austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Soon you'll attain the stability you strive for

With actual responsibilities, by the way, work has proceeded swiftly and greatly reduced the plausibility of just taking a nap through large portions of the day. It's remarkable how an actual task makes it easier to stay awake at absurd hours like 9:30 or 2:45. The basic job is setting up a database search that takes a couple of different parameters, some of which would be used by ordinary people looking up stuff, some of which would be used by professionals who don't mind using the more obscure but unique indices. My basic approach is writing a minimally functioning code and then throwing it out to rewrite again, and then again but with a few more of the requirements met, and rewrite again, and so on until I'm satisfied that the code is clean and reasonably well-written. This is partly because I don't actually know all the things that I should to do the project and need to prove out the various pieces, and is partly because I honestly believe that you usually learn how you should have written your code by writing it and therefore should plan to throw a couple drafts away. I do much the same with the mathematics codes I write when I get around to mathematics work.

An ... exciting ... challenge to this has been attempting to tame the SQL engine. SQL is this reasonably near standard way of sending search requests to a database and getting answers back which can work on a variety of database formats. This is convenient in separating my code from the actual specifics of the original database, and because the original database was set up on a Commodore Pet or something like that and comes formatted to the specifications of one of those mutant database programs nobody's seen since 1996. It's sufficiently odd that the database driver thingy for the alleged file type doesn't work if I use the English-language version of the driver, although the German-language version does work. If this makes any sense at all, it does not to me.

From one point of view, this project is horribly late: the original intention was that it should be ready for the client to see by the end of June. And yet by another it's going along quite nicely considering the very silly problems that kept me from doing anything. And then nobody involved has a realistic idea of how long a task like this is should take, so whenever I finish it's bound to be ahead of time.

Trivia: London chef Alexis Soyer's 1855 cookbook A Shilling Cookery for the People sold 248,000 copies. Source: Food In History, Reay Tannahill.

Currently Reading: Crazy `08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, Cait Murphy. With a title like that I'm curious how it will compare to the next book on my list, probably to be reached fairly soon.


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