Codes must be crazy
I was an Engineer by education at one point. Engineering college is slowly becoming a pleasant, but vague memory of the past. The time spent goofing around with friends, will, of course live in perpetuity – Who can forget that time when, after five beers on a dare, we shaved that cat and kicked it into that well two days before the final exam? Of course, there is always that possibility that it was just a dream, cos hey, I don’t really remember what happens after the fourth beer. But in between the beer bouts, the movies, the parties, fests and the insanely stupid debates we would have, there were those dull, boring, breaks where you get lectured to in classrooms. That’s the part that’s getting vague and blurry.It’s tempting to say that the overall objective of the management was to cram in as many factoids as possible, while making sure that none of them actually had practical value in our day to day life. But then again, maybe parts of my education may be indirectly contributing to my thoughts and behavior. So in subtle, unclear ways, it may be responsible for everything I do.
One of the subjects we had was computer programming. The programming language we were taught was BASIC, which was so basic that it was outdated years before people started teaching it to the professor who finally taught us. The programs were largely about adding two digit numbers together; the most complicated program we developed was one to transpose a matrix. This is something that you can do in under five seconds using Excel, saving you an hour that could be invested in video games.Later on, I was taught the basics of programming language C, which was not quite as outdated, and therefore, could be used to transpose matrices in a more elegant, though still useless ways. I have not used my coding skills after I escaped from college with the degree in hand. There are far too few real world utilities for transposing matrices. But this brief foray into programming allowed me to make slight sense of how software coding works. I still can’t program anything, but I can look at the source code for a program and make sense of around 30% of what’s going on there. It sounds like a paltry gift; the shittiest superpower that even Hawkeye may openly mock. But the fact is that this ability has helped me in a few ways. It doesn’t come up frequently, sure, but it has been far more useful in some situations than a bow and arrow in an intergalactic aerial dogfights. You heard me, Hawkeye. That’ll teach you to mock me in my imagination. My exposure to coding basics had enabled me to make quasi-sense of HTML and later on, CSS. Four years ago, when I took on the theme for this site from Design Disease, I tried to modify it for my needs. At first I wasn’t successful. After a few hours of squinting my eyes and wishing real hard, I realized that I had to do more than that. I used the help of a nifty tool called Firebug to test out code. It was a nerve wrecking chore, with me messing up the code every now and then, and spending hours back-tracking changes I should not have made.
Ultimately, however, I ended up with this look, which felt perfect for my site. It’s still messed up – but not in ways that are obvious. The tables are poorly formatted, the caption under the pictures look ridiculous (which is why I incorporate those into the picture rather than just have them in text form), and many minor elements are missing, but hey, most people don’t notice.It was a harrowing ordeal, and I had put my coding cap to rest four years ago. But recently, I had to take up the helm once again. I’m helping someone start a blog, and I re-entered the coding scene once again, after a four year hiatus. I’m re-discovering code – mostly by squinting and scratching my head. I’m not giving any information about the site at this time, simply because there may be a chance that I would completely and thoroughly screw it up so bad that it may reverse the polarity of time itself and cease to have ever existed. So far, it’s only half bad, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Coding is twice as hard when you have your fingers crossed, by the way.
After about two hours of modifying code, and another eight hours of correcting the modified code, I have now taken a breather. I don’t know how long this breather would last. It can be short and grumpy, like, say, Hawkeye. Alternatively, it may end up being long-winded and ineffective, not unlike Hawkeye. The task at hand is actually quite simple for anyone who had the right arsenal. But what I do have is a rudimentary background in C and BASIC; I’m essentially using antiquated tools in an increasingly irrelevant scenario, much like, well, Hawkeye. This makes me the Hawkeye of programming, which further makes me sad.
It took me about ten hours of staring at code to make me want to punch through the computer monitor. In between the swearing and the punching, I thought about the people who do this for a living. Many of my friends, my brother, my sisters in law, and a whole lotta cousins do this day in and day out. The entire computer industry must be thriving on the money spent replacing the monitors these people punch through on a daily basis.
Kudos to the code punchers out there. I bow to your superior matrix transposing abilities. I bow to your diligence. I bow to your patience and perseverance. I bow to… you know, I should be careful not to bow too much. I have this feeling I may have pissed off an arrow wielding jackass at some point.