10 Dec 2002 MichaelCrawford   » (Master)

Embedded Systems Programming

I worked through the night, night before last, to speed up my code, and hit what I believed at the time was a brick wall. The kind of brick wall that would make it impossible to get my product fast enough to bring to market.

But after I finished up for the day and spent a few hours just relaxing I thought of a possible solution. I don't know if it will work, but it could work, and maybe if I can get my solution working at all some further work will make it fast enough.

I was eager to implement my idea yesterday, but I hadn't slept and was exhausted. It was very hard to bring myself to go to bed. I managed to, but I woke up at 2:30 am today and got up to go to work. Even though I had gone to bed in the late afternoon, it's not like me to wake up so early and go straight to work. That's how badly I want to succeed.

This embedded project has been a Trial by Fire. But it still has the potential to pay off well, and the painful experience I'm gaining should make future embedded projects a lot easier.


Zach Frey very helpfully wrote to me about my last diary entry where I discussed the tension between my struggle to make a living and my desire to do things that I felt were more important like writing and political activism.

He referred me to a speech C.S. Lewis gave to some British University students at the outbreak of World War II, in 1939. The speech is called Learning in War-time.

A Google search for "Learning in War-time" doesn't find the complete text online but there are a number of quotes available that I have found helpful:

The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it,..

Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun...

We are mistaken when we compare war with 'normal life'. Life has never been normal.

I'm going to go look for the full text of the speech in the library and a couple bookstores some time in the next few days.

Zach also wrote about the importance of what I do in the way of making a living, that this advances the cause of Freedom - working independently as a consultant, and making what contributions I can to Free Software.

My long-sufferring wife understands why what I do is so important to me, and she supports and encourages me as best she can, but the way my other activities sometimes threaten to bring us closer to the precipice often frighten her.

I wish I didn't cause her so much pain when I take off to do something that I'm not getting paid for. I wish the way I do make my living were much more secure, so that when I am working billable hours, there would be more certainty in our lives. Usually I make enough money from my work that I can afford to take take off now and then to write, but it's never certain at the time I do it that my consulting is going to work out well.

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