In the last few months of 2020, I started working on a Go implementation of Fenius, my hobby programming language. I worked roughly every week on it, at some points working almost every day on it. By December 2020, I had a working prototype, with basic support for functions, data structures, and even macros. The project looked quite promising; from there, I could have kept iterating on it until it turned into something usable.
But then I stopped.
The motivation was gone. I touched the project again in April 2021, tried to refactor it a bit, but that was it. I have not touched it again since.
This did not really have anything to do with the project itself. I was extremely tired in general a lot of the time, with very little motivation to work on side projects. I have posted only two blog posts in 2021, and only two in 2022 again. It’s not entirely clear to me why this happened. I think it was a combination of the isolation of living alone away from family during the pandemic, an unsatisfying situation at work, and other personal reasons.
I’ve recently switched jobs. I quit my previous job in the beginning of November, and started the new one in December. I had a one-month gap between the two to recover some of my brain cells; this seems so far ago that I barely remember what I did during this time. I visited a friend for a few days, I watched lots of videos and listened to podcasts, but I think I largely did nothing during much of this time. And I don’t regret it. I spent the first week of December in Berlin getting to know the people at the new company, and now I’m back to Lisbon working remotely.
I don’t feel extremely tired all the time anymore. This is particularly notable because my general habits have not changed. I still eat mostly the same stuff (and suffer from the same IBS symptoms as always); I still do as much physical activity as before; I still sleep roughly as badly as usual (although now that I think about it, I think I have been waking up less often during the night). And yet I go through most days without feeling physically tired or exhausted. I still have trouble finding motivation to focus on projects outside work, but I don’t feel exhausted all the time the way I did before.
I’m beginning to realize now the degree of burnout I was going through before. During all that time, I thought I was near the edge of burnout, but I did not think I actually had burnout because I was still able to get stuff done, and because I knew many of my colleagues were going through worse stuff at work. But comparing how I’m feeling then and now, not only mentally but even physically, it’s clear now how bad it was back then. Whether this really fit a medical diagnosis of ‘burnout’, I can’t say for sure, but it doesn’t really matter. I know how I was feeling then and how I’m feeling now, and the word people choose to apply to that is not that relevant.
This experience serves as a lesson for the future: I will pay more attention to the symptoms, and earlier, should this happen again.
Given that I can begin to think about doing things after work again, what about side projects? Honestly, most of these hobby projects I discuss in this blog end up being sort of vaporware and not becoming anything usable. And honestly, the main thing I plan to change is to stop feeling bad about it. It’s okay. The world is not in a pressing need for a new programming language or a new shell. The computing world can take care of itself. But these projects are fun to work on anyway. I can learn a lot by working on those things, and if I can share a little bit of what I learn with you through this blog (or elsewhere), that’s probably more useful than the projects themselves. And not everything we do has to be useful anyway. I am reminded of the words of Alan Perlis:
“I think that it’s extraordinarily important that we in computer science keep fun in computing. When it started out, it was an awful lot of fun. Of course, the paying customers got shafted every now and then, and after a while we began to take their complaints seriously. We began to feel as if we really were responsible for the successful, error-free perfect use of these machines. I don’t think we are. I think we’re responsible for stretching them, setting them off in new directions, and keeping fun in the house. I hope the field of computer science never loses its sense of fun. Above all, I hope we don’t become missionaries. Don’t feel as if you’re Bible salesmen. The world has too many of those already. What you know about computing other people will learn. Don’t feel as if the key to successful computing is only in your hands. What’s in your hands, I think and hope, is intelligence: the ability to see the machine as more than when you were first led up to it, that you can make it more.”
In 2023, I hope to be able to play a little bit more with these projects, to discuss my ideas about them in this blog even if they don’t go anywhere, to share a little bit of what I learn, and overall, to worry less about stuff. But I also hope to spend more time away from computers, reading books, singing, trying to play instruments, and even out there in the (shudder) Real World.
I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and may we live fulfilling lives, whatever that means for each one of us.
It's been a while since I last posted here. Many things have happened in the meantime, including a global pandemic. But also a move to Lisbon, a new job, and meeting lots of great people. Not a bad beginning of year, on balance.
Life has not been quite the piece of cake either. Every person has their problems, ghosts and flaws that we have to learn to overcome and to live with – those things are not mutually exclusive, really. Turns out you can practice both self-compassion and self-improvement.
This blog has been around for 8 years now. I'm glad it has lasted so long, and I hope it lasts yet longer. My presence in various social networks has waxed and waned over the years, but this blog (and the website as a whole) has been my permanent corner on the Internet. A consistent bit of life (and a good one at that) across changes in residence (six, if I count correctly), jobs, moving from academia to industry, and now moving from one country to another. Readership has also been relatively consistent – small but consistent – and I'm glad to have you fellow readers to share stuff with.
