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  From the January 2016 Issue of Prestwood eMag
Industry IT Water-Cooler for Power-Users:
Top 10 Things That Annoy Programmers
Posted 12 years ago on 6/15/2010
Industry Link:
 A recommended resource link from our Industry Resources Links Page


Resource Link:

I recommend Kevin William Pang's article because, among several other good things, he points out what is probably the number one killer of programmer productivity - interruptions.

Productivity is one of many things we want from programmers - and there's at least one good way to maximize programmer productivity. It's watching out for item nine in this article.

"Very few programmers can go from 0 to code at the drop of a hat. In general, we tend to be more akin to locomotives than ferraris; it may take us awhile to get started, but once we hit our stride we can get an impressive amount of work done. Unfortunately, its very hard to get into a programming zone when your train of thought is constantly being derailed by clients, managers, and fellow programmers.

"There is simply too much information we need to keep in mind while were working on a task to be able to drop the task, handle another issue, then pick up the task without missing a beat. Interruptions kill our train of thought and getting it back is often a time-consuming, frustrating, and worst of all, error-prone process."

Mr. Pang obtained his list of ten things that annoy programers by posting a question on Stack Overflow. It probably isn't a scientific result, but it's useful nonetheless.

If it were my list, his number nine would be my number one.


Share a thought or comment...
Comment 1 of 3

Is that locomotive to ferrari analogy ever correct! Given that locomotives have somewhat comparable acceleration to ferrari's (we are talking only a couple of minutes difference to reach 100mph), most of us know the actual ratio is far more extreme. In that light, still trying to decide if IM is a blessing or curse.

Although it was mentioned that the results may not be scientific, I can validate all ten points, for what it's worth.

Posted 12 years ago

Comment 2 of 3

Everything old is new again. Long, long ago, maybe in the 60's, IBM did a study on what tools to give developers to increase productivity.  After a long, exhaustive study, it was found that the best things to do to increase productivity was give the programmer a door and remove the phone.

The door so the programmer could close it and there would be fewer interruptions.  And get rid of the phone for the same reason.

The IBM study called the "locomotive" effect "a state of flow".  And more time was wasted if they had to get into and out of that state of flow a lot.

So basically they said it didn't make any difference what tools you give people if you keep interrupting them.

That is also why, once you get started in the morning, when you look up at the clock, it is lunch time already. (if you don't get interrupted)

Posted 10 years ago

Comment 3 of 3

As a second comment, I think the whole PC industry has slowly gone through the same learning curve we did on the mainframe way back then.  We are finally coming back to mainframe computers only now we call them "the cloud" and we have smart terminals instead of dumb terminals.  Although browsing the web almost makes the PC dumb.

I am reminded of a story my father, who worked for about 40 years for Owens Corning Fiberglas research lab, told.  There was a research group there that was studying something and did about 5 years of group research to find out something.  At the END they called a meeting of all the groups to reveal their findings.  After they were done with the presentation my father said, "I'm glad the result turned out that way.  Because that was the same way it turned out when WE did that research 20 years ago!"

A lot of times the knowledge is there, but people just don't ask.

Communication is another big problem, particularly in a big company.

Posted 10 years ago
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Link Contributed By Wes Peterson:

Wes Peterson is a Senior Programmer Analyst with Prestwood IT Solutions where he develops custom Windows software and custom websites using .Net and Delphi. When Wes is not coding for clients, he participates in this online community. Prior to his 10-year love-affair with Delphi, he worked with several other tools and databases. Currently he specializes in VS.Net using C# and VB.Net. To Wes, the .NET revolution is as exciting as the birth of Delphi.

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