My Programming History

I have been programming computers since 1980.  The first computer I programmed was a larger computer at Riverside Community College in the Basic language.  I don’t recall what the computer was.  I only recall that programs were stored on punch cards and paper tape at that time.  I fell in love with the craft and spent many hours in the computer lab.

I then enrolled in the Computer Science program at Brigham Young University. The department’s VAX computer ran Unix. Most programming was done in C, but other languages were used as well. One of the classes I took exposed me to a wide variety of languages, including Lisp and Forth. That class was a great deal of fun. I quickly realized that I had great agility with programming, able to move with ease from one language to another. My big achievement in the program was writing a C compiler. It was rather slow, I’ll admit, but it completely incorporated the assigned scope, and it was bug-free.

After college, in 1985, I got a job at Bechtel Western Power maintaining project management software for construction and engineering. The computer ran the VAX/VMS operating system. The projects were written in C and incorporated Rdb and Datatrieve data management systems. A year after I was hired, I was assigned to the Synergy project within Bechtel where I helped develop a PC-based project management suite in C with the Oracle database system and tools.

In 1990, I was hired by TRW-REDI Property Data, a subsidiary of the TRW that produces credit reports. I maintained and developed new features for the Smart Title System, a PC front end for the company’s real estate information system. The Smart Title System was used for examining indexed data from official county real estate records for the purpose of issuing real estate insurance and also for searching sales information for the purpose of appraising property. The main database was on an IBM CICS machine. The PC front end program incorporated DESQview to provide asynchronous access to the mainframe data. (The program was written before Microsoft came up with Windows.) Most modules on the PC were written in C, but we also had a module written in assembler language, which I also helped maintain. TRW-REDI Property Data was eventually bought by First American Real Estate Information Services.

It was about this time that I enrolled in the MBA Technology Management program at the University of Phoenix, which I completed in 1998 with a GPA of 3.77 out of 4. We did a lot of presenting during that program, which honed my public speaking skills as well as my technical skills. My final project was a Managerial Business Plan for Implementing Software Reuse.

In 1996, I moved to CCH Incorporated which was later bought by Wolters Kluwer. There, I maintained and upgraded Computax’s various PC platform tax preparation products in C and C++. During my career there, we adopted Microsoft Visual Studio as our development platform. I became known for writing solid code.  One of the tax analysts nicknamed me “The Teflon Programmer” because “bugs don’t stick.”  My stay at CCH also coincided with the Y2K issue that came up at the turn of the century. In the early days of computing, data storage was expensive and in short supply. In order to save storage space, many companies opted to use two digits to represent a year, including CCH. I was put in charge of the Y2K research and development team. I came up with a plan that avoided mass restructuring of data, thus saving considerable development expense. The mechanism interpreted the year based on a rolling year range window. High year numbers were interpreted to be in the 1900s, and low year numbers were interpreted to be in the 2000s. I wrote the C++ class library that did that interpretation.

Since that job, I have developed some web pages in PHP and MySQL. I have also played with C# with calls to a Microsoft Access database.

At present, I am learning Java and Android development in preparation for producing Android apps for the market.

Click here for a current technology résumé.

Roxann Higuera

Note: During most of my career history, I was known as Roxann Shin.

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