March 13th, 2005


(no subject)

Time for a rare thing - a post about stuff I actually do rather than the usual "things I have seen that have made me angry / amused / bemused / happy / sad / stabby". And this should reveal to you why it is that I so rarely post about things I do, because it'll make me sound like a whiny jerk who you might suppose from the whininess to live near the west coast of America somewhere. I don't, and never have.

My complaint of the day (and every day) is that projects all have tedious drudgery in them. I like programming, but I like the interesting bits. At the moment (and for the last quite-a-lot-of-months), I have a project of which all the interesting bits are done. That means all the bits that might usually be considered difficult. So what's left? A lot of easy bits. But that's not easy at all. Getting up the focus to do so-called easy bits is really difficult. The fact that I'm going to have to do it for at least 30 full working days doesn't help at all. The fact that I have another project that I really really want to be doing, that has fewer easy boring bits and still has all its difficult interesting bits also doesn't help. And I can't allow myself to go near this more interesting project, because if I do that I'll never finish the current one, and when I eventually got to the few boring bits of that one I wouldn't finish it either.

So the only work I can allow myself to do is the boring easy bits of the nearly finished project, but that's so painfully unchallenging that even putting in two hours a day on it is gruelling. And unlike most boring drudge work, it does still need full focus. I never had this sort of difficulty doing data entry or secretarial work, because that sort of work is effortless. I could be programming interesting things in my head at the same time. There's none of that here, there's just hours and hours of writing small variants of much the same piece of code. It's essentially writing menus.

To make matters worse, where most 'writing menus' parts of development could easily be done by a hireling, the bit of the current project couldn't easily be done that way because it isn't just menus - each small element requires a similarly small amount of interaction with the complicated tangled database, so while each element is trivial work for me, knowing what's in the database and what everything does, it would be impossible for a hireling without me spending just as long documenting all the things they'd need to know first. Also the fact that the work requires a horrible intersection of HTML, PHP, mysql and javascript makes it relatively implausible that I could get an affordable hireling to do it. This isn't helped at all by the fact that I don't like people seeing the insides of my systems, so I wouldn't want a hireling that I don't know well, and I wouldn't want to inflict this drudgery upon anyone I do know that well.

For bonus points, Australian summer isn't conducive to getting even very interesting work done. Working up the focus for hours of tedious drudgery while being lightly broiled is what they should have challenged Hercules with instead of all those easy things like beating up minotaurs or whatever.

So, this is the problem I struggle with every day, and it's pretty much the only problem I ever struggle with, and the only thing that ever happens. This is why I mostly only talk about external things. On which note, the full series of Eerie Indiana is cheaply available on DVD, and well worth it.