Monday, July 25, 2011

If you're going to fail, fail big – example with dirty towels

After showering the other day, I needed a towel to dry off.  I saw a bunch of towels in a nearby laundry basket, but wasn't sure if they were dirty laundry going downstairs, or clean laundry coming upstairs. I was too lazy to walk down the hall to get a towel from the closet that I knew would be clean, and the towels in the basket looked clean, so I used the ones from the basket because they were immediately available. But it didn't feel "right". I started feeling bits of lint and loose hair on me, so I did the most thorough test I could find – I phoned my wife and asked her if the towels in the laundry basket were clean or dirty. She informed me that they were "of course" dirty towels used as floor mats.

Like every other aspect of normal life, I see this directly analogous to software coding. The dirty towel is like a defect. If it was obviously dirty, I never would have used it, hence saving myself the grossness of drying myself with a floor mat. Applied to software: Better to have a defect explode in your face so that you're forced to fix it, as opposed to a "half-bug" that continually bites you.

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