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[P]
Is it Cool when you cause a Coding Condition?

By freebird in Technology
Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:11:03 AM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)
/etc

Does your 'mind' work differently when you're in 'coding mode'? In what ways? Are there tradeoffs?

I recently had a glimpse of a specific example of this that I, at least, found interesting.


I was crossing the street, coming back from a food break in a long coding run. In judging which gap in traffic to slip through, I noticed an oddness in the process.

Not a difficulty, per se, in the sense that my 'top level' faculties were running fine. After all, I made it across alive to write this, with a minimum of screeching tires and exploding car wrecks. But there was a difference. I had to conciously gauge the cars speed, look at how far I had to cross, etc. This is something that's usually done in the background - you catch a ball thrown at you quickly without thinking about its trajectory, or even consciously looking at it. Normally, I would just glance across the street as I approached, and my mind would automatically build a little model of all the trajectories, and I would pick a path through them without a thought.

But this time, it was as though the model-building resources were already in use, and so the 'job balancing' software in my head wasn't going to use them to model some dumb commuter in a VW unless it had to. Again, I stress that once the task was specifically requested by my 'consciousness' ("Crap! How am I going to get through all these cars") it was achieved with dispatch. But it was as though the priorities for cycles had been pulled away from real world physical model type stuff into abstract meta linguistics.

I also find that I'm a considerably less social animal during or after serious programming. It's as though I resent being forced to change gears to interact in human conversation.

What gears are those that are being changed between? After all, programming is a very linguistically based activity, you'd think it would involve many of the same mental structures as conversation. And is the thought process required for programming so totally alien to the physical world as to demand mutually exclusive modalities of cognition?

I'm beginning to think so, but perhaps you can convince me I'm not signing a Faustian bargain as I go write more perl...or at least that I am, definatively.

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Is it Cool when you cause a Coding Condition? | 69 comments (67 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Think Different (2.12 / 8) (#2)
by shevek on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 03:55:24 AM EST

understanding, designing, building, testing, refining, producing code demands a certain skill set and channelling of thought patterns. it can alter our perceptions. it's also interesting that you note the weirdness of watching yourself solve physical, blue room problems like getting across a street without being killed. i'd be interested in hearing about other engineers, coders, programmers, designers--whatever you personally call what you do in techo-land--ever experience these same things?
-- Philosophy:Cosmology::Signified:Signifier
Re: Think Different (2.66 / 3) (#3)
by blackwizard on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 04:01:08 AM EST

this seems familiar to me...

i often suffer from "absent-minded engineer" syndrome where after a few hours of doing coding work I am an absent minded drone with no social skills whatsoever. *shrug* ... i just accept it as a fact of life and hope I don't hurt myself =)

[ Parent ]
Programming vs communication (2.57 / 7) (#4)
by Beorn on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:36:54 AM EST

What gears are those that are being changed between? After all, programming is a very linguistically based activity, you'd think it would involve many of the same mental structures as conversation.

No, I don't think so. I see programming as a way to force large structures of order into a complex, chaotic environment. (Let there be light!) This is nothing at all like social communication, which is more focused on intuitional perception, and navigation among inter-human psychological forces.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Re: Programming vs communication (3.66 / 3) (#12)
by BobThePalindrome on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:50:12 AM EST

I agree with Beorn that the programming I've done is quite different from human-interaction-speaking. I've found that when I'm coding really deeply, for some length of time, I lose some of the actual ability to speak, but not to write.

Sanity check: Ask your significant others about your sociability after coding a lot. Mine refers to it as "work mode," and despises it.
Peace.
[ Parent ]

Programming Demands More Brain Cycles (2.44 / 9) (#5)
by iCEBaLM on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:44:20 AM EST

Humans are born and bred to do one thing and do it extremely well - survive. Crossing a busy street has become a ubiquitous task in this persuit, almost everyone in the world has to do it without dying, so skills are learned extremely early in life where doing it takes no thought. Not only this, but really, figuring out when to cross a street is a pretty trivial task for the brain.

Compare this with programming, you are constantly juggling numerous amounts of data, making sure relations and other oddities aren't broken by figuring out redundancy checks, trying to manage large complex blocks of logic and thinking through every possible path to make sure the logic is sound. I wouldn't compare this to simply crossing a street, I'd compare it to crossing the street on your hands and knees dodging speeding traffic while trying to keep a stack of fine china on your back from tipping over and shattering on the ground, because if it does you'll have to pay for it later.

Levels of conscience changes because you literally need to use more of your brain to program than to cross a street. Think of these two tasks as a program and your brain is the compiler.

-- iCEBaLM

Re: Programming Demands More Brain Cycles (3.00 / 1) (#47)
by freebird on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 03:03:45 PM EST

Does it really?

I can't claim to know, but I'd argue that there's not an artificial 'thinker' in existence that could cross that street, consistently, safely, and efficiently.

And if there was, it would take a vast computer. Modelling motion in free space is VERY HARD. We just don't think it is because we do it so naturally. But I think it's a mistake to confuse the elegant power of our onboard processor for an easy problem....

Aibo in the intersection....come on.

...TAGGATC...(etc)
[ Parent ]

Code once, Explain many. (2.88 / 9) (#6)
by TuxNugget on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:56:58 AM EST

freebird said: I also find that I'm a considerably less social animal during or after serious programming. It's as though I resent being forced to change gears to interact in human conversation. What gears are those that are being changed between? After all, programming is a very linguistically based activity, you'd think it would involve many of the same mental structures as conversation. And is the thought process required for programming so totally alien to the physical world as to demand mutually exclusive modalities of cognition?

Almost any decent literature has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. This is true no matter whether the material is fictional, non-fictional, or otherwise. Most programming languages are not structured this way, because they don't need to be. This is a piece toward solving your puzzle.

Now of course, a programming language can often be _made_ to look like human language, either through in-line comments, or by likeing headers and code to introductions and bodies. While a class definition might be a summary of sorts, you don't generally find both introductions _and_ conclusions in code.

