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Thread: Did you ever find yourself unable to solve what should be a simple programming problem?

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    Default Did you ever find yourself unable to solve what should be a simple programming problem?

    Like, not even something terribly mind bendingly difficult. I mean some real basic stuff. I don't mean that you can't figure out the syntax of a certain command or function; that's easy enough to look up. I mean like your brain is such complete cottage cheese that you can't do the most elementary problem solving.

    I hate when that happens. Sometimes I find it happens because I've been going too long and I'm like a car that ran out of gas. Sometimes it's because I just solved a difficult problem and I'm like a car that just overheated.

    I guess I better take a break.


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    Default Re: Did you ever find yourself unable to solve what should be a simple programming problem?

    I think this is normal, maybe a mental fatigue and therefore have a significant impact on the activity concentration. I've heard that productivity falls after a long non-stop work period of time, and may even become negative and the developer may add more bugs than features if he's working on a big project for a very long time without breaks. So I think if you just put some small breaks in the middle when you feel tired,it will be much better after the break, even if it's for few minutes.

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    Default Re: Did you ever find yourself unable to solve what should be a simple programming problem?

    Yeah, it's true for everyone.
    There are two bits of advice I can give:
    1. Walk away for awhile (if you can). Just because you are not actively thinking about the problem doesn't mean your brain is not still working on it. You'd be surprised how many times I've come up to a solution to a problem after a good night's sleep or even a bathroom break. I've found I come up with the solutions to the hardest problems when I'm not thinking about the problem.
    2. Break the problem down to its most basic components. Continue to break it down until you can't anymore, then make a plan for tackling each component individually, then figure out how to tie together all of those plans, and only then, after you've figured out your overall plan, should you consider implementing it.
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    Default Re: Did you ever find yourself unable to solve what should be a simple programming problem?

    Quote Originally Posted by aussiemcgr View Post
    Yeah, it's true for everyone.
    There are two bits of advice I can give:
    1. Walk away for awhile (if you can). Just because you are not actively thinking about the problem doesn't mean your brain is not still working on it. You'd be surprised how many times I've come up to a solution to a problem after a good night's sleep or even a bathroom break. I've found I come up with the solutions to the hardest problems when I'm not thinking about the problem.
    Indeed. For this particular problem, I left my computer and went off to the gym for my daily exercise, a process which takes about 90 minutes (30 minutes travel to and from the gym, and an hour on the treadmill). The solution came about 15 minutes into my workout. I didn't have anything to write it down with, so I forgot 10 minutes later, remembered 10 minutes after that, and sorta went into that cycle for a while until I was back home and did have the opportunity to write it down and eventually implement it.

    The specific problem involved PHP, not Java, and the question was this: "How do I set up a series of hyperlinks that reloads the same page, but after the reload the page knows which hyperlink was clicked?" I knew that you could do some stuff involving GET and using the query string, but my brain just wasn't putting 2 and 2 together.

    2. Break the problem down to its most basic components. Continue to break it down until you can't anymore, then make a plan for tackling each component individually, then figure out how to tie together all of those plans, and only then, after you've figured out your overall plan, should you consider implementing it.
    I find that in most cases of mental degeneration, I can't even do that. Breaking stuff down goes better when I'm more fresh.

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