Thursday, March 31, 2005

Panic attack

I don't know what happened. I felt sick to my stomach. I was feeling frustrated because I was asked to help Jim debug a problem and he was doing it all wrong and I had to sit there and watch rather than just fix it myself. Gamid had just dropped a bunch of code on me and it was all screwed up. And Dave hasn't figured out how to have a conversation with Paul at a humanlike tone. He was practically shouting.

I just had to get out of there. I went outside for a few minutes to cool off.

I left work at 6:30. Haven't gotten anything done tonight. I feel like crap in general.

Haven't talked to Naomi yet tonight. Didn't talk to her last night either. I called earlier and left a message.

Going to go to bed early tonight.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Catching up.... Pat and Bill's departure...

Haven't updated the journal in a while. The week has been pretty busy, yet uneventful. Been continuing work on MemVidia. Bought Macromedia Flash on Saturday. It was $699, so this is the first case where I've put more than my time into this thing. It had better work out or else I'm out some real money.

Today was Patrick and Bill's last day at Netilla. We all went out to a bar for drinks and food after work. While they are both quite capable of being a pain in the ass, I have to admit that I will miss them. Of course, I should be able to find Patrick any night at Basil T's if I'm willing to drive down to Red Bank.

At dinner tonight, I was enlightened to the ongoing theory that for some reason Ken is always in the best mood on Thursday morning. It had everybody at the table wondering what happens to him on Wednesday night, and there was some suggestion of that being when he gets a weekly conjugal visit. I have to acknowledge that he has his good days and his bad, but I'm not sure it's so predictable.

Saw Kyle last night, and she was joking about keeping a little calendar to track Pete's mood. Each day she would draw a smiley face or sad face, etc. Perhaps I should start doing that with Ken so I can see if there is any trend. I wonder how that would look plotted out on an Excel spreadsheet.

Going to see Naomi this weekend. She's pretty busy, so I won't get out there until Saturday afternoon. She has a renaissance choir performance on Sunday, so I'm going to try to stay long enough to see it.

Ok, off to bed soon.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sleepless in Somerset

Can't sleep.

I was thinking about the work I did today. I spent most of the evening trying to get a third-party's code to work, hassling with the C++ that I never really took the time to learn. Got me thinking about college, and how I used to spend nights in the computer lab trying to get my assignments to work. The whole thing reminded me of the fact that I've had a C compiler since I was fourteen years old and I didn't really start to take advantage of it until I was in college. How much smarter I would be now if I had started a few years earlier.

And that got me thinking about the man who gave me the compiler.

Most kids ask their parents for a skateboard or the latest video game. My Dad gave me a commercial C compiler. Most computer geeks take compilers for granted nowadays - since open source Operating Systems like Linux came around every distribution comes with one for free. But back in the early 1990's they were expensive and only professional software developers had them.

I was thinking about how I looked at my father back when I was at Lucent and 3Com. By that point he had stopped doing development, and was doing Quality Assurance at 3Com. Part of me saw him as a dinosaur, a relic of the mainframe era whose skills were useless in the modern world. I was the "young whipper snapper" who was familiar with all the new technology. I guess at the time I really didn't know what he had been working on all those years at Concurrent, but I figured that since it was all old technology that it wasn't very advanced compared to the technology of the nineties. I figured it must be easy compared to the latest and greatest stuff I was working on.

In the last couple of years though I have come to realize that the opposite is true. Modern computing provides so many facilities that I take for granted that I don't really appreciate how hard it was to get there or what the machine is really doing. It's like kids today who use calculators and as a result don't know how to do long division.

Bert designed hard drive controllers. He designed logic analyzer microcode. He coded in assembly. This is the hardcore shit. I think about it now, and realize that there are a million Visual Basic programmers. There are hundreds of thousands of C and Java programmers. Even firmware design has a fairly large workforce - any C programmer with a little motivation can learn it. But only a handful of people can do microcode -- the lowest level above the hardware.

I wish I had learned more from him.

I found several boxes of code he wrote for various projects at Concurrent. Wide-carriage greenbar printouts of work that clearly he had been proud of. When I look at the code, I see beauty in a way that only engineers can appreciate. I see genius.

I sometimes wonder whether the work I do for Netilla begins to compare. Sure the people who run Netilla think it's the best thing since sliced bread, but am I really getting out of it the most that I can? Has my growth stagnated? Will the MemVidia project be an opportunity for growth, or just another few years spent doing integration work of various components?

Is it innovation or just integration?

I think about the drive controllers he designed, and wonder what I have done that even comes close. The stuff he did had never been done before. He took the field in new directions. He did soft sectoring of the disk while everybody else was jumping to the outer track to map around defects.

Anyway, I guess I've rambled enough for the moment. Guess I will try to get some sleep. Tomorrow is Friday and Naomi is coming over after work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Tuesday morning

Weekend went well. Marc came out Friday night, locked his keys in his car, so the Friday night adventure was to drive down to South Jersey and get his keys. Met up with him, Richie, and Aggie the following morning for 7:30 breakfast. Then met up with Mom for coffee.

Spent the rest of Saturday in Pennsylvania with Naomi. We did a double date with Heather and her new significant other. Bertucci's, Cold Stone, movie.

Came back Sunday and worked on MemVidia. Slowly making progress.

Work is ok. Plugging along. Last night got the scrolling code to work for MemVidia, which is a big deal since I've been struggling with it for about a week. Should be able to get a prototype cleaned up this week for Paul to see.

Woke up from an odd dream this morning where I was in Germany with Mrs. Allgeyer, the German teacher from high school. The odd thing of course if that I never took German. In the dream I got lost, couldn't remember which bus I needed to take, what part of Berlin I was staying in, and which hotel I was staying in. Oh yeah, in my dream like in life, I didn't speak a word of German.

Ok, should probably get showered and off to work....