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is JavaRanch advice out of date  RSS feed

 
Tyson Lindner
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Joanne Neal wrote:
Nika Abcd wrote:Any suggestions?

Turn off your computer.
Take a piece of paper (or several) and a pencil ...


Is it just me or is the "take out a piece of paper and pencil" thing getting old? I mean its 2014 no one knows how to use those anymore.
 
fred rosenberger
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Tyson Lindner wrote:Is it just me or is the "take out a piece of paper and pencil" thing getting old? I mean its 2014 no one knows how to use those anymore.

Just because it's old advice doesn't mean it is BAD advice.
 
Tyson Lindner
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fred rosenberger wrote:
Tyson Lindner wrote:Is it just me or is the "take out a piece of paper and pencil" thing getting old? I mean its 2014 no one knows how to use those anymore.

Just because it's old advice doesn't mean it is BAD advice.


I mean you might as well tell people to get out their quill and parchment.
 
fred rosenberger
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I split this off into its own topic. I think it merits some real discussion, and it wasn't helping the original discussion.

Do you think quill and parchment would be better than hammer, chisel, and stone tablet?

now in all seriousness, I think there is a reason we tell people this. Sure, you could use notepad and type your thoughts instead of writing them long hand. But many people find the temptation to just start writing code too great to resist. By turning off your computer eliminates that as an option. Further, the act of writing things out by hand forces you to slow down, which allows you to think about things even more.

I think we're trying to emphasize here that writing code is more about THINKING and less about writing lines of java.
 
Paul Clapham
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I suppose we could point out to people that "Ready, Aim, Fire" works better than "Ready, Fire, Aim" does?
 
Tony Docherty
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Tyson Lindner wrote:I mean you might as well tell people to get out their quill and parchment.

Oh so your first post was serious, I thought you were having a joke so didn't respond earlier.

As Fred has said, getting people to slow down and really think about what they need to do is the whole point of the pencil and paper advice. I'm a really experienced programmer and I still go back to pencil and paper when I come across a problem that I haven't encountered before. If you type your thoughts straight into an editor (which you certainly can do if you are extremely disciplined which most of us aren't) then the tendency is to type away without worrying about making mistakes (they are easy to correct), you copy and paste similar bits (and make the inevitable copy and paste mistakes) etc etc. Whereas, if you are writing it out by hand it's not so easy to amend and so you tend to think about the problem more before committing to writing. Also it sometimes helps to be able add a few diagrams to your notes to show how things work/hang together which is generally easier to do with pencil and paper.

No one is forcing you or anyone else to use pencil and paper but most, if not all, of the experienced programmers here give the same advice because we've yet to find a better alternative when a solution to a problem is not obvious.
 
Stephan van Hulst
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Pencil and paper has a huge advantage over using the computer. It's much easier and faster to draw some diagrams or figures. I find the visual aid is extremely helpful, much more than staring at text.
 
Tyson Lindner
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Tony Docherty wrote:
Tyson Lindner wrote:I mean you might as well tell people to get out their quill and parchment.

Oh so your first post was serious, I thought you were having a joke so didn't respond earlier.


Both posts were jokes. I mean I can understand the importance of stopping and thinking about your code and working out structure before actually bothering with the syntax, but its a bit comical to me that the medium of actually doing that is so important to some people. I don't even own a pencil and when I do write its barely legible. All that makes sense because I only have to write when I mail an envelope which is only like a few times a year. I'd imagine kids in school now are even worse at it.
 
Tyson Lindner
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Paul Clapham wrote:I suppose we could point out to people that "Ready, Aim, Fire" works better than "Ready, Fire, Aim" does?


Seems like you're telling the shooter to put the gun down.
 
fred rosenberger
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Tyson Lindner wrote:Both posts were jokes.

I figured they were, but also thought a serious discussion was worthwhile.
 
Steve Luke
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Tyson Lindner wrote:
Paul Clapham wrote:I suppose we could point out to people that "Ready, Aim, Fire" works better than "Ready, Fire, Aim" does?


Seems like you're telling the shooter to put the gun down.

Nope, the shooter's tool is the gun, so in order to aim, he must use his tool, but must not fire too early. Aiming is a process of removing distractions and bringing your tool to target. Once on target the shooter then uses the trigger to fire the shot. The firing is just the last step of a process, and the aiming has a much higher impact on the success of the shot (though obviously without firing the shot can't hit the target).

A programmer's tool is his mind, and getting away from the computer can help focus your mind on the task at hand. When you know what you need to do then you pull out the computer to do the last little bit of getting the plan into code. You can't succeed without writing the code, but planning is where success comes from.

I once had a Japanese programmer tell me Americans are too brash. They are 'Ready, Aim, Fire' while with the Japanese it is 'Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Fire.' I told him he must have only met some well-trained Americans, most I interact with (including myself) are 'Ready, Fire, Fire, Fire, Aim, Fire.'
 
Tyson Lindner
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I'm all for aiming just not with pencils.
 
Campbell Ritchie
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Stephan is right about using a pencil for diagrams. And who cares whether the writing is legible? Nobody else is going to try to read it. An untidy scribble will work as well as the best copperplate.

Actually it is not pencil and paper. It is pencil paper and eraser. The latter is very important, so you can destroy the evidence correct errors neatly. That is why we say pencil not pen.
 
Chan Ag
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I can't imagine working without a pencil and the papers; I require them always -- while working, while studying, while reading a technology book. I sometimes require them to also organize my thoughts about the non technology related things ( lest I might forget one or two things about things ).

I love those boxes and arrows I make to understand the requirements or a complex ( for me ) explanation.


 
Jelle Klap
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I usually just run through a problem in my head and I don't often use pen(cil) and paper, but I definitely find them useful tools for working out problems I can't wrap my head around.
 
Steve Luke
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I suggest pencil and paper a lot, but it takes discipline for me to actually use them. And when I do I usually actually use a white board or a tablet with a stylus. But it is the same either way - writing it down helps me a lot when I actually make myself do it.
 
Tim Cooke
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The computer is a necessary tool of the trade, it's where we pour our programming instructions into because it's the computer we're trying to control. But when you don't have a solution to your problem, even in an abstract sense, then the computer becomes a huge distraction. At work I will often leave the laptop on the desk, take a pen and pad, and find a quiet corner to hide in for an hour to enable me to really really really think about a problem. What I can guarantee does not work, is just banging away on the keyboard when you're not quite sure what you're doing, in the thin hope that it'll magically just work. In my experience, it never does.

Fred made a comment that sums it up perfectly: "writing code is more about THINKING and less about writing lines of java".

Programming is all about thinking. Writing code is just typing.
 
Paul Clapham
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I have to say that I use a pen too, not a pencil. I don't feel that I need an eraser -- if there's so much crossing-out going on that it makes things unreadable, that's a sign that I need to start over.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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I use a pen (or a whiteboard) as well. But "find a writing implement and writing surface" doesn't sound as good as "a pencil and paper"
 
Chan Ag
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Need to be able to create these always --
20140615_103730.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20140615_103730.jpg]
Example2
 
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