Usually I like being over-worked, because it distracts me from my normal self-involved maudlin navel-gazing. But apparently my inner blogger is fighting for attention, because the weirdest bout of unexpected nostalgia popped in my head this morning.
I was in the shower, convincing myself that the code I’d written last night would work while washing my privates. (Hopefully, it’ll work while not washing my privates as well). This particular bit would work, I told myself, because all of the records in our database are keyed with a GUID. Then I became momentarily nostalgic and despondent.
A GUID, or Globally Unique IDentifier (also known as a UUID for Universally Unique), is a chunk of data that’s virtually guaranteed to be unique, any time you create it. So conceivably, a billion people on a billion different computers could create a new entry in your database a billion times, and each one would have a unique value. It works by taking a bit of info that identifies you and your computer and a semi-random number, but that’s mostly just extra padding. The key part of it is the current system clock time.
Thinking about it in that context was the first time it really struck me how fleeting time is. The milisecond you hit that button is never going to happen again. In fact, it’s never going to happen again to such a degree that the moment you did it can be used to uniquely identify you among billions of other people for all perpetuity. It’s like one of those old depressing bearded 1800s poets telling you “You can’t go home again” and then backing it up with mathematical proof.
The other day I drove by my old high school for the first time in years. It’s barely recognizable any more; there’s a huge multi-story addition with a separate entrance in front of what used to be the band room. It occurred to me that it’s been eighteen years (567,648,000,000 miliseconds, unless my math is off) since I graduated. And an enormous chunk of those trillions of miliseconds were completely wasted or worse, have been completely forgotten.
It’s probably just a combination of sleeping in my childhood bedroom and spending too much time in front of a computer, but now I’ve joined Roast Beef Kazenzakis and the developers of C# as the only people on the planet who can become depressed thinking about Java.