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Where do you turn for programming inspiration?

by sifukurt (Hermit)
on Aug 22, 2001 at 00:23 UTC ( #106756=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Over the last few days, I've slowly come to the realization that I'm suffering from the programming equivalent of Writer's Block. The Perl Muse definitely isn't returning my calls at the moment. When I'm wearing my fiction writer's hat and I run into writer's block, I read things or research things that will serve as inspiration. Not necessarily to get ideas per se, but things that just help get the wheels turning again. For example, reading Lovecraft and Poe usually helps. My question is where do you turn for programming inspiration? Obviously I think Perlmonks is a source for quality programming inspiration. Beyond Perlmonks, though, where do you look for programming and development inspiration? My intention isn't to start a metaphysical discussion. And the first person who says "I look inside myself" or something similar is going to get plugged into my NewAge::Weenie::GiveMeAWedgie() method. Seriously, when you're looking for something to give you programming/development inspiration, something to inflame your Perl passion, what do you do?

Thanks for your time, folks. Much appreciated.
___________________
Kurt

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by dws (Chancellor) on Aug 22, 2001 at 01:51 UTC
    Seriously, when you're looking for something to give you programming/development inspiration, something to inflame your Perl passion, what do you do?

    CPAN.

    Seriously. There's some astounding collected wisdom to be found there. Dig around a bit, find a few modules that look interesting, and read them. I recently spent an evening reading Chatbot::Eliza, and came away with several good ideas.

    Having a large collection of new ideas, even if they're just sitting around composting, is great for keeping the flame going.

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by clemburg (Curate) on Aug 22, 2001 at 11:58 UTC

    I try to read *some* quality code *really closely*. That is, I force myself to really read it (which I find annoyingly hard at times).

    Quality code in Perl is available in masses on CPAN (as dws noted). That aside, I often like to read code in books (as opposed to reading on the screen) to alleviate writers block. The last really good one in Perl was "Network Programming with Perl" from Lincoln Stein. Other gems include Jon Bentley's "Programming Pearls", "Software Tools" by Kernighan and Plauger, "The Standard C Library" by Plauger, "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" and "Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming: Case Studies in Common Lisp" by Norvig, "Introduction to Algorithms" by Cormen et al., "Lion's Commentary on UNIX with Source Code" by Lions & Ritchie.

    But still I have to say that the most inspirating thing is close contact to like-minded fellow programmers *in person*. And alas, this seems to be hard to get.

    Ah, yes, recently I started to play with running perl under a debugger (single-stepping perl). That can be an awful lot of fun, too.

    Christian Lemburg
    Brainbench MVP for Perl
    http://www.brainbench.com

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by blakem (Monsignor) on Aug 22, 2001 at 03:03 UTC
    One site that has always snapped me out of my writers block is The Linux Gazette. It is full of little snippets of fun code that you can play around with.

    For instance, this article on turning your desktop's background into a live satellite weather report got me excited about programming again. Of course I rewrote their shell scripts using perl, then played around with LWP and Image::Magick, etc. After two hours of very enjoyable tinkering, my "writers block" was gone. ;-)

    -Blake

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by lemming (Priest) on Aug 22, 2001 at 00:53 UTC

    If I'm looking for something to do: I often look through various FRP projects that I've got. Though at this moment, I've got more data organization than coding to do.

    Doing something counter to programming usually helps as well since taking your mind off track sometimes snaps it back into the programming mood. I happen to practice Kenpo Karate or go biking to clear my head, but Everyone has a different way of approaching that. No one is correct for everyone, but has to find their own way.

    Of course, when I was working the coding projects were always there. The approaches would change depending on mood. Sometimes something as simple as a cup of coffee would set the wheels turning.

    It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion. It is by the java that the thoughts acquire speed, the lips acquire stains, the stains become a warning. It is by caffeine alone that I set my mind in motion.

