The last few years, I've been able to read again, but NOT program. Sitting in front of the computer trying to write code, I would just draw a blank. This was the second time - the first being after the whole flesh-eating disease thing a couple of decades ago.
Finally got off the antidepressants a couple of months ago (psychiatrist still wants me on them because I still show signs of anxiety and depression, but ...). This laptop is stuck with Windows 8.1, and there was no way I could get into coding - until I loaded openSUSE into a VM this weekend, on a hunch. I think I'm going to be okay (well, except for 20/300 vision in one eye, and 20/50 in the other, both because of cataracts* - but at least the retinal bleeding has pretty much stopped - no major hemorrhages in 8 months, though I now need cataract surgery and to see a glaucoma specialist).
Things I discovered over the last few years:
1. IDEs have gotten WAY TOO COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. The worst example is android studio. What a piece of shit. 1.6 gigs, downloaded an example program, wouldn't compile, clicked on "install missing libraries", over and over and over, rebooted, no diff. Reinstalled, no diff.
Eclipse isn't any better.
2. The old, simple ways worked, and if it ain't broke, why fix it? gedit/vim, make, and a few perl and bash scripts for versioning, etc. are all I need for c/c++ and java. At least when something doesn't work, I can find why quickly.
3. Which brings up a beef (well, another one) about Android. Material design is counter-intuitive. Horizontal on-off switches??? At least a checkbox, you can tell at a glance whether it's on or off. With a horizontal toggle, is left on or is right on? Takes up more space and is less intuitive. Yet another example of change for change's sake that ends up screwing up simple, already solved problems. We keep "solving" already-solved problems, and I suspect it's pushed by people trying to justify their jobs. Like usual.
4. Ageism. It's been real the last few jobs, and there's no way it's gotten better since I stopped working. Of course, the demand for c/c++/java programmers isn't that great here any more, and the demand for 60-year-old coders is probably zero. I could get away with chopping 10-15 years off my age (most people I've met are kind of shocked I'm that old - "you certainly don't look it!") - and there is NOTHING a potential employer can do if you lie about your age. Age is not pertinent to doing a job, and using that as a reason if/when they find out pretty much proves age discrimination, but what the hell - I'm not going to be looking for a regular job anyway, right? I remember the crappy working conditions - I'd rather work part time for minimum wage elsewhere than go back to working for schmucks. Or as one softie put it - "went lettuce picking."
5. That last point bears repeating on its own : I remember the crappy working conditions. It's just not worth it. Why waste your life explaining why $IDEA is neither great, new, earth-shaking, innovative, or worth pursuing. Or telling them to f*ck off about using Rails, Groovy, $LATEST_FAD_LIBRARY_FRAMEWORK.
6. LINUX TO THE RESCUE (again).
The importance of being able to program again is mostly to restore my self-assurance that the last few years haven't caused any real damage, not to go back into coding.
Should be interesting ... same as the whole cataract surgery thing (not a big deal). I'll probably go the independent, semi-retired route. Spend more time with the little dog, neighbors, etc., and less time trying to justify my existence to the world :-)
* You probably can't blast lasers through the lens onto the retina 4-5000 times per eye without doing some damage to the lens as well. Oh well, (imitate voice-over from "$6 million man" - we have the technology) it sure isn't going to be anywhere near as bad as the vitrectromy.