Alvin took the circuitous route to software development. He managed to get a degree in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University (while all he was really trying to do was play baseball).
Once he became a practicing engineer, he realized he liked software and programming more than engineering. So in approximate order he taught himself Fortran, C, Unix and network administration, sed, awk, Perl, Java, Python, Ruby, JRuby, Groovy, PHP, and Scala. During this process he started a software consulting firm, grew it to fifteen people, sold it, and moved to Alaska for a few years.
After returning to the "Lower 48," he self-published two books ("How I Sold My Business: A Personal Diary", and "Zen and the Art of Consulting"). He also created alvinalexander.com, which receives millions of page views every year.
Recently he started two new businesses, Valley Programming (valleyprogramming.com), and the Zen Foundation (zenfoundation.org).