About Me

Who am I? I wear many hats. Take a look. . .

I am a Programmer

I started my programming journey in–well, let’s say it wasn’t in this century. I started programming because it was fun. I often felt like Elle Woods in “Legally Blonde,” discussing the fact that she attends Harvard Law with her ex-boyfriend.

He says, “You got into Harvard Law?”

She replies, “What? Like it’s hard?”

That is the way I have always felt about computers. I bought my first computer because I heard the games were better, but then I fell in love with making the computer do what I wanted it to do. I started with BASIC and moved on to other languages including C, C++, Pascal, Java, and Visual Basic to mention a few.

In 1994, I published several games for Windows. You actually might have found them in Electronics Boutique or K-Mart. My games were written in Visual Basic 3.0 for Windows 3.1 but they continued to work in Windows 95.

I learned web development at a time when everybody and his brother was making a website. If you remember GeoCities, you know how long ago that was! Of course, things have changed since then. I recently took several online courses to update my skills and see how all of the new technology fits together. It was well worth it.

I am a Writer

This sort of overlaps with the previous section. I have been a Technical Writer for quite a while. Even before I went to work at Microsoft, I began writing articles about programming in magazines such as PC Techniques, and PC Hands On.

The reason I became a Technical Writer, however, is because I wanted to be a “real writer” (in other words, a published writer of fiction!) I set myself a deadline. I said that if I hadn’t been published before the deadline passed, I would stop writing. Oops, wrong thing to say. In order to keep my promise, I sent an article on BASIC programming to a magazine called CodeWorks. They bought it and paid me $50. I was “on my way!”

Maybe not. It took me a long time before I actually sold a short story. Until 2003, in fact. In November of 2003, my first paid sale appeared on a website called Alien Skin. The website is gone, but my story, “Lost and Found” appears in my book of flash fiction, Dreams in Transit. You can find out more about my writing at Irene P. Smith.

Jack of all Trades?

Hopefully the second part, “Master of None” doesn’t apply here, but I’ve done a lot of different jobs over the years; stuff that has dropped off the end of my resume or is no longer relevant. For example, I:

  • Worked as a secretary at various places. In fact, my first job at age 14 was as a secretary.
  • Worked for Graphics, my parents’ print shop, where I sold advertising, took printing orders, and did typesetting and layout for their weekly advertising paper.
  • Worked for the anthropology department at SUNY New Paltz where I helped enter archaeological data into a database, and even got to put human skeletons together like a gigantic 3-D jigsaw puzzle. (Ten thousand year old bones aren’t yucky, BTW.)
  • Ran a school for adults in the late nineties, teaching computer software. We were a little bit ahead of our time though, so it only lasted a little over a year.
  • I spent four years as a Programming Writer at Microsoft where I owned approximately 1.5 million words of documentation that described how to use Microsoft’s database objects. First ADO, OleDb, and ODBC for which I wrote sample code in C++, Java, Visual Basic 6.0, VBScript, and JavaScript. Later I documented ADO .NET for which I wrote example code in C# and Visual Basic.
  • I also spent a year at Google, documenting their advertising technologies as a member of the Developer Relations team.

If you want to learn more about me, you can take a look at My Resume.