Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

09 April 2006

Taking your own advice...

It is a hard thing to take your own advice. I regularly caution developers who work on my projects to do two things:
  1. Always be thorough in your work, as you rarely get either a cleanup opportunity or a second chance altgoether. There a reason for the old adage among software developers, "Code is like children; a few moments of pleasure for a lifetime of maintainence." As much as I love my children and my code, there is a deep truth to that statement. (As a side note, though I think code should be engineered, I like the divine randomness of genetics.)
  2. Working long hours decreases quality, increases churn and only serves to burn you out. There are plenty of studies which bear this out (Intl Game Developers Assoc, Google Scholar citations) and one need only have been in the industry a short time to see the principle at work. Even though I have high expectations of developers on my projects, keeping reasonable hours is still critically important because quality is always better than quantity in software.
So, like a fool, I am leading by example in the worst way. I, along with another senior developer on the project, am killing myself with long hours in the run up to the GITA Conference in Tampa. Though the project is still in its early stages of productization, two years of development behind the scenes and five months so far making it ready for external use, we are excited to show existing and potential customers what we have cooking. The moment I realized that I was falling prey the very behavior I counsel against was when I finished another two hours trying to solve a five minute problem.

In one case, I could not figure out why attributed COM was rejecting our custom GUID system in one class, but accepting it in another class in the same project (missing header file). In the other case, I typed "__uudiof(" rather than "__uuidof(" which triggered an error hundreds of lines distant in the same file. In tip-top shape I would have knocked those off in a few moments with a little "whoops!" (or "yowsa!" as our UI Lead says). Instead, worn thin by long hours and little sleep I ran in circles trying nearly every other solution except the obvious one.

Time to take my own advice and watch the first Lord of the Rings movie with my two munchkins.


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