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First I must confess that I'm not a programmer pur-sang. I started in 1992 as a sysadmin for an OS/2 based network, and continued working in infrastructural jobs until 1997.
I did however complete a 4 year education in building informationsystems and programming (plus economics and so on). At school I was a real fanatic turbo pascal programmer. All I wanted at that time was knowing everything about turbo pascal, and eventually I just *had* to become an employee of Borland and be the lead programmer on the development team of that compiler...
When I was a sysadmin I just *had* to know everything about OS/2. My ideal job was being an OS/2 troubleshooter for IBM....
In 1997 I wanted something completely different. I had to, because it was obvious OS/2 was losing the game and if I didn't learn something else I would end up being an OS/2 systemspecialist without a system to manage ;). I had to start all over again and become a Perl newbie because I wanted to do webprogramming and again, like before, I now want to know everything about Perl, and when I think I'm good enough (I really have a long track ahead according to the "seven stages of a Perl programmer") I want to be working on the core of Perl.
But did I make progress? After school I had a moderate experience in Turbo Pascal, had to throw it all overboard and start from scratch and become an OS/2 specialist, After 5 years I finally knew more than most IBM OS/2 specialists and again had to throw it all away and start over again. Did I make progress when I started learning Perl?
Yes I did. I had experience. No Perl experience, but I knew what programming was like (learnt it at school), knew about TCP/IP, Sockets and networks, I had built insight in IT issues. I had colleagues before from whom I learnt a lot (who did a lot more in programming)
The point I'm trying to make here is that maybe you're not learning what you eventually want to learn, but you're building up experience you surely can use later in your career...
I wish you the best of luck, and maybe if you're really fed up with this job, you'll find another one in which you can build applications in Perl all day...
Jouke Visser, Perl 'Adept'