Good day! For a long time, hands have been reaching out to share experience on Habré, or, here, GT, the benefit of experience has been accumulated a lot in the scientific field, and in the teaching, and in the algorithm-creation. But working in a large corporation ties hands in terms of writing articles about the systems being developed, and writing some general words on the topic is very little sense and use. However, the idea came to my mind to share precisely the approach to work that allows you to maintain health without losing productivity, and sometimes even significantly increasing it.
The weak point of a programmer – who is not a programmer in our time? – is sight. Code, documents, presentations, diagrams and other pictorial and textual tinsel, dancing on the monitor for days, very strongly puts the vision in a deep minus in diopters and in the delta neighborhood of zero in acuity. At the same time, I cannot but boast of my own vision, which does not require glasses, or the proximity of the object under consideration, or its size, or significant illumination powers for successful work. It is possible to keep it in this state, largely due to the technique of working with the dictaphone reflected in the title. This approach allows you to work not only without a monitor, but even without a pen and paper.
In general terms, this work can be described as follows. If you need to think carefully about some part of the activity, which then, of course, will result in the source code, presentation or text document, then you do not need to immediately rush to the editor. Yes, many people know that rushing directly to the editor of the development environment is, in general, a childish, zero, level. Opening a text document to write a work plan can perhaps be called the first level of development. On the second level, let me put a pen with a piece of paper or a board with a marker (by the way, I like chalk more), because refusing to turn on the computer allows not only pushing the development environment further away for better development of the work plan, but also banal to give your eyes a few more minutes or do not stare at the monitor for tens of minutes. The levels, it should be noted, are completely conditional, taken right at the time of writing the text from my low ceiling, just to somewhat differentiate the approaches of different people. Sometimes it flips so much that you go straight into the code, make very significant edits there – and everything works great the first time. But this kind of suggests that all planning and thinking happened in the head, and there it sometimes happens in one second.
Actually, I am writing about the third level of development of preparation for work. You don’t even need to take a pen with a piece of paper, you can just close your eyes and turn on the recorder. Imagination, however, also has to be activated, but with it, perhaps, programmers are usually all right. Now it may seem most pleasant that, unlike the approaches of all previous levels, here the vision is given complete peace. For example, the first draft of this article I spoke on a tape recorder, lying with my eyes closed in bed, before going to bed. But the rest of the picture perception apparatus is, frankly, not the most pleasant thing. The sweetest bun is the feeling of the power of work in the head, without involving the outside world. We can simply say that it is good practice to think ahead about using the recorder beforehand. I’m not talking about the fact that on the way home from work on the bus, in the subway or in personal transport, it is best to record your thoughts on a dictaphone. Eh, he said … And yet, practicing this kind of dictation, at some point you come to an amazing opportunity not just to think and sketch, but to complete all the work completely to the details, without resorting to anything but imagination and a voice recorder.
This could end the article. The premise is simple: before you write code, rivet a presentation, documentation, or even solve a physics and mathematics problem with rather big formulas, try to take a recorder and do all the same activities with your eyes closed. While walking or driving, it is better not to close your eyes. It turns out that nothing prevents from verbally describing the names and parameters of functions, their interaction, their filling, working with memory, indices of elements in arrays, data types, and even bit content. Nothing prevents, in the same way “in words” and not in deeds, from taking complex integrals, describing integrands, domains of integration, substitutions, elementary methods of passing over the next equal sign, etc. Such work will really reduce the load on vision and surprise you with the possibilities of your own, it seemed, already empty, head.
However, the article doesn’t end there. Bad teacher without real life examples. I bought a dictaphone at the moment when I had three jobs at once: teaching mathematics with an assistant load, scientific activity, which after defending my Ph.D. I wanted to accelerate to enter the doctoral trajectory, and also R&D activities in the field of 3GPP and related standards, for which only and paid some reasonable money, unlike the first two activities.
