I’m planning a lot for August, though “no wheat” and “no noncritical spending (with 2 or 3 preallocated exceptions)” are on top.
I do have some interesting toys coming from Adafruit and I’m getting my C++ chops back (as I’ve oft whined about.)
I’ve got to stop making mud pies in the kitchen though. In another iteration of my ongoing quest to more or less duplciate Cajun Power Garlic Sauce, I’ve blended a pound of peeled garlic, spread it out on a cookie sheet, and baked it at 200 degrees for about 6 hours. The idea being to toast and dry it all out. Then RE blend it and mix it with vinegar, for a Louisiana style sauce base before adding ingredients to it to try and get it where I want it.
Should be interesting. But it stinks like hell (even after being toasted.) And frankly I could just throw all this crap out right now and I’m not all that sure how much I’d care. I’m just sick of looking at it.
A week and a half ago I even bought a few dozen lemons, thinking I’d zest and peel them. But…the sight of them just sorta disgusts me at this point.
That’s not to say I have any kind of malaise or anything about all of this. It’s just cluttering up my space in a way that makes me agitated to even look at my kitchen.
I’ve shown the pic of the notebook covers around and, as I feared, people just light right the hell up. Sort of a weird thing to say perhaps. But they’re gonna want me to make them some. Seems like it’d be a good gift for a few people this year, so I’ll probably do that (after I practice some tooling. I actually want to number these things so I have some idea what I’ve done.)
All I can think of is Rick in the “Something Ricked This Way Comes” when he finally just gets bored with the curse removal business.
So…I like notebooks. I really REALLY like notebooks. The biggest problem I have with them is I have a peculiar tendency to revere them such that I don’t want them to get all spoiled. Doesn’t sound bad? Okay. How about “having more than one topic” counting as “spoiled”?
It’s a problem. It’s one of my most fun problems.
A couple years ago I discovered the Midori Traveler notebooks. Essentially it’s a leather notebook cover with inserts held in with elastics. This way you could fill up a single insert and then just change it out. Also, they hold at least 3 independent inserts.
My prayers were answered!
I’ve had a few of them, a couple brand name ones, a couple custom made ones off Etsy and the like. And I’ve had an itch at the back of my brain about them since about the second week.
The size of the inserts is such that you pretty much have to buy Midori’s. Sure, you can make them and I’ve done that a couple times. I imagine there are people out there who make them and sell them besides Midori. But I can’t just go to the notebook section in Barnes & Noble or Staples and pick up a couple inserts if I’m breaking in to a new project.
Now…when you look at these things they’re really…I mean…they’re just…rectangular pieces of leather with 5 holes in them. There’s not even any SEWING, much less fine leather tool work.
So I thought to myself, I thought… “Self? How hard can that POSSIBLY be?”
The answer is…
Presenting my first four.
The first one I made was the small one, designed to fit 3-5 Field Notes notebooks. It works. The leather’s a little stiff, so I try to carry it around a bit. But I tend not to use it because I’ve turned into one of those fountain pen assholes and the Field Notes paper is FAR too absorbent for any of the pens I use regularly. So it’s just sorta sitting there.
The other three I’m quite pleased with. The left two were cut from the same piece of leather, darkened (and softened) with neatsfoot oil. The upper left one is SO oily that I’ve got to be careful what I leave it on or it’ll just bleed through. You can feel it in your fingertips after you’ve handled it at all. I don’t find that particularly objectionable. But I don’t like having to pay attention to where I put the thing.
Plus those three fit the standard Moleskine 5×8 small notebooks that come in the 3 pack. It’s perfect. I’m positively chuffed with the way they came out. I’ve clearly got to dial in the neatsfoot oiling process a bit. (The top-right one has none. I think I cut that one out of an 8.5×11 piece of leather I got from Hobby Lobby.)
In addition to sizing them generally for the Moleskine notebooks, I added a bit of width to them so they could (conceivably) fit 5 inserted notebooks something close to comfortably.
I’ve got one more pair of these to make before I sit back and decide what I’m going to do with them, and that is large format ones. I’ve got a bunch of desk-sized 8.5″x10.5″ or something Moleskines I want to try this with. If THAT works, then I’ll make myself a pair for home and work, to stay at my desks. I may add a couple features to those, pen holder, different elastic configuration, something. We’ll see.
