on programming

there’s this groove that i experience only when i’ve done absolutely everything else i could possibly do, when i’ve already been staring at my computer for way too long, when i haven’t gotten enough sleep for a number of nights, when i’ve been slightly over-eating, and when i have a modicum of caffeine in me. then it just flows. nothing distracts me. i’m focused. and i love what i’m doing.

but the rest of the time i wish i heard voices so i could say i’m distracted because i hear voices. i get distracted by my own thoughts. by email. by weblogs. by looking things up i don’t know. by following links. by posting links to my blog. by reading the news. by the noises outside my office. by interuptions and requests and not having enough time to start anything before the next meeting. by my own body and its itches and muscles that want to be stretched.

at work, starting to program is like entering the matrix. it’s hard. i’ve got to foresake all my worldly desires and senses and fix my eyes to a screen and fingers to a keyboard. i am so distracted by sounds that i can only work in my office with headphones on and familar music playing. the difference is amazing, it’s like the hertz at which my otherwise stalled mind thinks hitches a ride on the forward momentum of the music.

gum chewing cuts down on the desire to eat and the distraction of a dry and souring mouth. remembering to always have water helps, as it’s a long walk to the water fountain. i started chewing gum during graduate school in order to help me stay awake in class. now i’ve developed a bad habit of playing with my gum while i’m chewing. gross, i know. but programming is usually more thinking and less typing, so i find i need something to do with my fingers. i need to find a substitute.

tonight i had an idea for something i thought would be a nice enhancement to one of the user-interfaces of the financial system i’m developing. four hours later i discover it would be possible if it weren’t for a bug in the core web browser behind mozilla firefox. 4 hours and 1 bug report. that was my night tonight.

update: turns out this bug has been fixed since last fall, but didn’t make it into firefox 1.0

1 Comment

melanie

wow, hertz in a new definition. cool.

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