Have you ever had a problem that has you absolutely stumped … and you ask a co-worker for assistance or post a message to an online forum (like a midrange.com mailing list) for assistance.
Then, quite soon after you ask for assistance, you finally discover the answer yourself?
This is what I call the ‘Cardboard Analyst’ phenomenon (I’ve also heard it referred to as “Rubber Ducking”) … where the person (or people) you are asking for assistance don’t necessarily provide direct assistance, but force you to look at the problem from a different perspective.
It’s my theory (which may or may not be backed up by research) that forcing your brain to break the problem down into terms that you can describe to someone else, gives you a new perspective on the problem and new insight into what the problem actually is.
Personally, I’ve found that if I just try to explain what the problem is to someone (even my wife, who’s not super technical), I’m able to find the solution I want. Occasionally, I’ll be explaining a problem to someone in my office when my voice will trail off and I’ll start thinking about another avenue of exploration. Often I’ll thank the person I was talking to for their assistance … to which they will respond “Glad I could be of no help”.
Oddly enough, the person I am talking to has to be able to respond … often asking me questions that make me think about it. I once tried using our cat as a cardboard analyst … but it didn’t work 🙂 .
So next time you’ve got a problem that’s got you particularly stumped … try explaining it it someone. You’ll be surprised how much help someone can be even if they don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.Categories
This is a repost of an article that appeared on the IMHO blog.
The Illini Secular Student Alliance responds to the notorious Brother Jed …
We will oppose your hate and venom with love and laughter, and we will win
Brother Jed is a frequent visitor to many college campuses where he preaches fire & brimstone to students on the public areas.
I actually saw Jed when I was attending (albeit briefly) Illinois State University back in the mid 80’s.
His strategy was pretty simple … if you weren’t as devout as he was (and nobody is, of course), you were going to hell. He simply yelled and screamed the same mantra ad nauseam.
In my opinion, Brother Jed has a serious psychiatric problem that needs treatment. But I pretty much think the same about most religious extremists.
You can find more information about Brother Jed on Wikipedia.
One my gripes about the Eclipse framework is the general lack of standardized interfaces & inheritance.
For instance: a TreeColumn & TableColumn both have a lot of attributes in common … width, alignment, movability, sortability, resizeability, etc.
But since they don’t share an interface or a common ancestor, you can’t handle them with common code.
Similarly widgets like the ComboBox and a Text field share a lot of attributes … they can hold text, they can be changed, etc, but you can’t access those attributes with a common interface.
Sadly most Eclipse widgets explicitly forbid subclassing … so I can’t subclass the various types and add my own interfaces. The following is a direct quote from the TableColumn javadocs …
IMPORTANT: This class is not intended to be subclassed.
And, unfortunately, they enforce this in code.
One of the things I needed to support in my RCP is the ability to prevent multiple copies (instances) of the application from running at the same time.
The solution is surprisingly easy … although, as with many things, not especially well documented.
In your Application class (that implements IApplication) you need to create a lock file in the application’s instance location.
Continue reading →
Another item I struggled with … adding the help icon to various dialogs (wizards, preferences, properties, about box, etc).
In almost all Eclipse dialogs … there is a question mark icon in the lower left hand corner. You click on this and it invokes the context sensitive help.
The problem was, I couldn’t figure out how to activate this.
I thought it would be controlled by some plug-in or product setting, but I couldn’t determine where.
After a fair bit of digging & debugging of base Eclipse, I determined that this feature is turned on globally for the entire application:
Continue reading →
I’m in the process of building a new application at work … this is a thick client application that is using the Eclipse RCP framework.
This blog is going to be a place where I stash notes, tips & tricks, and complaints about the Eclipse framework.
As I mentioned before … even though I’m participating in Yahoo’s Email Complaint Feedback Loop, I’m still getting deferrals when trying to deliver mail to Yahoo’s mail servers. I’ve gotten a few complaints, but not nearly enough to really justify having mail delivery deferred.
I think I’ve figured out a bit more about why Yahoo’s mail servers are deferring some of the mail my servers try to deliver to them.
Continue reading →
I’ve always thought that Leonard Nimoy and I had a fair bit in common … and I can add another item to the list …
- He was raised Jewish, but seems to have lost religion … check
- He’s a photographer … I’m a shutter bug
- He’s a great actor … I’m … well … ok, maybe not so much in that area
- And now it appears that he supports Barack Obama for president!
Ginny pointed me to the latest “In Character” piece on NRP that highlights Mr. Spock. Pretty cool article … although I have to wait another hour to actually hear it.
I’m planning on going to the health club today after work … but before I leave, I wanted to make sure my IPOD had the latest podcasts on it.
When I plugged the IPOD into my laptop I was informed that it had a very low battery … must have been from sitting around in my back pack with the lock switch off.
Anyways, I get it synced up to the laptop … but I want to let it keep charging. So I plugged it into my desktop system here at work. Because I don’t have the iTunes software installed, the IPOD just shows up as a USB drive. But it’s assigned to drive D:. And the volume name is “DAVID’S IPO” … so it shows up as “DAVID’S IPO (D:)”.
Kind of apropos, don’t you think?
Ok, yes, I’m easily amused.