Today in Marks and Spencer I noticed they had pancakes for sale, next to them had a sign that proclaimed that February 24th was shrove Tuesday, hang on a moment, I thought today is Tuesday and I’m feeling a bit shrove. So I brought some self raising flour and sugar with my Asian style salmon parcels (which I can highly recommend) with the intention of making some pancakes.
Now, I used to love making pancakes at one stage in my life and for many years I would make my own American style pancakes for desert. This became a necessity after M Day (Milk day - where I was rendered incapable of processing cow lactose) and I used to make some fine Dairy free pancakes using the same ingredients only with water or rice milk to replace the cow milk. However, as time wore on and my life got busier the pancakes skills faded and my scales formed a layer of thick dust.
Which is why I was so surprised when my attempt tonight turned out so well! At the end of the day, making pancakes isn’t that hard after all and takes relativly little time with a good batter mix, take a look for yourselves.
This event feeds into a phenomenon I’ve been noticing recently which is that humans (me in particular) have a habit of forgetting they can do a task, to the extent that they become convinced they cannot do it. I’m going to call it memory intimidation, and it seems to cross over vast swaths of the spectrum of life.
My pancakes are a fairly simple representation, a task that I knew I used to do well and that took concentration to get right, the longer I didn’t do it, the more I built it up in my head as being this monolithic task that would require me relearning something that took years to perfect. But it didn’t, turned out the knowledge and skills came back pretty quickly after all.
Turns out, it’s Bullshit, a project I’ve been working on recently with a group who claim to be the most advanced backenders in the world and using the latest most advanced methods and technologies. Bullshit. I was in awe of all the new fangled automation tools and tests to make sure everything was at a high quality, I thought finally the backend development world has taken a turn and now websites & programming is becoming more like the car production line.
Bollocks. The code that gets turned out is of the same quality. All the hype is a sales tool. At the end of the day it appears things are actually getting built slower as there’s so much procrastination about trying to take advantage of the latest greatest thing.
At the end of the day, code should be **relatively** simple and straightforward. If you look at something and it’s incomprehensible, it’s bad code. Similarly with systems, if you can’t do a build or an install with a one click process, it’s a bad system.
The reason memory intimidation has gotten sooo bad is that people benefit from proliferating the myths. It’s salesmanship, someone shows you something and tells you it’s simple. You look at it and it looks complicated and you don’t understand and feel like a fool.The kneejerk reaction is to give it back to them so you don’t have to deal with it, rather than having to stress your brain understanding it, the laziness inside you wins and you agree to pay someone to do it for you. They win.
When I looked at the premade pancakes and saw all the ingredients I wanted to buy it, it looked complicated to make, I didn’t want to stress myself (or do the washing up) the laziness in me was amplifying the fear of having to try and make pancakes again and the possibility of failing. However lucky for me I couldn’t buy them and was forced to think, and realise that pancakes only require flour, sugar, salt, egg, margarine and water and are pretty simple to make. I win.
The next time someone shows you some code and tries to tell you it’s simple so you’ll go away, make them explain how it’s simple, make them explain it line by line so when they’ve gone you can do it at the drop of a hat. That’s what i’m going to be doing tomorrow, and that’s why tomorrow developers will hate me, but I will have beaten the memory intimidation of backend coding.
Crap, now I have to go do the washing up, shame i’m not afraid of failing at that…