Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Depression from inadequate tooling

This isn't a new phenomenon among programmers, not at all. But it's been striking at me annoyingly heavily over the past few months. When I work on some programming project, if my mind strays to how annoying some of the tools I'm working with are then such thoughts can paralyze me into not working! I'll acquire a moping attitude that with the right tools a task that takes an hour could be done in ten minutes. I'll curse the language for its verbosity, or lack of features from other languages and platforms. This applies to my favorite languages too. I sometimes get sad when I can no longer "feel the hardware" beneath a language -- part of me doesn't want to know, but part of me does, for knowing your hardware is the surest path to optimization. The programs I use daily are annoying slow, and it makes me think whenever I'm writing a program "Does this have to be annoying slow? Is there anything I can do to speed it up?" Sometimes there isn't -- even something that should be as simple and fast as rendering a new tab in Flex is, by nature of Flash, annoying slow. Just what the hell is going on down there? I also get this feeling when I use my Nexus 10 tablet and it does strange and slow things from time to time. How hard can rotating the screen smoothly be? (I've seen apps that clearly do it themselves instead of letting the OS do it and they do it so much better...)

I'm finding it difficult to come up with and use a coping strategy for this. I feel like the best I can do is just to accept my lot at living in such an uncouth age. Sometimes I'll be inspired to make something better, but then I'll get in that same paralysis once I realize that in order to make something better I first have to do it with things that are horrible.

My primary desktop computer has two OSes on it: Gentoo Linux, my primary, and Windows 7, which I use when I want to play certain games, mine litecoins (bitcoins I do on Gentoo), build an EXE for some python program, or something else that requires me to use Windows. Thinking about trying to do productive work on Windows makes me metaphorically sick; I don't understand how millions of people do it. But I do understand somewhat why I find it so distasteful, and I can imagine that people who don't find it so distasteful aren't as phased by it.

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