10 years of coding

So I realized yesterday I’ve actually been writing code for about 10 years now. I’m ignoring writing macros in Access and Excel at GCSE level, and only counting from learning Pascal at AS Level through to writing Coldfusion, MySQL, Javascript, PHP, Java and Objective-C today.

I’m by no means an expert in any of the technologies I use, but I like to think I’m a “competent” or “skilled” user. I still can’t understand and follow the casual conversations of some of my friends that are better programmers than me, and I still get lost and confused trying to write the most efficient and minimal code when I build sites. More often than not I got too complicated and over the top, and end up cutting a bunch of code out that I just didn’t need.

But at the same time, I seem to fix a lot of problems in other peoples code, and get told “I make it look so easy” and that I assume that other people can do things just because I can, which can come across as patronizing and bloody annoying.

But when I get going, when I get in the zone, I can churn out lots of code and produce pages, tools and functions pretty quickly.

So I think I’m doing pretty well, at least for some one who’s 26.

I still have off days though, like everyone. I spent most of Monday this week being angry, angry, angry at a tool I was trying to improve at work…

(I just started to type out an explanation to the problem, but I just started getting frustrated and worked up again so I stopped)

The point is, I couldn’t find a way to improve the tool, and any changes I could make to eliminate one problem would cause a different problem elsewhere. I couldn’t automate the entire process, there were some oddities that would always require human intervention so I eventually gave up and told my colleague that he would have to do some of the work himself. This was fine though, I’ve basically cut a 2 day job down to about 3 – 4 hours as I understand it.

So that particular problem was unsolvable as far as I’m concerned. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I suddenly worked out a solution whilst doing something else completely random elsewhere.

I often find that 15 – 20 minutes after leaving a problem, giving up on it and going to do something else, that the answer creeps it’s way into my head.

Quite often this happens half way home from work, at about 5:45 close to the top of Parry’s Lane in Bristol. I’m usually thinking about what I could do if I could fly, or what I’d do if I wont the lottery, and some how I come around to thinking of the perfect solution to the problem I was fighting 15 minutes ago.

I’ve tried to incorporate this into my problem solving at work, I go and make a coffee but this only takes about 5 minutes, it’s just not a long enough break for the solution to arrive. I tried hoovering the office the other day but that just made me sweaty, maybe I shouldn’t have done that in the heat wave.

Does anyone else find this? That when they struggle desperately with an problem, the solution presents itself at some unlikely moment when your mind is elsewhere? And has anyone got any good ideas for (useful) things to do at work that’ll give the answer time to arrive in my brain.


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