In the summer of 2009 I revisited my 2004 summer apprenticeship at Object Mentor. What follows is the original 2004 post and then some 2009 commentary.
We finished the C# class today with an exercise devoted to Threads. In case you have some operation that will take lots of time (like, say, writing to a file) you can send it off on its own while the rest of the program continues on its own way. This is called MultiThreading and it’s pretty cool. We designed a thread that scans a directory (folder) every second to see if any text files have been placed in it. If it finds any, it moves them to another folder. We forgot to kill the thread when we were done with it, so the test kept running after we thought it was done. When we tried to manually place some files in the forbidden directory they automatically moved away. Because the cowboys and I are nerds, we created a whole bunch of text files and tired to jam them in the folder before the program could catch up. Alas, the program was too fast for us.
Micah’s gonna be gone next week so the apprentices will be on their own.
The really weird thing about that week was that, up until that moment in my life, I truly sucked at puzzles. Somebody would start in with “You and three friends are walking through the forest and each of you has a prime number of hotdogs…” and I’d get lost and start to panic. I’d be thinking that everyone knows the answer to this but me and they are finally going to find out that I’m a fraud and the dumbest guy in the room. So I’d spend most of my thinking time worrying about how much time was left before someone figured it out and then what if they announced that they had got it but didn’t tell me the answer and I had to keep thinking about it knowing that someone had beat me to it and it was probably obvious and… Etc., etc., etc.
The weird thing about that week was that I solved every puzzle without getting crazy. It was like after I got the first one I could relax and think about the problem. It’s a constant surprise to me how many things essentially boil down to confidence and comfort. If people feel comfortable in a situation they will perform exponentially better than they will in a tense environment.