This is part of my blog, which I have long since stopped maintaining. The page has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. Please go back to the homepage to see the current contents of this site.
From having four visitors, suddenly we are on our own. Eric is having a nap, Joseph is trying to sleep, it’s dark outside and the lights are down low… Though nothing fundamental has changed, I’m feeling lonely now. I can’t find the words for just how much I miss Southampton; how much I miss having everyone around all the time. Hell, right now I even miss Eric, though she’s only in the next room.
Good old wanderlust is becoming a problem too. I’m envious enough of two of my friends who are off travelling around the world, and now I get to be envious of another two who are going to India to see them there. It’s not just that kind of epic travel I’d like to do; even just packing up some things and heading to some other part of the country for a few days would be nice. But are the days when I could do that over already? It’s a feat of organisation just to go to the shops right now - we’d need to time it right between Joseph’s feeds, put the pram together, pack a bottle and nappies… The time between wanting to go out and doing so has gotten much longer. I wonder how long the preparation time for any kind of proper travel might be?
So, last night’s dream involved:<ul><li>Staying in a hotel that looked like an old Oxbridge college</li><li>Steam trains passing about three feet from the window</li><li>Joseph screaming due to a bug in the code</li><li>Receiving a commendation from work for making something out of toilet rolls and sellotape</li><li>Claire, but aged about 14</li><li>Rhiannon with an over-the-top Westcountry accent.</li></ul>
Have I finally gone insane?
I’m not sure how other companies approach milestone releases. I get the impression from various bits of software that I use that the big open-source projects tend to have a series of alpha, beta and release candidate releases during the months leasing up to a release, complete with feature freezes, code freezes and all sorts of other measures to keep things under control.
Where’s this going? Ah yes, here.
The project on which I work has just brought in three extra developers (to add to the original one, me). All four of us are, of course, working on code we didn’t write or don’t have a lot of experience with. A lot of us have worked both of the last two weekends. The old bug tracking system (the rant-inspiring paper folder) has been abandoned, simply because there are so many bugs that we barely have time to fix, let alone write down.
My software, by which I mean the software I inherited from someone with a very tenuous grasp of how to code properly, is currently on build 504. There’s not yet been a build that has stood unchanged for more than a day, so turning one of these builds into even an alpha release, is a far-off goal.
The Bug Tracker Version 2 (whiteboard) currently shows 5 “show-stopper” bugs, and three more that are merely critical.
Now it turns out that the customers are visiting on Wednesday, and guess what they’re expecting? Version 1.0. So, whatever mess we have at the end of tomorrow… I get to mark it as 1.0, and watch a tiny part of my soul die.
It’s almost relaxing to sit here on the train, watching the colours of autumnal Dorset slide past. I’m finding looking out of the window oddly compelling today, despite the fact that all that’s out there are sights that I see every day. Perhaps because it’s 10am, much later than my normal early-morning trip to work - trains just don’t run early on Sundays. Or perhaps it’s the ridiculous amount of coffee that I consumed whilst waiting for it, which unike the usual barely-caffeinated brown water seems today to have been ultra-strong. In fact I’m feeling quite high, which is an effect of caffeine I thought I’d left behind at about the age of 14.
Anyway, it’s probably apparent this far into the post that I am indeed going to work today - and, as I found out yesterday, that makes my 7th day of the 19 straight days I am expected to work. Hopefully Eric and Joseph’s return today will improve my sanity somewhat, because the last few days have taken their toll. Goodness only knows what I’ll be feeling like in a week’s time.
One reassuring fact, though - in the time I’ve so far s
pent typing this, I’ve earned about a fiver. Yesterday I earnt nearly £200 all told, which is something at least. I just wish there was some chance of the money arriving before the end of November or, more likely, the end of December.
Since I got my eeePC, I’ve been experimenting with streaming music from the ‘net rather than from the hard disk of my desktop. I’ve come to the conclusion that my music collection has been somewhat surpassed by Last.fm.
I’ve been scrobbling for probably a year or so now, to the point that listening to Last.fm’s recommended tracks and Neighbour Radio is a lot like listening to my actual music, only more varied, more interesting, and - as now - interspersed with random German filk.
Clearly I have taught it both what I like, and what I find oddly amusing =p
Warning: Epic Rant Ahead
Not so long ago, I was a rare breed - someone who enjoyed their job. I could go into work every day, and help to invent cool things. And after the inventing there would be a lot of development and testing, but it’s all stuff that needs to be done to turn an idea into a thing that someone will actually buy.
