Interesting article, but in looking at my upbringing I have to admit that I am clueless as to how I wound up becoming a successful programmer. Don't get me wrong.. as I am admittedly the stupidest man I know, yet I haven't any doubt as to how I can apply my talent to get what I want.
Here's the relevant part; I have a couple of nieces and I wish that they could have the same feeling of complete and utter power that I achieved -- though I acquired it rather haphazardly through a series of monumental failures. Is it really possible to get to the "next level" without hitting your head against a wall for 15+ years?
It was a huge tradeoff for me. The projects that consumed my life for the most part only amounted to learning experiences for me. I mean I have shelfspace full of code that I've spent years on that I've never used because of that last 10% of a project that is so tough to finish. I really have to reflect on it sometimes and say "what the hell was I thinking" to waste so much time on things.
So in my opinion unless you are a natural braniac, unlike me, then you must have the correct temperament. You have to accumulate skills along the way and don't leave any questions unanswered. Learn to touch type, solder, weld, draw, debug, and other things that you need to know at a particular time. Just learn what you need to and don't go overboard and read a book from front to back.. rather just watch others and learn their shortcuts. But don't ask useless questions because god we hate that :) you must be perceived as needing to know something or the mentors that you bug will start getting PO'd.
You know we probably wouldn't be talking about all this if computers didn't become such a worldwide phenom. It's really just a bunch of related skills like any other. Too bad becoming a Doctor or Lawyer didn't have this much grass roots support.. or maybe we'd all be able to prescribe our own drugs or take out our own appendixes.
So what over-indulged hobby in this decade is going to empower the workers of 2010 with the god complex that us 80s programmers now have? And BTW it has just begun.. what with the PalmPilot coding being nearly identical to programming a C64, TI-99, or Atari. Though in the non-technical field I suppose that leathermaking will be a good cash cow -- something that I haven't picked up yet, though I wish I had with all of this handheld crap I lug around.