The reason code and natural language are different, is that you only need to code an algorithm once to convey it to a computer. But for a human, linguistic style suggests that you should explain it at least 3 times: tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and tell them what you told them.

Similarly, humans forget, and confuse similar ideas, while computers literally interpret what they are told in a precision language. Humans may care about being able to distinguish the nuances of one idea from another, or about the history of the idea, or many other things that are irrelevant to a computer.

In some sense, this is like preaching to the choir, but I thought I would post it anyway.

Odd... (3.75 / 8) (#7)
by Triseult on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:44:58 AM EST

You know, it's odd... Reading your description of 'post-coding syndrome', I'm immediately reminded of two apparently disconnected things:

  • Heavy mathematics sessions
  • Heavy translation work

    I think it's a simple matter of brain mode. When you're in 'normal' mode, your brain is processing natural language information, something it was trained to do almost since birth. Language is important, because it becomes the logical structure by which our thoughts manifest.

    But when you do something at which you're proficient, like coding or mathematics, you're switching your brain into a different mode. Coding and maths are both logical structures, and when you focus on them, your brain is switching gears. That's why, for instance, some people mutter to themselves when they code, because they're running the natural language on idle; it's no more the main function.

    Anybody who is bilingual (and I do mean 'traditionnal' spoken languages) will tell you there's an initial phase of adaptation during which your brain switches to the alternate language, then a post-discussion phase during which your brain lets the language go gradually. It takes a lot of experience in fast-paced situations to switch from one mode to the other very quickly.

    So, sorry for those who feel they must promote how highly coding exerts itself on the brain: I think it's a matter of modes, of modes of logical thought. And unfortunately, even intense sessions of Quake will do the same.

  • Re: Odd... (4.00 / 3) (#23)
    by dave.oflynn on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:40:19 AM EST

    When I was in college, I decided to work as a lifeguard for the summer (in Ireland we get 4 months off in the summer). I found it took me a couple of weeks for my brain to adjust to the lack of hard mathematical / logical processing...my brain had to detox.

    Conversely, when I returned to college after my summer break (slighly tanned and a borderline alocholic ;-), it took a solid month to get to the stage where I could program again competently.

    I also feel that my personality was significantly different while I was lifeguarding - I didn't have to analyse everything or make a structure of things. I smiled more.

    Personally, I try to take at least one 3 week holiday every year to let my brain breathe....a weekend is simply not long enough - no matter what you take ;-).

    later, dave.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Odd... (2.00 / 1) (#25)
    by El Volio on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:47:47 AM EST

    Heh... more proof that Europeans understand vacationing far better than US companies... :)

    [ Parent ]
    LOL, nice title... (1.88 / 9) (#9)
    by DJBongHit on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:17:27 AM EST

    Did you intentionally make the title sound that line from "Lodi Dodi" by Snoop Doggy Dog?

    ~DJBongHit

    --
    GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

    Re: LOL, nice title... (3.00 / 1) (#58)
    by beergut on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:47:09 PM EST

    Probably from Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, actually. That song was old before Snoop Doggy Dogg did it (I never even heard SDD's version - didn't know it existed until just now).

    Ya know what, ya picks this La di da di,
    and we likes to party,
    we don't cause trouble,
    we don't bother nobody.
    we're just two men that's on the mike,
    and when we rock upon the mike, we rock the mike right...


    i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
    i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

    -- indubitable
    [ Parent ]

    Now I'm coding... (1.66 / 6) (#10)
    by 0x00 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:37:23 AM EST

    I find that I often miss lunch. bad.

    I become more irritable. bad.

    My hair becomes 'stuck up' because I run my fingers through it alot. bad.

    My clock reads 2:00 and I am still awake. bad.

    I eat 3 packets of wonka nerds during the day. bad.

    I am becoming increasingly bitter now. bad.

    I dislike motorola hc11 asm. bad.

    I will sleep now. good.

    --

    0x00

    Re: Now I'm coding... (2.50 / 2) (#33)
    by bailout911 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:40:03 AM EST

    Oh come on, everybody loves motorola assembly code. Searching through lines and lines of code when your program doesn't do anything to give you a clue that somewhere in your 20th subroutine you've stored a 16-bit value in an 8-bit register is so much fun. I wish I had an HC11 at home just so I could recreate all that fun.......;-)

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Now I'm coding... (2.00 / 1) (#57)
    by 0x00 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:32:50 PM EST

    I would gladly send you the one that is sitting on the desk beside me, mocking me, refusing to interface with the computer through the max232.

    Its even an A1 model...i hear they are hard to find these days, the final version is on a E1. Damn I hate it when I get grouped with the Electrial Engineering people.

    anyway. *sigh*
    --
    0x00

    [ Parent ]
    Dancing and programming at the same time (3.50 / 6) (#11)
    by sera on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:45:20 AM EST

    A month ago, I spent a very intense week doing a serious run of initial coding & design. It was about 50 hours of non-stop work, with almost no downtime. Of course, when I went home at night I had a hard time thinking about anything else. But on Friday night, I went to this club with some friends and couldn't stop thinking about it, in spite of it being 2 in the morning, and I was really enjoying the music, and my mind was on a certain substance that should've allowed me to stop designing database schemas and interfaces ...

    What I found really interesting was this: It only happened when I closed my eyes. If I opened up my eyes and looked at the floor, or up at the lights, or at some cute girl, I stopped thinking about computers. But then I'd close my eyes, and while I was still dancing and enjoying the music, my mind would start up again. My best guess is that sight is an organizational sense (Marshall McLuhan wrote a lot about this), and other sense that I was using to dance (hearing, balance, touch) are not ...

    firmament.to: Every text is an index.

    Re: Dancing and programming at the same time (4.00 / 1) (#49)
    by Emacs on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:09:49 PM EST

    I can't tell you how many times I've been happily hacking away on a difficult problem and then decide I've had enough and go to bed. I can lie there for up to an hour with my mind just running over the problem, looking at it from all sorts of different angles, even though I'm trying to sleep. It's worse than drinking too much coffee.

