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How common is blanking out

This is a discussion on How common is blanking out within the Tech Board forums, part of the Community Boards category; How common is it for your mind to go blank when coming up with an algorithm, sometimes I get frusterated ...

  1. #1
    Registered User camel-man's Avatar
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    How common is blanking out

    How common is it for your mind to go blank when coming up with an algorithm, sometimes I get frusterated because its hard to keep my mind clear when trying to create a complex algorithm or trace a program. My mind gets lost, any tips to help me or is it typical to get discouraged when programming.

  2. #2
    Registered User manasij7479's Avatar
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    Happens to me when thinking too much at a stretch.
    (and I take it as a sign to take a break... or start up Skyrim )
    MK27 and chibi.coder like this.
    Manasij Mukherjee | gcc-4.8.2 @Arch Linux
    Slow and Steady wins the race... if and only if :
    1.None of the other participants are fast and steady.
    2.The fast and unsteady suddenly falls asleep while running !



  3. #3
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    It's good to learn how to be frustrated without being discouraged. It's okay to realize that you're completely confused, but the moment you start thinking "I can't do this," well... You can't do something if you think you can't do it, it's that simple. The first step to achievement is believing it is possible.

    "I can never make a million dollars." I guarantee you won't with that attitude!

    Specific tricks I use:

    1. Talk to someone else about it. You may solve your problem without them having to say a single word. The person can even be imaginary -- I've described problems to inanimate objects before, and it worked.
    2. Go to sleep. You may wake up in the morning with the answer floating through your mind.
    3. Question the problem itself. Perhaps there is a similar problem which you CAN solve, that still accomplishes your goals.
    wildcard_seven likes this.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  4. #4
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    It kills me when I come across something at work that I either cannot remember or am just utterly confused about. However what I normally do is along the lines of what brewbuck mentioned. Many many times I've been driving home or more recently riding the train home and the solution comes to me without even thinking about it. I think it is the result of your brain trying to do to much at one time plus the added stress of being at work or under a deadline. When you take all of that away and you are once again in a casual environment suddenly the solution is right before your eyes.

    So what do you do when it is just past noon and this happens? I normally move on to something I do know and still manage to be productive. There are very few issues that are 100% blocking for the rest of your project so to gain some traction you can move on. As well the little victory of moving on and realizing that the sun is still shining, you are still breathing, and you actually are a smart person....the day goes a bit smoother. If you pound your head into the ground while making no headway it is going to be a rough day and at the end of it you will be your own worst judge of your abilities. I think it is easy for software engineers to be super critical of of themselves. When we do not understand something we tend to blow it out of proportion instead of realizing that no one in this world can know everything about all things much less everything about creating software...which by the way is never a simple task.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 01-19-2012 at 07:24 PM.

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    Registered User camel-man's Avatar
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    Ahh its nice to hear all of your inputs guys, especially brewbucks number 2 talking to objects I love it . VirtualAce you seem intelligent its nice to get a personal look into an experienced mind im glad to know your human like me, and Mana i tend to turn to call of duty my forte :P

  6. #6
    spurious conceit MK27's Avatar
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    I believe in the jist of Miller's "Law". It's important to break things down. If you are too easily confused by your own conception, you need to go up or down a level in terms of how general your specifics are, and formalize those levels so you do not keep having to repeat the process in your mind. Isn't that the point of software engineering?

    WRT brewbuck's point #2, I often wake up able to conceptualize what I was doing the day before more clearly. I also find that walking and riding transit are ideal contexts for thinking and reflecting, and I solve a lot of problems there. Your mind is active and simulated, but mostly free to do whatever you want with it, and there is a goal other than just solving a problem (you are going somewhere), which is removes the stress. So you know: relax and go for a walk.
    Last edited by MK27; 01-20-2012 at 09:42 AM.
    C programming resources:
    GNU C Function and Macro Index -- glibc reference manual
    The C Book -- nice online learner guide
    Current ISO draft standard
    CCAN -- new CPAN like open source library repository
    3 (different) GNU debugger tutorials: #1 -- #2 -- #3
    cpwiki -- our wiki on sourceforge

  7. #7
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VirtualAce View Post
    Many many times I've been driving home or more recently riding the train home and the solution comes to me without even thinking about it. I think it is the result of your brain trying to do to much at one time plus the added stress of being at work or under a deadline. When you take all of that away and you are once again in a casual environment suddenly the solution is right before your eyes.
    Could be. My theory is that the brain actually does a large part of its work unconsciously, and our conscious experience is just the cream on top. You weren't stuck in the first place, it just felt that way because the progress was being made in a part of your mind you couldn't sense. Eventually your brain solved the problem and it "poofed" into your mind. I'm convinced we do serious thinking even when sleeping. Point is, the brain takes time to cook an idea and you can't always rush it.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by brewbuck View Post
    It's good to learn how to be frustrated without being discouraged. It's okay to realize that you're completely confused, but the moment you start thinking "I can't do this," well... You can't do something if you think you can't do it, it's that simple. The first step to achievement is believing it is possible.

    "I can never make a million dollars." I guarantee you won't with that attitude!

    Specific tricks I use:

    1. Talk to someone else about it. You may solve your problem without them having to say a single word. The person can even be imaginary -- I've described problems to inanimate objects before, and it worked.
    2. Go to sleep. You may wake up in the morning with the answer floating through your mind.
    3. Question the problem itself. Perhaps there is a similar problem which you CAN solve, that still accomplishes your goals.
    I like this a lot. I find when I really hit a dead end, often times it's best to step back and say, maybe I'm approaching this from the ENTIRELY wrong perspective. In other words, completely reset the mind slate. Look at again, this time turn the picture upside down or sideways. It's so tempting to keep digging away at a hard approach, especially when you've invested so much time and you are getting "so close". I need to keep an egg timer or something near by me for when I get into a rut, so I can teach myself to routinely do the thing that gets me out of the mess...step away, throw out all previous "progress", look again.
    I made a pair of "Braille Gloves" which have 6 vibration motors in six finger tips and vibrate in the relevant patterns. I have used this to read stuff while out walking. Given there is a fairly well defined programmer-oriented Braille encoding I should imagine it would work in this situation. Diagrams could be a pain still.

    Note: I am not blind but have learnt Braille fairly easily so for me it works quite well

    Disclaimer: I haven't tried this while driving yet...

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