litany against fear

coding with spice ¤ by nick quaranto

I’m afraid of low level programming.

published 27 Nov 2007

It’s running right now. Beneath those fancy windows. Under the hood. Shifting bits. Moving words in memory. And its scares the crap out of me.

Why? It’s a facet of human nature: what you don’t understand, you’re afraid of. But what can a novice programmer do about it? One of the main reasons I chose software engineering as a major is because I don’t want to have to think about the lowest level of computing power if I didn’t need to. I want to solve problems, help the company I’m at succeed, and enhance my knowledge of the craft.

However, I’m starting to learn that I may need to return to the ‘roots’ of programming. I’m taking a computer graphics course this semester, and it will be the most C/C programming that I’ve done in a while. Now grant it, I have had other classes where we did assembly and C, but not the entire course. It just seems to me that in order to really solve a problem efficiently, you should understand some of the underpinnings and inner workings of what you are programming.

So, what’s my solution to this? Well, for now, tinker around with C and maybe even poke around the Managed C Quake port. Being in the Kingdom of Nouns ruled by Java and .NET is nice though, and it really does let you focus on the problem at hand. Sometimes though, I wonder if escaping from those magical places allows the programmer to really dive into the task at hand and nail it down. I don’t even want to get into some of those esoteric languages that I happen to see way too much about.

One day I’ll get around to reading K & R or CIL Under the Hood, but until then…Are there any other ways to dispel this fear? Let me know what you’ve done to get over it.

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