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by Beatnik (Parson) on Aug 22, 2001 at 11:25 UTC
    I get my inspiration thru
    • Beer
    • Women
    • Beer
    • Other perl code
    • Beer
    • Segfaults & core dumps
    • Beer
    • Perlmonk (site & ppl)
    • Beer
    • Talks at conferences *cough*
    • Beer
    • Caffeine
    Now we all know my code sucks, so I'm probably gonna drop the beer (to keep my mind from getting clouded).
    Greetz
    Beatnik
    ... Quidquid perl dictum sit, altum viditur.
      If the block has only lasted for a day or less just play some Quake or Unreal. If it has been longer, you may have to resort to Counter Strike to fully clear your head. Reading through CPAN is also crazy enough it just might work. If you still can't come up with anything, I suggest seeing a doctor, you may have accidentally gotten a life :-)
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by ozone (Friar) on Aug 22, 2001 at 02:22 UTC

    I try my best to do something not related to programming - do some sport (surfing helps a lot!), veg out in front of the tv - something mindless...

    If it's really urgent, I tend to have a 1/2 hour RPG session. Again, something mindless like QIII or Half-life.

    As that guy in the Matrix said, "You just need to unplug, man"

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by coreolyn (Parson) on Aug 22, 2001 at 16:10 UTC

    I've got several ways to get me back into the code. First I sit back and do system administrative tasks that I've let fall to the side, as it reminds me that I'd rather be coding. Second I'll tinker with putting together music as it usually wakes the creative side up from the doldrums. I might peruse sourceforge for idea's/challenges, or read some of Larry's post-mondernism talks (for some reason they make me feel a part of a bigger picture).

    Failing all I'll actually get up off my ass and go for a walk (in the sun no less) in a nearby park; Realize I that the only way I can possibly influence my future is by working on code, which usually gets me back on track.

    coreolyn
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by the_slycer (Chaplain) on Aug 22, 2001 at 08:35 UTC
    Stop, go camping, mindlessly surf the net, play video games, do real work, sleep, eventually I get a rush of 4 or 5 different ideas, which I write down for the next time I get a "perlblock".
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by toma (Vicar) on Aug 22, 2001 at 19:15 UTC
    When you get tired of software, work with hardware. It might be time for a computer upgrade, or maybe you need to build some bookshelves.

    To read about hardware I recommend reading the patents of Dr. Nikola Tesla. Most patents are dull, dry things, but some of his are quite inspiring. There are several books available that are just reprints of his patents.

    It should work perfectly the first time! - toma

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by mrmick (Curate) on Aug 22, 2001 at 18:25 UTC
    Here's my formula:

    < MENTAL HEALTH WEEKEND >
    Take a weekend, go someplace different, have fun, and you'll be back good as new come Monday ...or at least more relaxed. :-)
    < /MENTAL HEALTH WEEKEND >

    Mick
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by George_Sherston (Vicar) on Aug 22, 2001 at 18:38 UTC
    I don't think my perl brain is big enough that I can qualify for scripter's block (before you can run out of ideas you have to run into some first), but generally when I'm stuck on creative / work stuff I agree with the other monks who favour unplugging.

    After all, creativity doesn't (mostly) happen at the front of the mind. It's a bit like catching fish from a pool using your hands. You can't stick your hand in and grab - they swim off. You have to let them swim up to your hand by... NOT trying to grab. Or it's like the Looking Glass house, that you can only get to by walking away from. (I say 'you' - of course, I mean 'I'... this is just how it works in my world.)

    My own favourites are gardening and cooking. They're both manual tasks and very real - in the sense of being the opposite of virtual. People have been doing these activities forever; they're very tactile; and they don't involve numbers or words. And even if I don't end up cracking the work problem, at least I have a weeded lettuce bed or a jar of houmous at the end of it.

    George Sherston
Other Options?
by petesmiley (Friar) on Aug 22, 2001 at 19:20 UTC
    hmm...well, i think you mean that feeling that you get when you think you should be doing something but you're not. Which is not the same as that itchy feeling you get in your spine when you're doing something tedious. If it's the itchy feelin then you have to go somewhere else, but the other one is distinctly different.

    I had this problem rather recently. Found no fix for it. So, I did the next best thing. I rode someone else's inspiration. I went to sourceforge.net, filtered on perl projects, and picked one to join. I'm very happy now :) There already seems to be tons of projects out there that need help going.

