Sunday, 30 July 2017

Finished my new book

I realise that I haven't written about this at all before, and there are a number of reasons why I didn't write about this new book that I was working on before. Suffice it to say that after more than half a year of work I finally completed my new book titled 'Mastering C++ Multithreading', with it hitting the stores last Friday.

The book was published by Packt Publishing, and can currently be found for a mere 10 Euro/dollar on their website [1] with a normal retail price of over 40 Euro. It is also available via Amazon [2].

So far this has been my second book to be published. The first one was also published via Packt, on the topic of game development on Android devices. This new book was a lot easier to write for me, to be honest, as I have far more extensive experience in both C++ and on low-level topics such as multithreading.

Having such an interest in low-level details shows for example in the second chapter of my new book, where I dive deep into how multithreading concepts as well as general processing is implemented in the hardware. Though chapters like these cost me an enormous amount of time in research, one of the things which I have learned over the years is that the most important thing for a software developer is to understand the underlying hardware.

I guess I had quite a bit of fun writing this book, even if it was quite an ordeal, with the past few weeks consisting out of me racing deadlines in order to get the book ready for publication by the end of this month. Yet I made it, and now I get to indulge in not having any imminent deadlines and immediate responsibilities.

One of the reasons why I decided to accept the task of writing this book when someone from Packt approached me with the idea is because I absolutely love both the C++ programming language and fundamentals such as multithreading and associated concepts such as atomics. C++ is wonderful to me - even after over 15 years - for being a highly flexible, multi-paradigm language. Computer hardware fascinates me to the point where I'm working on writing my own CPU architecture in VHDL, targeting FPGAs. To write about this passion was pretty much irresistible to me.

Do I feel that the resulting book is perfect? Far from it, but as one notices after using a language like C++ for nearly two decades, there's always so much more still to be learned. Worse, there are new concepts and new inventions just waiting around the corner. Much like older languages like COBOL, I expect C++ to be around in 20, 40 years time, each time adapting to new hardware and implementing new concepts. I look forward to updating the book with any such new concepts over time.

The last two chapters cover relatively new concepts, pertaining to distributed computing (clusters) and GPGPU. The latter topic especially is of a lot of interest to me, as adding a powerful vector processor to a system can give an immense boost to certain types of operations. I'm looking forward to experimenting more with that over the coming years.

For now it's onwards with new projects :)



Saturday, 22 July 2017

The struggle to recall buried memories

Usually in films the process of recovering buried memories and similar involves flashbacks and sudden flashes of recollections. As I'm currently finding out, it's somewhat like that, but also completely different.

For me the goal is to figure out what happened when I was about five years old, which apparently involved a single or multiple events which led to me withdrawing into myself, refusing any form of physical contact for many years afterwards, along with the development of an intense hatred of sexuality and a strong distrust of people in general, and men specifically.

So far I haven't been able to uncover any concrete memories, even though I have a significant number of memories of things which happened before and in the years after the event. What I have so far is this very strong feeling of... wrongness that has bothered me since I was a child, but which has become more pervasive over the years.

As I'm working through things with my psychotherapist, I'm often asked to remember things from my youth and childhood. Over the past months I have found that this is slowly making me remember things from my childhood. Mostly neutral memories, of sights, smells and sensations, such as me holding and looking at a dried sea horse at my grandmother's place as a child.

Alongside all of that there is this strong feeling of having been violated. Assaulted. Humiliated. Of feeling terrified and apprehensive of something or someone. Just no associated memories. This part of my recollections where the distrust of others and hatred of sexuality culminate is still blocked off to me. Only these feelings related to that time are readily accessible.

They are horrible feelings.

Earlier this week I got to this point with my therapist and as soon as I opened myself up to those emotions, I simply broke down into tears and could not talk for minutes as I struggled to regain my composure. It's just a raw feeling of wrongness. Of having been forced to do horrible things, or having them performed on me.

I do have some idea of what likely happened to me, as in the years afterwards I would suddenly show very unusual sexually dominant behaviour, essentially seeking to victimise others. This is commonly referred to as inverting or reflecting traumatic experiences as a way to deal with them. If that's the case, then it appears that one or more men forced me to perform sexual acts and likely were very rough about it, to leave me feeling so distraught.

I guess I can kind of understand why. Imagine being a five-year old child, who suddenly finds themselves in a situation that's so unfamiliar to them, and then there are these scary men saying and demanding things which just make you want to run away. Find someone who can protect you. But there's nobody there. There won't be any help.

And then it's over with, and you're let go, never to speak about it again. Only it's still there, all the memories and experiences, to gnaw at your very being like a slow cancer for the rest of your life.

I just wish I could remember what happened exactly and who did it to me. Something to allow me to make some sense of it all and give an opportunity to give it a place, instead of having it eat at me like this. To give me an opportunity to maybe learn to trust people again.

Somehow I think that it's still going to be a long and difficult road.