One of the blogs I regularly visit is Luke Maciak’s Terminally Incoherent, which is saying something since to be perfectly honest, I visit very few. My opinion of blogging in general is rather low, and I include myself in that lump since the entire phenomenon is kind of pointless. Keeping a diary in any form is rather vain, and sharing it openly with a large number of people is really just fishing for attention. I suspect we all suffer from self-esteem issues, in varying degrees.
Now that I’ve managed to insult a huge portion of the Internet-savvy population of this planet, I’ll return to my original point, which was to say that Luke’s work is a cut above the usual grade of blogging. I was particularly enthralled with a post from a few days ago, called “On Optimization,” where he described the work of COBOL programmers from decades before running circles around ASP.NET applications in spite of drastic — drastic, as in generational — hardware differences. It’s worth reading through to the end.
For my own part, I can corroborate some of the things he discusses, from an end-user’s standpoint. I certainly don’t have enough programming experience (I am laughing as I type that) to fully understand the implications of what he’s describing, but I have enough experience on the receiving end to empathise.
It’s something that I see and sense on a daily basis at times — poorly written, overcomplicated software that does too little and requires too much to get nothing done well. I could name any of a dozen in-house applications and programs that I’ve used in specific offices over the past decade that did almost nothing, but were the only “solution” for whatever task needed done. Half of them were cumbersome and only partly complete, the other half were overweening browser-based pages that required half a dozen add-ons, AJAX and a high-speed network line, usually just to press a button and acknowledge something.
Maybe I’m being obnoxious since, again, I have no ability to correct what I see as defective work. In my defense I can only say that I came from an age when the peak of entertainment, the highest forms of puzzles and finesse all fit in a clunky 4Kb cartridge, and sold for around US$20 a pop. I will admit that better games and software have appeared in the days since my old Atari VCS, but I’ve seen some colossal duds too.
And the idea of waiting for the hardware to improve to the point where the inefficient programming is eclipsed. … It boggles the mind. By extension, I wish I could say that everything I use in Linux was svelte, clean and efficient, but I am not so much a dreamer as to cling to that notion. I can say that when I sense garbage, I treat it as garbage, and that’s a lot of what this blog is devoted to: carving out the garbage.
On the other hand, there is no getting away from some poorly written stuff, or bloat that can’t be effectively avoided. And until I get off my hind end and learn to do it better … well, I guess I’m just stuck whining into my pointless little blog, like so many others.