But I’m surprised how tough it is to cut a straight line in a piece of leather. I really need something better than “hold a long, thick ruler against it and drag a carpet knife down the length a couple times.” If I thought a guillotine paper cutter would work and not just tear the leather I’d do that in a heartbeat. But once you get out past the first few inches where the angle is really tight, it’s just going to tear and drag it all over the place.
I woke up this morning thinking I should eat something good for breakfast, but knowing I was too hungry to make a smart decision.
“Ah!” I said to myself.
“I know what I’ll do. I’ll make a half pound of bacon to snack on while I decide what I’m going to eat!”
It scares me sometimes what a fucking genius I am sometimes.
While the pan was heating up (at this point I have a cast iron pan with a nigh permanent 1/4″ of bacon fat in it because that’s really all I cook in there) I started the sauce.
I’m still a complete Marinara noob. But I’m getting there.
This time I put the parsley and garlic in the dutch oven with the olive oil and added things pretty slowly. Oregano, pepper, onion, salt. I let that sit for about a half hour on medium while it broke down a bit.
and I’m telling you, the smell in my apartment? Holy shitsnacks.
Once it was drying out a bit I tossed some wine in there and simmered it for about 10-15 minutes longer as the first pieces of bacon came out.
Then in with the tomato paste, mix and let THAT sit.
Big mistake. Well…little mistake. The tomato paste is dry enough that it soaked up the liquid and caused it all to torch a little bit on the bottom. I tossed in a bit more wine and sorta deglazed it before adding the couple cans of tomatoes. (I use crushed in my sauce. Next time I’m going to back off and use one can of crushed and one of diced and see how that goes. I don’t like my sauce to be chunky, but all crushed is pretty homogeneous.)
So it’s all in there and turned down to simmer. I’ll fuck around with the spices a bit I’m sure before it’s done. But it already tastes pretty damn good.
I was toying with the idea of making fresh ravioli, ricotta and all. But that’s SUCH a pain in the ass. So I may use frozen. I dunno, we’ll see. Ooh, I should plan this for tomorrow and bake a loaf or two of bread as well.
Anyway here’s the original recipe, which I’ve doubled (except for the garlic because don’t be stupid.)
2 14.5oz cans of tomatoes (it says diced, going with crushed)
1 6oz can of tomato paste
4 tbsp fresh parsley
1 garlic clove (oh, honey…)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/3C finely diced onion
1/2C white wine
Next? Probably sit for 45 minutes, then it’s off to slice a gallon of potatoes to make fermented chips.
It’s clear that the yield on these one-quart jars, pretty as they are, is just not high enough to experiment with.
I get about 2-3 of those square bottles….MAYbe out of one of these.
So I went to walmart and picked up a couple gallon jars and
some jalapenos (well…the jalapenos were from publix, not walmart.)…
I actually was able to get them all in there, startling as that may be. It may also have been an awesome mistake. If that thing starts bubbling over I’m gonna be in a tough spot, so I’m setting the whole thing in a cookie sheet (with it’s minimal 1/3″ walls) for the first couple weeks, ’til it calms down.
I MAY just take a bunch out and blend them, to reduce their volume a bit. I mean that’s what I’m gonna do to them on the back end anyway and I’m not sure I believe it makes a lick of difference.
I also picked up about a pound of garlic. That I’m going to treat a bit differently. I’m going to mash that to death in a food processor, squeeze it as close to dry as I can, then spread the pulp out on a cookie sheet (don’t worry, I have several) and bake it at something like 200 degrees for 6 hours. Just turn it all to dust, then see what I can do with it. Probably mix it back in with the extracted juice and, after I tip some weapons in it and let them dry (can never be too careful about vampires down here) I’ll put it in some vinegar and see if I can use it as the basis for an interesting sauce.
There will be no fermenting of garlic until I get a multi-chamber charcoal filter for the blowoff. That was just too disgusting for words. But there are a lot of ways to do this besides puttin’ its head in a boot jack and yankin’ on its tail.
I ALso bought ingredients for marinara, ketchup, and limoncello. So…we’ll see how motivated I get this weekend.