I hope to start posting more frequently here again. I'll be happy if I succeed in posting at least once or twice per month, but I won't promise any numbers.
As the first post of 2020, I'll finish with a late new year, but timely equinox resolution:
To not live ruled by fear.
Wish everyone a happy equinox, and may the sun shine for us in complicated times.
It's been a while since I last posted on this blog. I've been travelling, and also interviewing for a new job; I'll have more to say about that in the future. Now that things have settled down a bit, I intend to start blogging more again.
Aside from that, I intend to start spending less time on Twitter. I've long been in a love/hate relationship with Twitter, and the hate side of it is starting to win out, for a variety of reasons:
There is just too little signal to noise on it. For every one thing that interests me, I see twenty that don't.
I feel I'm getting a lot of negativity from it lately. I already know the world is in a terrible state; being reminded of it constantly in 280-character doses isn't really adding anything to my life. And the trending topics, oh, the trending topics.
It is addictive. I've been opening Twitter several times a day, for very little gain. I would be much better off if I spent all the time I currently spend on Twitter and Reddit reading Wikipedia (or books, for that matter), or learning German, instead.
Mastodon isn't much better. It does not have some of Twitter's misfeatures, such as trying to push a non-chronological timeline onto users, and it has the advantages of being decentralized and community-oriented, but the experience is very similar to that of Twitter. I think these problems are related to the media of microblogging, rather than a specific platform.
Traditional blogs can be addictive too. I follow hundreds of blogs via RSS, and sometimes I feel like refreshing my feeds every now and then to see if there is something new. But blog posts typically take more time to write, so updates are not so frequent, so the incentive to keep refreshing them several times a day is not so strong. It's also easier to keep track of unread posts and read them at a later time. Finally, blog posts tend to be much more informationally nutritious than tweets or toots.
At the same time I start to use Twitter less, I would like to start posting more here. I still have to figure out what to do with content that seems too short for a blog post – for example, if I just want to share a link to a video, or a little command I learned. One solution is to accumulate those and post them in weekly installments. Another is just to go ahead and post short posts, but I don't really want to pollute the blog with a plethora of micro-posts. Yet another is to create a separate page for the micro-posts. I'm currently more inclined towards the first option.
That's it, folks. Have a nice week!
[…] This was on the fifth night, and when they slept that night each had a vivid dream of a splendid woman whose eyes were as soft as feather and as deep as eternity itself, and whose body was the spectacular dance of atoms and universes. Pyrotechnics of pure energy formed her flowing hair, and rainbows manifested and dissolved as she spoke in a warm and gentle voice:
I have come to tell you that you are free. Many ages ago, My consciousness left man, that he might develop himself. I return to find this development approaching completion, but hindered by fear and by misunderstanding.
You have built for yourselves psychic suits of armor, and clad in them, your vision is restricted, your movements are clumsy and painful, your skin is bruised, and your spirit is broiled in the sun.
I am chaos. I am the substance from which your artists and scientists build rhythms. I am the spirit with which your children and clowns laugh in happy anarchy. I am chaos. I am alive, and I tell you that you are free.
I'll just leave this here.
Gandalf: "Excellent work, Frodo. You defeated Sauron and now... hm! Now everyone can have happy lives forever. Thanks to you."
Frodo: "I know. I just wish... I could forget."
Leitouros e leitouras,
Pous que o infindável mestrado findou-se. Ainda falta a homologação da secretaria e da comissão da pós (e é por isso que é um finish-output e não um close), mas, tendo recebido o joinha da banca, orientadores e biblioteca, creio que só o que me resta agora é começar a rodar o garbage collector mental para desentupir o cérebro, e fazer a dança da vitória.
A monografia, para quem (insanamente) quiser ver, está aqui.
Eu não sou muito fã de resoluções de ano novo, por uma variedade de motivos, mas como resolução tentativa de ano novo eu escolho a seguinte:
Preocupar-se com as coisas que importam, e não se preocupar com as coisas que não importam.
Obviamente, o que importa e o que não importa é inteiramente subjetivo. Mas isso não importa.
Desejo a todos um feliz ano novo, e espero em breve voltar a escrever mais por aqui.
Since the last post I've been using Mastodon as my primary microblogging platform for posting, but I was still regularly reading and retweeting stuff on Twitter. A while ago Twitter started reordering tweets in my timeline despite my having disabled that option, just as I said could eventually happen (except much earlier than I expected). The option is still there and is still disabled, it's just being ignored.
