I’d like you to meet my Programming Possum. His name is Floyd the Ferocious, and he is one of my biggest helpers in coding.
Floyd was a Christmas gift from my wife, to commemorate the dead possum I found in my hot tub shortly before Thanksgiving. Seems that possum was assigned to write an application in VB4 that generated Java code to be an interop layer between a Perl app and Ruby on Rails program.
Poor guy grabbed his chest and just keeled over in my hot tub, turning himself into a hot possum stew. I found him about four days later, when I went to top off the tub. The smell was, well it was something Mike Row would have wrinkled his nose at. And the stew was now a nice murky black. Yum, soups on!. But I digress.
A few weeks ago I was catching up on my Dot Net Rocks episodes. In episode 205 (http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=205#download) guests Venkat Subramaniam and Andrew Hunt were talking about Agile Programming, and one of them mentioned he keeps a rubber duck on his computer. He keeps his duck around for the same reason Floyd hangs out on top of my monitors, to squash bugs.
Have you ever gone to one of your coworkers and started to explain an issue, when all of a sudden you smacked yourself in the head and gone “OK I know how to fix it now thanks!” Your coworker wittily replies “Uh, OK”.
For me, my Programming Possum is the first person I talk to about my issues. He’s like a hairy therapist with a tail, very attentive listener and never interrupts. (I used to talk to pictures of my wife, but found I kept getting interrupted.) About forty percent of the time, I find that I can work through all the alternatives and come up with a resolution. And if I can’t, when I do have to visit my coworkers at least my thoughts are more organized and coherent.
It doesn’t have to be a possum, it could be a rubber duck or even a rubber chicken. Scott keeps a yellow chicken by his cube.
Ben, another coworker, has a yellow chicken which keeps an eye on his code. (Which frankly we all think is a bit weird. I mean, who ever heard of a yellow chicken? White, sure, even brown or black, but yellow? I guess that’s where brown eggs come from.)
Whatever you pick, we all recommend you get your own Programming Possum. Something to focus on so you can talk your issues through while you look for solutions. You’d be surprised at how often it’ll work for you.
And don’t worry about your coworkers thinking you are nuts. I’ve talked to them, and they already think that.
Floyd the Ferocious, Programming Possum