Zerillian Engineering

Irradiated with cheeky programmer fervor!

Preeow, Universe.

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I’ve heard that one of the big things that separates mediocre programmers from good ones is blog writing. Participation in the open source scene is huge as well, but getting people to listen to you is eye-opening and empowering. At least, I feel that it is. Sharing of information is what makes the Web remarkable. If I have things to contribute, I think I should get them out there.

Allow Me to Introduce Myself.

My name is Armand. I’m a quirky round-faced ball of enthusiasm and big time programming enthusiast. I’ve been writing code for the better part of my life, in some form or another. I decided to make Web programming my specialty after I taught myself PHP and witnessed the power I immediately channeled with just a text editor.

All I’ve ever really wanted to do is help people, and creating systems for the Web fascinates me. I may have the opportunity to share what I have to offer with a lot of people. It’s a much larger scale than fixing computers, which I always thought was a pain in the ass.

My old boss told the old joke,

How many programmers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, that’s a hardware problem!

Oh, how we laughed.

So in the same ways I’ve taken on a DIY attitude, I’ve taught myself everything I know about these electric beasts. They are deeply fascinating to me. I’ve seen more than a handful of bright-eyed young programmers showcase what I call hollow talent. It’s similar to how you might bulls–t someone you’re talking to such that you appear to be informed about the topic at hand. Sadly, a lot of this fresh talent is built on looking up into higher constructs while not understanding the activity that drives them.

My first programming experience came while learning about robotics in a summer-camp sort of program. I was just about twelve, and we had a lot to play with. They had those nifty Lego robitcs sets, sure. But the real pleasure was working with a real machine; the Parallax BASIC Stamp was the first real computer I’ve ever bossed around.

On a microcontroller, you don’t get any help. There are functions and implementations that keep your hardware afloat, and that’s it. No standard libraries. All you have is math and memory access, essentially. That was my boot camp.

I learned to have fun with the BASIC Stamp, simple as they were. Most of it was the fact that transferring a program to the little EEPROM on these robots would immediately bring them to life. I’d get to tweak and test continually, and it was endlessly entertaining. This is probably where I established by preferred development paradigm: Test-driven development.

I taught myself about the implementation of many simple algorithms, since there was no hand-holding in PBASIC (Parallax’s extension of BASIC adding microcontroller-specific constructs). Step by step, I built up core computer science knowledge, almost without knowing it. All that really mattered was that I was getting to do new things with what I learned. Learning enabled a unique kind of excitement for me, and I never lost the desire to learn. The self-teaching process, though frustrating at times, is still the activity I find most rewarding.

I kept it rolling, picking up C++ while I worked with openFrameworks (which was unbelievably fun) and later PHP, where I got my foundation in web programming. HTML, CSS, JavaScript… They all came along with it. And now I’m further pushing my boundaries in the web with languages like Ruby and Erlang. I was never much a fan of Python, but to be fair I never gave it a thorough try.

And these all just barely scratch the surface. I have so much more to illuminate.

I tend not to think in absolutes. There are some issues that polarize me, but I’ve always been a rather open-minded individual. I contrast this to a majority of tech bloggers whom are opinionated, stubborn, and elitist. I’ll admit that these are sometimes positions that are easy to settle into, which is perhaps why people become such binary thinkers with little awareness to the fact.

There is so much to experience in the world of technology, that I’ve found it far more enjoyable to explore and absorb new ideas. Odd as this may sound, I try to never think that I’m doing something right. It doesn’t mean I think I’m wrong. It means I don’t hold my methods as perfect or authorotative. There’s often a better way to do things. Even if I’m solving a problem to the best of my ability or in the best possible way, I like to remain aware of and receptive to concepts carried in on the intermittent gusts of fresh air.

All of this experience and philosophy culminates in my overarching life goal: To be helpful. A lot of people have a lot of problems, and somehow I plan on solving at least one of them.

This is me. And I can be very helpful.