And to Think I Used to Get Paid for This.

My netbook runs a Linux operating system. I’ve used the command line for basic file and directory management. There are a few routine tasks that are a pain, like copying a subset of the cellphone photos to the netbook’s hard drive.

That’s ‘A Pain’ in programmer terms. The task takes 30 seconds, but I knew I could cut that to 5 by passing a parameter to a shell script. Four hours later I had the script – and knew more about Linux.

For years I have toyed with the idea of learning Linux and the most common open source web programming tools. Back when I was facing retiring into the (first?) ‘dropping like a stone’ phase of the global economic crisis it seemed like a good idea to have a hobby that would enhance my ability to get a job should I return to the workforce. A friend pointed out it seemed too much like planning for failure. I agreed.

But I love to develop software, to learn new languages or parts of languages, to build solutions, and for the ‘ah-ha’ moments when seemingly disparate bits of information coalesce. When I’m in the zone, time evaporates and the rest of the world recedes into the background. It’s been that way since my first programming class 36 years ago (FORTRAN IV on punch cards, if you’re curious).

One of the frequently asked questions on retirement forums is how retired folks fill their days. Usual response is to figure out what you’re going to do with your time before leaving the work force. Some take it a step farther and say to find a purpose. I’d figured that out for myself and had some ideas for both new hobbies and purpose. But it was probably inevitable I’d turn to software. Learning new software is the hobby, becoming proficient is the first goal. My purpose is to become part of an open source development project.

awk, grep, and find are becoming my friends. Much of what is written about open source tools is also open source, so I’ve downloaded several books and tutorials on Python. Playing with software has occupied much of my time this week: The fun has begun.

No need to confine myself to one hobby. I still want to learn how to shoot pool.  Hua Hin has many tables.


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