    The real funny thing is that often times I'll wake up in the morning still thinking about it, and every once in a while I'll have a new idea, almost like I kept working on it while I was asleep. It's funny how that works, almost a curse at times though, because it's not something I can just shut off, and yes, it does "make" me a whole lot less social when I'm in that zone.

    [ Parent ]
    Happens in math (3.60 / 5) (#13)
    by El Volio on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:55:46 AM EST

    It's not uncommon when I'm deep into some maths problem or proof that I go into some state where I'm essentially oblivious to the world around me. Time doesn't pass, nothing exists except the mathematical constructs with which I'm working. I hear nothing else, see nothing else, can conceive of nothing else. Instead of my mind running on three tracks as normal, it's focused on just one, and it's almost as if the constructs themselves take on a palpable existence, whereas everything else is a dream. It's the most efficient state to solve a problem; solutions present themselves intuitively, materializing out of the soup. Logical conclusions flow from one to the next, and the castle in the air gets built, brick by brick.

    When I'm done, it's like waking up, or stepping back through the looking-glass (not sure which side is real!) and it takes a while to get adjusted to the "real world". There's that "hangover" period, where nothing around me makes sense and I can only make it back home out of the sheer force of habit (car is here, turn key, go left, go right).

    It's a drug, too, it's addictive. When I come off the "high", all I want in the world is to crawl back through the looking-glass. And the more I experience it, the more I lust for it. It's almost scary sometimes; I feel like I could get "trapped" in there and never be able to come out.

    But would I want to?

    Math: the mind-altering drug (4.66 / 3) (#15)
    by Triseult on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:16:25 AM EST

    Hey, do you also happen to dream in mathematics sometimes? I'm not talking about dreaming of maths, but in maths. The dream progresses like a demonstration, organizing itself, backtracking, attempting other solution paths... I used to get those during intense and stressful exam periods, and they were somewhat unsettling.

    I tried to explain it to non-scientists, and they couldn't understand how it was possible that I wouldn't experience any conventional stimuli, such as sight or sound... But to everyone who's been through periods in their lives when they ate and breathed maths, they all knew what I meant.

    Another interesting side-effect of intense maths is when you're drunk or tired: for me, when I was drunk or tired, mathematical expressions took on a more aggressive form. Additions were violent, integration was like quelling civil unrest. It's hard to explain, but I suspect mathematicians, physicists, and certainly coders will understand.

    This all certainly goes to show that mathematics is a form of advanced structuring of the brain, and a creative process in itself, although a highly organized one. After a while, it becomes as natural as riding a bicycle.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Math: the mind-altering drug (3.50 / 2) (#19)
    by spiralx on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:32:31 AM EST

    Hey, do you also happen to dream in mathematics sometimes?

    What like Ramujan (sp?) did? He claimed to have dreamt all of his proofs in number theory, and said they were given to him by a goddess. However he got them, he was undoubtedly a genius...


    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Math: the mind-altering drug/[SPELLING FLAME] (none / 0) (#68)
    by Bernie Fsckinner on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 05:56:30 PM EST

    I think you mean Ramanujan

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Math: the mind-altering drug (3.66 / 3) (#20)
    by Fesh on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:35:58 AM EST

    ...mathematical expressions took on a more aggressive form. Additions were violent, integration was like quelling civil unrest.

    Funny you should mention that... I clearly remember that when I was learning arithmetic in grade school, each number had its own personality, and would do things to the other numbers when added. I think either 7 or 9 ate other numbers, and 10 made friends with them, or something like that. Thinking back on it, I thought I must just have been weird or something. I certainly didn't think that other people might do similar things.

    Problem is, although I was prone to such vivid imagery, I've never been particularly good at mathematics. Although maybe having ADD has something to do with it...

    --Fesh

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Math: the mind-altering drug (3.66 / 3) (#36)
    by Kaa on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:02:13 PM EST

    I clearly remember that when I was learning arithmetic in grade school, each number had its own personality, and would do things to the other numbers when added. I think either 7 or 9 ate other numbers, and 10 made friends with them, or something like that.

    You are probably refering to an old children's puzzle:

    -- Why all numbers are afraid of seven?
    -- Because seven ate (8) nine.

    Kaa
    Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.


    [ Parent ]
    Re: Math: the mind-altering drug (3.50 / 2) (#24)
    by El Volio on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:44:03 AM EST

    Yes, that has happened to me. Especially when I took Topology; the dreams nearly freaked me out. That's what it took for me to finally grasp the Klein bottle, for example. Dreaming in mathematics is one of the most bizarre experiences I've ever had.

    I never did maths when I was drunk (had other things to do :) ) but I do know where you're coming from. For me, it was more of a sword-fight feeling (lightsaber duel? naaah), and yes, sometimes I did feel like it was battling back against me.

    Having never experienced any "real" mind-altering drugs, I don't know for sure if the comparison is valid, but descriptions of an acid trip do sound awfully close to the feeling we're talking about here, only perhaps more lucid.

    [ Parent ]

    Dreaming math? Nope. How about Tetris? (3.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Anonymous Commando on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:36:04 PM EST

    Forget dreaming math... how many of us here have had Tetris dreams on a regular basis? It's been a few years since my last one, but there was a period of a few months where that was all I dreamed... kinda frightening...
    Corporate Jenga™: You take a blockhead from the bottom and you put him on top...
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Dreaming math? Nope. How about Tetris? (2.50 / 2) (#44)
    by Triseult on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:28:47 PM EST

    Brrr... Yeah, I remember that now. That's about the time I got afraid my GameBoy was trying to murder me in my sleep because I considered selling it to get a semblance of life back. Dark days!

    [ Parent ]
    Re: Math: the mind-altering drug (3.00 / 1) (#63)
    by pcburns on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:57:29 PM EST

    While I was still in university and studying discrete maths I would sometimes have dreams about maths, especially if I was studying it just before going to sleep. I would do math problems in my head, instead of writing on a bit of paper, the numbers would float around in space, white digits on a black background. The dream was fairly intense. I'd do the problems at a frenzied pace.

