[thelist] Teach Old Programmer New Tricks

Garth Hagerman hagerman at mcn.org
Fri Jan 28 21:23:34 CST 2011

  (sorry if this appears twice; I didn't change the subject line the  
first time)

> I have a friend ... who
> used to be a programmer and ... Cobol,
> his other "career" has fizzled out. I told him I could advise him
> regarding web work, but my advise would probably be to forget about
> it.

I found myself in a similar position a few years back. I'd studied  
Computer Science back in'79 and '80, learning FORTRAN and PASCAL. I  
never did much with that background. Then, in '98, I took a basic HTML  
class at my local community college. Many bright, artistically  
inclined students got one whiff of code and almost literally ran away  
screaming. But, courtesy of those CS classes long ago, I took to it  
like a fish to water.
I built a simple photography site for myself.
I built a more complicated site as a volunteer for a local theatre  
I started to take on some small scale paying clients.
Then, I took the plunge into server side scripting and databases. I  
figured it'd take me a month or two to get a handle on PHP and MySQL.  
A year later, after much frustration, I could sorta-kinda use them a  
Now, I keep busy as a small town web generalist. It's a tough way to  
make a living, but most of the bills get paid most of the time.

Your friend needs to take a hard look at his skills, goals, and the  
depth of his desire. It's unlikely he'll be making the big bucks soon,  
but if he works hard at learning HTML/CSS/PHP and some basic graphics  
stuff, he could get a decent supplemental income out of it.

I hope this helps,

                            * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
                                my online portfolio


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