[thelist] OT - do programmers/designers know *everything*?

Tim Parkin tim at pollenation.net
Wed Jul 24 02:05:00 CDT 2002

"Roger Harness" <magic32 at jps.net> asked...

35 year old UK programmer/freelancer/company owner who used to be a
research engineer on large electrical machines (programming FORTRAN) and
before that a BBC Micro hacker, replies

I've been programming for 20ish years and have forgotten almost
everything I know. I am now self employed and have to do so many
different things that I can only spend a relatively small amount of time
per week doing anything in particular and the next time I do it I forget

I found the best way to approach things is when you experience something
the first time, do the kid thing and ask "why" "why" "why" and start to
really, really understand the stuff behind the stuff you're doing. You
won't remember the exact way you did stuff next time but you'll remember
why and what you needed to know to get their.

Eg been learning postgresql in an in depth way as we're starting to use
it for nearly everything from now on. I bought 3 postgresql books and
have the online documentation on my desktop. When I needed to set up a
complicated table restructure, I looked heavily into plpgsql and sql
functions. This took me into the depths of "select into" against "views"
against "create table from " and transactions inside pgsql/sql functions
and not to use create tables or indexes inside plpgsql/sql functions
etc. and I looked up on google for people discussing these things and
phoned friends who are dba's for 'philosophical' help. This only took an
hour or so but at the end of the it I had an understanding of how and
why lots of things worked. I could have written it just using the sql I
knew in about 20 minutes but I learned a 'load' in that hour or so. Next
time I did it I had to look back at what I did and look in the manuals
but I knew what I was looking for.

.. and then I was doing sales, and then liaising with printers and then
doing a business proposal and then search engine optimisation. I won't
get back to postgres for another week. I suppose my point is you make
your learning opportunities for you. It may slow you down on the job
your on but it will speed you up and make you better in the long run.

Ps I have 7 shelves of computer related books and another about 40 books
in storage. I spend about 70 pounds a month on books and haven't
regretted it.


More information about the thelist mailing list