Friday, July 18, 2008

When Life Gets in the Way

I'm supposed to be doing the final edits on Tomorrowville (the novel, not this blog), as well as writing my next book. But suddenly a steady stream of day-job work has turned into a flood.

You see, some of the modeling software we use was written way back in 1988. And now, in the middle of a big project, it has reached an upper limit on "heap space," a limitation that results from having been written back in the days of 16-bit processors.

So, guess what? I have to rewrite the program that creates the simulation models from scratch, in a different programming language. Quickly.

I'm old enough that my brainstem works in Fortran, but I grudgingly became a Pascal maven, and gradually realized it is the Queen of programming languages. So naturally it has fallen by the wayside, abandoned in favor of C++ and Visual Basic. I've written some big programs in VB, but the last time I touched it was around 2000. That was Visual Basic 5.0. Now they're up to VB 9.0, and everything has changed.

So I'm frantically trying to learn all the ins and outs of the new version of the language--which is wildly different from VB 5.0--and learn the new Visual Studio Development Environment, and write this arcane program in the next couple of weeks (I'm in Chapter 5 of the software manual; there's 19 more to go). Oh, and I'm editing T-Ville. And writing the current novel. Anybody know a good work/life balance consultant?

Luckily, the protagonist of Tomorrowville is a computer geek. Maybe I'll be able to channel him.

(PS That whistling sound? That's me, whistling in the dark. How do I get myself into these messes?)


Alis said...

Work-life balance consultant? No, what you need is to invent the 36-hour day!!
Hope you manage to get everything done without going too loopy, David.

lorrie porter said...

It's like buses. You stand in the rain waiting for ages, then just as the sun comes out three turn up. It'll be fine, everything always is in the end.

Jen Ster said...

Jen the Buddhist chimes in, it doesn't matter what you are doing, or for how long, so long as you focus your attention on the present moment and be mindful of your every action.

(Which I try really really hard to do while I swim an hour a day, work at a law firm, and try to pay at least some attention to my wife while editing one book and finishing the second.)

Jamie Ford said...

Dude, your kung-fu is strong. I never made it past Pascal. I was stuck in this dank computer lab tapped into an HP mainframe the size of my Honda trying to put together a program to track hotel occupancy--and failed miserably.

Jake Jesson said...

36-hour day? I can get behind that. As for computer languages, I haven't quite managed to wrap my mind around them, to the consternation of my former roommate, a computer science major. Ah well!

David Isaak said...

Alis, you're right--that would solve this--and many other problems.

David Isaak said...


That's a marvelous summary of life. I'm just not sure whether it's optimistic or pessimistic.

David Isaak said...

Hi, Jen--

I am mindful, I am.

The only problem is that the thing I'm most mindful of is, as my significant other puts it, the deadline is hurtling at me faster than I am progressing towards it. Which ought to be impossible, but it's probably relativistic.

David Isaak said...

Hey, Jamie--

What, no object-oriented Gen III languages?

Okay, your secret is out. Even though you go to ComiCon, you're only pretending to be a geek.

David Isaak said...

And, finally, Jake.

Another normal in geek's clothing. You're busted, ace.

Jake Jesson said...

Oh be fair, David. I may not be a real geek, but I'm hardly normal.

(Though on the geekier forums I frequent, I've had that thrown at me lot... uh-oh.)

I also notice you managed not to reply to alis' comment - have you managed to get everything (okay, anything) done without going loopy? Inquiring minds want to know.