–1- I grew up on a small farm in Texas. Since I was lactose intolerant, but loved cereal, we had a few goats and I milked one twice a day growing up. At any given time we had about 100 chickens, half a dozen turkeys, and a few ducks. Occasionally we’d have horses, my sister took care of our dogs, and my Dad like to have us keep up a nice garden that would actually supply us with an ample supply of vegetables. Dad & I would create electronics combined with woodworking projects to make automated feeders, waterers, chicken counters, security gates, and other automated farm equipment and data collection systems. It was quite a mix of technology and old-school farming.
-2- At 14 I won a Texas State Computer Programming Contest (TCEA). I was the first homeschooled student to ever enter and was the only 1-man team out of 100s of other teams consisting of mostly three students. I won 3rd place in the state (short of 2nd place by 2sec) and was the first 1-man team to win in their >10yr history at the state round. I used Visual Basic for DOS. It was fun. 🙂
-3- At age 13 I started my own computer “business” to afford violin lessons. My parents couldn’t afford them, so I had to take piano until I could pay for them myself. A “1,000 business cards and a registered name” later I had a small income (~$20/wk). It started out assisting local businesses with their computer issues (simple app installing, networking, etc), moved on to making a regular circuit around the town‘s PC repair shows to handle their tough cases, at 14 I started selling my own shareware apps, then (at 16) started contract programming apps to collect, analyze, and process data from custom built hardware (got to travel to a few countries doing this), built a national SmartCard health-care (w/ patent) system for a year before college, then built custom (very VS-like) medical apps to pay my way through college (in the process being a C# MVP). Now-a-days I write dozens of little apps in my off-time and have a little electronics lab at home.
-4- I love my Netflix account. Dawn and I don’t get any TV or cable signal but watch tons of movies and shows via DVD. I put them on my network, mount them via my Harmony Remote and custom Windows Media Center plug-in (all from the couch), then delete them. I have a lot of catching up to do and am spoiled now, any TV show I can watch from start to finish without waiting a week for the next episode and never-ever see any commercials. We fluctuate between the 5-at-a-time and the 8-at-a-time account.
-5- I flunked most of my college math courses the first time around. I started off in business, made the Dean’s list, but was so disappointed that the toughest math class was essentially “how to plug matrixes into your calculator” (my only A in math the first go-around) that I changed my major to Computer Engineering (EE w/ CS). It had the most math requirement of any undergrad engineering degree (one course short of a minor). When math didn’t ‘click’ I just sort-of gave up (D or F), took the course again, and usually aced it the 2nd time around. This happened for almost every one of my 8-10 math courses. I ended up enjoying math and loved the way the more advanced techniques made complex electrical & physics systems “easy” to solve.
Some of my collegues that have posted their 5 Things are Scott Hanselman, Chris Bowen, Rob Caron, and Brian Harry (I’m sure there are many more, these are just the ones I found quickly)
My VSTS MVP buddies: Etienne Tremblay, Boon-Tiong Lim, Mickey Gousset, and Willey-Peter Schaub