About: Looking it Up

One thing I've realized since becoming a professional software engineer (sheesh, sounds serious), is that no one has enough brain capacity to know everything about the computer and how it works. Sure we all want to be know-it-alls and have the answer to everything ready in our heads, but that's never going to happen. I don't think there's a single programmer who knows how everything in the computer works. And that's quite a relief. As someone who began learning how to program relatively late, I often had the feeling that I'm never going to catch up with my co-workers who were much more seasoned than me.

The overwhelming amount of information I felt I had to know to be a semi-good programmer made me almost quit too many times. But really that process of learning is never ending. The sooner I realized that I'm never going to know all of it, the pressure to learn became a lot less intimidating. And this brings me back to abstraction. I would love to know the physical process involved in sending a request to a server, but it is a complete distraction from what I'm trying to do right now, which is to get weather data to the user (before the seasons change). All I really need to know in order to do that is how to use the network and not the implementation details of how it works.

Another point I wanted to make before going on this rant was that you should never feel ashamed for looking it up online if you don't know the answer. I could sometimes swear that my job is actually to google stuff. I certainly do it more than I write code. I tend to not waste valuable memory in my very limited brain for things I can find on Stack Overflow (more later) in a matter of minutes. No reason to. "Never memorize what you can look up in a book," said Einstein according to a Google search for an appropriate quote. So I think this advice is at least worth considering.

But in order to find answers on the web you need to learn how to communicate to Google what you're looking for. If you don't know what a function is, that's cool. But you need to know that it's called a function. Spend some time learning how to search for your answers online and pay close attention to what things are called in the world of programming. It will serve you well.

Back to business.

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