Lynell Constantine Talks About RPG
Lynell Constantine discusses RPG, being a Fresh Face and more in this episode of iTalk With Tuohy.
By Paul Tuohy02/01/2018
Paul Tuohy: Hi everybody. Welcome to another iTalk with Tuohy. As many of you who are listening in will know, for the last year or two IBM have been sort of doing a thing called the Ffresh Ffaces of IBM. This has sort of been to highlight that there are young people coming in on the platform. I am delighted to be joined by one of those young people today, Lynell Constantine. Hello, Lynell.
Lynell Constantine: Hi, how are you doing Paul?
Paul: I'm doing very well thank you and I hope you are doing well as well. So I've got to say Lynell I know we were just chatting briefly before― and I'm going to start with this― but I think of all of the people I've done the iTalks with over the years, you definitely have the best name. Lynell Constantine. That is sort of―it's Lynell C. Constantine. Please share with everybody what the C stands for.?
Lynell: The C stands for Capilangan. It's kind of a―-it's a Filipino name actually so that's pretty cool and interesting, I suppose. I get some comments on it here and there.
Paul: So Lynell Capilangan Constantine.
Lynell: Yup. That's right.
Paul: Oh, wow. I wish I'd had your parents. Okay. [Laughs] So Lynell, you are one of the IBM fresh faces, one of the young people working on the platform. So maybe to start with, can you tell people how you got in on the platform, where you started?
Lynell: So I started first of all in IT. I was going to a school, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and I was going for computer engineering but I really liked the programming aspect a lot more, so I ended up going to Gateway Technical College in Kenosha [Wisc.]. When I got over there, I did the program analyst degree and the capstone class there is the RPG, the RPG class. It was taught by Jim Buck and that's how is who I was really introduced to the community. I went to a couple of conferences there, WMCPA, the Wisconsin IBM i user group, was really I started taking off on the platform. So so it was a good experience.
Paul: Yeah, so―-okay I don't know if you can remember back to when you actually started. I know it was just a few years ago but I know young people you, your memory span, your long-term―-four years is a long time ago to you. But but can you remember― I mean, why RPG? I mean okay, I knew of the Ttechnical Ccollege with Jim Buck. It is one of the cornerstones closest there, but I mean surely you had other options like you know Java or whatever road you could have gone down through. I mean why did you pick that RPG one?
Lynell: So RPG, it was―-it was a little bit more of a unique language. I had never head of it before this class, so when I started up on it, I loved how close it was, how close it seemedwas to the database. Like like you could―-the possibilities were so awesome because you go and the ILE would really open up options for you. You could program in Java, program in RPG, add some C calls and whatnot and, you know, it just seemed the good way to go. I mean there were a shortage of RPG programmers and I wanted to get on that.
Paul: So you did a bit of research on this, or was that something Jim sort of told you guys, just sort of went in there and said "you know, be an RPG programmer. They're screaming out for them."
Lynell: Oh he definitely went that way, but I had to do some research for myself. I had to figure out what I actually liked more. I enjoy programming in RPG, actually. I think the language― even though people think it is all archaic―, I think it makes a lot of sense. I like it more than Java so I decided to go that way.
Paul: Oh, you are so definitely getting on my good side here. Definitely. [Laughs]
Lynell: Got to butter you up a little bit.
Paul: Okay so as―-so I should tell people:. We were talking about this that we have―-we did actually meet in person because you, when you were still at college, you attended the RPG and DBb2 Summit in Chicago with a few fellow students, if I remember correctly.
Lynell: Yeah, I remember eating a dinner there with you that one time at the round table. That was a good time.
Paul: And I must say you've had a hair cut I think since we met, have you?
Lynell: I have but I grew it back. I still got the super fro.
Paul: Oh, you got the super fro. Okay. So okay the story:. I remembered when I was talking to you and good, because it wasn't just the fro that stood out in my mind when we met. It was the associate thing. So while you were at college, you also worked, yeah?
Paul: So when we met, let me just share with people where you were working at the time.
Lynell: Oh, at the time I was working at the service desk for U.S. MEPCOM, which stands for Military Entrance Processing Command. I was actually at the headquarters. This is a branch of the army here.
Paul: Okay so you would go into work everyday with a super afro hair cut. I mean it must been out a foot each side. [Laughs]
Lynell: Yup. You're got a whole sea of shaved heads and then I've got―-you've got this guy walking around the base who―-
Paul: I think they thought you must be passing by the barber's, collecting all the hair that people lost. [Laughs]
Lynell: I probably had someone following me involvement with clippers alleach day.
Paul: So working out there great, this and that but the more serious side of it then came sort of your last year, and then you did an internship?
Lynell: Yup I did an internship for a company called Credential Solutions. I actually was hired there―-or as an intern― about six months out before college was over for me.