    [ Parent ]
    Coding condition == Right brain? (3.33 / 6) (#14)
    by DesiredUsername on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:15:19 AM EST

    I recently checked out (from the library) and read "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain". Amazing book. The theory seems a little wonky (the old right vs left brain thing) but on the other hand it definitely works. And how!

    Now that I've learned how to draw, I find that when I am in a "drawing trance" it feels just like the "coding condition" you describe. I suspect that they are really the same thing but with different output.

    If so there is a really interesting implication: programming is a right brained activity. ??? Seems really odd, considering how much logic, semantics and linear thinking are promoted as being hallmarks of programmers.

    Play 囲碁
    Re: Coding condition == Right brain? (4.33 / 3) (#17)
    by spiralx on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:27:09 AM EST

    For more information on the subject of left/right brains, see this article at New Scientist.


    You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
    [ Parent ]

    Re: Coding condition == Right brain? (2.50 / 4) (#18)
    by jamiemccarthy on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:31:58 AM EST

    Programming is definitely a left-brain activity. But you can zone out with either hemisphere. I think what you're noticing is the state of extreme concentration which is required for both activities.

    A friend of mine teaches art. One of the first things he does is make sure students aren't trying to use the wrong hemisphere. He enforces no talking during class (speech comes from the left), and plays music whether the kids like it or not (music engages the right).

    A great deal of getting started in art is just asking the unhelpful part of your brain - the "hey are you drawing a hand? it looks like a hand, is that a hand?" part, and the "dude, your drawing looks like crap" part - to step aside.

    I haven't really noticed anything similar with programming and program design. I just need to be left alone so I can get a good run of concentration going. Generally, in most people, the left hemisphere dominates the right, so it's art that needs some effort to create. Left-brained concentration just comes naturally.

    [ Parent ]

    Re: Coding condition == Right brain? (4.50 / 2) (#32)
    by DesiredUsername on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:38:57 AM EST

    "I think what you're noticing is the state of extreme concentration which is required for both activities. "

    No, there's more to it than that. I've noticed that I'm a "tactile" thinker. I don't visualize things happening, I imagine what it would feel like to physically manipulate the objects. In fact, when explaining something I often find my hands making movements that correspond to how I am mentally manipulating a model of our topic (generally unrelated to the actual words I'm speaking).

    Spatial relations are a right brain thing and what I'm doing when I program is definitely related to that.

    Play 囲碁
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Coding condition == Right brain? (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by El Volio on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:52:07 AM EST

    I remember this happening in highschool AP Chemistry. A lot of times, I'd be struggling to understand a concept; it just wasn't clicking. Dr. Tuttle encouraged me to "turn it around" and look at it from the other side. As a result of that, and my own nature, now concepts take on a nearly physical existence. Sometimes spoken language is insufficient to convey the meaning of the concept, and notation only describes it, it doesn't capture it.

    But seeing an idea or concept as a physical object (albeit not always in 2 or 3 dimensions) allows for a true understanding of the idea, not just knowledge of it.

    [ Parent ]

    coding art (3.50 / 2) (#53)
    by boxed on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:23:06 PM EST

    I've always thought that when I'm in the coding zone I work with my right brain.. the left side is hard at work making the elegant stuff in my right brain into C++ code. If you've never looked at code and just felt an overwhelming feeling of joy at how elegant it is (like looking at a piece of art you've made), I can't see how you can find the strength to continue coding...

    [ Parent ]
    Re: coding art (4.00 / 1) (#59)
    by doug-pistols on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 08:37:21 PM EST

    I'm glad to here that someone else experience this joy too... Sometimes when I'm coding I'll set out just a few lines of code, and it will be so elegent, so perfect and so clean, that I will just sit down and cry, because it is *so* *beautiful*. I'm totally convinced that programming is an artistic expression. Logic is present, but its such a small part that the brain processes it subconsiously. If programming were just logic, it would require no skill, no effort. It's the creative designing that makes it addicting/difficult.

    [ Parent ]
    Is it just exhaustion? (3.40 / 5) (#16)
    by Nelson on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:25:17 AM EST

    I'm not sure if it's a condition other than exhaustion. After serious coding sessions, I often drive home a little screwy. I've never been in an accident but I defintely put more effort in to staying between the lines, I occasionally have to stop a little bit more quickly than usual because I had trouble gauging the distance to stop in. I just don't drive nearly as fluidly as normal and I've always said that it was because I was very tired. Coding takes a lot of energy and there have been weeks where I put in 5 solid long days and then sleep most of the weekend.

    When I'm in the zone, I often end up skipping lunch or I'm very irritated if I have to eat with others, I like to keep focused and think about the problems at hand. It's not that I don't care what is going on in their world, I just don't care at that moment because I've got a job to finish. I also tend to get far deeper in to it than most of the people I work with and the mindset is just different, I'll stop for food and I'm treating it like it was a special forces operation, I put on my black ninja suit and night vision goggles, I go to store or restauruant ("go!!! go!!! go!!! go!!!"), I get the nutritional matter (this is where they blow up the door and storm through before all the pieces hit the ground) , I eat it (shoot the bad guys), I return to my office to finish the job ("clear!!") I don't spend a lot of time making a decision about what to eat or dicking around talking about the weather. I just want the calories and I want them quickly. I'll wolf down one of those fat-hog burritos in 5 minutes.

