How To Suck At Programming #678- Fat Fumbly Fingers


So you have a bajillion plugins installed in each of your forty seven thousand desktop apps you use regularly. You’ve trained yourself to use 95% of the features in all of them. There isn’t a task you can’t accomplish without a hot-key or a muse gesture. Entire applications are built with a few mashes of Alt+Enter, F2, Ctrl+Alt+M combos. your machine can incrementally visualize the matches of a regex as you fill in character by character the complicated syntax and you’ve used that to sweep 30,000+ file source repositories in a global search replace refactoring. You’ve learned to link your SQL editor using crazy UDFs and plugins to an LDAP server across the planet in India to make remote SSH requests back to a laptop in California that runs WebDAV commands to the subversion repo sitting one desk away from you. Deploying software has become a pleasure as you merely drag/drop files from one ultra secure mounted file-share to another. Literally everything in your life from your finances to your vacation schedule, to your grocery list is managed by some macro, cron job, or automated script. Your email is accessible from either of your two mobile devices and is linked to your IM which is tethered to your twitter account. (Hot keys from the desktop allow you to add/remove/link social networking accounts at a whim.) You’ve become the emperor of your domain, the man at IT.

You occasionally watch, giggling inside, as others struggle to recall the proper remote commands to sequence together in order to perform daily work. You wince in pain as you help co-workers who struggle with the mouse to navigate the copy/paste commands. You shake your head in disapproval at a guy that’s sooo proud of an application he worked on for four months that does the same thing as the open source plugin you installed last year. Confidence is your first and last name. (It’s also the name you gave to your two kids, the family cat and the squirrel that visits your deck in the morning.)

Your manager hands you an assignment while three other co-workers pester you with random questions. “Where is the latest revision of the proxy servlet that Tim worked on?”, “Who was the first person to commit and break this mornings build?”, “How many more weeks of work remains before our deadline?” You’ve handled all this before and then some. All in a days work! As you execute commands in your terminal running on one monitor you bring up your browser in another to check the build server. You’ve also clicked the doo-hickey in your IDE (the one that scours Subversion with the regular expression auto generated from your other plugin) before sending that window to the background. Open up the email client now so you can immediately send an office wide letter claiming success on the 14 tasks that are now in progress. Wait a second! The hot key combo didn’t bring up your mail editor pre-filled with the company logo, and template text (and funny random fortune teller quote at the footer) like it always does!!! WTF? A few repeats of the hot key followed by some other memorized combos you perform on instinct when things go wrong. Crap!!! As you stare at the title bar of an inactive email client it becomes evident that your key presses were being sent to the active IDE you thought you sent to the background. Panic sets in as you try to recall which part of the hot key assault activated which actions in the IDE. There’s just soo many! There’s no time to think as a progress bar counts down in the window indicating some sort of delete task. It must have been a finger slip that leaned too heavily on the tab key in one of your earlier keyboard gymnastics. That would have caused the IDE to come back to the front but at which point???!! Was it Cmd+Alt+A? Or was it the Alt+Shift+Q? Oh dang! Didn’t you switch the F2 key to toggle windows last week when you read that article in MacInsight? Forget about it! You gotta find out which part of that secure server your IDE is chewing on is losing its data!

As you pray on the admin team to not have forgotten daily backups last night you frantically page through windows trying to kill the hidden process that didn’t die when you closed the guilty hot-key-eating application. Great job genius! You’ve managed to find the hot-key combo of death in you futile attempts to make your twenty different devices manage themselves. While trying to revert back to the more careful mouse driven approach of moving the twenty incoming messages from your inbox to your important folder you’ve also managed to drag from your email drafts folder to the outgoing folder exposing all of the half written in anger messages you never intended to send to upper management. If you wanna suck at programming, practice automation and hot-key memorization to the extreme. You’ll have to touch you keyboard and mouse a lot less as you turn pages through the employment section way more.

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