Odds ‘n ends

Once again, a whole month has passed without a blog entry. Blogging seems like such a heavyweight operation these days, compared to tossing something out on Facebook. I find myself posting short notes rather than exploring a topic in detail. Maybe I’m just getting lazy.

  • I started a new job at the beginning of April. I’m now working for a small company called Syvance, writing control and data acquisition software for laboratory equipment. I’m learning all about auto samplers, mass spectrometers, gas chromatography, and other equipment used in science labs, and writing software that drives the instruments.
  • You’d be surprised at just how old some of the software I’m working with is. My first project involves adding support for a new device to a program that was originally written in C for Windows 3.1. The program has been upgraded over the years, but it’s still C and much¬†of the original code remains. In particular, there’s a cooperative multitasking scheduler that was written because Windows 3.1 didn’t have threads.
  • The manufacturer of the instrument I’m working with has supplied .NET assemblies for controlling the device, and some .NET GUI controls that display status, etc. Calling those from the main program involves making calls to a mixed mode assembly that has some MFC and some C++/CLI. That DLL in turn calls into .NET assemblies that implement the actual machine control. So I’m writing code in four different languages: C, C++, C++/CLI, and C#.
  • You could think of C++/CLI as C++ with a few extensions to support the .NET runtime, but it’s not really that simple. There are distinct differences. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I don’t fully understand how the whole mixed mode¬†thing works. I have a general idea, but there’s a lot I don’t know. That will have to do for now, because finishing this project is more important than understanding all the nuances of the underlying platform. I have to say, though, that all those different layers make me nervous.
  • I did quite a bit of carving in May. I’ll have to post pictures at some point. There’s another bird in a branch, a whimsical house carved from basswood, a hummingbird pin, a couple of Tiki carvings, a bowl that’s almost done, and I’m sure something else that I can’t recall at the moment. I hope to have pictures of those in the next few days.
  • It seems as though we’ve had more rain this Spring than any time in the last 8 or 10 years. It’s also been much cooler. Here we are at the end of May and we haven’t topped 100 degrees yet. It would be nice to have a wetter and slightly cooler summer. The only drawback is that I’ll have to mow the lawn more than in previous years, but I can live with that.
  • Debra and I discovered the joy of Renaissance fairs earlier this Spring, and spent last weekend at one. I do need to write about that and post some pictures.
  • Living life and loving it. I’m busy with work, enjoying my hobbies, and mentally feel better than I have in years. Debra is training for another competition, and she’s looking better than ever.

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