August 12, 2003

All Work And No Play.

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

I haven’t been eating or sleeping right. I think the food
component of the geek lifestyle is an absolutely critical
part of the mix: I’m completely unable to focus if I’m not
eating right and properly caffeinated, and while twenty hours
of coding over a weekend might seem weak and pussified to the
more hardcore among you, when your work environment consists
a school computer lab with the ergonomic savoir-faire of an Iron
, where greenish halogen lights are finely tuned to bring the
60Hz flicker out of the monitors, those monitors are so badly burned-in
they need glass skin grafts and the plastic chairs are moulded from
whatever spare scraps of anguished suffering are lying around the floors
of Hell on sweep-up night, all told I think I did pretty well. The
problem is this onerous day job of mine, which is turning out alright except for the fact
that it’s keeping me from sleeping in when I get to bed at four in
the morning.

And the sleep, the sleep is terrible when you’ve gone with too little
for too long. I don’t remember dreams but I find myself waking up
wondering why all my tooth-fragments are back in place, flashing
back to some bizzare collage of a literary crossover like “The Vampire
Lestrade” or “Paradise Lost Boys”, strange visions of software that
worked back in the lab after you made just a few changes you can’t
quite remember. Horrifying. You drift in and out trying to wake up
to a clock radio whose scratchy voice is telling you in no uncertain
terms that if you overwater your cancer victim, the crime rate will
predict 90% humidity in the awful traffic, and then the other
alarm clock comes on, the one that sounds exactly like the Little
Cube Van That Could is trying to back over your head, and you try
to shake it off and stumble into the bathroom to soak the red out of
your eyes, so you can start the whole process over again. A few days
ago I managed to cut off the circulation in my legs before waking
up, so when I lept out of bed to avoid the truck backing out of my
bedside table I got to spend a lovely few minutes flopping around on my
floor like a harp seal that’s been shot in the spine. My mornings are
full of adventure, that’s what those bloodshot eyes mean. I’m getting
paid on Thursday, and I’m going to buy an n-tuple espresso, where n is large.
I’m going to buy an espresso I can swim in, and I’m going to bask
in it. I will drink the coffee and roll around in the grinds like a
wallowing pig. I intend to grunt accordingly.

I am writing, am almost done writing, a general-purpose distributed
processing client, one that lets you distribute large tasks (previously
divided-up large tasks, really) across any number of peer machines
that are willing to participate. Any machine can inject a task into
the network, and all the machines that are playing along will pitch in
their effort. And it’s almost done. The first 90% is done, anyway. The
next 90% is going to be tough going. One of the things that I’m going
to report back about, venerated reader, is what I had to say to Shaver a few months ago about Extreme
, something that might be a middle ground between having
somebody look over your shoulder, which I’m sure would drive me batty
right away, and working completely alone, which I can promise you from
being here in the labs all weekend is a pretty lonely, alienating
process. I’m starting to come around, in short. Not all the way – I
still think having somebody looking at the same screen as you is nuts –
but taking a few minutes out every two hours or so to talk about what’s
hanging you up with other people, just to bat ideas around, has been
a huge help in the last few days. Woo, progress, woo!

Soon, I hope to have a working project. Then, I will have metrics, then,
the world! Right now, though I need some decent error messages, maybe
even some instrumentation, in the worst possible way.

DistributedClient me = new DistributedClient();
try{ me.go(); }
catch(Exception e) {System.out.println("No go!\n" + e.toString() ); }

Somehow, I think “No go!” just isn’t going to cut it, but that’s what
happens when I’m out of gas.

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