Monday, March 01, 2010

Settling into a rut ?

When I started programming, things were nuts - every day was an adventure, I would discover things, try out things, learn some more, break things, destroy things ! And yet, continue on ... I would scribble on paper, write games, explore graphics (graphics is an excellent way to keep a young chap interested in programming !), learn physics just so that I can code it in to see results !
In college, things were more sober and (understandably) projects more ambitious in comparison - and yet the learning happened at a furious pace : particularly due to the fantastic bunch of peers I had. I am sure I would not have learned so much had it not been for these chaps.

When I joined work, it was kind of the same - except I am getting paid to do what I enjoy doing, and the small inconvenience of ensuring what they ask of me gets done before the deadline. But rest remained kind of the same - ofcourse, with better hardware !. Athira (?) at college, which powered ece students accounts in main CC used to run on a box slower than my desktop :-)

But rest remained as before - there was a wide amazing world out there for me to explore, and I plunged right in.
Consider even the number of languages I learnt in the first 3 years : most of these were for absolutely no "professional" benefit - just simple curiosity about a language, and in some ways, trying to explore how to think in various languages and improve/understand my own abilities better I guess ...
I could very competently code in some of them at that time - particularly the more interesting ones like intercal/triintercal, while others were more of mild curiosity like brainfuck, tcl, D, scheme, etc.
I never became a master at any of them ... and have forgotten almost all of them now (so dont expect me to answer even the most rudimentary q's about them :-) ) .... Nothing has 'stuck' till now : but I did get exposed to a lot of interesting ways of doing things, of thinking about how to solve problems - and I am sure a bunch of it has seeped in to how I approach and attempt problems.
Same with exploring the various technologies I was exposed to : outside and at work - particularly considering the amazing teams I was working with, and how readily they would encourage and clarify things, I did have a wild ride.

Flash forward to today - I still do learn a fantastic amount of things almost daily. My ignorance is exposed to me more than ever : I am more aware of how little I know ... and I continue to attempt to learn and understand more.
But there is something missing, maybe the passion is mellowing a bit ?

For instance, if I can black-box something and avoid getting into the details (for time reasons usually), I do it - unlike earlier when I would definitely make a serious attempt to understand the intricacies of what I use/work with. (Caveat, if I find the 'box' very compelling, I still make an attempt to understand it).

The specific reason I mentioned languages above - in the last 3 years, from top of my head, I had made a couple of attempts to try to get myself to learn (at various times) haskell, scala and erlang ... I was hoping for some practical use from learning them at a later point of time, but motivation was simply to do it for the heck of it ! And I am still to do anything about it :-(
For the purpose of work, I did learn others ... but I have a feeling that all those years back, I would have jumped right into these too.

Thankfully, I am still as curious as ever, and continue to bug colleagues and scientists for details on what they work on ... but I sometimes have a feeling that I dont get into it as deeply as I would have.

Not sure if it is lack of time (which is always in short supply), too many projects in the air (work and at home), distractions at home (movies, tv shows), plain pre-occupied with the set of problems I already work on, or a beginning of a lack of 'interest' ? ... In any case, I seriously do hope I am not loosing my edge (a, as of yet, unspecified/unquantified term/way).

Contemplative mood causes all sorts of posts to come out ... and I am ignoring Maddox's valuable advice to not clog the internet with drivel :-)


Blogger AK said...


3/01/2010 08:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You didn't mention anything about the whole Chess engine programming.

Are you still on your decision?

I can pay a top dollar for it, as I said earlier

Daniel Shaffer

4/01/2010 11:08:00 PM  
Blogger VKM said...

its the "30" effect dude...don't worry..all of us are feeling it in some form or the other!!

7/02/2010 11:41:00 PM  

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