Niall’s virtual diary archives – January 2004

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15th January 2004

End of year round up

Thursday 15th January 2004: 7.14am. Heh, strange to read my thoughts this time last year. Yes, it's the annual end of year review - so what do I think were my most important achievements of 2003? But before that, as regular readers will have noticed, my frequency of posts has diminished still further in 2003 and so it's more or less a month since my last post - therefore, happy christmas everyone and may you have a prosperous new year - feliz navidad y un prospero año nuevo!

It's been a funny year. I left Spain, spent some months sleeping on floors around London and eventually returned back to the casa nostra in Cork where, amazingly enough seven months have now elapsed, just like that. And here, today I am now twenty-six years old (happy birthday to me!) - getting ever closer to thirty. Now would be the time to pull a rabbit from the hat.

And well, so I theoretically am - just rather slowly. I reimplemented the core of the Tornado data stream transport to use the as yet unreleased TnFOX v0.6 IPC framework and was absolutely astonished to increase sustained disc i/o from 3.5Mb/sec under the Tornado as at precisely one year ago to no less than 23Mb/sec under the new one. Since my system can do about 45Mb/sec you're getting a penalty of around 50% which is superb. As the Mythical Man Month says, doing software the second time round makes a huge difference as to its quality (the new code is far better able to handle error conditions too).

So, hopefully, things are on track there. They won't be sufficiently done before the end of April when I must decide finally about university, but I should be at a good stage by the time I start there. And well, I guess you get a fair bit of free time at uni. Hopefully.

Right, let's get to it:

  • Closed my period in Spain
    And you know, I was ultimately very sad to leave there. Admittedly there were more distractions than here which is very quiet indeed but the quality of life there is so high (especially for what it costs). Here I eat well but it's more expensive and harder to have fun. Lucky this year has been characterised by not having fun at all ...
  • My biggest programming project since EuroFighter
    There's no doubt - with over one and a half thousand hours invested in TnFOX and >31,000 lines of code just in my extensions alone (although only 20,500 of these are code), I have laid an extremely solid foundation for Tn - which hopefully should now progress much faster as a result. I guess this is what seven months of full time work gets you - and interestingly I appear to write ~20 lines per hour on average!

    However unlike my EuroFighter work, this code is state-of-the-art C++ "as good as I can make it" code which pushes the boundaries portably on both Win32 and Linux/POSIX. I can confidently say that even the very best in the arena could not find major fault with any of my extension code. Maybe, just maybe, I could view myself as an expert in C++ now?
  • Realised there is not much future in computer programming as a livelihood
    Let's face it, you get dumped on being an engineer. You work late for no reward, workaround/fix management cock-ups and in the case of software there is very little job security with hundreds of thousands of jobs moving to the third world every year. Economically it's unavoidable and it's going to get a lot worse yet. Soon only the very best programmers will be able to find work, ones which work hard for peanuts and don't argue with management stupidity. I with no references since 1999 and an argumentative manner won't stand a chance in the coming crunch as I learned when trying to find work around London last Spring.

    Best do something you moderately like as a job so you can spend your free time doing what you love unsullied. I'm interested enough in economics and let's face it, economists get far better treated than engineers. If Tn doesn't work out, it's time for a permanent career change.

And that's basically my year. In the end, I didn't actually do very much but I think I've said that in every single yearly review now since the beginning. No matter. What matters is how you did it, and I've worked harder this past year than any in my life so far, so that's gotta count for something. See, I said this would happen in this diary - I get over a woman, I go into a remarkable period of productivity - and then I get involved with one again. This cycle's productive phase I need to last just a little bit longer ... let me achieve at least one of my life's aims.

Ok, bedtime now. Catch a few hours sleep then meeting with start-a-new-business advisors who will tell me that because I can't prove my ideas aren't whack, they can't help me. Proves how anything truly innovative has everything stacked against it. A challenge!

Be happy!

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