Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Regaining Humility and Thereby Sanity

I got too big for my britches last week and was feeling kinda saucy. I figured that having read a tutorial some time ago should be enough for a smart guy like me, so I started up a web project and an app and slammed in some model work, splashed an url on, and was thinking I knew what i was doing. No tests, but heck it's only a few lines of code and some generated stuff.

Then the test thing got to me. I started searching to see some testing tools, and ended up reading three paragraphs of every tool tutorial I could find. I pulled down a few testing tools. I started writing a test, and before I could really evaluate whether I liked how it was going started to mix different test libraries together. Pull the html parsing from here, the basic test setup from there, the helper routines from another place and pretty soon...

Pretty soon I realized that I wasn't learning anymore. I was permuting and chasing error messages and flailing and feeling kind of frustrated and lost.

Today I deleted everything I was working on, started a new virtualenv with just the stuff I really think I want to use, and I'm going to do things as the authors intended instead of the way that seems right to me.

I learned a lot of little things while exploding in all directions, but I'd have learned more and probably been done if I had tried to maximize depth of learning and not surface-scraped too many things for my poor little brain.

A little while ago someone put up a tweet suggesting that when you are trying to learn a lot of stuff, you should remember to chew and swallow the information. I realized I'd stuffed my face. This time, I will respect that there is a rate of absorption, and see how much better I can get.

I had exceeded the WIP limits of my own brain. I can never pick on managers for that again, because we all sometimes are tempted to use the blender-funnel-and-plunger method of taking in too much too fast, whether information, work, or whatever.

Wish me and my newly regained humility some luck.