    Sleep also becomes less important. I usually try to get 6-7 hours a night, over the years that number has turned out to be just about optimal, it's not too much and not too little. It's good enough that even on the weekends and vacations I usually get the same amount of sleep, my body just performs better with a regular routine. When I really hit it for a week, and it usually only happens 6-10 times a year, if that much, I'll roll in to the office at 6:30-7:30AM (I like to get stuff done in the AM) and I'll crank until late at night, go home, sleep for maybe 3-5 hours and then repeat. If I do that normally, I'll be burned by Thursday. When I'm hammering though, it Wednesday or Thursday when the rush and high really take hold and I'm usually a mandroid on Thursday and Friday and finish the week strong.. I work out a lot and cycle a bunch and I know about the bonk and the various degrees of it: your tank runs empty and you suffer home to do nothing because your day is shot, it's hard to make it over those last few hills, walking up the stairs in to your appartment might require a rest stop in the middle, once you sit or lie down you will have troulbe getting back up. Then there is the hard bonk, it's when your body's fuel reserves get so low that it starts to defend itself, this is panic mode, you can't think as clearly, you can get tunnel vision, you don't hear things as well, you can have panic attacks and freak out. People do very wierd things when the hard bonk happens, I've heard of people digging through trash to lick the wrappers of food, drinking out of gutters, trying to trade a $3000 bike for a hotdog, doing things they would *never* think to do normally. There is also a time during the hard bonk when you get a surge of energy, doctors don't know why yet but they believe that it's the body's way of putting in one last solid shot to get to safty before major systemic failure. After that surge, you crash, it's just a matter of when and for how long, it might mean not doing anything physical for a couple days, it might mean a trip to the ER and a lengthy hospitol stay (this is very very rare, it is incredibly difficult to work out until you injury yourself that badly.) I kind of think that there is an analog for coding because I abuse the hell out of my body during those week long sessions, I don't eat enough, I don't sleep enough, I definitely don't rest my mind enough and near the end of it I can get really juiced closing in on the goal. Then I crash on the weekend and it might be Wednesday or Thursday of the next week before I can really be really productive again. I've never tried to punch through the weekend yet.

    Re: Is it just exhaustion? (3.50 / 2) (#37)
    by jxqvg on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:11:35 PM EST

    Speaking of driving home a little screwy, if you're familiar with the game "Crazy Taxi"...

    I was playing that game quite a little bit a while ago, and the most unrealistic ideas would pop into my head, Oh, I can just ride up on the sidewalk to get around this traffic, It's too far to the exit, so I'll just drive over this grassy hill, This car is in my way, I'll just nudge it over into the other lane. Needless to say, common sense bitch-slapped me back into reality before I actually did something stupid like that, but it's just so bizarre to catch yourself thinking like that.

    I think it's partly due to the vastly different worlds we put ourselves into, be it art, programming, games, frequent travel, or what have you. All this context-switch, if you will, must not be a clean break.

    [sig]
    [ Parent ]

    This article at salon describes it very well (2.80 / 5) (#21)
    by Jaime Herazo B. on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:37:43 AM EST

    The article is here. Is an article by Ellen Ullman, one of the few old-school women i've seen. Cool :)
    ---------------- Baka Shinji! Asuka
    Re: This article at salon describes it very well (4.00 / 1) (#31)
    by ramses0 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:28:25 AM EST

    Then this old article on K5 might interest you.

    --Robert
    [ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]
    [ Parent ]

    It's not just Computers and Math (3.66 / 6) (#22)
    by Sway on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:37:51 AM EST

    The Zone is as common in other pursuits as it is in programming and math. It is even commercialized in sports (of course). I, being very klutzy at sports, experience it regularly in two fairly different circumstances. Most of you have noticed slipping into it during coding. That happens to me on my better days at work. It's refreshing to look up and see that hours have slid past into the ether. It usually indicates two things: I've accomplished something; and it's not going to be a slow day at the office. But I get the exact same feeling looking up from a drawing.

    I was an art major in college. Classes often consisted of 3 hours drawing/painting/sculpting whatever/whoever was sitting in front of me. It was pretty easy to let the task at hand take over. It was a very warm and fuzzy feeling where the rest of the world dissolved and all that mattered was the paint and the canvas. It still happens when I get time to draw. Hell, it happens during meetings when I'm doodling on my legal pad. I think that the 'coding condition' mentioned in the article is basically that not-as-comfortable feeling when you slip into the zone when you should be focusing on other things.

    It appears to me that the whole Zone concept is, by definition, focus. It isn't tied to scientific work, or even difficult work. I emptied trucks at the warehouse for UPS for a while. It was mind-numbing labor, but if I got into it, I got it done effortlessly. It wasn't as cherished a feeling as the coding/drawing zone because it was a pretty miserable job, but it was probably the same phenomenon. If you can achieve focus, you can utilize resources that were previously working on determining what you are going to have to eat for lunch, how much longer it is before lunch, eavesdropping on where others are going for lunch, etc. The more resources at your disposal, the more effective you will be at accomplishing your task.

    So relish the Zone. Focus as best as you can as often as you can. Just make sure you are in a situation where those external things you will be ignoring aren't likely to damage you (ie crossing a busy street). Enjoy responisibly.


    Peace. Sway
    icq 5202646
    Zen? (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by boxed on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:08:34 PM EST

    Come to think of it... isn't this exactly what zen is all about? Doing everything with your entire being?

    [ Parent ]
    cout << "What do you mean by that?\n&qu (2.40 / 5) (#26)
    by fuchikoma on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:01:13 AM EST

    Actually, when I get REALLY into something, my mind gets stuck in a mode. It's happened for programming once or twice (not often because the course I took was dead simple.)

    On occasion I have stopped playing a game (especially UT,) and gone outside, looked around, and thought "woah, hi-res! And look at all the polygons that went into that, I'd swear that tree has individual leaves! ...wait, idiot! This is real!"

    It was also always really disorienting coming out of Japanese class in high school. I'd mix random Japanese into my sentences. Scary thing is often my friends from the class wouldn't notice it.

    Re: cout << "What do you mean by that?\ (none / 0) (#60)
    by Elendale on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:10:59 PM EST

    On occasion I have stopped playing a game (especially UT,) and gone outside, looked around, and thought "woah, hi-res! And look at all the polygons that went into that, I'd swear that tree has individual leaves! ...wait, idiot! This is real!"

