Archive for category Philosophy

Pair Programming (give it a rest)

This is a rant. I’m irritated.

I’m not a social creature. I don’t want to spend all day, a significant portion of my day, or even a small portion of my day sitting next to another programmer writing code – even if my productivity could be measurably improved by it. It’s just not the type of life I want. It would ruin the quality of my life and my work environment. I, like most left-brained people, am an introvert and can’t comfortably tolerate that much company or social interaction. I find it VERY draining and aggravating. I prefer to think and work quietly and alone. I’m very productive this way. I’d say I’m extremely productive this way. I believe that I’m most effective this way. Most importantly, I’m happiest this way and not much in life is more important than happiness. I could do an experiment in pair programming to find out if I’m actually most productive working alone, but I won’t because I just don’t care. If I wanted to spend my whole day sitting next to one or more other people being social then I would have gone into PR or sales or something similar.

I know there are perceived benefits to pair programming. I know some believe it can help junior programmers advance more quickly. I know some believe it can help reduce bugs. I know some believe it can help create cohesion among team members. Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… I know there are studies that profess to prove this. I’ve read some and they appeared biased to me. None of this applies to me. NONE. If I were forced into pair programming under the guise that I would be more productive (or whatever the buzzword of the day happened to be) then I would immediately find another job. If pair programming were the only practice in the software industry then I’d work alone in my own business. If programming could only ever be done in pairs then I’d be out. I’d find an engineering discipline that doesn’t unnecessarily stress me with social interaction and interruptions. (Frequent interruption is fundamental tenet of pair programming. How anyone can reach peak productivity or enter or stay in the zone for very long under pair programming conditions is beyond me.)

Pair programming is not compatible with my personality and I’m a very accomplished highly skilled software engineer. I know because my mom told me. 😉 The fact that I’m very accomplished and skilled proves that pair programming is not necessary. Pair programming is absolutely not necessary to increase developer productivity or produce the very best product. It would have the opposite effect with me.

I don’t believe that I’m alone in my opinion. All of my colleagues are very similar. In my 20+ year long career, I’ve only known one person that I suspect would be comfortable with pair programming and that person is more extroverted than introverted, and honestly wasn’t a particularly good software developer. Not terrible, but not all that good – mediocre. My point is that I’m confident that I’m not alone in my opinion about and attitude towards pair programming. Not by a long shot. I believe that the strong producers and leaders in the software industry feel the same. The mediocre “cogs” (9-5ers that just want a paycheck) outnumber us and I suspect 40% or less of them might benefit from pair programming, which I suspect is where all the buzz about pair programming comes from. Well, that and the extroverted management personnel tasked with running software teams populated with introverted minds (note: non-software developers should generally not be managing software developers – it’s like combining fire and water).

So, if you’re one of those guys, please shut up already about pair programming. It’s an old tired mantra that I’m personally sick of hearing. Yeah, it might work for you. Yeah, it might work for your team. But you’re the minority – the very small squeaky obnoxiously loud minority. Do what works for you and respect others and let them do what works for them. I can’t remember the last time I heard or read someone shooting off about how bad pair programming is and how everyone really should apply themselves, focus, think hard, grok the problem, design a solution, implement it properly, and methodically test the result. We’re not jamming our philosophy down your throat and getting all in your face about how “awesome” or “revolutionary” it is. We’re simply being productive and minding our own business. If you believe that evangelizing a particular programming methodology is important enough to do it instead of the development itself then you probably are someone that needs pair programming to be productive and effective. Be a better programmer. Practice your craft more; talk less.


Killing boredom

This was originally my response to a fellow redditor who posted a request for ideas about how to kill boredom [with his computer].  It was so well received that I thought it would be a good idea to post it here:

The hardest part of killing boredom is getting the ball rolling. Most people actually do have something(s) they would like to do, but they’re reluctant to get started on a hobby basis or they’re not self starters. Starting a project is often the worst/hardest part of the project. Once it has been started and there is some momentum, it’s relatively easy to figure out what to do next. Identify what you would like do [with your computer] by analyzing your past experiences and current fantasies. Make a list of the intersections. Prioritize that list. Start with the first item on the list and schedule/dedicate some time to get started on that item and force yourself to break through the “getting started” barrier by working on it until you’re either exhausted or have created a solid foundation and can envision some things to do next. Then continue scheduling time and work on the project until it either becomes an ongoing passion or fizzles out because you’ve scratched the itch.

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Press On

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan “Press On” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

– Calvin Coolidge

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Ramblings about genuine wealth.

“Most middle-class people resist taking on additional uncertainty. They are more afraid of losing what they have than they are desirous of accumulating more wealth. This is the mindset of the middle class: “Enough is enough.” It is the desire for security. It is the desire to buy insurance against failure.”

— Gary North

He is so right.

The desire for security is driven by the fear of loosing what one has.  Loosing what one has means reacquiring it, which means re-suffering the cost of the acquisition, which means putting forth time and effort (i.e. doing work).  However, it’s likely that those same things would not be re-acquired because the looser would naturally deviate from his previous course in search of different things – acquiring only the small/important fraction of what he once had.  (I’ve always done this, even when I thought I wouldn’t.  I’ve discovered about myself that I never go back.)

Fearing the cost and perceived pain of of reacquiring something, and therefore avoiding all risk that might cause its loss, is driven primarily by laziness.  It’s a vicious cycle that culminates in a total waste of human potential.  If certain (most) people were rich so that they did not have to work to survive and have the possessions they desire then those same people would naturally ultimately become complete wastes of life on earth – squandering all opportunities to grow.

The solution is to learn and accept that the purpose of life is to “play the game”, not to win.  Fortunately the game is incomprehensibly large and complex, with enough detail to support the needs of each individual player, which allows each player to engage in that which has meaning and value to them and avoid that which does not.

The most damning force that can be applied to nearly all persons on earth is financial “wealth” and “security”, which drives them to be idle and passive.  Only the most driven and restless individuals are qualified to manage such a hazardous thing as financial material wealth.

Ask yourself this question: If I were [financially] rich, what would I do?  This, of course, assumes you’re not rich.  If your answer is not an honest “nothing different” then you’re not living well.  You’re living your life in vain without meaning, for other people, or for ideals that are not your own.  If the answer is not “work incessantly to achieve all of my goals without wasting energy on basic survival” then you’re a waste of skin.  All that remains is to squander all the precious educational opportunities and experiences this world is designed to provide.  Why are you even here if you would do that?!  You don’t remember it now, but what got you here is the exact opposite of that kind of thinking.

“The central issue of wealth is this: “What is my expected net value for my remaining heartbeats, and why?””

— Gary North

Simply brilliant.

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