You sit at your computer working. You feel like you’re getting close but you still haven’t actually passed the halfway mark. You’re in the zone pounding at the keys… fingers fly around the keyboard invoking shortcuts and hot-key sequences entirely from muscle memory. “Control shift left arrow twice, Control X, Control End, Control V”, recite the neurons in your wrist as they command your finger tips to cut and paste the next two words in the paragraph to the end of your document. You haven’t been this efficient since Carmen left early for the day. That doggone Carmen, token loudy, constantly serves as the office distraction filling all eardrums with the drama from her soap opera life story. You know more about her baby’s father and her son’s medical condition than you know about the general ledgers and expense reports you prepare as part of your daily grind. Now she’s finally decided to vacate the premises so you can get some real work done. Hi, I’m Cliff. you’re here because your primary computer is stuck in update/reboot mode. I’m here to tell you you are not alone. A whole lot of people are sitting idly by while their machines decide to take the next ninety seven minutes off. The difference between them and you is you have decided to do something productive with the down time. Welcome to my site!
Have you ever been in the above predicament where the pain and the urgent need to restart either the program you’re running or your entire computer feels like it will totally cripple your current hot-streak of productivity? Maybe its Wednesday morning and it suddenly became the most productive twenty minutes of your entire adult life. Or maybe its Friday afternoon and you desperately need to complete a task before the weekend so you can spend the time off worry free at the beach. Whatever the case, don’t act like it’s just me! Some of you are cussing right now because your dumb computer is stuck in Windows Safe Mode after you pulled the plug and cancelled an update process.
Today’s post is brought to you by Apple Inc., the makers of XCode4 and also by Eclipse.org the makers of the Eclipse IDE. For those of you that don’t speak Objective-C or Java, XCode4 is a program that lets you build apps for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computer family. Eclipse IDE is a program that lets you create apps and software for Android and practically every other computer on the planet. These tools are also the means by which I attempt to feed my wife, kids, and the family and children of the various employees working for the cable, electric and telecommunications companies. That said, consider this. If you work in telecommunications, grocery sales, or have a full time gig at the electric company when XCode4 suddenly stops working then you and a whole bunch your friends could go hungry. That’s a slight exaggeration but still, it is just that powerful as a tool.
This afternoon I had one of those experiences with XCode4 which is extremely similar to experiences I’ve had in the past with Eclipse. Things in the program start to behave slow and weird. The text doesn’t get colored correctly, auto-complete stops working, things that should suddenly shouldn’t while things that shouldn’t are definitely in the state of should. (If you’ve never dealt with a computer full time just pretend you came home to find that somebody decided to swap ever other piece of furniture in your largest room with a piece of furniture or appliance from any other room. Your coffee table and love seat are in place but the TV is situated atop your dryer while the sofa now resembles your bathtub; and is that your child’s nightstand where the torch lamp is supposed to be? That’s the felling you get when its time to restart XCode4 or Eclipse.) the problem with restarting a computer program is that its always mandatory when you’re in the middle of using it at the most critical moment. Pick any idle Sunday afternoon when you’ve scheduled both park time with kids and weekly anti-virus scans and your machine will run uninterrupted while reporting not even one critical security update. This applies to Mac too. I dare you to check for updates on a slow Sunday. It comes back with “everything up to date” every time. But try to use the same machine for work the next morning when you have a 10am deadline and a 9am all hands meeting and you can just forget about it. Open your exchange client and now seven critical updates have been found and are currently downloading. Get through that to click the hyperlink in your email and Firefox must update these five extensions reboot and then tell you about the new and amazing Firefox 4. Download the spreadsheet from the company wiki and now Office requires you to insert disc 2 so it can install an optional font package. Take that install then read the dialog that tells you to close your web browser and your PDF reader so it can continue. Finish the install, now it’s time to reboot your whole computer. Finish the reboot and reopen your PDF reader, surprise! Adobe wants to update Acrobat on your behalf.
I’m stretching the truth a little and referring to programs I haven’t used in years (because I have visitors that don’t “Build and Go” for a living). The story is the same. When you’re in that zone you want to stay there. Every restart and any restart breaks the chain of concentration on an already intense puzzling task. It’s like the alarm clock incorrectly buzzing at 2am in the morning and your wanting to hold onto those dream sequences still fuzzy in your subconscious. It divides man hours into man days because task switching can be killer. Once you look away from the window holding your current workload you become vulnerable to infinite distractions ranging from email and IM pings to passers by intending you to view or comment on their work, to ringing phones, to the funny You Tube video Ralph and the guys huddling around his monitor are guffawing over.