Let me tell you a story.
My father loved every sort of gadget. He was an avid ham radio outlet, loved tinkering with engines and mechanical things, and had a lengthy background in industrial construction, doing everything from selling large projects such as hospitals and airports to working as a site foreman to driving a backhoe. I inherited a lot of his qualities, including a tendency to chase shiny objects and a deep love for taking things apart to understand how they work.
One magical day in 1977, he came home with a large, scuffed-up cardboard box that said “TRS-80” on the side. He’d built a new building for a local appliance vendor and had received the computer as payment for a side job of adding a wet bar in the owner’s office. We eagerly set it up, made a quick jaunt to Radio Shack to buy a book on BASIC programming, and that was the last my mom saw of us for quite some time. I was 9. By the time I was 11, I had spent so much time hanging around the local Radio Shack asking annoying questions that the manager there introduced me to a customer who needed some minor changes made to his accounts payable reports, and I got my first paying job as a software developer—and I’ve been doing it ever since.
The technology world has changed immensely since then, of course. The microcontroller in my bicycle light has more computing power than that old TRS-80 Model I, Microsoft has grown from a scrappy vendor of BASIC interpreters to the behemoth we all know, and ubiquitous computing and analytics have had a massive impact on nearly every aspect of our lives, from how the food we eat is grown to how, where, and when we work to how we spend our leisure time.
Despite all the bad things happening in the world right now, it’s also an amazing time to be alive if you’re a curious tinkerer. Although Microsoft takes great pains to make Microsoft 365 look like a black box that outsiders can’t see into or fiddle with, there are many parts of its ecosystem that are amenable to investigation and experimentation—which is why I’m genuinely excited to be joining the Practical 365 editorial team as co-editor-in-chief. The spirit of P365 is deeply oriented towards hands-on figuring out how things work and giving practical guidance on how to get the most from Microsoft’s tools. I look forward to helping our readers learn and grow with the platform to get the most from it.