kasia's description of a day in the life of a programmer was fairly accurate, if not a little overly optimistic. I mean c'mon, one whole bug?! Usually that is the fruit of many days labor. Especially when dealing with code that was contributed from many different authors.

When I am feeling especially stressed about lack of productivity, I like to read things like The Tyranny of Email and pretend that somehow I will be able to incorporate those suggestions into my routine. And on occasion I was able to enact some policies suggested in that article. Of course the inevitable result was a catastrophe that I got stuck fixing for a large amount of time because I was ignoring email.

Here is a scenario: As the smart programmer is not able to rein in a poor idea being circulated immediately, because the other powers that be are having a near real time discussion over email and choose to enact said poor idea without the mandatory idea cool off period. The result will be that the customers expectations are already set in such a wrong-headed manner because of course a bad idea can't just live inside your company it must immediately be communicated to any and all customers, who will undoubtedly agree with and begin to demand that it be implemented.

Of course the only true way to untangle this mess is to kill the people that started it, and anyone who is propogating the myth that this dumb idea is any good. Sort of an idiot genocide. But life, often, seems to be about compromise. Short of killing everyone in a two mile radius, you will probably need to put your creative solution hat on (caution: this may involve consuming alcohol) and find a way to provide the eventual end result of the requested feature, in a less evil way. Which of course will simply be added to your queue of very, very, very urgent things that need to be done.

Now you have these options:

  1. suck it up, and fulfill the new requirement.
  2. The ever popular, ignore it and hope it dies of it's own poisons
  3. The customer (much like a small child) may have a propensity for distraction, and you can simply pop the adult equivalent of "Finding Nemo" into the proverbial DVD player.
  4. Go back in time, check your email, and launch a preemptive strike to avoid this horrible alternate timeline where Biff Tannen becomes rich and marries your mother.

The lesson in this discussion is that if you redefine your theory of productivity to value the stamping out of bad ideas over the actual producing of goods, in this case bug free software. Then you can happily go through your day reading email, calling people stupid, and using your rapier-like logic to destroy all the bad ideas. You can then leave at 4 PM feeling very accomplished. This will put you right on the fast track to upper management. And leave you plenty of free time for practicing martial arts, in case you miss an email and need to proceed with the idiot extinction plan.

AuthorKevin McAllister