We’re only two weeks away from Agents of Mayhem’s release.
AoM is the next game by the guys who did the absolutely impeccable Saint’s Row series, the only video game that tempted me to get a tattoo besides Skyrim, which really came later anyway. No, I didn’t go through with either. Though maybe I should. Not like I’m ruining a piece of art or anything.
I’ve kept away from trailers and previews, except for the very first one. Plus, I’ve blocked their twitter account. I really really REALLY hate getting visuals of things I’m already sold on.
I don’t watch coming attractions, trailers, nothing. It’s pretty easy, not having cable. But people will still send me links to things and whine when I don’t watch them. That’s fine.
So next month I’ve decided I’m giving up wheat. Not because I’m one of those insufferable fucking shitbags. Just because the monthly “give up a thing or two” has turned into a cakewalk. Time to amp up and hit this where it hurts.
I think the next phase of this whole thing, which I’ve been doing for more than a year now, is going to be going 3 months at a time, and trying to come up with some kind of criteria for deciding on whether I want to make some of these changes permanent. It’s all well and good to dick around with doing something good for myself. It’s another thing to be at all serious about improving my life.
But that’s all I’ve got going on in my head. I really want nothing more than to go hang out in the commonwealth and snipe some raiders and synths.
First, this “post every day” thing is getting really threadbare. It would be different if I didn’t just wait ’til the end of the night when all I want to do is go to bed to post. So, come Tuesday, posting is gonna get sparse, fast.
Second: We have a monthly billing process in the office. Because what we do involves a lot of money moving (not a lot of money, just between lots of parties) the details are somewhat obscene in complexity. Anyway the guy (THE guy) who handles billing started a bit less than a month before I did. He’s ostensibly a DBA, but…he’s the only one that can call himself that with a straight face. He’s a junior web developer.
For 20 months I’ve watched this kid thrash with the billing process. He’s “had it under control” while sweating through it every single period. He will neither ask for nor accept help. The manager is a complete push over, so he just shrugs it off.
It’s absolute torture. He forgets major steps on a daily basis, then wonders why the numbers don’t (manually) tie out. You wouldn’t believe a company in the digital age operates like this.
It just make me furious to watch. Soon as there’s a problem our manager puts his headphones on, hoping to avoid it.
I’ve never dealt with anyone like el jefe, the cto. He’s afraid of everybody. His primary goal in any conversation is to get out of it. He will say ANYthing to ANYone. Anything he perceives as dissatisfaction, especially with him, sends him in to an absolute panic of symptom triage. He has no interest in actually FIXING anything (though if that happens along the way he’s not a complete fool about it.) He just seems to take any complaint as a dissatisfaction with him and his ego can’t handle it.
It might literally be the most pathetic personality trait I’ve ever seen.
I’ve got to stick around for the 2 year mark, and I really don’t just want to jet on them that day.
– Gotta do something different with meditation. I’m getting to the point where I spend most of my energy trying to keep my focus straight because I keep passing the hell out in five minute blocks. I don’t know why I KNOW it’s five minute blocks. But I do. The “internal clock” thing is really interesting because I know when I’m coming up on the end (of 45 minutes) usually to within 90 seconds or so.
– Similarly, the “pick something to deprive myself of for a month” is turning into a cakewalk. I’m thinking about amping that up a bit and doing something like going without wheat for a month. It’d be interesting to see what the hubub is about and frankly, I don’t see how I’d do that. I’ve usually got SOME kind of bread at just about every meal, whether it’s sandwiches, pizza, or sandwiches. It might be fun to experiment with some of those Keto bread replacement recipes.
– I realized today that I’m never going to get the chance to really work on the new C++ project at the office. There are just too many things that nobody knows but me. I can’t just write these piss-ant reports and automation systems anymore.
So here’s some fun: In trading (or, in anything else, really) “Cost Basis” refers to the average price you paid for a bunch of something. For instance, if I buy 10 shares of BLAH at $100, then I buy 10 more at $200, the cost basis for my 20 share position is $150/share. Nothing fancy.
