you know you’re a programmer…

This morning I stumbled across this from Red Hat that intrigued me:

“You know you’re a programmer when you spend 4 hours writing a program to automate something instead of doing it manually in 10 minutes”

That resonated with me as that sums me up pretty well. I am intrigued in learning new ways to figure something out, even if I will only carry the task out once. Yesterdays post is a pretty good example of that, where I spent a couple of hours tinkering with something until I got it resolved.

If it is a project that has no deadline and I can skip in and out of it when I wish, it is a great way to learn a new skill. I pick up a lot of extra information on either how to do things or how not to do things. Today is no exception as I’m working away on a single function for a larger script, adding new things to it, breaking it and then finding a solution to fix it.

I do agree that this can take up considerable time and if you are in a production environment where you may not have hours to spend on writing a trivial piece of code, this can take you away from your real work. I think XKCD’s Automation sums this up best:

It is a balancing act of theory vs reality when trying to learn new skills, automate tasks that you will likely come across again and make use of your time in the best possible way!

I missed Programmers Day by two weeks with this post, however the above remains: automating tasks that you will be repeating can be benefited from an initial period of taking the time to create the automation script/code.

If we took the example of spending 10 minutes on a task, and that task had to be done multiple times a day, say three times, we are already looking at half an hour spent repeating the task every day. If every [work] day we had to complete this task, we would be at 2.5 hours a week! I appreciate holidays and etc but this could amount to over five days of doing the same task every year!

When put like that, automating a repetitive task that takes up a considerable amount of time in itself may save you time and effort in the long run. On that note I will end on another XKCD comic strip to show how I feel when I learn something new:

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