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by jlk (Hermit) on Aug 22, 2001 at 20:45 UTC

    Well the one place I definately do not turn is "inside myself". It is just far to cluttered in there to get any ideas. Instead I visit the newsgroups. Yes, they are full of people asking the same questions without searching past messages, but I do come across a number of people that are looking for valid assistance. I like to take their problems, recreate them, and then see if I can solve them.

    I am also a recipient of the Boston Perl Mongers mailing list. They are also a good source of ideas.


    #jlk


    "Learning Unix sometimes involves Pain, PaIn, PAIN!!"

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by divinus (Acolyte) on Aug 22, 2001 at 20:41 UTC
    I find that a Mountain Dew, some printed out code I'm learning, and some electronic music playing in the background works great in getting the wheels turning in my head. (Might I recommend 303infinity if you are in to that sort of music). Never underestimate the power of good music. Divinus
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by jlongino (Parson) on Aug 23, 2001 at 05:17 UTC
    My three sources of inspiration are geekish at best.

    Perl occupies a small percentage of my daily duties. Answering stupid questions on the phone day-in and day-out can dull the mind. When I get enough time between calls, I'm ready to start/continue/finish one or more of several Perl projects.

    I've had alot of doctor appointments lately, and seeing as I can't stand to sit around in the waiting room reading 3 year old issues of Newsweek or Sports Illustrated, I've taken along my O'Reilly Perl Cookbook and some small postit notes. Now I have 14 postits in place for snippets that contained interesting and potentially useful projects.

    The last but sometimes most compelling source is my todo list of applications that I've wanted to convert to perl for ages. Having to maintain code in Fortran, SAS, Pascal or Quick Basic provides plenty of incentive.

    If the code and the comments disagree, then both are probably wrong. -- Norm Schryer

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by hsmyers (Canon) on Aug 22, 2001 at 23:17 UTC

    Well in my case Gold's Gym is about 2 minutes away from Border's and between the two of them I usually manage to re-inspire myself. Another block-breaker is to code the same project in a different language—either one I know, or not, doesn't make any difference. A variation on this is to dust off some un-finished project and at least attempt to make progress. I suppose the common thread is to dramatically alter your situation in some fashion where the degree of drama is somehow a function of how big the 'block' is. As I look at this, it occurs to me that I also use the same approach to solve problems in general—I suppose that means that coder's block is in fact a 'problem' (doh)!

    For the bullet minded:

    • Endorphines
    • Books
    • Change
    Take two, post again in the morning…

    hsm

Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by earthboundmisfit (Chaplain) on Aug 23, 2001 at 18:57 UTC
    I go fly fishing. I can't tell you how many problems I've solved while hauling in a monster striped bass. There's something about the physics of a fly cast that clears the mind and allows my creative side to take the helm.
        <AOL_USER>
          Please email me your NewAge::Weenie::GiveMeAWedgie() method
        </AOL_USER>
        :-)
    
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by Cine (Friar) on Aug 23, 2001 at 01:02 UTC
    Something much simpler: Help people on perlmonk with their problems. Its a great rush when someone is truly happy for something you did to help them.

    T I M T O W T D I
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by greywolf (Priest) on Aug 23, 2001 at 09:05 UTC
    I always try to do something physical like riding my bike or at least going for a walk. I try to do things like this regularly and I usually get creative blocks when I skip on these things for a few days.

    You can find great ideas by looking at other mediums like TV or magazines. You'll see good designs that might inspire a new project. You might also see a good design and start thinking "How did they do that?".

    All of these things can solve both creative blocks and boredom blocks.

    mr greywolf
Re: Where do you turn for programming inspiration?
by Anonymous Monk on Apr 05, 2012 at 14:20 UTC
    I was inspired to program after I watched a TV show called Code Lyoko, though it's banned at some point in my country. I wanted to be special through programming like the kids in the show did, at least in my scope, and I did too. I think the best time to enjoy the joy of programming, is at your childhood, because only then, you could be extraordinary. In teenage, the experience of programming could also help you with you study. You'll find a lot of problems easy to solve, and find similarities in problems that others can't find. And find rules of finding ways to solve problems. I've experienced this myself. Though I'm not a grown-up, I think programming can still paint your life colorful (Chinglish) , by giving you a mechanism a system of doing things effectively

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