Thursday, 08 December, 2005

Working with older tools

Circumstances have me working with old stuff lately, and I'm noticing that I miss a few niceties.  I was kind of surprised at exactly which niceties I miss the most.

Since the truck's been down waiting for a new engine (to be delivered tomorrow), I've been driving a 1986 Mustang Convertible that Debra inherited a few years ago.  It's an okay car, although not something I would have purchased myself.  I've been driving that car for two months now, and other than the ability to haul things, the thing I miss most is ... a cup holder.  There is not a single cup holder in that car.  I never really noticed how often I stop for a soda at the convenience store or pull up to the drive through for food.  But now I avoid such things because there's nowhere to put the cup or can.

Auto manufacturers went a little overboard with including cup holders in the mid 1990s, to the point of it being a joke.  But one or two would certainly be nice, and those silly plastic things that hang on the door--if I could even find one today--never were very good.  You won't know how much you miss a cup holder until you drive a car that doesn't have one.

The project I've been working on since May is written primarily in C, with C++  (Microsoft Foundation Classes) for the user interface stuff.  Most of the coding I've done on the project over the last six months has been in C.  You know what I miss the most?  The ability to just declare a variable wherever I need it, without having to open a new scope.  After years of C++, C#, and Visual Basic, going back to straight C is terribly inconvenient.  Try it some time.  It really is primitive.

Actually, the variable scoping limitation is just the thing that trips me up the most when working in C these days.  I'd be more than willing to put up with that if I could have the .NET Framework's graphics library and collection classes (or at least the C++ Standard Template Library).  Doing graphics with the GDI is painful, and the home-grown collection classes I'm working with are quirky.

The nice thing about working with older stuff is that you come to better appreciate the newer stuff when you next get to use it.