Sleep and rest make for a much happier me. I spent most of yesterday lying down, lots of working on the computer. The port of an old website took about 5 hours of intense computer-work. I’m so glad I don’t work in computers any more! Everything always feels hacked and broken. Anyway, I’ve done an imperfect port of the site; there are hours more work tweaking old posts that need to be done in order to complete the job, but at least the domain expiring in 2 days won’t lose us our data.

My brain is still being drawn to the problem of why things ported imperfectly. It’s the main annoyance when working with computers; computers do exactly what you tell them to do, but it’s not always obvious what you’ve told them to do, especially now we’re onto nth-gen languages where the actual instruction is obfuscated 5 levels deep, and being countered by simultaneous instructions from whatever GUI is being used.

It’s a puzzle and it’s always a balance between wanting to figure out the puzzle and wanting to actually get things working regardless of what’s actually going on behind the scenes. Sometimes it doesn’t really matter what went on behind the scenes. It’s often useful to know, but it can be a hell of a lot of dead time. Especially in this case where I just want to perform one task, and don’t need to understand the intricacies of MySQL 5.5, the differences between self-hosted WordPress and WordPress.com and the exact code that runs with the wordpress import XML.

Sorry, that was a whole lot of TLA (three-letter acronym)s for the non-initiated.

See! I said it wasn’t important.

It’s just a vortex though, and my personality and its desire to solve problems is one that felt constantly disappointed: I was either solving pretty boring, tangled but uninteresting problems (a bit like a knotted chain or string), or leaving them unsolved. It was deeply unsatisfying as a career. Generally: 1.) Cut the string, ruin it, maybe glue it back together into a Frankenstein string. 2.) Spend hours unknotting it which is a really horrible waste of life. It doesn’t solve the problem of future strings getting tangled either – it’s just a flaw in the nature of strings. or 3.) Buy or get a new piece of string. Nothing is solved, you feel like the time spent on the previous string is wasted, and it has a monetary or time cost associated with it.

Well, now I’m feeling kind of happy like I’ve finally answered a question that’s been hanging around me like a cloud for the last 9 or 10 years. I knew that working in IT wasn’t for me, and I’d always reasoned that it was down to the customer experience; customers always felt that IT should cost less and deliver more in less time – because they didn’t understand how it worked in any way whatsoever. So developing bespoke software always felt really anti-climactic. We (the developers) always felt like we’d given more than we had agreed to and not been paid enough, the clients always felt that they’d been given less than they’d hoped for and paid too much.

A lot of the work in making computers do what you want in a reliable and stable fashion is invisible architectural support that costs a lot of coding time to do it tailor-made…

Anyway, I’ve had enough of talking and thinking about that. I spent enough of my life on actually doing it, and I can finally understand what was truly frustrating to me about it -because while managing client expectations was frustrating, that was generally solvable and probably not unique to IT – in fact there are elements of the same disconnect in expectations even in teaching. If the work itself had held any joy for me, I probably could have gotten over the expectation stuff.

Funny how much happiness I’m gaining out of explaining to myself why I disliked something so much. I guess it’s the puzzle-solver in me.

So now, it’s just four weeks of Summer holidays left. Just. Imagine I was heading into four weeks of holidays and how long that would feel. It’s a full third of my holidays remaining. It’s an awfully long time – why does my brain have this tendency to leap to the end of things, to devalue something I’m enjoying by lamenting how little of it I have left. I do the same thing with my life! Oh, I don’t mind turning 40, but I mind that it means that I have less life left.

Stop running to the end of things, self! Awareness and enjoyment of every second, and it will last a lifetime.

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