A Go Programming Notebook

Software At The Speed of Part Time

I’ve been working on a Rails application, not all the live long day, but generally on a long Friday night and part of Saturday. Being self-employed during the boom years, now that we’re in a recession I own a real estate company for pin money, and have a full time ecological niche banging on legacy C code in a cube forest.  Following my ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, I am a typer-debugger.

On Friday nights I cut loose from the dusty streets of this one horse Bruce Springsteen song, and do, what exactly?

More typing.

Because I hope to get paid for this Rails application eventually, I have to go at it weekend after weekend.  But because I’m not yet getting paid for it yet, and because even if I ever will I’ll be more or less in charge of its direction, I enjoy it as a creative outlet.

The speed of part time takes some getting used to.   Software is one of those things where you start to really get rolling on whatever language it is you happen to be using this year after several weeks of being back in that environment.  Sure, you can be semi-productive on day one, but by week 12 you’re cruising along nicely.

When we say week twelve, though, that’s for a full time gig.  When you get a day of programming per week, then multiply everything by five, given what would have been your five day work week.  So twelve weeks becomes sixty.

Programming at the speed of part time, a six month project takes two and a half years.

To be sure, you have a bit more than a day per weekend you can conceivably put in, but on the minus side, you’re having to keep it all in memory after flushing C through your brain all week.

Needless to say, the hardest part of such a project is staying encouraged after four months or so, with a mere few weeks of progress seeming to show for one’s efforts.

It’s amazing to see how “the economy” changes things.  It seems like all the coffee shops around here are closed.  During the boom years, when one could make a living by blogging alone, I used to go out with all the other high-on-the-hog heloc bailout recipients and enjoy my French roasts.

Today I went out for my birthday mocha, and my old shop was closed, and the place I would go before I went to my old shop was closed.  To be sure, the coffee shops inside the supermarkets are still doing OK, rescued from collapse by their proximity to the produce.

I wonder if any of the old baristas who lost their jobs are now inside Safeway coffee shops, while working on their own chai latte projects on Friday nights.

I hope not.