Day 15 of 30 (in 30 days of Geek) – Earliest geek experience

Day 15 of 30 (in 30 days of Geek)…

– Earliest geek experience?

This one goes back quite a while.

I would say this is a close call between 2 events:

  1. Writing my first software program (on a TRS-80)
  2. Winning my 9th grade science fair.

My first “program” was a hack to make the screen appear to be locked up for the next person who came along.  As soon as they pushed any key, it popped up a prompt that said:

>> Error.  Press any key to format drive.

Then, no matter what they did, it accessed the cassette drive and made a chugging sound like it was doing something… and scared them.

Was it mature? No.  But I was in 8th grade, and thought it was cute.

My science fair project was a bit of fun, I spent a lot of time working on the effects of various gasses and environments on the germination rates or alfalfa seeds.

I tried growing in pure oxygyn, pure nitrogen, normal air, concentrated CO2, a vacuum, and pressurised normal air.

My hypothesis was that CO2 would be best.  That was before I learned that plants use respiration prior to photosynthesis, so in actual fact, the heavy O2 works best.  I wonder now how O3 would have worked 🙂

The interesting part was that I won for the school, and went on to the district finals with high hopes, and then bombed out without any awards at all.  Some bozo with an exhibit showing optical illusions (that took no research or design at all) won 1st prize.  My teacher and advisors all said they were pretty stunned.  I still am irritated by the injustice of the grading.

About andy dingfelder

Andy is a CISO/CTO in the fintech sector with over 20 years of experience in Software Delivery and Team Leadership in multiple industry domains. Master's Degree (MPA) in Public Administration Information Systems and over 10 years of board governance experience for multiple organisations. Full bio is available at: and links available at or follow him on Twitter at Andy lives in the Wellington region, New Zealand with his wife and two daughters.
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