn’t learning much. At the time I was starting to get overwhelmed by the number of programming and scripting languages to use, I mean where do you even start? I realized that I was going to have to make some hard decisions about what I wanted to specifically learn. The iOS books had us writing in Objective C. I knew that there were other languages out there to learn that may suite my needs better. But decisions needed to be made. So on a whim I bought a couple of beginner books on C++ and Javascript.

I bought Sams Teach Yourself C++. I decided on C++ for a couple of reasons. One, it seemed to be the programming language used in all of the FMOD examples and two, we were working on some interesting projects at the Iona group where the dev guys were doing pretty cool stuff with openFrameworks and Cinder, both of which use C++.  A few days ago I found a beginners book for iPad and iPhone development at the library.  I started going through that book and came to find that Objective-C is not the fire breathing dragon I once thought it was.  So I am gravitating back to that while still pushing through my C++ book.  On a recommendation from a colleague from Bradley, I got the Audio Programming Book from MIT Press.  I quickly realized that this book was a little beyond my reach, but the content is slowly making sense to me.  All of the code is in C so I have backed off that book for now.  I plan on writing reviews on each of the books I am going through so stay tuned.

I have also been doing some remedial code scrubbing on some web projects for the Iona Group which is not rocket science but I am glad that the dev guys feel comfortable enough with me to let me tackle some of these jobs.  I hope to share some these as well soon.

So it has been not quite a year now that I have been dabbling in the world of programming and only now do I feel that I am close to starting to make stuff happen on these wonderful (mobile) devices.  I am excited to get some things made and shared with the world.  I think I have some good ideas for apps and, like a 4 year old child excited to show his parents their latest finger painting, I  am filled with giddy excitement to share. We shall see.

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