    Been there, done that.
    I have mixed random japanese/french into my speech- mostly at innoportune moments. I've had dreams in japanese too. The scary part starts when you finish watching anime and forget that the rest of the world still speaks english! As to the whole 'coding condition' idea, for me it boils down to being very similar to the way you think during Aikido (i assume it is similar with other martial arts, though i haven't studied any). During Aikido you don't focus on anything, that's the trick. If you focus on your opponent, you can be surprised. If you focus on your opponent's attacks, you can be surprised. When coding, you do something similar- but only the code matters. When you are doing Aikido, 'daydreaming' just doesn't happen- you only care about Aikido (which, arguably, is 'the way of life'); likewise, when you code you only care about coding. At least, this is how it is with me.

    -Elendale
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    [ Parent ]
    Doom-mode ? (2.00 / 4) (#27)
    by AftanGustur on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:15:33 AM EST

    I be everybody once experienced something similar to this:

    A few weeks after the release of Doom, I was walking between rooms at the computer lab in my school (yes we played a lot there), I came from a room with only me and 3 others into a room crowded with people, and my first reflex was to panickly look everywhere for barrels ...





    In seriosness (3.00 / 2) (#34)
    by mindstrm on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:48:40 AM EST

    I can relate.

    I can recall about three instances.

    The first was several years ago after working my 8 hour day then playing 10 hours of quake in my office until 4am. So granted, I was overtired. Upon shutting down and leaving my office, I was literally seeing little things out of the corners of my eyes, and a part of my brain could be heard (Felt?) saying 'turn, shoot!'. The brain impulses were there, I was just no longer sitting at the computer. I'm sure all anyone else saw was a dumb look on my face as my brain tried to adjust back to reality.

    The second time this happened was several months ago after one 10 hour session of Halflife (singleplayer). This time, it was in my apartment building. I was seeing little aliens as I walked down the hall (going to 711 for snackiefood). Not seeing as in outright vivid hallucinations, but out of the corner of my eye.

    The third time was after an 8 hour session of Deus Ex. Same as above.


    As for 'coding mode', I know I can miss half a day of conversation going on around me, and not hear the phone ringing, or the fire alarm, if I'm way off in code mode.


    [ Parent ]
    Re: In seriosness (4.00 / 2) (#46)
    by Icculus on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 02:56:20 PM EST

    Reminds me of long sessions of Gran Turismo and WipeoutXL on PS1. Try driving your car after that.

    [ Parent ]
    Quake-mode ? (3.00 / 1) (#62)
    by Elendale on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:23:35 PM EST

    Back when i was a young-un, i used to hang out in a nearby college computer lab. Someone had installed Quake on all of the computers, so instead of doing actual work everyone just played Quake. One night (actually from the hours of about 12 noon to 6 am) we played away solid. When we were leaving, it still felt like playing Quake. We walked differently, didn't say anything, and would continually look over our shoulders (to see the other people's screens and cheat). When we got outside, someone mentioned he was still playing the game. This was humorous for a while, as cries of 'who has the rocket launcher' and 'lame lightning gun in water thingy' were shouted- but then we realized that was exactly what we were doing. Just one of my experiences with 'game mode' overruning into real life ;)

    -Elendale (for those wondering, i lost the imaginary Quake game *sigh*)
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    [ Parent ]
    vice versa (1.60 / 5) (#28)
    by AgentGray on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:17:35 AM EST

    I also find that I'm a considerably less social animal during or after serious programming. It's as though I resent being forced to change gears to interact in human conversation.

    I crave it or else I'll go nuts!

    One word (1.75 / 8) (#29)
    by SIGFPE on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:18:32 AM EST

    Satori
    SIGFPE
    Another word (1.66 / 6) (#30)
    by SIGFPE on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:19:45 AM EST

    Sadhana
    SIGFPE
    A little different... (4.25 / 4) (#39)
    by escherIV on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:37:32 PM EST

    I've never noticed anything like this coming out of coding, but getting into coding I can tell that my brain needs about five minutes to throw the switch so I can actually understand what I did the day before.

    WHILE coding, however, is a different story, especially if I've just had an insight. Almost nothing pisses me off more than someone interrupting me while I'm coding, and when I say interrupting I mean requiring a thought-out response from me. When I'm coding I may as well be in Antarctica. There are times when it just takes over my whole body and I'll kick out the chair from underneath me and squat/hunch over the keyboard staring at the monitor swaying a little. Then when the epiphany has passed, my legs ache and someone's usually looking at me funny.

    Ah well... People looking at me funny is a semi-normal thing anyway...

    Lost in two-space. (4.40 / 5) (#40)
    by harb on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:07:32 PM EST

    I used to get into this place, after playing X-COM:UFO Defense for a good three or four days straight, where I'd start twitching violenting and randomly muttering things about totally unrelated things.

    Like standing up in the middle of gov't class and demanding that I was a fish. And that I couldn't breathe from the lack of water.

    At any rate, back to the topic at hand: I've felt the code-zone thing, but only very rarely. I'm not a code jockey.. I'm not very good at it. But sometimes, usually when I'm deep into a PHP re-design project, I'll poke at the surface of Da Zone (as we like to say back in Da Hood), and it's a very scary place.

    It brings the sound of plasma fire and the un-holy and un-earthly screech of dying aliens to mind...

    A guy I worked with at my previous job was all about the zone. The guy can't multitask at all. We're talking CLM level of multitask ability here. And when he was hacking, he took at least five minutes to pull himself up, no matter who was talking to him. It could have been the superindendant of the district, or our boss, or me. I learned very early on to just sit on his desk and look at him til he managed to open a HumanInteraction port. I got used to it. Some people got really annoyed with, thinking he was ignoring them. But he was just off in some other realm where fully formed human thought is replaced with [i] and \n's. And where pink elephants dance and sing, I wouldn't doubt.

    As to the Faustian bargain... I wouldn't sell my soul to perl. There's much better things to sell your soul for. Like cheesy-puffs. Oo.

    harb.

    bda.

