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mothra (1667)

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Journal of mothra (1667)

Monday July 29, 2002
01:56 PM

Where'd I go?

Sunday June 23, 2002
09:37 AM

The Rising Sun


It's hopeless; I can't seem to get to bed before 3 am. Last night, I was playing chess with some Russian dude (clobbering him quiet easily, because well...I'm good at chess :P) until almost 6 am.

Never mind going to bed "when the sun was coming up". By 6 am in London, the sun's already been awake for two hours.

Very weird, very cool.

Friday June 21, 2002
09:53 AM

Hitting the ground running...


Here I am. Yes it's true.

Halfway around the world, starting my journey in London, England, searching for something that I can't put my finger on, not even sure if I'll know it if I find it.

This is great though. Good fun, great people, interesting experiences.

The first night (Tuesday) I was here (in London), I met up with at the Pillars of Hercules on Greek Street (thanks acme!). They bought me a few pints -- the poor travelling bum I am -- and good fun was had by all. Next week some time, we're going to try and get a few people out to go to the dogs. That would be wild.

Wednesday night, I went out for a bite to eat at Ed's Easy Diner or something with grexnix. Checked out Spiderman after that (worth seeing again, especially since I was fairly exhausted by the time we actually went and saw it).

Last night, I met quite a few people in the hostel at which I'm staying, including the most typical Valley Girl you could ever imagine (who asked me questions like "Which part of Canada are you from, Montreal or Quebec?"...ugghhh). It was good fun (especially when the Aussies and I started picking on the Ditsy Valley Girl), managed to get more beer given to me, and made it to bed at around 3 am.

Slept until around noonish or so (maybe later, but who's counting?), and made my way down to the internet cafe to write this post.

Since I've already done some of the touristy stuff when I was here in January (checked out Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral, etc.), and I've got time, I probably won't do much more of that until next week (check out the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge, etc.).

I plan to leave here in a week or two and go live on a beach in Greece for a month or so, to save some cash, and hopefully party hard all at the same time. I haven't yet decided if I'll stop in Spain and Portugal on the way there, or on the way back.

For now, I'm going to go hang around Leicester Square and watch London live.

Tuesday June 11, 2002
08:44 AM

To work or not to work?

Hmmmm...with four days left at my job, I'm not sure whether to just bow out and not do anything (work related) at all, or go just the opposite direction and try to accomplish as much as humanly possible in the next few days...
07:49 AM

Brainstorming about brainstorming

Well, it looks like I'll get an account on penderel (the box) so I can hack it up from anywhere (that allows ssh'ing out), any time (that won't cost me £4/hour to do it).

So now I've begun to think about how to be lazy when travelling. Perhaps a module that allows you to build interfaces to hostel booking search engines...Travel::Hostel? At this point, I'm not sure what this would buy over just using this, but you never know.

Perhaps a blog system (or extensions to an existing one) that suppports bloggers on the move (perhaps a plugin that puts a map into each post, and can optionally show the route you've been taking thus far, or just a dot indicating current location at the time of writing the post).

Monday June 10, 2002
01:27 PM

Perhaps I will be able to hack on the road

Hmmmmm...mojotoad (of Perl Monks fame) told me that he did some Perl geekery whilst travelling (via PuTTY + home Linux box + internet cafe), so maybe I'll will too.

It'd be interesting to see a piece of code evolve as its author hops from city to city, country to country, and maybe even continent to continent, not to mention be beneficial when I start my job search early next year.

In other news, this is just too good.

Saturday June 08, 2002
01:47 PM

Too old to code?

Hmmm...I find Moshe Bar's comments a little odd, a little awkward.

Back when I was in my early twenties nobody could beat me at programming.

Excuse me? What the hell does that mean? What constitutes "beating someone" at programming? What language must we be coding in for you to "play against us"? What must the task be so that you're familiar enough with it not to need 2 years of research time to catch up to knowledge we already have? (I'm not necessarily in the group referred to by "we" or "us"...just raising the questions to make a point).

A glimpse of how Mr. Bar might answer that is seen in a later quote:

Nowadays, when I sit next to people like Andrea Arcangeli, I realize that programming, too, (even considering the advantage of experience) is for the young. Perhapes extreme programming, ie good quality, high speed programming, should be considered a sport and not an art or science or a skill. it's all about how fast you can churn out code? Well...I certainly agree that timeliness is important. For example, what good would it be if all the XML::* branch didn't come out until 20 years from now? Clearly, accomplishing tasks in a reasonable timeframe (where "reasonable" can have a pretty open definition depending on who's the judge of "reasonable") could be the difference between getting your paycheque, or getting fired (if "context" means "job", for example).

But...have said that, is that the only measure? Hardly.