But in the last six months or so, I’ve started liking it less and less. I never get the chance to be involved in the design of anything anymore - I don’t get to be creative. In fact, the components of my job at the moment can be summarised thusly:
1) Fixing bugs in other people’s code.
2) Fixing bugs in other people’s hardware.
3) Fixing bugs in other people’s documentation.
The project I’m working on is already massively delayed and over budget. The new absolute deadline is in two weeks’ time, and we’re still fixing major show-stopping bugs. If the hardware and documentation were perfect, we could spend six months testing this software. But those are a mess too. And somehow we’re supposed to deliver a professional product and demonstrate it to the customers in two weeks.
It looks ugly. It’s badly designed. It’s badly managed. Most of the programmers distrust Subversion. The paper folder of bug reports has disappeared, we’re beyond the stage of logging problems - we don’t have time to do anything but fix them.
Wait, “we”? Sorry, “I”. I’m now the only programmer left on my part of the project. I’m of the third generation, twice removed from the people who wrote most of the code.
I get up at 6.15am for this. I get home at 7.30pm for this. And, this weekend, instead of seeing my girlfriend and son who I’ve not seen since Sunday… I’ll be working. There’s apparently a pretty big chance I’ll be needed next weekend too.
I do wonder, is there somewhere out there I can earn actual money, doing actual engineering rather than sacrificing 12 hours a day, 7 days a week flogging a dead horse?
Never have I been reminded more than I was today that fairies come in all shapes and sizes. Specifically, those responsible for the tangling of string, rope and miscellaneous cords whilst no-one is looking.
Many months ago, we unwound a cable from its drum and laid it out along a concreted area. This is a cable of no half measures - four hundred metres in length and nearly two inches thick, military spec, designed to last for decades at the bottom of the sea. The whole drum of it weighs about as much as a small car.
Since it was laid out, barely a human hand has touched it. It’s survived gales and rain without moving an inch.
When we came to move it today?
Tangled. It took three of us nearly an hour to sort it out.
Somewhere out there, there’s a bunch of really strong cable-tangling fairies.
It’s that time of year again, when the bright and cold mornings inspire in me the unfortunate desire to sit at train stations and write and – here’s the unfortunate bit – drink train station coffee. I appear to be making my way through about a litre of it at present, and thankfully it’s still in the “warm brown caffeine” stage rather than the eventual entropic state of “cold brown grit”. My problem, however, isn’t my choice of overly-expensive beverage but that I seem to be out of practice at writing. I’ve spent the last ten minutes staring at what currently exists of my story “The Lost Sky”, and have written nothing. It stands at a phenomenal 3 pages.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm;">That, I suppose, is why I’m writing this instead – I’m trying to at least get the desire to write going again. Does anyone out there in blog-land have any good advice on how to get writing again? Working solutions to be paid for in hugs/beer! =p</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-style: normal;">Semi-related rant: The rail network should have WiFi. I don’t necessarily mean the trains – it’d be nice, but technically complicated and expensive. Just the stations would do, the same stations that already clearly have an internet connection so that they can update their live departure boards. I would pay for this, and I’d bet half the suits-with-laptops on this train would too. Does this exist somewhere, and Britain / South West Trains is just lagging behind? I can’t believe it’s so novel an idea that no-one in the rail companies has considered it.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm;">(Side question that I doubt anyone knows the answer to: Do all stations with live departure boards have net access? I’ve noticed a lot of stations have TV-style aerials on long poles, pointing in roughly the direction of the next station on each side. Do they use this instead? If so, I can’t see them liking the idea or running a net connection over that just so I can blog from the arse end of Dorset…)
Right, Halloween party on Saturday and I have no idea what to go as. Here’s the suggestions so far:
Since some partygoers are going as various of the Endless, Neil Gaiman has been suggested.
- Pros: I already look like him, no real costume required, Eric and Domina want me to.
- Cons: Not scary, kind of a cop-out. Having stubble and taking my glasses off isn't really a costume. Will have to explain a lot.
Vaguely Steampunk Airship Navigator
- Pros: I have the clothes etc. already, can play it as a character
- Cons: Not scary.
Ultimate terror-causing Goth/Townie Hybrid!
- Pros: Not too hard to costume, giant ankh bling, have been thinking of this for years
- Cons: Not actually all that funny, will have to explain a lot.
Vote now, or suggest alternatives! Please? O_O
News at Ten: Chopin knows spoilers for Dreaming Awake.