    Definitely. (4.50 / 4) (#41)
    by fross on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:15:05 PM EST

    I've heard it compared to a mild form of autism (and wouldn't disagree), it certainly is a period of intense introspection and concentration. i suppose those of us who have it are "gifted" in a sense that we can apply it constructively to programming and similar tasks - the example given by someone else of extensive Doom sessions leading to such a mindset as well is familiar to me too :>

    I dont think it's a coding-, or computer-based problem though. as kids, didn't you spend hours awake at night playing chess in your mind, or tetris, or some other puzzle game in your head? it's a matter of concentration to the point of exclusion of all else, somewhat akin to daydreaming in its detachment from reality, and thus the wrench to get back to reality and dedicate "brain cycles" to working out how to cross the road and such :>

    as i said, it can be viewed as a gift, because you can get completely immersed in what you're doing, which separates a great coder from a good one. just make sure you dont daydream yourself into a manhole :)

    david


    The mind is a muscle - with a muscle's memmory. (3.75 / 4) (#42)
    by bgalehouse on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:22:36 PM EST

    I read math books recreationally. Without the stress of a course or the rate setting of a lecture, I don't generally get lose myself or dream about it. Maybe I should focuse more. But, my natural rate is slower than that. On the other hand, I tend to see more the next time I pick up the book - like the mind works at it continuously in the background. And so I move through books that are normally the domain of math proffessors, and they slowly get easier over time.

    Like the muscles which are tense at the end of a day of use, the mind tends to keep doing what it has been doing. Like muscles, you can work the mind to exhustion, and like jogging you can find yourself needed to exercise a certain amount each day - to fend off restlessness.

    In Ecco's book "Foucalt's pendulum", the comment is made that the distinction between believing and pretending to believe is, in practice, very easy to blur. Again, the mind learns, but in the sense one might expect.

    Missing the Zone (3.75 / 4) (#43)
    by JonesBoy on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:24:38 PM EST

    I too have noticed similar effects when playing games, menial labor, mathamatics, and coding. All of them have different effects, sometimes amusing.

    My problem is when I can't get into a specific mindset. If I can't get into the psychological "programming zone" I just can't program. I will spend half an hour debugging a missing .h line, or an hour deciding what should be done in a specific function. I become a completely useless waste of time. When i get in tune, I will speed though anything with little regard for foo/sleep/time. I believe it is this feeling, the mental adrenaline and unconditional focus that drives most guru's of the computer field.

    My question is, what do others do to get into the right mindset? What do you do when you just can't get there?

    -Jones
    Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
    Re: Missing the Zone (3.00 / 1) (#45)
    by harb on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 02:39:28 PM EST

    Music is a definite part of it. If you can find something that helps you concentrate, or at least doesn't bother you (i.e., demand your attention, plays happily in the background), try streaming that while you're hacking on whatever your current project is.

    For me, Fiona Apple is good for anything that requires concentration on code (PHP, HTML, Python, whatever), and for some reason, the Wallflowers really help me when I'm trying to write articles/journal entries. I think it has something to do with the rhythm and how my mind interprets background noise on a subconscious level.. shrug. :)

    Garbage is really good for Starcraft and most other RTS. I'm sure you care about that, though. :)

    Oh. And Britney Spears works for those long all-night system admin jobs. *grins*

    harb.

    bda.
    [ Parent ]

    Coding Music (4.00 / 2) (#50)
    by Smiling Dragon on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:00:54 PM EST

    Really interesting... I find that without music I can't focus for any real length of time. I tend to prefer electronic stuff for straight coding/hacking, fast drum beat pretty repeditive, doesn't demand direct attention. Sometimes heavy metal can have similar effects (Ministry in particular) but I loose my temper at minor problems faster :)

    Funny how the music can effect one's state of mind so much. As for games, it's harder to nail down, I will certainly play better with the right music but I still can't figure out what it is :( FPS can be very cool with 40's music in the background (yeah I was supprised too - was using the bladerunner soundtrack and it picked out 'One More Kiss Dear') While RTS I tend to prefer no music or in the case of starcraft, the in-game stuff suits me best.

    Anyone else out there have the same condition of needing a certain kind of music to focus properly?

    -- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
    [ Parent ]
    Re: Coding Music (none / 0) (#69)
    by Bernie Fsckinner on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 07:24:54 PM EST

    Same here. Different tasks need different music. Classical/darkwave/trance for installs, blues/country for repetitive boring stuff.

    [ Parent ]
    poor old ladies (4.00 / 6) (#48)
    by kimbly on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 03:24:27 PM EST

    Once, after a long burst of unusually productive coding, I got in my car to start heading back home. As I was waiting to exit the parking lot, an old woman started walking in front of me, rather slowly. My instinctive reaction was to try to bump her slightly with the car, to see if she would go away. Somewhat like trying to recompile after having made a small change to the code, hoping that a confusing error message would disappear.

    I suppose I actually got pretty far along towards carrying out this impulse, because by the time it came to my conscious attention, it caused the equivalent of a red alert in my brain -- all actions were immediately put on hold until they could be consciously reviewed, and I noticed an odd feeling in my leg, as if my brain had already sent the command to move from the brake pedal to the accelerator pedal, and the muscles were complaining about having the order rescinded so abruptly.

    Civilization (2.00 / 3) (#51)
    by boxed on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:01:21 PM EST

    I did this when I was like 12 or so. For about a month I played Civilization for a minimum of 4 hours directly after school, and it became such a big part of my thoughs that I started getting impatient while other people were talking. I kept thinking "can't the computer finish calculating it's turn already?". I stopped playing when I started thinking about walking in terms of civ turns.

    quake (2.33 / 3) (#54)
    by juzam on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:27:28 PM EST

    i think its easy to get computers and reality confused. recently, i was playing quake 3, when a fly landed on my monitor. i actually tried to blow it away with the shotgun. when i reached out and sqished it, it just seemed weird that it didn't explode into meaty chunks. time for a break....
    .:rim vilgalys:.
    Re: quake (none / 0) (#66)
    by 0x00 on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 12:45:57 AM EST

    wow.

    I had this problem too.