Twitter brought me much rejoicing during the years I used it. I follow a lot of cool people there and I've had lots of nice interactions there. I found myself asking if I should accept some abuse from Twitter to keep interacting with those people, and I've been shocked at myself for even asking myself that. I've been using Twitter less and less as of late. (I'd like to be able to say I did it out of principles, but to be completely truthful I find the non-chronological timeline utterly annoying, and that has had as much to do with my leaving as principles.)
Although I switched to Mastodon as my Twitter replacement, Mastodon is not really "another Twitter". Having 500 rather than 140 characters to write initially felt like learning to talk again. Early on when I started using Mastodon, I was going to reply to a person's toot (that's what posts are called in Mastodon) with a short, not-really-one-full-sentence line that is the norm in Twitter. I wrote it down and was like "no, this kind of grunting a half-thought is not going to cut it here". It felt like Twitter's 140 character limit not only limited the kinds of things you could say, but also imposed/favored a "140-character mindset" of not finishing lines of thought or thinking with much depth. As I went on using Mastodon, I found myself writing thoughts I wouldn't have even tried to write in Twitter.
I still open up Twitter once in a while. Today I opened the mobile version in my desktop browser and noticed that the mobile version still shows a chronological timeline, still doesn't pollute the timeline with liked-but-not-retweeted tweets, and is much faster and cleaner than the desktop version. (I still have to un-fix the navigation bar via CSS, but I already had to do that in the desktop version anyway.) It's tempting to start using Twitter again through the mobile version, while it doesn't catch up with the new "features". I know I shouldn't, though. Even if the mobile version never caught up with the misfeatures (I suppose it eventually will, probably in short time), Twitter has already shown they're willing to throw stuff down their users' throats in the name of – what? I'm not even sure. Maybe they want to make Twitter more Facebook-like to attract Facebook users, even if that means alienating the people who used Twitter exactly because it was not like Facebook?
The funny thing is Twitter could simply provide some options for users to control their experience ("(don't) show tweets liked by your followers", "(don't) show tweets you liked to your followers", "(don't) reorder tweets" (the last one is already there, it just doesn't work)). This way they could cater to whatever new audience they have in mind and keep the users who liked how Twitter used to work. They just don't care to. I'm not really sure what are the motivations and goals behind Twitter's actions. For a really long time before the last changes it had been showing the "you might like" box (even if you clicked the "show me less like this" option (the only way to dismiss it) every time) and the "you might like to follow" box (even if you dismissed that too, and even though it also showed undimissable follow suggestions on the right pane anyway). I used to open Twitter pretty much every day, so it didn't really make sense as a user retention strategy. Maybe they want to incentivize people to do specific things on Twitter, e.g., throw in more data about themselves? (Yeah, there was the "add your birthday to your profile" periodic thing too.)
Pois então, galera. Faz um bocado de tempo que eu não dou as caras por estas terras de Entre-Douro-e-Minho, por uma porção de motivos.
Eu comecei a trabalhar no final de julho, o que me deixou com menos tempo livre para dedicar às atividades blogareiras. Além disso, eu chego em casa com variáveis graus de cansaço, e conseqüentemente menos inclinado a sentar e escrever. (Ultimamente eu tenho chegado menos cansado do que inicialmente, talvez porque eu agora eu já tenha me acostumado melhor com a rotina. Mas eu ainda continuo chegando com uma certa dose de zonzeira na cabeça, o que eu desconfio que tem mais a ver com o barulho do ônibus e do ar-condicionado do serviço do que com cansaço em si, mas ainda não testei essa hipótese.)
Quanto ao trabalho, está sendo bem bacaninha. Estou trabalhando como desenvolvedor Python, que das linguagens mais mainstream acho que é a que eu mais gosto, e tenho aprendido bastante coisa sobre as tecnologias da modinha (plot twist: elas são úteis). A única coisa não muito empolgante é que estamos trabalhando sobre uma codebase herdada de uma outra empresa, e que foi desenvolvida usando técnicas de programação um tanto quanto, digamos, interessantes.
Outra coisa que eu descobri por lá é que o futuro do subjuntivo irregular ("fizer", "tiver", etc.) está mais morto do que eu pensava, mas isso é assunto para outra ocasião.
Outra coisa que eu tinha (e tenho) tomando meu tempo livre é o mestrado, e o tempo que não era comido pelas atividades do mestrado era comido pela preocupação de achar que devia estar fazendo as atividades do mestrado. Depois de ter tido um segfault na cabeça no fim-de-semana retrasado tentando terminar um paper para semana passada, eu decidi parar de me preocupar com o mestrado por enquanto, o que em termos de saúde mental parece ter sido uma ótima decisão. Eu pretendia falar um pouco mais sobre a situação do mestrado, mas acho que vai ficar para depois de eu o ter concluído (ou de eu ter sido chutado dele por timeout).
