2024-03-23

I am tired. Exhausted even. Both physically and mentally.

I would really like some escapism right about now. I think that this has been my problem ever since escaping to Mexico back in September. Now I’m aware of what is out there. Previously, I just had my head down and was charging forward. The stark contrast reminds me that the survival on adrenaline and caffeine is not how it has to be.

The physical tiredness - you know, from lack of sleep - is easy to pinpoint. This has been the fourth consecutive week of the kids just being sick. And not just a little bit sick, but riding that grey zone between being just healthy enough to leave the house in the morning, but with a 50/50 chance that I’ll get a phone call within a few hours to come and pick them up again.

Sick kids

For reasons of plain laziness, the good lady decided to hell with trying to keep the little one in his bed and getting him to go back to sleep there. Not when he could come to our bed and then she can snooze and be warm whilst he falls asleep.

The problem with that, is that, like a cat, he prefers to sleep on top of me. Or kick the hell out of my kidneys. Or get too hot and kick the blankets off. Or get too cold and whine until he’s covered again. Or suffer from the sort of dreams that having him moaning and crying.

All of which are delightful. On no less than two occasions I gave up trying to sleep in my own bed and went and found a sofa to sleep on. Given the way I felt in the morning, this was actually a wise move and I should probably retreat from my own bed more frequently.

I’m not even really trying to correct the behaviour anymore. Last night, I got out of bed four times for the little guy - between bad dreams and coughing fits - between midnight and 3 AM. Each time, I left the kids room with him sound asleep again, at a cost of over an hour an half of my own sleep - but a little pain now, saves the bigger pain later, has always been my justification.

Around 4 AM, I was awoken to tiny feet kicking out my kidneys again.

Like seriously, what the hell.

A weird week

In other news, it has been a week of small pieces of weirdness. I’ll briefly summarize before diving deeper - because I know how this works. Given my limited time for writing, I rarely finish the thread of everything that has been in my brain.

So here’s everything that has given me pause

  1. A friend got fired
  2. A friend got a new job
  3. My best man lost a parent
  4. The aerospace client draws ever nearer an end
  5. The supermarket client stunned us all
  6. Both kids went to the children’s hospital
  7. Being a “disabled” parent
  8. Questioning how much I want my own parents in my life

I’m not sure how many of them have strong narrative value, but I feel like it’s worth making a note of them somewhere for future reference. So in no particular order.

Mortality

This week, the good lady wife informed me that she thought my best man’s mom had died, pointing to a sort of cryptic Facebook post.

With a little bit of poking around, it did indeed appear that his mother had died after a brief illness. All very vague, but putting the pieces together it probably means that she found a cancer much to late to do anything about it.

It’s all very sad, because I didn’t meet her so many times or for very long outside of his wedding - she was a lovely lady. The archetypal North of England lady. Lovely, friendly and warm.

Personally, I’m most gutted for him because he’s due to have his first-born in the next few weeks and now she will never meet her grandmother, and that’s just sad. But also travelling and dealing with funerals and such with a heavily pregnant partner can be no joke either.

Sadly, being on the other side of the ocean, I don’t have much to offer than thoughts and prayers.

The ending of an era

On the work front, the team went through eight hours of knowledge transfer activities this week, which makes it feel like we are tantalizingly close to the end of this two and a half year saga. Officially, we have one more week, but next week is a short week due to the Easter weekend - so, in theory - that yields only four more days on project…

…before we switch to our advisory role.

Who knows what that means, but in it’s current form that means that the whole team will be stuck hanging around for another month.

For me, personally, I don’t see staffing a whole team (for free) an advisory role. I see that as regular staffing. Advisory to me, would be a limited number of hours from a single engineering and scientific resource. No new features. No new development. Only opinions.

Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), several other projects at the company have been delayed in their start date and pushed from early April to May - meaning that there at least isn’t a competition for the staff and stretching them. So maybe we will make some meaningful contributions after all.

For myself, I have enough other things going on in my life, I don’t need the hassle of getting into the weeds on tricky topics that the client promised to have taken over in October. I therefore choose to define an advisor role as

(a) only turning up to meetings explicitly when invited (b) staying silent until asked a direct question (c) giving a direct, honest and non-politically filtered opinion whenever asked for my opinion

Of course, trying to draw boundaries around a client that has notoriously drawn outside the lines (knowing that we won’t say anything) does little than make me feel better for a few hours.

The curtain begins to reveal the truth

Over Friday lunch, I was asked by the business team to lend a second set of (seasoned) eyes on the first architectural walkthrough of the environment.

In previous meetings, we had been led to believe that every single one of their some two thousand stores is full of internet-of-things (IOT) sensors across the heating, air conditioning (HVAC) and fridge/freezer systems. In a recent assessment by one of the big-boy consulting firms, they had come up with no less than 21 use cases that could cumulatively save them thousands of dollars.

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2024-03-09

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2024-03-31

What distinguishes you from other developers?

I've built data pipelines across 3 continents at petabyte scales, for over 15 years. But the data doesn't matter if we don't solve the human problems first - an AI solution that nobody uses is worthless.

Are the robots going to kill us all?

Not any time soon. At least not in the way that you've got imagined thanks to the Terminator movies. Sure somebody with a DARPA grant is always going to strap a knife/gun/flamethrower on the side of a robot - but just like in Dr.Who - right now, that robot will struggle to even get out of the room, let alone up some stairs.

But AI is going to steal my job, right?

A year ago, the whole world was convinced that AI was going to steal their job. Now, the reality is that most people are thinking 'I wish this POC at work would go a bit faster to scan these PDFs'.

When am I going to get my self-driving car?

Humans are complicated. If we invented driving today - there's NO WAY IN HELL we'd let humans do it. They get distracted. They text their friends. They drink. They make mistakes. But the reality is, all of our streets, cities (and even legal systems) have been built around these limitations. It would be surprisingly easy to build self-driving cars if there were no humans on the road. But today no one wants to take liability. If a self-driving company kills someone, who's responsible? The manufacturer? The insurance company? The software developer?