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schwern (1528)

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Schwern can destroy CPAN at his whim.

Journal of schwern (1528)

Saturday May 06, 2006
07:21 PM

State of the Schwernion

[ #29542 ]

Where have you been? What's up with Test::More? Where are you living? Schwern, what the hell?

I've been on another of what have been called "Schwern's Trips to Mars". You won't believe the packet latency here. These are usually long term upswings in the state of my economic and social life combined with a corresponding downturn in my desire to program. My creativity with regard to computers plummets and finds other outlets, currently cooking and industrial design. I read email only sporatically and don't go on IRC but I'm out in the big blue room more often. Eventually, enough bugs pile up and enough people bug me to fix them that I have to start that long transfer orbit back to Earth.

Here's the facts:
* I'm still living in Portland, OR
* I've been working as a salaried employee for Rentrak since last July.
* I've been largely ignoring most of my email, mailing lists and bug reports.
* If you want to get in touch with me, phone and AIM is best.

What sparked this latest trip to Mars and why has it taken so long for me to come back? Well, some of it is because there's other interesting stuff going on but I suspect a lot of it is negative. My Open Source programming has become work. I don't like to work and my job at Rentrak is supplying all the work I want.

Many of my CPAN projects, particularly MakeMaker and Test::More/Builder, are in maintenance mode. I'm fixing bugs much more than I'm adding features. More importantly, I'm fixing OTHER people's bugs and when I can add features its often OTHER people's features. That's not a hobby, that's unpaid work. When I thought about programming I'd think about all the niggling little things which need to be done that aren't benefiting me and lose my desire to code.

Reading email also became work. Having to wade through too many mailing lists (p5p, perl-qa, several Perl Mongers groups), as well as mail about my modules in addition to the constant anti-spam fight made me not want to read mail. Trouble is in that flood of irrelevancy there's important stuff I need to read. Either because its addressed directly to me, or its about me, or its about my code, or its just a neat concept or idea I want to read about. By the time I was done filtering out all the junk and left with the handful of actual messages I'm interested in for the day I'm too mentally worn out to bother with them so they build up, unanswered and sometimes unread, at the bottom of my inbox like sedimentary rock layers.

How do I fix this? How do I make programming back into a hobby and how do I get a handle on my inbox?

Triage. Hand off any CPAN module I'm not going to work on anyway. Things like Sub::Uplevel and ExtUtils::Install need to be officially transfered to the folks who are already effectively maintaining them in my absense. The MakeMaker breakup needs to be completed and its auxillary modules handed out. Anything else languishing in my CPAN directory needs to be handed off.

More triage. I need to fix whatever the bugs are in Test::More which people are bitching about enough so they stop bitching for a while. Unlike other modules I'm not working on at the moment I do not want to give up Test::More/Builder. There's tons of potential there and I'm a greedy bastard. I'm honestly not sure what the bugs are but I'm sure I'll find out soon enough.

And then I do something new rather than just maintaining what I've got. This will likely be Test::Builder2. A fresh approach at building testing modules taking into account the last few years of work without having to worry about maintaining the existing interface.

And then there's fixing my email problem, but that's another post.

Now all I need to do is scrape together enough motivation to actually do all that.


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