Developer stories  - Greg D. Burns from Oregon 🇺🇸

Welcome again to our latest Developer Story, this week we’re learning about Greg from Oregon, USA. If you’ve missed our previous conversations, this is the motivation:

Software Development is such an interesting career - from working remotely to working in a large tech hub to checking in from the beach - each person works in a wildly different way and that’s why we love it!

We wanted to know what gets devs started, what keeps them dreaming and how they work - so we asked some of our users!

Greg’s Workshape

Greg has written us a brief and eventful excerpt of time with technology. He discusses the technology he started with (which people my age have only seen in vintage stores 🙃) and the changes in the tech landscape he’s observed.

Greg’s story

I’m 42 and I’ve been programming since High School.
Like a lot of programmers my age, it all started when my mom bought us a Tandy 1000. It came with a 5 1/4 diskettes for MS BASIC.

I was hooked, I got what books I could find from the library on MS Basic; no Internet back then, well at least not like we know it.

I remember programming things like a word processor, games like snake, tic-tac-toe, maze games etc. When my high school offered a basic computer class, I took it and learnt more than the teacher.

Tandy 1000

After high school, I didn’t have the money for college nor the skills for a good job so I joined the army.

I knew I wanted a high-tech job so I did my best on their test, and was able to get a Top Secure job as a Satellite Communication Systems Operator-Maintainer (31S).

It was great because not only did they teach me to be a responsible adult, but I learnt the details of electronics down to how a transistor works and how to troubleshoot a problem by taking the proper logical steps. Whilst I was in the Army I continued to learn by taking college classes and learning on my own.

I was able to get my Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.

After 6 years of service, I decided to get out.
I found my first real job in Santa Monica, CA. They were delivering high-speed Internet and Voice (VOIP) to remote countries via satellites. Here I learned all about the equipment it takes to make the Internet to work; Routers, Switches, etc.

After about 3–4 years the company was bought out by a larger company and a group of us decided to branch off and start a new calling card company. This was my first time with a small company I think we only had 4 people. I was the CTO but with so few people I had to do everything from setting up routers to setting up our website. This is also the time that I started with AMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP) which is still my main focus today.

After 2 years, the company wasn’t making money so we had to close the doors and move on. I tried finding a normal job but was not having any luck and between interviews. I started my own company VoipTools using my contacts and I was able to do ok. That plus some side jobs meant I was able to pay the bills.

But it was just me, I had to do everything on my own. This taught me a lot including the joys of working from home. Which was an important turning point for me. I know it isn’t for everyone, but for me it works and I do not see myself going back to a 9–5 job.

A few years into that, I got together with an old friend from my first job in Santa Monica. He was starting a new business as a mobile phone service provider and wanted my help getting it going. It went well for a couple of years so I let my side jobs die. But like all of my previous jobs this one didn’t last either.

After about 5 years, they let me go due to cut backs. Which I was a little bitter about because I helped start it and my so called friend didn’t give me any warning. One day, he told me they were going to have to let me go. But that is life, I guess.

Still, it’s a great time be a developer.

I haven’t had any problems finding work. I started with Upworks and then found someone on Dice.
That brings us to today.

Working from home, in a house in a small town in Oregon, working for a startup with only 2–3 people trying to make a product that will last me another few years…

Landscape around Cave Junction, Oregon

If you’ve scrolled this far

Thank you! We hope you enjoyed reading Greg’s fascinating story about his experience of the tech scene with the army and the startup politics particular highlights. If you want to learn more about Greg check out his Twitter.

If you like the theme stay tuned! We’ll be back soon with another Developer Story!!