    A little bug landed on my screen and I was so out of it that I tried to flick it off with my cursor. It took me several seconds to figure out that the cursor was not on the outside of my screen and that I needed to break for a while.

    --

    0x00

    [ Parent ]
    How can you conciously invoke a Coding Condition? (4.00 / 4) (#55)
    by HypoLuxa on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:28:12 PM EST

    There is a flip side to the bad disconnect from everything that you get when you have gotten into a serious coding/gaming/mathematics binge and are entirely focused on that. The good part is that you are entirely focused on coding/gaming/mathematics. I know that I have prepared for the Coding Condition before, stocking up on food/beverage at home so I don't have to go out, disconnecting phones, closing office doors, etc. You prepare for the Coding Condition that you hope will arrive.

    You can certainly prepare so you can keep your Coding Condition going for a long time, but has anyone tried to purposefully invoke this state? How do you do it? Was your code more brilliant as a result?

    --
    I'm guided by the beauty of our weapons.
    - Leonard Cohen

    Prolog (3.33 / 3) (#56)
    by Smiling Dragon on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:04:32 PM EST

    Anyone who's worked with this language will know it requires a whole new way of looking at problems. After one extended period of coding, I was unthinkingly structuring my phrases in the declaritive style of prolog - scary stuff :)

    Another instance of too much prolog had me feeling vaguely relieved at BurgerKing that evening because they had already heuristically sorted their price lists and so _I_ wouldn't have to do it for them. <shiver>

    -- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
    Not a 'me too' post! Really! (3.66 / 3) (#61)
    by Denor on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:21:09 PM EST

    This used to happen to me all the time. In elementary school, I'd pick up a book, and read. And while that was happening, I would be completely oblivious to the outside world. School bells would ring, people would call out my name, the teacher would be attempting to teach us something, and I would register absolutely none of it.

    As this was a rather large detriment to my social skills, and annoyed my teacher to no end, I rapidly unlearned this sort of focus.

    I've still got it, though to a lesser extent, nowadays. I don't usually go into 'hack mode' while coding unless I've been coding for quite a while. It's a slow, subtle thing - one moment it's a tangled web of inconprehensible notes I wrote the day before, the next moment comes and several hours have passed; I've got a full mental model of the program in my mind, and I understand every part of it, and everything I'm doing. The world around me is gone, and only the program remains :)

    This has been happening to me a lot more recently as one of my classes is using LISP, which as I described to a friend, requires you to take all knowledge of programming you have, and rotate it 90 degrees to the left. There's something about it, though, that really appeals to my brain. After a few minutes of getting into the program, my entire mind will be centered around LISP's way of thinking. It takes me a few minutes to change my mind back into normal processing mode.

    The most interesting thing about this is that it seems to happen for no reason. For instance, I knew before I sat down at the computer that it would be a good time for me to program. I haven't even started yet, and still the feeling persists. I don't know how long it'll last, either, so I'd better get coding :)


    -Denor


    Meesta Durilla! (4.66 / 3) (#64)
    by fluffy grue on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:34:47 AM EST

    I get like that with Mr. Driller (on the Dreamcast). I'll play it for a few minutes and 'zen out' to it, and then afterwards, when I return to my computer, I keep on trying to situate my cursor so that it won't be crushed by all the falling letters - and I can actually see the letters wiggle, ready to fall down and squish, and I also feel the need to rush and find air capsules all the ti me. You can see my review on Everything2 for more info. ;)

    That said, as far as programming's concerned, either I go in and out of coding mindsets really, or I'm always in coding mindsets. I can almost always easily get into a code mindset (for any language, really), and I always have to do things like judge distances and velocities unless I've gotten into a certain mindset and slipped into it - like when I'm playing racquetball.

    I dunno, I've been programming since I was 5 (I'm 22 now). I think that coding's just plain ingrained into my consciousness. Especially graphics algorithms... when I walk outside and look around, I don't see trees and buildings and shadows, I see meshes and surface normals and shadow/light volumes. And if I've been working on my 3D engine a lot recently, it only exacerbates it; this past I was at my parents' house for a few months and did nothing but work on my engine while there, and one night I came out of my room and was looking around and making sure that all of the shadows were being cast from the track lights in the livingroom and making absolutely sure there were no pixel-sized gaps, and also noticing the accuracy in the environment mapping on a metal candy dish and wondering how the light in the reflection and the specular hilight were lining up perfectly (since my own lighting and reflection model is only an approximation - my engine might not be designed for constant 60fps, but it IS intended to be fluidly interactive at least).

    So basically, I think a coding mindset is the norm for me. I think of things in terms of their structure and abstractions. It's like that kid who was in all the newspapers 15 years ago for supposedly thinking of everything in terms of "BASIC, the language used by computers" (ahh, nice to know the media have ALWAYS been a bunch of stupidheads when it comes to geeks), only I'm actually socially functional. Well, enough so, anyway. :)
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]

    Re: Meesta Durilla! (none / 0) (#67)
    by fluffy grue on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 09:21:44 PM EST

    What the hell happened to a bunch of my words?

    Insert the emphasized text where the surrounding text finds a minimal string difference: "either I go in and out of coding mindsets really easily", and "this past winter I was at my parents' house"

    Sometimes I wish English were a compiled language.
    --
    "Is not a quine" is not a quine.
    I have a master's degree in science!

    [ Hug Your Trikuare ]
    [ Parent ]

    Chess: Vladimir Nabokov's The Defense (4.00 / 2) (#65)
    by jck2000 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 05:06:54 PM EST

    Vladimir Nabokov, who is most famous as the author of the controversial book "Lolita", wrote a book in Russian in the late 1920s or early 1930's called "The Defense" (which is available in English translation in a Vintage International paperback) in which the protagonist is a chess prodigy whose world deteriorates into a chessboard world when he succumbs to the pressure of a competition and various stresses in his personal life. I remarked to a friend a while ago that a similar book could probably be written about programming.

    Is it Cool when you cause a Coding Condition? | 69 comments (67 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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