Back in ’07-09 I daytraded for a living. It was absolute fucking hell. I made a lot of trades (probably 4 positions a day on average.) There were some BIG winners, and lots of slim losers slowly shaving away my capital. Looking back on it now I’m amazed I lasted as long as I did, given how bad my understanding of risk management was.
But one of my points is that I was trading the same money back and forth. I’d be in an out of a position sometimes in seconds, never really putting TOO much at risk.
It was exhausting not quite understanding what I was doing wrong. Blind spots like that are always a big pain in the ass.
Finally enough was enough and I got out and started working again.
I moved jobs a couple times, left the apartment in Brooklyn and moved to a house about half way between NYC and Albany, thinking to myself that I’d figure out wtf I was doing wrong and eventually come back to it.
Fast forward to the fall of…shit…2014? That sounds right.
I get a letter from the New York Department of Taxation and Finance. Well THAT’S never good news.
So I’m getting sweaty when I finally open this thing.
Now, if you want to take hallucinogens to achieve altered states of conscious, knock yourself out. But it will never compare to the buzzing in my temples, fucked up depth perception, and complete reevaluation of realities underpinnings as reading “You owe us $654,000.”
I MAY have actually had a cardiac event.
At this point in time (September ’14) I already had plans in motion to move cross-country under development. I didn’t know where or QUITE when. But that was irrelevant. The engines had been started and it was happening. Suddenly I had no idea what my life was going to look like for the foreseeable future. Would I be stuck in some wacky payment arrangement of some kind for the rest of my life, fruitlessly trying to whittle this down to nothing?
The dramatics of it all really just involved me hyperventilating a lot and not telling anybody why the hell I was so bent out of shape.
Now this was before I listened to a lot of audio books during my commute, instead spending a lot of time listening to country music radio, fantasizing about moving down south someplace. I’d been laughing at a commercial from this guy:
Finally I was damn near crapping myself and it came on and I just threw up my hands and said “fuck it” and I gave the guy a call. I talked with him a couple times over a week while his people got their ducks in a row and figured out wtf was going on.
APPARENTLY the state of New York retroactively decided that, for every trade I made (that is, for every position I entered and exited) my cost basis was ….drumroll please….
Meaning that if I spent $5000 on 100 shares of whatever at $50 each, then sold them immediately, the NYS Tax people decided I bought it for $0 and sold it for $5000. So my net gain wasn’t zero, it was $5000. Literally infinite profit. $5000 on which I obviously didn’t pay taxes because it didn’t exist. Now, if I traded that same $5000 five times a day…. I “magically” made $25,000.
So they thought I had a zero cost basis on more than 6.8 million dollars worth of trading activity.
It was a long slog. The company I had my trading account with had been bought at least twice. I was on the phone with them and they said there simply weren’t any records to get. FINALLY either Jerry or I got through to someone at the new firm who (this defies belief) found someone who had come over along with two levels of mergers from the original company and knew where the account transaction backups were, sitting on some old defunct server someplace.
So this guy saved my ass.
The CPA’s people got that info, put everything together and went back to New York.
It turns out…
Owed me more than $30,000.
Now, they won’t just write you a check like that. They’ll write some limit amount and take the reset out of your taxes going forward, a bit every year. Fine. Fine. It’s all fine.
So I had a party and blew half the cash. Stuffed the rest in the bank. I probably, now that I think about it, built my current desktop computer with it. The panic subsided, my step lightened, I went back to my master plan for getting the fuck out of New York. (Eventually I’ll tell that story. There’s no one alive who knows more than about 45% of it.)
Other concerns floated to the front of my mind. Life moved on.
I moved down here October ’15.
Took me a long time to get started. But again, I have a plan that’s under way now and I won’t be stopped. It’s going to take a while, but that’s okay. I’ll skip along the bottom. That’s fine.
I pull in to the parking lot tonight, not really minding the heat SO bad. I mean, at least I was moving. I toss out a bag of soda cans from my passenger seat on the way up to the lobby;
where I stop at the mailbox.
Oh, mail. I never get mail. (Seriously. I get like 1-2 pieces of “not an amazon package” a week.)
White envelope. Hmm.. I wonder….
I start making a noise like a cat horking up a hairball.
