It's 2:30pm--do you know what your laptop is doing now?

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I know what my laptop is doing. It's compiling Xfree86. I figured I'd do an emerge rsync and an emerge -uD world yesterday. I let it run through the night and when I awoke this morning, it was still chugging through XFree86.

I must admit, it's really awe-inspiring thinking about how much code is involved and how long it takes to compile it. It makes one think seriously about the


   code  ->  compile  -> examine issues -> fix code
                ^                            |
                |                            |
                 ------------

methodology. Fixing a bug that way on my laptop would take weeks. When I was in college, I would tutor CS 1 and CS 2. It was difficult to watch people do theme-and-variations programming with syntax: "Maybe I should add a ; here?... Nope. How about an extra *?... Nope--that didn't work either. How about ( ) around this?... Nope..." Then I would point out, "Um--this would never work. Remove that extra *." And they would say, "Nope--that won't work because it segfaults." Then I would sit there and try to explain why the two things are completely different issues and all I'd get back would be vacant looks.

It always made me wonder why they chose to study CS in the first place. If I was studying CS and was a theme-and-variations programmer, I would either:

  1. change methodologies
  2. quit

I wonder if that's true of other jobs and knowledge spaces.

Want to comment? Send an email to willkg at bluesock dot org. Include the url for the blog entry in your comment so I have some context as to what you're talking about.