Archive for April, 2012

Racing the storm

Another bash at the test loop yesterday. I think I must be getting slightly fitter because I managed 0.4mph better average (18.1 mph) than last time and I had the start of a cold. The wind was the opposite to last time (SW instead of NE) which should actually make it harder as the more open section was into the wind, but psychologically, I didn’t have my speed ground down too much in the first half.

The exciting bit was seeing a thunderstorm rushing in as I was pushing to get home. In the end, I “won” and just got in the door as the hail started!

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Old programmers

I have recently stumbled across this blog talking about the hostility of developer working environments to women and more “mature” worker.

I must admit, I haven’t noticed it in the UK so far. There are fewer women, but I haven’t noticed sexism in software development. Maybe I’ve just been lucky who I worked for. Also, I’ve seen plenty of older developers earning alot of money.

Partly, it could be explained by the fact that programming of itself isn’t well respected and if “all you do is program” by the time you’re 40 people consider you in the same light as if you had stayed delivering pizzas your whole career. You seem to need to be called an “architect” or “consultant” to progress beyond a certain point even if you do the same thing.

I see difficulties for young developers as the “simple” work that you used to be able to train up on is now all outsourced. Maybe I’ve just had a strange career path… I’m not counting here grads marked as “high potential” who need to get their software development tick in the box before they can be sold as “Architects” at the age of 22 (if you have worked with me you will know to which company I am referring).

What have other people experienced?

 

To GC or not to GC – and other programming language thoughts

Having read the following article about programming language sacred cows, I was reminded of being annoyed in the past.

I can really sympathise with points 7 and 8 (Compiled vs Interpreted. Static vs Dynamic & Garbage collection is bad).

It’s nice to be able to chuck a Java/C# “executable” to anyone and have a fairly good idea it will work, but there are many times when I know exactly where the “executable” is going.. My production environment! Why the hell can’t I just compile it there and then with all the optimisations in place. I know there are lots of people who say JIT compilers run just as quick etc, but there is inevitably that “first time” lag, why do I need to suffer that when I don’t need to.

Having spent a day twonking about with strings in C++, I can remember why everyone gave a sigh of relief when string manipulation was made so easy in Java (I know you could get the C++ boost libraries and have similar functionality, but I didn’t know about that at the time, which is kind of the point). When I want to concatenate a few strings together and write out the result, I really don’t want to have to deal with memory allocation and the fear of the impossible to find memory leak. However, if I’m making an ant simulation where there are thousands of entities being created and destroyed, I want really tight control of when they go away. I don’t want the dead ants to hang around just because I once referenced a parameter in the wrong place (JavaScript, you know who you are).

The other points, while I can see the advantage of not storing things as text, trying to get people to standardise around another format. It’s bad enough with text, with my .Net code, I feel rather locked into Windows (I know there’s Mono) because the code works so tightly with Visual Studio. I think maybe the popularity of JavaScript comes from the fact that you just throw around plain text, so you can edit it on your mac or Windows laptop with equal ease, it’s the shared execution environment that provides the unification.

 

Due to a strange culmination of circumstances, I ended up at my Epsom office, with the Brompton. Either I could get the slow train home (changing at Guildford and taking 1hr 30 min) or I could cycle the Brompton home.

Oncoming cold, but a tailwind.. so I went for it: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/165028529

The speed seems ok, but the wind was good. I think with the racer, I could have made 16-17mph average at least.

Observations:

  • The seat is an inch or two too low. I had to walk 50m up the hill at the junction with the Woking road because my legs were  just so shot. The low seat is good in the city because it gives abit more confidence and I can always stand to power up hills.
  • The small wheels really suffered on the bumpy roads. The momentum would often just bleed away in an instant when I hit the poor surface.
  • The narrow handlebars and twitchy steering made it difficult to change my hand position, so some of my fingers were numb after “only” hours on the bike.

I think 10 miles maximum on the Brompton in future, or maybe a new, slightly longer stem….