Wit: A Programmer's Best Tool

I was humbled this past week.  I went to an interview at a game company.  But I didn’t have my most valuable asset.

I’m sure I’m rewriting history as I go to make myself appear in a more positive light, but the more I think about it, the more it seems I just didn’t have my wits about me.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t up to snuff for the position for some pretty significant other reasons (like my hate/hate relationship with Design Patterns), but I’ll explore those issues at another time.

To set the stage:  I don’t know if jet lag is due to travel time, traveling at night, lack of sleep, or changing time zones, but I did all of them, and I was pretty draggy in the morning.

Except I didn’t realize that.  I had no edge, no sharpness, no wit.  I said idiotic things, couldn’t explain basic concepts, and would talk about things too long and then just trail off…

A prime example of my condition was when I was asked to explain the difference in usage and purpose of an array and a linked list (in Java terms, ArrayList and LinkedList).  I was barely able to stammer out something about resizing and that I knew there was another big difference that I couldn’t recall at the moment (random access performance times, sorting, sublists, etc).

I should have just stopped the interview there.  But I went on, because I didn’t have the wit to know better, and the rest of the day was similar, or worse.  All along, I blithely thought things were going pretty well.

The point I’m getting at is that a programmer without a quick wit really isn’t a programmer.  It takes a lot of fast operations to access needed information and format it for the receiver of that information, whether computer or human.  Know yourself, and know what you need to do to kick yourself out of a dimwitted day.

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