“Hey, are you okay?” A woman who lives in the building asks me, just having gotten her mail. I don’t even make eye contact, just show her the envelope. She takes a second to look at it, then goes wide eyed and sucks wind through her teeth. “Ouch.”
I just blink for a few seconds before catching an elevator up. I go up the 18 floors replaying the events described above something like 172 times.
I plop my stuff down at my desk and stare at the envelope.
“Fucking WHAT!?! I haven’t DONE anything. But I thought that before too, didn’t I. That means precisely dick.”
I hold my breath and use my trusty little EDC knife and slice the thing open.
In big, bold letters.
“Notification to Owner of an Uncashed Check”
Yeah. Apparently one of the checks got lost in my transit from New York to Nashville.
They’re going to issue me a new one.
I’m going to fucking bed now.
I don’t think my heart can take any more good news today.
Basically that doesn’t mean much more than “I read this and typed it all in.” The reason for the surprise, by the way, isn’t “omg I can’t believe I have the skill set to type in all that code!” I thought the tutorial was 16 parts. Turns out it’s only 13. So I kept looking for the “next” button and couldn’t find one.
Like I said at the beginning, this is the early version of one that’s being posted in weekly installments over at reddit.com/r/roguelikedev. I just couldn’t wait.
I have….so much I want to do to this.
First I want to organize the code better. Then I want to decouple the dependency on the libtcod toolkit, I dunno, make the game a local server so I can really screw around with it. But I want to add fucktons of buckets of items. I’ve got ideas for an enchanting and “essence” mechanic I really wanna try and I want to use it as a platform to experiment with AI. That way I could take the PC and just pull him out as a necessary component and just drive the thing off of NPC AI logic.
My brain is just BUZZING with this crap.
The interesting thing about it is that almost none of the things I want to do with it have ANYthing to do with the fact that it’s a “roguelike” which was always the plan. It will become a sandbox for me to screw around with all kinds of ideas and techniques. And if, hell, I slap a tileset on it or port the thing over to another language (Probability: 10/10) all the better.
What I’m most surprised about it really is the fact that it’s ACTUALLY fun. This goofy little thing with 6 items, 2 types of mobs and unlimited levels is actually a fun little time waster right out of the box.
But now I get to play all kinds of horrible games with it.
OH! You may or may not remember that I’m doing this “read 52 books in a year” thing. I found the /r/52books subreddit and thought it’d be a good idea. I made a post where I started listing the books I’ve read as I finish them. But it occurs to me that editing it in place just sorta buries it in the past. So here’s the running list. I’ll probably sidebar it.
Seriously. Even I’m getting sick of it now. I went through the day with half a dozen “ooh, I’ll post about that”s. Now it’s 10:30 and my brain is entirely empty.
Hit the stupidmarket this morning and bought all the cold cuts. Prosciutto, Roast Beast, Turkey, Havarti. Sad thing is, none of it is likely to ever make it to a sandwich. I’m just gonna roll it up and eat it.
I suppose that’s actually the healthier way to go.
I’ve had this recipe in my “Try this” page in OneNote for a couple months now and I finally pulled the trigger on it. I doubled up everything but the beef. I WAS going to put two roasts in there. But I figured that maybe, MAYbe I should try just making a 1x batch of SOMEthing once in my life. But I always regret not having enough gravy/sauce.
About 2 hours in (on low) I tossed in a bunch of mushrooms, thought about it, then went and fished them out. That much balsamic vinegar was just going to soak right in to them and make them taste ridiculous. I pulled the mushrooms out and put them in a frying pan with a bit of butter and cooked them a bit. I tasted one and damn near spit the thing out. Yep. Gak. Called it. So I tossed them. Well, it served the original purpose of “I’ve gotta do something with these mushrooms or throw them out” at least.
But now it’s at about 8 hours and the roast is sitting in there just stewing away. I suppose I’ve gotta go tend to it now.
Aside from that I got absolutely nothing worth doing done today. It was NOT okay.
When I got home and stuffed the groceries in their proper places I went down and retrieved the dozen books that came in in the last two days. I’m starting to get book hangover.
I noticed that, within the last week it’s happened. I’ve had two copies of “Pattern Languages of Program Design” come in. I only hope there isn’t a third one on the shelf someplace.