What if:

  • you churned out 500 lines of code in 5 hours, but any programmer who had half a clue could have done the same thing in 30 lines of code? Would that still mean you're "good"? Is that a good kind of "fast"?
  • you wrote 500 lines of code in 5 hours, before you checked CPAN and found that someone had already done it?
  • you wrote 500 lines of code in 5 hours, before probing the users enough to ensure that this feature even makes sense to add to the program, or if perhaps the issue could be solved without having to add another line of code at all?
  • you wrote 1000 lines of code in 5 hours, but it could have been done in 250, and didn't even solve the problem for which you wrote the code in the first place?
  • you wrote 1000 lines of code in 4 hours, it solved the problem...for the first 3 weeks, and then the user entered a letter in a numeric field, causing the program to crash, and the user to lose half a days work?
  • you wrote 1000 lines of, say, XML in 5 hours without actually knowing that Emacs (your editor of choice, for argument's sake) can know about DTD's and automatically insert elements for you? Is doing tons of manual work that can easily be automated still a sign that you're "good"?
  • What if you ripped off 200 lines in 20 minutes, but not even The Damian would dare think of trying to actually maintain such disgusting crud?

One might say "well, I think he meant you churn it out fast, and don't make any of the mistakes suggesting in the above list", but how easy is it to measure that? If you ask me, what consitutes "skill" in programming is a grey art at the best of times.

Point being, Mr. Bar has a point that how fast you can churn out code can matter in context, and might adjust how you write it.

But programming has many traits analagous to, say, being an author of a novel. There's so many more factors involving in judging what makes you "good" than speed. Sadly, these all become skewed when you're paid to do the work, and have to meet deadlines imposed by people who have zero idea of what's actually involved in accomplishing the objectives.

Also, his belief that being a programmer doesn't "age well" is a bit silly too. I think few people's intellect gets sharper and sharper as they ascend their 50's and 60's...but who cares? That's nature at work, and it affects your performance in any profession. Just because it's not as noticeable when your job is a bullshit arti^W^W lawyer, doesn't put that profession on some higher plane than "merely" being a programmer.

His comments seem amazingly shortsighted.


Friday June 07, 2002
03:32 PM

In Limbo...

It's sort of interesting, the position I'm in right now.

I find it hard to really follow any inspirations in coding right now, or have any kind of motivation to think much about being a geek because I know that a week from now I won't even have access to a decent programming environment (and frankly, I think programming will be the second or third last thing on my mind when I'm wandering around, because again, I won't be able to code :).

In fact, it's possible that this trip could be such a life-changing experience that this might be the last programming job I ever have. Maybe I'll forego any future hacking in favour of living Away From It All on a beach in Thailand or something.

Wouldn't that be crazy...

Tuesday June 04, 2002
08:38 AM

Can't Hardly Wait


In less than two weeks I'm off to London, England again, except that this time I'm going to be hanging around a weeeeeeeee bit longer. :)

The plan is to spend six months wandering the world in search of something more, something different, and quite simply, some kickass partying.

I'll probably spend a week or two in London, before heading off to Spain by the beginning of July. I'm contemplating going to Ibiza, but it may be too expensive for someone who plans to be travelling longer than just a summer (30-60 euros just to get in to a club there! Yeesh...). Madrid and Barcelona (and perhaps Pamplona as well) are definitely places I plan to see.

From there, I plan to wander into Portugal, Morocco, and come back on through Italy, and Greece (I've heard Ios is a fun place to be in the summer). Germany, France, and definitely a return to Amsterdam will be in order.

I'm not ruling out the possibility of completely scrapping those plans if I happen to meet a few travellers that are willing to let me join them on a trek to Thailand or Australia or something, so we'll see what happens.

Hopefully this also means a chance to meet Perl Mongers from all around the world, make new friends, and find a job overseas.

If there's somebody reading this, and you happen to be in one of the countries I mentioned, drop me a line, give me some advice (good hostels, cheap places to stay, good party towns, your travel experiences, etc.), let me know of any Canadian-friendly employers you know of in European countries, or let me know of a PM meeting in your area between, say, Mid-June-Julyish.

Monday May 06, 2002
04:46 PM

Done Deal

I did it.

I sold my car.

And you know what? It wasn't so bad really. Once I left the lot with my $1,600 check (I found a dealer who gave me $1,000 more than another offered, which is always nice), I realized what I had done, and more importantly what I can now do, which is move away from here.

My mom came home shortly after I did, and burst into tears because it finally "hit home" that I was going to be leaving Winnipeg.

Moms++ # cuz they're moms

In the ensuing kaffufle (which probably isn't a word), she said something interesting: Well, it seems like you're trying to find something, so I hope you do.

I feel like maybe I am looking for something.

I don't want to live an oridinary nine-to-five standup joe type of life. I want to be and do good, party hard, hack Perl, do stupid things, travel around the world, date Playmates (did I say that or think that?), break up with Playmates (ok...I did say that...) and be someone that people won't easily forget.

What's the point of living if you can't change the world?

I sure as hell do not want to be one of those people who tells me "Yep Brad, if I was your age now, I'd be moving outta here too".

I say, if you really wanted to move, you would have.

In other news, I've stumbled onto an insane problem with pack(), whereby lexical variables in a calling function are getting modified because of the fact that the callee is making a call to a Win32::API function. I'm almost sure it's to do with the way I'm packing the structure though, so I'll refrain from submitting a bug report.

Back to hacking...