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Theory (10)

Theory
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Perl, PostgreSQL hacker; US politics junkie; Webapp developer; Portvangelist; profane iconoclast.

On CPAN see: DWHEELER [cpan.org].

Journal of Theory (10)

Friday November 22, 2002
12:20 AM

Nightmares

[ #9074 ]

So last week, I decided it was finally time to put an end to my years-long mental block and learn some C. Because I'm a crazy bastard, I decided to do so by writing a new DBI driver for PostgreSQL. The existing PostgreSQL driver, DBD::Pg, is a mess, and since it would be harder for me to just jump in and start patching, I decided to follow the instructions in DBI::DBD and start cutting and pasting a brand new driver.

It's been a great experience for me so far, mostly because of the tremendous support I've received from the denizens of the dbi-dev mail list. If it wasn't for the great answers that so many of them have taken the time to write, I would be getting more sleep at night, but wouldn't be learning half as much, either!

Speaking of not sleeping, I was in Florida for a business meeting for one night on Tuesday, and I sat up late with Comedy Central on, studying the sources for DBD::ODBC, DBD::mysql, and DBD::Oracle, trying to wrap my brain around the peculiarities of C and XS programming. I was completely absorbed in what I was doing, and thinking a lot about how to parse SQL strings in C. I finally went to bed around 3 am (it was only midnight my time, after all), but lay awake for another hour, parsing SQL character arrays, moving pointers around, trying to identify comments and literals. When I did sleep, I dreamed in C.

What a nightmare.

Now, when I was first really learning Perl, and working very intently in it for hours and days at a time, trying to grok what I was seeing, it was a wondrous path of discovery. Perl is such a rewarding language to learn; it thinks like I think. I even had a few dreams in Perl. Its expressiveness was enjoyable in my dreams. I could communicate in Perl.

Not so with C. In my C dreams, things were rigid and structured, and didn't always seem so consistent. I was just parsing, parsing, parsing character arrays all night, and desperately needing a good regex to do the job for me. Needless to say, I didn't sleep well.

I'm going to continue working on my new PostgreSQL driver. I want to make it a top-notch DBI driver implementation. It's going to take me a few months, but I look forward to the rewards. But, I think, I shan't be working on it quite so intensely just before turning in late at night any more, especially on those nights when I have to get up in only three hours.

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  • I've experienced the same. Dreaming in C *sucks*. A couple of weeks ago while porting Mac::Carbon, I was dreaming in XS. It's a wonder I can still bring myself to use a computer.