Anyway here, watch some more Feynman. Try to ignore the Californians:
Almost certainly not within the next 10 days, that’s for sure.
The applications are away and I’ve downloaded the trading platform. It’s…improved in the last 9 years. I may end up starting with equities and options trading. Me, writing covered calls? Shit. I might actually wet myself.
I bought a plain old Agenda notebook. Nothing fancy, just a year long (July -> July) dated book with about 8-10 lines per day to jot stuff in. I suppose I ACTUALLY bought two of them, one for the office, that I’ve been using for a week, and one for home, that’s….still in the bag someplace around here.
I get quite frustrated with the immediacy with which the past disappears into obscurity. It’s amazing to me that I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch last week, or that I’m not QUITE sure how many weeks these peppers have been fermenting, or how long that 5 gallon jar of JAOM has been fermenting on my countertop.
In looking at my notes, it seems that the JAOM has been bubbling away for a scant 4 months. I would’ve sworn it was closer to 8 or 9. I suppose it’s just that it’s so damn conspicuous that my perception of time has been stretched a bit by the attention it forces out of me.
But it makes me wonder what would happen if I could actually look back and see it all, even if it were just a series of bullet list items of things I’d done. Sure I’ll use it as a tickler file as well. It’s nice to get that kind of crap out of my head.
But it’s 11:00 now and I can’t get all spun up for a lecture on Chesterton’s notion of “The Inside of History.”
Called my old brokerage firm (or at least, the company that acquired the company that acquired my old brokerage firm) and talked to them about getting my account reinstated. Because of the account’s disposition during the M&As, there’s going to be some gymnastics. But I’m well on my way and they’re making it pretty easy.
So most long-term projects are on ice for a while I get my sea legs back in to the trading world. My reading material is switching from pulpy fantasy to the trading classics, and some new stuff.
Not sure how much I’ll post about it. But you never know. I suppose I’m not going to be able to avoid having it on the brain.
No I won’t pick stocks for you. Let’s just get THAT shit out of the way up front.
And now for something completely different:
I pretty much have to have music playing while I’m programming. It’s got to be relatively uninteresting and a bit repetitive. But of course I have to actually LIKE the stuff.
I listened to the Buddha Bar CDs for years, numbers 1-9. One of the great things about that stuff is that anything with lyrics is generally not in English, so I was able to enjoy the voice as instrument without getting caught up listening to “lyrics” per se.
15 or so years of that sorta burned me out on it though, and I’m constantly on the hunt for new stuff.
There’s a website: musicforprogramming.net. It’s a great idea. I think they’re up to 48 separate single-mp3 mixes. Unfortunately I can’t stand them. Your mileage may vary.
Then there’s the youtube stuff which is usually just positively awful. There are exceptions though.
This is lovely. But I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and am finally starting to wear out the bits:
But I’m always poking around. A couple guys in the office keep sending me links to things I don’t like and I end up sending them links to things they DO like, which is fine with me. I’ll almost always give something different a shot.
Last night though, I discovered this little 45 minute gem:
It’s as close to perfect as I’ve found. It reminds me of the soundtrack from The Matrix, just slowed down a bit. Sure there are a couple flaws. He’s got few second delays between some of the tracks. But over all it’s dead on. I ran through it I think 3 or 4 times last night while working on a programming project.
The kid’s got a bunch more work. But frankly I haven’t bothered to look in to it. I’m just jamming on that thing too much.
So, yeah. I’m having “Shit or get off the pot” itis. I can’t keep doing what I’m doing, and I’d be a fool to think that any other firm is going to be any better than this one.
So it’s time for me to come up with another income plan and start making it happen.
My current candidate is Forex trading. I day traded for a few years in a couple stints back in the 2000s and I was pretty good at it. I had really shitty money management skills though. I didn’t QUITE realize how much of a thing it was. But now, running some simulations I’m starting to agree with Van Tharp, that money management and exit strategy is PROBABLY more important than your entry price and thesis.
It sounds like a strange thing to say, and I’m not going to go in to the particulars just yet. But “cutting your losers short and letting your winners run” is how you turn the probabilities to your advantage.
