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2011/12/16

In Praise of Night-Hacking, or at least in hopes to understand

Photo credit: pantulis 
I code every day. It's what I do, and I'm thankful. But there is a problem with coding from 9am to 5pm.

Other people.

Yeah, you're coding for their benefit, and it is well and good and helpful (and secretly, an ego boost at times when you otherwise feel humbled by the tasks in front of you) to serve as tech support for other people, even when and sometimes especially when the task seems otherwise mundane to you.

But, when you have all that state in your head, the last thing you want to do is fix someone else's thing. It has had me nearly to tears before. When there's nobody else around, you don't have to worry about the house of cards you have in your head. That's when you can relax and get into it, man. You know, like a coding machine?

But that's not it. Or at least not all of it.

At least what a geek with a hat has to say. In essence, when you're tired, parts of your brain shut down, and those can be the "squirrel!" aspects that get in the way of the deep concentration you need to build, understand and modify the house of data cards in your head. And, with your focus and the lights of the computer screen, you can keep going until you drop off, and when you do, it's the deep, relaxing sleep that exhaustion brings, not the light, brittle sleep sometimes broken by insomnia you get when you're sleeping because it's time. (I once heard a professor opine that humans were really built for 25-hour days. I do believe that some.)

A big problem is, of course, that if your life doesn't live on hacker's hours, parts of your life fall away when you start living on hackers hours. Something to sleep on, so to speak.