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Odds and Ends, People

Fall back projects

Some time back I had written about what can one do when there is nothing to be done. I had suggested a whole lot of things which may be quite unpalatable for many – not that I had any suggestion relating to eating something.

I believe everyone should have a fall back project. Some would term this as a pet project. This fall back project has many uses. Many of us need a break from something intense which we are doing and many a time we just get up perhaps stretch a bit and off we go to take a cup of tea or coffee or saunter to a popular desk and indulge about trying to bring about a soothing solution to those tired eyes after staring at some silly Microsoft product.

In this networked world, sometimes we would resort to some calling friends. If you are lucky with the rights in the firewall then Facebook is indicated. If Cricket season is on then there is a plethora of cricketing news to be updated with.

The literary and the studious type may switch to reading a book or preparing for TOGAF 9.1 examination. Those with deep foresight would fill in time sheets and prepare of the yearly appraisal. Barring all these type of people who perhaps constitute a mere two percent of the office population, the question begs what do others do?

This is where the fall back project comes in. in the IT world, it is important that you know programming in at least one language and hopefully it is your favourite one – a bit paradoxical but there you are. Now how does this help? Let me tell you. My favourite language was Basic – GW Basic to be precise.  When Microsoft made it difficult to have a full screen version of GW Basic I switch over to PureBasic.

I have a set of programming challenges with me in a little black book. When I need a break from the norm and like the Norman fulfilling his norm (courtesy Goscinny and Uderzo), I close, not minimize, all the offending windows and switch over to PureBasic. I code my little problem and when I feel I am cheating my real work I say good-bye to the fall back and back to the normal grind.

There is a veritable choice of programming challenges and not all related to mathematics. There are some relating to algorithms, puzzles and testing of hypothesis. If I feel that PureBasic does not serve the purpose another choice is Excel which is surprisingly versatile for many a type of problems.

The key thing is that it need not be a programming fall back. You could for example take all the characters in Harry Potter series and prepare a cross index across the books. You could write reviews of the restaurants that you have recently visited. You could offer to review somebody’s document, take a blue pencil and do a thorough review of the same. A friend of mine for a long time used to take the World Chess FIDE Ranking data and did some analysis on the same on a regular basis and he did that to test some of his hypothesis. Fall back projects are not hobbies. I believe hobbies are your passion and for a passion you will always find time. Fall back projects may become a hobby.

I am sure all of you can come up with something that can serve the purpose of a fall back project. In any case you can always blog. Do you agree?

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