It just sort of… happened

I get asked this a lot: “how did you learn this stuff?” I don’t know. I honestly don’t remember it.

Technology’s always just “been there” for me. Perhaps it’s because my great-grandfather worked for UNIVAC here in the Twin Cities (building some of the earliest computers in existence), which infused the succeeding generations with an appreciation for technology. Perhaps it’s because both my grandparents and my parents let me play around on AutoCAD as an 8 year old, not just Paintbrush.exe like my (lucky few) friends with computers. Perhaps it’s because I used to sneak back in to school during recess to play an illegal copy of Star Wars: Rebel Assault on the only PC in my elementary school. Perhaps it’s because I learned to program in QBASIC and C before I got to middle school.

A scanned image of a Fortran programmers manual.#TheseColorsDontRun #ThisIsMyHeritage #THINKItOrLeaveIt

Maybe it’s the countless hours building a network of websites with my friends, talking about our interests and home lives, 10 years before Facebook. Or maybe it’s the countless hours programming computers to do my algebra homework for me. Or maybe it’s the countless hours playing Descent (and later, StarCraft) against my friends using the fax line at my house.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I was unhappy being a closeted transgender girl growing up in the 90s, and technology was something I was simply “good” at, and all I wanted back then was to be good at something.

A sample QBASIC screen with a program designed to tell you what grade you're in.This is a nearly complete replication of my first computer program. The names were changed because it’s better this way. 🙂

In any case, it just sort of… happened. For whatever reason, this stuff makes sense to me. Our co-founder Ilse described it (more eloquently than I can) as my “first language”, and that’s apropos. I consider myself to be among the older digital natives out there; my daughter (born in 2014) will grow up in a world where digital devices are in every room of the house, and that’s almost the same world I (born in 1985) grew up in- the devices are just better. You can do a hell of a lot more with a Nexus 7 then you can with a 286. 🙂

A photo of Veronica, her daughter, and her wifeThe author (left), her wife (right), and their child who shall rule the planet with her superior grasp of technology. Photo courtesy of Abby Van Stone Photography, LLC.

If you can’t tell already, my style can be… dense. I love writing, but it isn’t my strongest suit. I’m a developer first and foremost, and it’s not hard for me to drone on and on about programming languages or the merits of the Linux kernel. But, I also like most people, and since most people don’t care to know my feelings on the evolution of Program Manager between 1990 and 1993, I’ll try and spare you the details as much as possible.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I grew up in a world where a lot of things may have been scary, but technology wasn’t. My sense has always been that for other people, the opposite is true. All I’ve ever wanted to do is to help everyone see that technology isn’t scary. That’s what is all about, and what Operation Incredible is all about. We’re trying to change the world by making better technology, and making it less scary for everyone else.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work. 🙂 🙂 🙂

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