Springtime at the Tarn
Springtime Bigtime (highly recommended ... it's very pretty!)
Just I was beginning to get engaged with a piece of work I've had my flow interrupted by a weird issue with my main development tool. I'm beginning to think that I don't actually have much of a problem with writing software. The conceptual side is sound. The programming ability, although I'm not as nimble as I used to be, is still there. The real issue is that I have no patience with the tools that are almost essential these days, but invariably fall just short of working as you want. I always seem to be fighting against limitations and flaws within the tools which take longer to work around than fixing my own bugs!
I actually developed most of this current application without any such tools, using a simple text editor and nothing more. The lack of debugging capability forces you to think very clearly. My young colleagues find it hard to believe that I did this, or why I did this, but after the problems encountered today it's quite easy to explain. I used to have a sense of control then which I no longer enjoy.
My first real programming was done on the Sinclair Spectrum, which is exactly 30 years old this week. It heralded the beginning of the home computer and games revolution. I bought one for my two young brothers and couldn't believe how much power it had. I had a mate at work who had the right kind of entrepreneurial flair and we formed a company to write and sell games. You really did have control then because you were writing directly to the metal, in assembler language, with absolutely nothing between your code and the processor. I could say that those were the good old days, but, to be honest, I not only couldn't write software like that any more, I actually can't even imagine how I was ever able to write programs in that way. It seems like a whole other lifetime!
The amazing thing is that my games are still being played to this day, through emulators on the PC or Mac. There are even competitions. I found that hard to believe until I saw some footage posted on YouTube. I got to see screens being played that I never dreamed anyone would ever have the skill or perseverance to reach. It was almost surreal. For the amusement of my friends here is a link to an article written in one of the games magazines at the time. I was indeed that chunky then!
I'm still struggling to catch up with journals so please bear with me a little longer. Running late all day although I did manage to take a little bit of time out first thing for a short walk on the moor. I hadn't been to the tarn since before leaving for Ireland. It was completely transformed. We've been here before, but I think it's worth revisiting.