Monkey Poets and Integer Pointers

I have a confession to make. A rather big one. The kind of character-shattering revelation that might cause you to change your mind about me.

I don’t know what a pointer is.

There, I said it. I might as well have just come out of the closet, it’s that big a deal to an engineer. I mean, I know what a pointer is, theoretically. I just don’t know the first thing about using them, calling them, compiling them. So what’s a pointer?

Any electrical engineer worth his salt knows what a pointer is. It’s a software term in the C language. And I can’t get one to compile for the life of me. Really understanding the pointer… I haven’t the foggiest.

To put this in relative terms, this is like the rumored sophomore in college who’s been hiding from his classmates and professors a Big Dark Secret: he can’t read. “How in the world did he fake literacy this far?” you ask incredulously. I’ll tell you: the kid’s a master con man. Somewhere along the way, he figured out how to take tests and manipulate teachers.

So, what are the implications of my code confession? Have I actually conned my employers? Good God, I think I may have! Believe me, this isn’t something I’m taking lightly. It’s caught me off guard as well. It’s presented me with a sort of existential crossroads, causing me to reevaluate my role in life and work. Where does an engineer go from here? Especially in a field that intrinsically has a turn-over rate of information every 6 months, i.e., what you know now will be out of date in half a year. Keep up or die.

To illustrate further, I have this Dilbert cartoon fittingly posted on the bookcase in my office at work:

This very accurately describes the tenuous state of my self-confidence in my field. On far too many occasions, after careful examination of the fruits of my labor, I feel certain three simians on a coffee brake could put a lid on my day’s action items. Humbling, yes. Self-deprecating, perhaps. All I know is I’ve only got about a month left in this info cycle to cram for my pointer test.





One response to “Monkey Poets and Integer Pointers”

  1. patty Avatar

    you’re going to need some caffiene.

    (for that all nighter before your pointer final)

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