October 14th, 2003


Am I Really Any Good at This?

I used to be able to read a blueline of a circuit design and find the design problems the engineers missed. I used to know my boolean algebra. I used to know how to program in assembly code. I taught myself UNIX. I used to be able to program at the UNIX mm macro level. Now, I'm just a pitiful aging tech writer with mush for brains, trying to learn more and more technology, and not being terribly good at any of it, any more. I feel like I'm losing brain cells every day, and I forget as much as I learn. I forget html code if I don't write programs in it for a while. I have forgotten a lot of my programing skills. I've even forgotten how to use some of our products that I haven't run for a while. Then I make stupid mistakes and feel like an idiot. Thank god I make myself do addition, subtractions, multiplication, and division by hand, on a regular basis. I'd hate to lose those skills because I started to rely on a calculator.

I'm having a day where I've been feeling like a pathetic excuse for a tech writer. Maybe it's because I've been trying to comprehend the information on using some of the homegrown tools we are supposed to migrate to, on the company web site, and feeling confused and overwhelmed. Then in walks someone who's used them, and makes it all seem easy. Maybe it's just that the stuff on the web site is badly written -- but it was written by tech writers! It's supposed to be understandable. I feel like I'm missing huge chunks, somewhere.

Maybe I'm just getting old. My brain doesn't take up information as fast as it used to. All of this seemed so much easier, 20, 25 years ago. And oh joy, I get to set up and run another debugger this week, so I can figure out how to tell people to do testbench debug with a new and revised tool that no one has time to explain--so I get to work with it and try to figure it out on my own. Hmm, I was writing about debuggers when we were looking at chunks of raw ASCII code, and it seemed easier, back 25 years ago. Maybe I've reached a point of diminishing returns. Do I really want to keep doing this for another 20 years? Or, more to the point, will my brain hold up? It would be so much easier if I wasn't constantly learning new technology all the damned time. But I'm starting to feel like my memory banks are getting full...
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