The life impact of doing a research and development job, especially in IT

Physical jobs vs intellectual jobs is a long time diatribe.

When discussing work effort I’m usually on the physical side.

I clearly admit that “regular” jobs are way more fatigue generating than intellectual jobs.

Stated that, I’m on the privileged side of the, so called, working class. Actually our company is fully remote, some with fixed time schedule, some with more flexibility (the infamous Smart Working).

Being CTO has its advantages. I can work whenever I can and, given I had a little child less than a couple of years ago, this is great. Nonetheless this translates in: “I tipically work more but not on regular shift”.

My job is somewhat like this: I enter my studio, I power on my computer, I start my IDE and that’s it. I’m “working”, merely translating caffeine into functional code (this is just a part of my job, but never mind).

Let me ask you: what is real difference between researching and doing?

There is a catch in all this privileges… I can summarize it as following.

You are always thinking how to solve problems. ALWAYS.

This means you are not able to relax. You just can’t!

Sometimes I say to myself: “Oh! Let’s take a break and rest a bit on the sofa”. You sit, maybe you start listening to music or looking at something on the TV, and you brain starts crawling away.

It fucking autofocuses on the problem you need to solve.

Let me rephrase that!

These days, I’m developing a new feature of, which is a main improvement of the overall user experience.

The task is almost complete, but there is a race condition in fragment state management which is very difficult to debug.

I cannot stop thinking about that.

I want to bring you back in time to give you another example.

2008. I was writing my master thesis about CityGML. Let me rephrase that. I was developing the first alpha version of Cityvu and I was stuck in a very stupid thing. I had a CityGML dataset which was simply broken. I had a few inner rings that weren’t coplanar.

Polygon points have to be coplanar otherwise nothing works. With the experience of the current Eduard, now, I would say coplanar with a small epsilon for floating point accuracy.

The CityGML 0.4 standard had reference to GML stating that geometries should be valid. But at that time I assumed that I, the inexperienced researcher, was wrong.

Two weeks. I lost two weeks of my life rewriting a lot of code. No one was able to help me.

I was thinking about that even when sleeping.

What your brain does when sleeping?

It spawns background threads! So you think you are resting, but you are not.

I remember that a night I woke up to a dream. I picked a piece of paper and I wrote an algorithm. The algorithm I cannot figure out the day before that night.

The real difference between physical and intellectual jobs is you can’t really unplug when you have something to solve.

Some advices

  1. Resting is good, even if your brain is spinning in background.
  2. Exercise! Dopamine is great :-)
  3. Try to do something else in order to avoid thinking too much.