Dad the Determined Debugger

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From Coders at Work, a conversation between Peter Seibel (the author/editor) and Dan Ingalls (physicist, builder of Smalltalk and Lively Kernel:

Seibel: Is there anything I haven't asked about that you thought I might?

Ingalls: Often, reading about famous people, the side of it that I'm interested in is, how do they make their life work? All the things that weren't their passion, and how did they deal with that, and with their family, and with their finances, and balancing that. Or did they just hole up and say, "To hell with everything else," and just let it come crumbling down until they had their work done?

Um, yeah? I'm trying to glance at this paragraph in between requests for more milk and making coffee and get the dog water and eating a muffin, and it is exactly what I wanted to know too. I felt like when Paul McCartney found the meaning of life on an acid trip and wrote it down on a napkin and anxiously opened it up the next day, waiting to read what it said sober...revelation on the back side of a paper napkin.

Seibel: Do you feel like there were times in your life where your passion for programming ran amok to the detriment of other parts of your life?

Ingalls: Yeah, there are times when it's been hard on others because I'm focused and need to stay focused. It's a risk with anybody who's got a passion for what they're doing. I think either you learn to moderate it somewhat or the other thing you do is communicate it so that everybody around you knows that you're dealing with this thing, and you'll probably be done in a week, but until the Daddy's somewhat inaccessible. /p>

Seibel: And then you win your "Dad the Determined Debugger" award.

Ingalls: Exactly; right. The other thing is, the more you can reflect the satisfaction from progress back out to all the people who have dealt with you during that time, at least they have a sense that Daddy's doing something good, and we'll all be happy when it's done.

Ok, not the meaning of life, or Liff. Still it's good to hear even master coders have this struggle - and not all of them actually solve it. This book is exactly what I needed right now.

Postscript: oh, you still want to know what was on Paul's napkin? "There are seven levels." :)

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This page contains a single entry by Doug Treder published on October 3, 2009 6:31 PM.

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