Monday, August 9

Quotes to Code By

Whenever I come across a quote that strikes me as insightful or witty, I print it out in a large font and stick it on my wall for visitors to appreciate. Here are some of my favorites...

Good, better, best, never let it rest, until your good is better, and your better best.
-- Shepparton-based steel manufacturer J. Furphy & Sons

Second place is the first loser.
-- Anonymous

I want to achieve as much as I can in this sport, tactically outwitting the opposition to win. I want to time trial as fast as I can physically go. I want to be a key member of a strong team that can ride aggressively and win and make other riders suffer in pursuit.
-- Emma James, April 2002
We can take the time to fix it now, or we can have this discussion again next month.
-- Thomas E. Davis

There is never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.
-- Anonymous

The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.
-- Anonymous

With each passing year I realize that the prior year I didn't know jack shit.
-- Thomas E. Davis

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell.
-- Edward Abbey

...too many cooks working on code in the early days causes bad architecture. Software development works best when a single person creates the overall architecture and only later parcels out modules to different developers. And if you add developers too fast, development screeches to a halt, a phenomenon well understood since 1975.
-- Joel Spolsky (referring to Brooks’ Mythical Man Month)

Think about the design decisions you made a year ago.
Think about how ignorant they seem in retrospect.
Think about the decisions you are making today.
Think about how they will seem a year from now.
-- Thomas E. Davis
The cost of flexibility is complexity. Every time you put extra stuff into your code to make it more flexible, you are usually adding more complexity. If your guess about the flexibility needs of your software is wrong, you've only added complexity that makes it more difficult to change your software. You're obviously not getting the payback. The alternative is to use the Extreme Programming approach and not put the flexibility in at all. Extreme Programming says, since most of the time we get it wrong, just don't put the flexibility in there. If you strive to keep your design as simple as possible by avoiding speculative flexibility, then it's easier to change the code because you have less complication to deal with. The code is easier to understand and easier to change. As a result, you can make changes much more quickly.
-- Martin Fowler

Simplicity is about acknowledging the tricks exist but not using them.
-- Kent Beck

Optimization matters only when it matters. When it matters, it matters a lot, but until you know that it matters, don't waste a lot of time doing it. Even if you know it matters, you need to know where it matters. Without performance data, you won't know what to optimize, and you'll probably optimize the wrong thing. The result will be obscure, hard to write, hard to debug, and hard to maintain code that doesn't solve your problem. Thus it has the dual disadvantage of (a) increasing software development and software maintenance costs, and (b) having no performance effect at all.
-- Joseph Newcomer

Good. Fast. Cheap.
Pick any two!
-- Anonymous

I have worked with people who thought 80 hours a week made them better programmers, but from my perspective, they were so worn out that they got less done. Managers saw the long hours and were impressed by their dedication and loyalty, but all I saw was people spending hours on trivial problems because their brains were so fogged they were incapable of the five minutes of thought that would have pointed out a better solution.
-- Anonymous
If you call its code,
it's an API.
If it calls your code,
it's a framework.
-- Simon Brunning

...while databases are slower, in many cases much slower, than procedural code, they have an important property: they can be used to answer unanticipated questions acceptably quickly. How quickly is acceptably quickly? Well, if the database can come back with an answer faster than it takes a skilled programmer to come up with a special purpose program to answer the question, it has done its job.
-- Anonymous post to
A disgruntled coworker...
"All this could be much better" should be our company motto.


Anonymous said...

I'll have to take a look at this blogging engine. I like Live Journal fine--and I'll probably keep it--I have 2 years of history there--but I do like your format and style.

Nice quote list. The Inspriation is too perfectionist for me--but it's your list. I like the final quote. I think I worked at that company! :)


Anonymous said...

As a consultant, one quote I get to use fairly often is:

If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
-- Red Adair

The other is:

78.4 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.-- unknown


Anonymous said...

On the subject of throwing more manpower at a problem...

You can't make a baby in 1 month with 9 women.

Some things just take as long as they take.