The Clean Coder: Chapters 3 & 4

Another week done and two more chapters of The Clean Coder read. This book has been quite enjoyable and it’s nice to have assigned reading from school that isn’t so “text-booky”. It’s nice to have something to read that is someone’s personal experience in the field of software engineering and hear about his successes and mistakes.

Chapter 3 talked about the flip side of chapter 3, saying yes and when to say it. I really enjoyed this chapter because it’s something I had make an conscious effort to approach in the past 9 months or so. I noticed at work I was using the phrases “try to get it done” and “might get it done”. I noticed this was simply giving me an excuse to take things at more of a relaxed pace and maybe not giving 100% to my employer. In May or June (I do not recall the exact date) I was moved into more of an IT infrastructural role at work. My first task.. Fully rebuild the LAN/WLAN structure of the facility. The president of the company told me this was of high importance to get this done a.s.a.p. and requested I estimate how long this would take. After some research and getting the things I needed on order I gave my boss a definitive date of 2 weeks until completion. Because I gave the president a definitive date and completed 2 days ahead of that date. He then started giving me tasks that we meant for my immediate supervisors because he knew that we would get a date things would be done by. I have since found that using correct language and giving good time tables creates better channels of communication and makes everyone in the organization happier.

Chapter 4 was the first time I had some serious differences in my ideas compared to Uncle Bob’s ideas. This was negated by the fact that he explicitly stated:

You will likely not agree with everything I say here. After all, this is deeply personal
stuff. In fact, you may violently disagree with some of my attitudes and principles.
That’s OK—they are not intended to be absolute truths for anyone other than me.

I find it funny that he had to mention 3 AM code. It seems to me that the general idea behind anyone who has tried solving a difficult problem with programming has come across this at least once in their efforts. I know I’ve talked with multiple programmers who all say the same thing, “If you can’t solve it, walk away for a while”. I’ve even told this to many programmers. It’s just a fact of life with any issue you can’t solve immediately. If you walk away and let your subconscious mull on the issue, 9 times out of 10, you’ll find the solution.

The one major thing I disagree with Uncle Bob on, is listening to music when trying to be productive. I am never more productive without music. I imagine this is something that changes from person to person as well. I know for my wife, she’s the most productive when things are dead silent. Now she’s a not a programmer and has never written a line of code but everyone has their own way of steadying their brain to focus in on a task. Part of my ritual to steady my brain is put on some music. Now I know that he also mentions avoid getting into the zone and this is something I already avoided anyways. But what music helps me accomplish is two things. It helps me set a rhythm to my work that keeps easily distracted part of my brain busy. Also, when I have headphones in it lets others know that I am baring down to get work done. In my office there are times I simply need to get stuff done and don’t have time for idle chit-chat. These are the times I find music especially helpful. If someone needs me they know they can simply come in to my area and I will almost always take my headphones off immediately. However, it puts up some sort of barrier that tells people I am too busy to chat about non-work-related topics.

All-in-all, it was another good week of reading what Uncle Bob had to say on Software engineering! I look forward to see what he has to say in Chapters 5 & 6.

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