Thursday, December 6, 2007

Programming and Me

I started to own my first computer - Apple IIe when I served as a teacher in Sungai Petani in 1979. At that time, computer shops usually gave free computer courses to buyers. For the free lessons, I opted for the dbase III course. After the ten lessons, I had only learned how to use the software. As I was interested in programming, I bought books in dBase III programming and started to learn how to program and experiment on my own.

Programming takes time. It calls for patience and perseverance as I had to write codes and repeatedly debug them until the program could run as expected. I am sure other programmers will experience the same situation as me. Initially I programmed a class marks management software to calculate marks for my own class. Later I gave the error-free software to my school - St Theresa Secondary School for the use of all teachers in the school. They liked my program very much as it eased their work when my software helped them to add up marks, average them and arrange position in class.

The RAM of my computer then was only 64MB. As a result, when the analysis of individual subjects was done, the computer met its Waterloo, that is, it was unable to carry out the job assigned. Two years later, I bought an IBM-compatible PC and the problem was solved because the new computer had sufficient memory to analyse individual subjects and I could print them out, displaying all data on one page.

I also programmed one Library Management system for the school for the sake of Mr Koh, the library teacher who had requested me to help him computerize the library. You see, computerisation of the library was not done in most schools then because such software was not readily availble. Nowadays, schools can purchase the relevant software easily.

When I finally managed to get myself transferred to Penang in December 1989, the Marks Management program was given to my new school - Methodist Boys School. Mr. Loo Hock Guan, the Principal, wanted the results to be printed out on single sheets in place of the report cards. Additional codes were then written to effect this in my program. I was put to be in charge of printing the exam results for the whole school.

Through one of my colleagues, the Chinese Recreation Club had asked me to do a Club Membership Program. This was my only commercial program. The irony was that I earned more by servicing and upgrading the program than the payment I received for the software.

I was very proud to be able to contribute my knowledge in programming to help the two schools I served in.

I still love programming but this time the medium is visual basic.

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