From guitars to data, a journey. – Yell McGuyer
From my very first Commodore Vic 20 in 1983, I have been in love with computers. It was not until later that I discovered my love for data.
After a few years of college in Richmond Virginia, I moved to California in 1994. I was working in music stores, waiting tables, and playing music at night. After a couple of years, I ended up as the day manager of a cafe in Encino, CA. One of my afternoon regulars was a development manager at a healthcare software company. He was in there at 4:30 pm two or three times a week. Since it was after the lunch rush, and before the dinner shift, we had lots of time to talk. Since he was not a musician, we talked mostly about computers. He too had a commodore, and we reminisced about the days of getting game code in the pages of magazines, and typing it all in by hand. I also had a hobby of buying refurbished parts from Fry’s’, and building 386 and 486 computers. Because the cafe was not doing well, I was looking for another job. I had told him that I would be interviewing at a Starbucks, and that’s when he mentioned that I should submit for a technical writer position that was opening at his healthcare software company.
I gave him a very sparse resume that included no technical or writing experience at all. Surprisingly, the company asked for a writing sample. The request was to create a user manual for any software application that I currently used. I wrote a manual for a very early version of some music sequencing software that I had gotten when I worked for the music store. The application did not come with a manual and was an old store demo copy that the store owner had given me for upgrading the memory for the stores POS computer. I’m not sure if they liked it, or if someone lost a bet, but I was hired to help write the user manual for the new Windows application that was being developed. It was heaven.
While working on the user manual, I was asked to help with the test plans, and the dev team was looking to build a test bank of computers to do load testing. This test bank was going to use Rational test basic, and none of the developers were happy about writing such a simple scripting language. So, I volunteered. I got the manual, and asked a few questions, and after a little time, the company a working test bank. The dev managers were so happy that I showed interest, that they offered to send me to a week long powerbuilder development class. And so began my development career.
I was a powerbuilder developer for quite a while when the company decided to evaluate database technologies. We were using a relational database product called SQLBASE, and needed to use something that had more support. The choices at the time were SQL Server 7, and Oracle. I volunteered to help with the evaluation. It was my introduction into relational databases. The company choose SQL Server, and the Sr. Developer that oversaw the data project chose me as his jr. developer. From that day forward, I have never looked back. I have since done quite a bit of application, and web development, but my love has always been data.