Normalmente, meu workflow para escrever um post é: (1) pegar um tópico; (2) escrever sobre o tópico até exaustão (tanto do tópico quanto do autor) por qualquer quantidade de tempo entre duas e oito horas; (3) reler o post (com variáveis graus de exaustividade) para ver se ficou algum erro de digitação ou redação; (4) publicar o post (e descobrir erros depois anyway). Às vezes eu até começo em um dia e continuo em um outro, mas no geral vai tudo em uma sentada. Uma conseqüência disso é que eu já sei de antemão que escrever um post vai tomar um bocado de tempo, então eu acabo só me sentindo inclinado a escrever quando eu sei que vou ter rios de tempo livre sem interrupções. (Outra conseqüência disso são os famosos posts de 20k, tão apreciados pelos leitores.)
Agora que eu não tenho mais rios de tempo livre contíguo com tanta freqüência, esse workflow está sendo um tanto quanto sub-ótimo (vide quantidade de posts nos últimos dois meses). Estou pensando se não é o caso de eu começar a escrever posts menores e splitar tópicos em múltiplos posts, mas não sei até que ponto isso é uma boa idéia. Faz umas semanas que eu tenho pensado em escrever um post sobre alguns fatos [que eu acho] interessantes sobre os números nas línguas indo-européias, mas isso é um post que tomaria bastante tempo tanto para a escrita em si quanto para pesquisar/conferir os fatos antes de escrever. Não sei se faz sentido separar o tópico em múltiplos posts e ir postando uma série de posts pequenos, ou se é melhor escrever um post só em várias sentadas e publicar tudo de uma vez
no fim do ano. Eu prefiro ler esse tipo de informação toda de uma vez, mas eu sei que pelo menos alguns dos leitores não partilham da mesma preferência. (On the other hand, eu não sei se esses mesmos leitores leriam a mesma informação espalhada em múltiplos posts. So there's that.)
Mas essa é a sua opinião, ele já tem outra opinião, ué. Qual a sua opinião?
Unrelated com qualquer coisa, por ser ano eleitoral, eu implementei a mui lendária e prometida lista de comentários recentes na sidebar do blog no domingo passado. Espero que ela traga muitas alegrias a todos. Votem em mim para déspota universal.
[Update (20/07/2016): Consegui um emprego. Dismiss!]
Pois então, galera. Por um momento eu achei que ia conseguir uma vaga como professor substituto no INF e todos os meus problemas financeiros estariam resolvidos (pelo menos durante o um ou dois anos de validade do concurso). Alás*, embora eu tenha conseguido um 9,8 na prova escrita do concurso, o pessoal que tinha doutorado passou na minha frente na pontuação por títulos e publicações, e eu acabei em 3º lugar. Ainda pode ser que me chamem no decorrer dos próximos dois anos, mas infelizmente eu preciso comer e pagar as contas nesse meio tempo.
Assim, estou atrás de trabalho. Isso inclui tanto empregos (como desenvolvedor, sysadmin e afins, e também como professor, instrutor, etc.) quanto serviços como free-lancer (com desenvolvimento de programas, sites, instalação e suporte de redes e servidores, e até formatando o PC e desinstalando as toolbars dos seus conhecidos).
Se você souber de alguma oportunidade, ou puder me recomendar para alguma empresa ou conhecido, ou tiver alguma dica, ou qualquer outro feedback, queira entrar em contato (ou passar meu contato, conforme aplicável). Se alguém quiser meu telefone para passar para alguém, pode me pedir por e-mail (no momento eu estou um pouco receoso de pôr meus telefones online, mas talvez eu acabe fazendo isso). Dou preferência para oportunidades na grande Porto Alegre, ou serviços que eu possa realizar remotamente, mas dependendo do emprego posso considerar me mudar.
Meanwhile, eu pretendo voltar a trabalhar em projetos pessoais, pois (1) pode ser que minhas experiências com linguagens de programação rendam alguma coisa que eu possa pôr no curriculum; (2) eu espero aprender um bocado de coisas com eles (em particular, eu tenho pensado em reviver o lows como testbed para experiências com sistemas de tipos e outras features, e para experimentar com técnicas de compilação); e (3) uma sábia esquimó uma vez disse: "Não deixe de fazer as coisas que gosta no presente pra poder fazer elas no futuro – pode ser que o futuro nunca chegue", e cada vez isso me parece mais verdade.
* Turns out que alas vem do francês arcaico "a las". "Las", por sua vez, vem do latim "lassus", cansado (cf. lasso, lassidão). Visto a origem latina da palavra, eu me vejo ainda mais inclinado a incorporar "alás" à língua portuguesa.
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