Paul: Yeah. So you did internship and then they offered you a job then. You went straight to them from college.
Lynell: Uh-huh. That's right.
Paul: Cool. So on the programming side then, you did mention that you like RPG, but if I remember correctly, you also do a bit of programming in Java as well in your work― like you do both?.
Lynell: Yup. I do a bit of Java and a lot of SQL, actually. SQL and RPG would be, I would say, my specialties.
Paul: Okay. Okay and you've been there what now? A year?
Lynell: Actually I've been there right around if you could the internship time about two and a half years.
Paul: Two and half years. Wow.
Lynell: Yeah. It's actually been a while now.
Paul: Time is flying. Oh my God. I'm feeling older by the minute. So okay, so two and a half years and still enjoying it as much as when you started?
Lynell: Yeah, I'm actually―-I'm enjoying it a lot. You learn a lot, especially with your first job in IT,. I tell you. It's almost like I've learned more in my job than I have at school. That's kind of how it goes, though.
Paul: Yeah, so when you say learn more, do you mean you learn more about like the programming side or more about the business side?
Lynell: I'd say―-I'd say both, actually. Just just because Credentials is such a small company that the business side kind of ends up being inherent, you know. You have to think about the customers and all that stuff when you're making apps,you are adding something but yeah, a lot about the programming side, too though.
Paul: So are you still at the stage where you look forward to going into work everyday?
Lynell: I'd say so. Yeah. It's gotten, you know, challenging so I've got new problems to solve everyday, kind of like you never know what's going to happen.
Paul: Yeah. Well Lynell I've got to tell you, I envy you. I really do. Well I mean, I just envy you. I think like most people listening, I'd just like to be 25 again [laughs] and starting out. So of the two― okay so you mentioned the SQL side and programming side. This is just for my own personal interest anymore than anything else. Which do you prefer, the programming side or the database side?
Lynell: Hmm. That's a good question, actually. I do like―-I would say I like the programming side more than the database side, although I love how they kind of intermix with each other, you know? lLike the database really runs how you are going to program your code, like how your code actually comes together, so yeah.
Paul: Yeah. So okay Lynell, we are just coming towards the end here, and one of the― as always on these iTalks, I like to ask people something more on the personal side with that. And and I think it probably goes with your name on this. You also have a fascinating hobby. So go on, share. Share-share what your hobby is with everybody.
Lynell: Oh, well when I'm not programming or working, usually I'm going to play video games, but I've also got another hobby on the side. I actually collect knives and I collect butterfly knifes, you know the ones with the two handles and they kind of swing freely. I do these tricks with them and everything, so it's kind of like contact juggling with your hands― like a dangerous fidget spinner. A fidget spinner for adults, if you will.
Paul: Okay how? How did you get into that?
Lynell: Oh, actually I think I was browsing YouTube one day and I was just like―-I was just thinking to myself, "can't you do tricks with butterfly knives?" I don't know why, it just came up in my head, and so I looked it up. People were all these cool things with it and I was like, I want to learn this. Actually come to find that butterfly knives supposedly were invented by Filipinos, so I'm like, "I'm half Filipino." I was just kind of like embracing the culture. So so I bought one and I just started trying to learn tricks with it, started cutting myself, but it was all worth it in the end. I'm pretty good at it actually, so okay.
Paul: So do you have a collection of knives now?
Lynell: I do actually. I've been thinning a little bit. I'm trying to be more selective with it, but at once I had a lot. I had a lot of knives. I think I had up to 20, 22 knives at the time―-
Lynell: When I was at my peak.
Paul: So yeah, and I gather―-okay so have you ever accidentally tried to take one onto a plane with you?
Lynell: I actually accidentally took it or almost took it to a basketball game. I had to run back to my car and put it back in. They had the security scanners. I'm like "oh, wait a minute. I've got something in my pocket."
Paul: Yeah. I can see you trying to explain that one: ". No, seriously. I just do tricks with it."
Lynell: I'd bust it out and started spinning like, "look. Look, it's not dangerous― until I cut myself."
Paul: Okay, Lynell. Listen, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I'm going to ask you a favor, that maybe in a year or two I might check back in with you again and just see how you are getting on and what you're doing in a couple of years''s time.
Lynell: Oh, absolutely. I might actually catch you at one of the conferences. It might be a little sooner than that.
Paul: Oh, excellent. Excellent. Well if that is the case we might just do this in person. So Lynell C. Constantine, thank you for taking the time to talk to me and I wish you all of the best in your future career as an RPG and DBb2 programmer.
Lynell: Oh, thank you very much. You as well. Thank you for having me.
Paul: Okay. So that's it for this iTalk, everybody. Tune in again in a couple of weeks for the next one. Bye for now.
Lynell: All right. Bye.
Paul Tuohy has specialized in application development and training on IBM midrange systems for more than 20 years.