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2 Pennies and a Tootsie Roll

Filed Under Human Factors, Thought Stuff

Once upon a time, I met a fellow named Troy while attending college. This guy always seemed to have the most improbable computer problems. It was on one particular day I learned a valuable life lesson while helping him debug a software problem he was having.

“Dude…my computer isn’t running correctly. It keeps shutting off or doing weird things. I know it was that bios update I did yesterday! Please come help!”

I arrive, as had half of the dormitory, to watch him attempt to debug the problem. We all yelled out DOS commands to run, bios settings to set, and driver updates to update. Alas, the computer was still having issues. The room full of geeks had been defeated, and we all parted ways back into our rooms.

A few minutes later, Troy sulked into our room. He had fixed the problem only it appeared he wasn’t particularly proud of the solution. “I found the problem…” he declared. Everyones ears were listening, each hoping it was the hidden driver update they had been suggesting.

“I thought it was a software problem, but I opened my computer case and laying on the motherboard were 2 pennies and a Tootsie Roll.”

Obviously, the pennies had been short circuiting the motherboard causing it to act in its erratic behavior. The moral of the story is not all problems have a difficult solution. A personality trait many developers have (including myself) is the ability to over complicate simple problems and consequently solve them with complicated solutions.

Start practicing today by boiling down each vague project requirement in attempts to discover the core problem. Then attempt to solve that problem with the least amount of code. Remember that less code is less to maintain.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. -Leonardo da Vinci

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