It was necessary to write a report on Mobile IP technology . Kind of like a feasibility study. Despite the simplicity of the idea of technology and, generally speaking, the non-fundamental nature of the study, the entire zoo of systems and subsystems containing mobile networks of the third and fourth, at that time, generations, as well as Wi-Fi networks and attempts to involve them in the networks of cellular operators, required to bury yourself in such a bunch of IETF, IEEE and OMA standards to create any kind of competent report that mom don’t worry. I just physically began to notice how the house numbers, which I could distinguish from the balcony, were getting closer and closer, and those that were distinguishable yesterday, today turned into an underloaded Progressive JPEG . Indeed, in addition to reading documents, it was necessary to fix the learned material somewhere else, that is, to constantly switch between files, copy, paste, rearrange pieces of text, add writing, look for where to insert text that came later, but is vital for understanding earlier and etc. Reading in itself is not as tedious as these very tossing between documents, presentations and other electrical gibberish. Technical standards also have a habit of referring to each other in the most obscene manner. The authors, of course, can be understood, but raking all these reference trees with multiple branches, and then breaking your eyes in search of a document with the right number in a folder on your own computer is a pleasure worthy of the most radical masochist. And then I took a dictaphone. Moving on to the next document, I simply pronounced its title and calmly read it, dictating individual quotations, descriptions of pictures and diagrams, and my own thoughts as I read. Periodically, in the same sound file, he told the general picture that he understood at the moment, indicating what large and small elements it lacks. And when I found these elements, I told in the same way where they were found, what they were and how they were built into the whole structure. This approach to work is largely attracted by the fact that it is the general picture that is very efficiently drawn up, but at the same time nothing prevents from closely examining any of its small details in all details. And all this is documented for further collection in the final document. When a deep understanding of the subject under study comes and a feeling of being able to express this understanding in a report, the recorder switches to the fast playback mode, and the report is written from scratch to the end in one sitting, perhaps only with distractions for coping with natural needs, but more often for another a mug of tea. Another example is with formulas. Once I started searching for the equations of motion of a complex mechanical system, but at the same time it became necessary to make a 9-hour flight. The dictaphone, as usual, was in my pocket, and I thought that I could write down at least some initial thoughts about the design and analysis of this system. During the flight, in conditions of shaking, darkness and half-sleep – in ordinary airplane conditions – it was possible to think over all the generalized coordinates and connections, directions and zero rays for counting angles, thus introduce a bunch of variables, collect them into a sickly Lagrangian, take the necessary partial and complete derivatives (see Lagrangian mechanics ) and make some analysis of the obtained equations of motion, which, of course, were a set of harmonic oscillators with various kinds of interrelations. And all this, practically without opening your eyes. All the necessary things are perfectly described in words, and, being described, they are perfectly remembered and amenable to manipulation in the imagination no worse than on paper or a board. Obviously, the voice recorder at the third level of development is just a kind of crutch for the imagination, which is no longer needed at the fourth level. But the crutch is extremely convenient, allowing you to open unprecedented horizons. I came to him, generally speaking, trying to jump straight to the fourth level even in high school. My grandfather actively harnessed me to plowing, hilling, weeding and picking potatoes, and at the same time I had to solve physical problems from remote courses at Moscow State University. I had to decide in my mind. In fact, as a rule, tasks were not solved, but only thought out in general terms, but thoughtful tasks, as you know, are solved very naturally. Nevertheless, it does not surprise me at all today that, for example, Stephen Hawking writes books and performs the most complex calculations, being a little more mobile than a cucumber; and that Leonard Euler calmly, and perhaps even more actively engaged in mathematical physics after a complete loss of sight. I will add more about dictaphones. All the charm of this device is difficult to appreciate, having only some kind of voice recorder application on a smartphone. I myself use the device (can I have some advertising?) Olympus VN-713PC, which is not a professional tool, but allows you to work just blindly: start and pause recording, rewind the recorded tracks, speed up playback and change its volume – all with pleasant to the touch buttons, without fear of touching the touch screen at the wrong time. And more about text editing. Here I wrote an article from a dictaphone blank in one pass. In the next pass, I read it into a dictaphone, again, without trying to correct the printed text, which requires periodic re-readings in order to avoid distorting readability and logic by edits. In this case, however, the modified text is read into the recorder: sentences are corrected, new ones are added. In the third iteration, I listen to the voice recorder and insert the edits into the printed text. The dictaphone allows you to insert marks directly on the audio track during dictation by pressing a button, between which it is easy to navigate. For example, this text on the first re-reading required only three edits. As a result, listening to everything in its entirety for the sake of looking for modifications is a bit wasteful, so it is convenient to use navigation between labels. The second and third steps can and, in general, it is desirable to repeat several times. Speeding up twice the listening does not take much time, but it allows you to construct a rather pleasant text. And the last thing. Dictation develops speech and oratory skills, which is still appreciated in the modern world, but is often monstrously underdeveloped among programmers and other hard workers on the not very conversational front. Thank you for attention. Hope someone masters it.