I was sitting on the couch was organizing a database last weekend, with daughter #2 sitting next to me. I was creating a script to go through each record removing a field’s contents and adding new contents to another field. Not a difficult thing to do. I created a loop, and daughter #2 said, “Hey, how does the computer know how that loop will end?” She’s not a developer. I don’t think she’s seen the inside of a program. But she knew enough to see that I had an infinite loop.
I’m a pro at creating infinite loops. When I was developing, I would regale Mark with my infinite loops. But when I was a developer, I had a notebook in which I marked all my normal techniques for writing infinite loops. I don’t write many scripts these days, so I don’t track my loop tendencies. Which is why it was even more important for someone to be sitting next to me while I was working.
I took advantage of the situation, and asked her what I should do instead. She pointed out what I could do, I suggested another technique, she replied with another suggestion, and we both jointly agreed on what to do. The whole conversation took maybe 5 minutes.
The cost of the infinite loop was small, but instead of having to clean something up, I was able to write it correctly and continue with my work. It would have taken much more than 5 minutes to clean up that mistake.
Pairing while I work has been cheaper for me, in terms of preventing defects. Peer review after I write something is next, followed by formal inspection, followed by me finding my defects and fixing them. I was particularly pleased with this pair experience. Even though I didn’t impress daughter #2 with my software development expertise 🙂 Better to be unimpressive than to spend more time fixing.