Dan Knauss's user avatar
Dan Knauss's user avatar
Dan Knauss's user avatar
Dan Knauss
  • Member for 8 years, 11 months
  • Last seen more than 1 year ago

I've been a self-taught programmer in some sense since grade school in upstate New York when my first computer was a TI-99-4/a. Through the 80s I journeyed with awe and creative affection through a series of Atari and Commodore 8-bit machines. I learned BASIC and then a little Assembly while living in Micronesia. Finishing high school in New Jersey, I took an AP class in PASCAL in 1990, dabbled in a little C, and ran up big phone bills on BBSes. I also took drafting and used early AutoCAD on 286 and 386 machines with EGA graphics, which felt like a big step down from my Amiga. That changed after the 486 and VGA became affordable, and I moved on to the PC and Windows, mostly as a writing tool.

I thought I was putting programming aside in university as I focused on written/spoken languages, literature, and history. I also thought I had seen the last of networked computing. Then in grad school, Usenet and the early interwebs pulled me back in. NC State had a fully networked campus with SPARC stations all over the place in 1995. Everyone got an account on the network with a web folder, which set me on a new path with *nix and soon HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Blogging and Movable Type introduced me to Perl, PHP, and the value of the CMS for content-focused design. Then came Drupal, Mambo/Joomla, Textpattern, and WordPress. (You can read my "WordPress Origins" story at wordpress.org.) My open source journey has ranged a little farther than publishing platforms -- Elgg was an interesting diversion for a while -- but that's most of it. These different software project gave me a steady stream of side-jobs for a few years until I incorporated (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) as New Local Media. The name derives from the nature of the work I had with local businesses, non-profits, and independent media or advocacy/influence projects.

I'm a relatively and still largely unconvinced latecomer to the Apple/Mac bandwagon. Although I loved and learned a lot as a kid on their early products, I hated Macs in the 90s until OS X came out, but then Windows lost my respect between XP and 10. When Microsoft released the first Surface Book I was happy to come back, but today it and my iMac feel like a least-worst option, a comfortable but not exactly good ensemble. I am still waiting for the perfect OS and convertible tablet/laptop. It may be that there will never be a real improvement over the blank book and pen.

As an early fan of PalmOS devices (PocketPC/Windows CE not so much), the iPhone was the "convergence" device I was waiting for that ended up "converging" my whole family. (At which point I turned against smartphones and quit most social media.) When my youngest daughter asks, "Can we hack Alexa?" I think we're doing something right.

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