This is a phlog post where I share my new project, turbogopher, but
that's more the preface to a big rant....
>> turbogopher <<
So I've been working on another project I haven't mentioned on here
It is a gopher client written in FPC using FV, or in words more
people will understand, it's written in pascal and uses the
FreeVision library, which is based on the original Borland
TurboVision which came with Turbo Pascal, which was used to
implement, among other things, the TUI IDE that TP7 came with.
>> pre-rant <<
Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway,... so like... why... why did I do this...
Well,... mostly because it was great fun. I kinda hit a roadblock
with the game engine I was working on, getting 3d animations to work
right has been turning out really difficult, so I needed a
distraction. I always had fond memories of using the TP7 text user
interface, so I figured, why not browse gopherspace with something
similar, and get those warm fuzzy feelings all over again. Yesterday
I finally got it to a point where basic navigation works and it
actually functions as a mostly usable gopher client.
I put it up on tildegit here if you want to play with it:
In any event, this had me kind of pondering, why it is that I have
so much fun with a project like this, and why I can't have the same
amount of fun with work projects.
One aspect of it is that you have to 'answer' to someone. You are
constantly judged and humiliated by stand up meetings, reviews,
trivial merge request comments, etc,... That's not to say that there
isn't ever valid feedback from those things, but it's always a drain
on the psyche nevertheless.
The other aspect is that if you're working for someone, your code
isn't yours. It belongs to the company, it gets absorbed into some
gigantic monster codebase (that is usually a gigantic over-convoluted
mess), and in the end all it serves is to make the company owners
more cash. Some would argue that cash trickles down to the rest of
the company and benifits everyone, but I don't think that's always
the case, and even if it does, it still feels like a perpetual-motion
machine of slave labour somehow.
Anyway anyway anyway,.. so like... I'm right now in the middle of
week 2 of my 2-weeks off of work (PTO) ; In the first week I stayed
up until 2 or 3 am in the morning most days, and slept in late. I
felt so much better doing that. --- let me rewind -- Lately, and with
'lately' I mean over the past couple of years, I've been feeling
increasingly foggy minded and I've been very forgetful. A lot of
short-term memory snafu's and such. To the point where I start
wondering if I'm going senile or something. Also lots of headaches.
According to my watch, I only ever get like 5 or 6 hrs of sleep every
night during the week. By the time thursday hits I always feel awful.
Saturdays I usually make up for it and sleep until like 1pm. -
anyway... just letting my body do it's own thing and not waking up to
an alarm clock every day, made all that go away. No headaches.
No foggy brain. And feeling a lot more happy overall. In the second
week of my time off, my wife had to work, so I started waking up with
her (which is only 1.5 hrs later than my normal time) and, in spite
of still having a week off, and not having to deal with work stuff,
I immediately felt a lot more shitty overall.
So this has me wondering if I'm not always in some perpetual state of
sleep deprevation. It's always been like that for my entire life
though. Back when I was young, having to wake up to go to school
every day had the same effect every day. Whenever I don't have to
keep to society's hours and let myself do whatever, I seem to always
be awake longer than 12 hours, and sleep longer than 12 hours. That's
my jam. Long awake hours and long sleep hours. That's how I feel best
and sane. Unfortunately though this is utterly and completely
incompatible with how the rest of humanity functions, because that
would mean my wake-hours would gradually shift around in a cycle
where I would sometimes be awake at night, sometimes during the day.
This makes it hard to have a job where you have regular scheduled
meetings, let alone show up at the same time every day. Maybe actual
work would be more enjoyable if I wasn't constantly sleep deprived
and I would have less negative feelings about it, although I doubt
it, because the problems with working in software are much, much
deeper than that, which I'll talk about below.
>> actual-rant <<
I always enjoyed technology, computers, software greatly. I wrote my
first code when i was very young on a commodore64, and have spent the
rest of my life in front of a computer at least 10 hrs a day.
Whilst I was off playing with my programs, electronics, and what not,
the world around me changed. Today's technology is very much not like
what I envisoned back in the early 90's. Back then everything seemed
a lot more optimistic. Star trek TNG was on TV, and our vision of the
future and our relationship with technology seemed like very much of
a positive thing. We actually thought the internet would bring people
closer togeather, and allow people to share knowledge and information
to the point where it would change the world for the better. While
some of these things did happen (you can google pretty much anything
and get an answer), the world did not change for the better for the
most part. When commercialization hit, the interesting technical and
educational aspects of the net had to make room for big business,
marketing, and manipulation. This shift from the technological to the
commercial, business focus went way beyond just the content on the
net. It now permeats everything in the software world. Working for a
software company now means implementing features as quickly as
possible, meet business-interests as quickly as possible, etc,...
with complete disregard for the technical aspects. Completing
projects makes managers look good, which means there's always a big
focus on short-term goals, and none on code maintenance, or long-term
stability. I could go on a long rant about how stuff like agile also
completely disregards long term goals and is very feature-centric
and discourages maintenance, or how 'tech-work' is looked down upon
as something that's somehow an inferior waste of time thing to work
on but this rant is already pretty long ;)
Anyway, the tl;dr is that not only do I like writing software in this
modern tech-world, I also don't like using modern stuff.
I love technology. But when I think technology, I think of my office
where there's swarms of wires everywhere, walls filled with crt
monitors, and big iron machines making comfortable noises. Not the
latest greatest gadgets or $randomCompany's latest gizmo.
The monetization of technology has in many ways destroyed it, and I'm
not even going to get into how big tech / social media is harvesting
everyone's data, or how it's being used to manipulate public opinion
etc etc,.... it's pretty bleak.
My point is, I spent pretty much my entire life devoted to a field
that's basically destroying the world (or society at least). A field
that has changed out from under me and mutated into something
Working on fun projects like turbogopher, and then thinking about how
I could "earn a living" doing stuff like that only further
illustrates that it's impossible to live off of doing fun projects
like that. Sure, I could become self-employed and write software for
a living, but then my bosses become my clients, and anything I can
think of that would remotely generate income is always evil in some
way or another.
This is deeply distrubing and depressing, because it's what I do, and
what I've done my entire life. I'm not really good at anything else.
Should I just become a woodworker or something? An artist maybe? A
musician? I don't know... but I'm not sure if there's much of a
future in my current carreer track. Or, at least not much of one that
I can see myself being happy in.
As a closing note, I'd like to go back for a sec to turbogopher...
I wrote this in Pascal. Pascal is one of the languages invented by
Niklaus Wirth. He also came up with Modula, Oberon, etc,... He won a
Turing award for the languages he created, which is pretty much the
highest distinction you can get in computer science... recently i was
browsing his site and stumbled upon an essay he wrote that talks
about the state of the industry, and to my surprise he has a lot of
the same feelings I do about the state of things. It's a really
interesting read. (He's also a much better writer than I am) -
Go check it out:
Nota bene, that was written in 2008 and things have only gotten much
worse from there,...
Do you have the answers? Suggestions? Know the secret to life, the
universe, and everything? Send your recommendations to:
or drop me a note on IRC (jns on tilde, sdf, freenode,...)
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