Height of overconfidence, I thought I could learn VC++ 5 in a month !!

I have a emotional connect with this CD. It came with the book Using Visual C++ 5 (Special Edition). I still remember the day when I walked into a bookstore in Dadar(Mumbai) with my father and asked him to buy this book for me. I had recently become comfortable with Foxpro 2.5, and my next target was Visual C++ 5, because I had heard that VC++ programers get paid like crazy. I still remember the surprised look the bookstore owner gave me when I enquired for this book (I was in 11th grade then). I don’t think he knew anything about programing, but he had definitely sensed the over-confidence in me. My dad just brought the book and we came home.

The next day, I started reading the book hoping to learn few things about VC++ quickly. But I was thoroughly disappointed. The book was loaded with reference to Win32 API ,MFC ,ATL ,ActiveX etc. , of which I knew nothing. I tried to read the book over and over again, but could not go past first few pages. It was very clear that I had made a huge mistake. There were no shortcuts here. I was missing some important background. I was thinking of returning the book. Before returning the book I thought I should open the CD that came with book. It had some five ebooks in it. One of them was Greg M. Perry’s C++ By Example. I skimmed through some of the code examples in the book, with hope that I will catch some VC++ syntax from the book, but VC++ was very hard to understand and still felt like a different programing language.

It took some more reading for me to conclude:

  • You can’t skip C++ and learn VC++. VC++ is not an advance version of C++ .
  • There is something called as Win32 API which is written in C. You simply won’t understand a word of VC++ without having some knowledge of Win32 API
  • OOP (Object Oriented Programing) is a big deal and a must have skill if I had to learn VC++
  • MFC, ATL and COM are still higher level constructs, which could take years to learn.

This was a big setback for a impatient guy like me. I started learning C++ from Greg M. Perry’s book. It only taught basic C++ and had one last chapter on OOP. I wasn’t enjoying writing console based applications, but I put lot of effort in learning C++.

Once I completed reading the book, I started searching for easy ways of creating GUI programs. I was even willing to learn a new programing language. This was when I got introduced to some very interesting technologies - HTML/CSS, JScript , TCL/Tk , FLTK , Ezwindows and .NET . I will discuss each one in detail in subsequent posts.

The summer of 1997 !!

It was summer of 1997, I was in the 9th grade. My father had promised to buy me a computer after the exams. This PC arrived when I was away at a summer camp. I was so excited to get back home and check it out. It was a Pentium machine, with 256 MB RAM, SoundBlaster card, SVGA display and a 80 GB HDD (I think!). They keyboard and mouse were top notch. So were the speakers, these were original Creative speakers. The CD-ROM had a slim remote which I loved. Initially we had a stabilizer attached to the system. After my first HDD went down we opted for a UPS. The printer was a Canon device, which my father was reluctant to purchase initially. I think we brought it after an year of purchasing the PC.

We did not have internet access for a couple of years. The best source of software were CDs that shipped with magazines like Chip and Digit. Back then I used to clean my PC every week. Everyone used to come to our house to see it. We (me and my brother) mostly played games on it for first few months. Then slowly I started learning programming on it. I couldn’t use it much during my 10th grade, as I had promised my parents I would concentrate on my studies. I made most of it after 10th board exams and all through the first year of my junior college (11th grade).