The cost of cerebral context switches

· by Steve · Read in about 2 min · (376 Words)

Over the years I’ve always been well aware of the inherent cost of a machine context switch, whether it was the old days of manual interrupt-based programming (ah, the nostalgia) or today’s swanky multithreaded systems, the issue was always the same - it just ain’t free to remember where you are, go do something else, and come back where you left off.

Well, in recent days my poor noggin has been feeling the strain of that particular phenomenon. I have no fewer than 5 active client projects I’m involved with right now, each at one stage or another - plus Ogre and (occasionally) my editor project. I can almost visualise the cerebral cycles I’m burning up jumping from one to the other during the day. Over the past 10+ years I’ve gotten used to dealing on a technical level with no more than maybe 2 or 3 projects at any one time, mostly because I’ve worked on some pretty big projects and most of the time there’s been a clear ‘top’ project at any one time. Also, there was a clear demarcation - Ogre in the evenings and weekends, work stuff during the day (mostly one big project). Juggling around 7 things at once on an ever changing basis is pretty demanding, just keeping everything in motion is an effort in itself. I think I’m coping quite well with it and keeping all the clients happy, and I certainly can’t complain at the influx of interest, but it’s certainly a ‘growth’ experience for me. They say (well, mostly women say) that men can’t do more than one thing at once, and they’re right - but we clearly can context switch. Which, to an external observer over enough time, is the same thing. So there. 😀

My foot recovery seems to have hit a bit of a plateau right now, it got markedly better the first two days, now it’s just reorganising its colours daily like it’s doing a poor cuttlefish imitation and generally just hurting & being swollen most of the time. I’ve definitely damaged some ligaments because certain movements set off twangy pains which start half way up my calf and finish at my toes. Hrm. So no freestyle pogo-stick training for a while then.