So it’s back to school with me. Lord knows I’ve already got the library. I’m most of the way through the first Anna Coulling book. She’s positively excellent for this stuff. Trading the currency exchanges is a much different beast than trading equities. Though I fully expect I’m going to do a lot of that as well.
Also I went back and did another of the Roguelikedev lessons. I somehow let that slip and had almost forgotten about it. I SUSPECT I was trying to trick myself out of finishing it now that I’m getting towards the end. That’s…an unfortunate thing I do sometimes. Leave projects at 90%. I haven’t really decoded it. But it’s on my short list of shit to fucking sort out.
But it’s time to call the broker, get my old account reinstated, and check the funding requirements for currency trading.
I dunno. What today? I don’t have anything to wax eloquent about. I’ve spent most of the day looking at a block of 110,000 lines of C++ code that’s really 1989 style “c with classes” that I inherited at the job.
No documentation. A few hundred classes. Approximately 20 binary targets (exes and DLLs.) No documentation of any kind.
“Yeah we bought this code. Can you make it in to our flagship new product? Great kthxbai.”
Mgr and President don’t understand what they’re asking. That’s okay. I don’t ask that people know. But I do ask that if they DON’T know, to not know and to listen. But they won’t do that.
I remember their lead in announcements (they’d call it “planning”) and how excited I was to actually dig in to a C++ project again after too many years.
But now that I’ve got my mitts on (most of) the code and I’m getting those pie eyed looks from management I realize what I’m in for.
I’d had the impression, for a while, that I wasn’t getting any better at…well…not my job, but my profession. I’m certainly getting better at my job in that I’m acclimating to the office environment and am more and more able to deliver software that brings civilization to the wild wild west of our business.
But I’d largely plateaued as a programmer.
It got me to asking myself: What was it that helped me make the largest leaps in skill that I THINK I used to make fairly regularly.
The right answer is something like “I improved dramatically when I tried something beyond my current skill level and forced myself to step up and figure it out.” But that shit ain’t the truth. The TRUTH is: “I make quantum leaps in skill when I read something that gives me another set of gears for my ‘ways of thinking’ machine.”
Yeah, it takes some practice to get new cogs and sprockets fitted right. But that’s really just that.
So, in my furious out of control rush to rebuild my library (which I’m doing at a positively ALARMING rate) I then refined my thinking…Which books then?
Well, there were a couple things:
– Technology cookbooks that have concrete plug and play solutions to very specific low level problems. (“Java Examples In A Nutshell”, any of the old O’Reilly “Cookbook” books.)
– The Design Patterns books.
Ah yes, that blast from the 90s and early 2000s: Design Patterns, Pattern Languages, and all the various associated conference proceedings books. Design Pattern thinking (the specifics of which I won’t really get in to too deeply here. Far better people have done a far better job) exploded on the scene with the Gang of Four book in 95.
The Pattern Movement produced a way of describing complex component interrelationships without being either bogged down in technology specifics or staying too lofty to be useful.
You couldn’t copy a design pattern out of a book into a code editor. Not really. But IF you had basic fluency with the language you could implement a solution that encoded the pattern itself, but that would be tightly bound to your specific application.
If you didn’t have fluency with the language to implement the pattern, the gap in your knowledge was pretty easy to track down and remedy. So, if you knew a pattern fit, but couldn’t figure out how to make it work, there were (I just realized I’m talking about patterns in the past tense. There’s nothing past tense about them except their overwhelming popularity.) ways to figure it out. That way you’d increase your language/toolkit knowledge as well.
But going back over 40 years of programming in my head, aside from the Stephens book (Advanced Programming In The Unix Environment) I don’t think any other book, series of books, lecture, project, job, or person has had quite the cumulative effect on me as the Patterns literature.
So I’ve ordered (and am starting to re-accumulate) the PLoPD (Pattern Languages of Program Design) and POSA (Patterns of Software Architecture) books. There are about five of each and I think I’m back up to half of them.
Even just browsing these things feels like I’ve reacquired ancient keys to knowledge. It’s so much fun, browsing back and forth through these, picking them apart and looking through my brain for problems/solution matches.
Time to figure out what the next frontier is though. I think re-familiarizing myself with this stuff gets my head back in “actual thinking” mode. But I’m not sure if it’s going to help me advance.