Saturday, February 11, 2012

Problems, solutions, and sandwiches

Let's say you have a screwdriver and you happen upon a loose screw that needs to be tightened. Using the screwdriver to fix the loose screw seems like a pretty good idea - and it probably is.

Now you happen to have a loose nail that needs to be fixed. You know you should use a hammer, but if you're really lazy, don't have enough time to fetch a hammer, or if someone else insists on it, then you could probably bang the nail in with your screwdriver. Yes, it won't work as well as a hammer, you may damage the screwdriver, and you may hurt yourself, but at the end of the day you will have fixed the loose nail. You can then go home with a banged up screwdriver and sore hand and wish you could do it the right way. Not ideal, but it happens from time to time.

Now you happen to have an empty stomach. You really should eat a sandwich but instead you reach for your screwdriver. Why? Maybe everyone keeps talking about using a screwdriver so you go along. Maybe someone doesn't realize that even though sandwich and screwdriver have many letters in common, they're not the same. Or maybe you happen to have the screwdriver in your hand and really think it can help. For whatever reason, you, or someone else, decides that eating your screwdriver is a perfectly acceptable way to fix your empty stomach. Despite your best efforts and after several days or weeks, the best you can hope for is a broken screwdriver and several broken teeth. And you still have an empty stomach.

This may or may not be a thinly disguised allegory for certain events that may or may not happen when programming on projects that involve several other people and hard deadlines. This has been one of the most difficult things for me to deal with.

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