Fundamentals

jasonleow  •  8 Jan 2021

I have a love-hate relationship with the “fundamentals”. Be it learning new skills, picking up new knowledge, developing new habits, I’m the impatient sort who loves to jump right in and try things out, even if I don’t know what I’m doing. I hated how veteran gatekeepers of any field/niche would police newbies by using “the fundamentals” as some sort of an entrance exam. I felt that learning the fundamentals through some 100-hour boring course hinders more than it helps. But sometimes, that’s when the long arm of the fundamentals come back to bite me. With good reason.

Just like how I just solved the epic bug that’s been causing slow page loads or browser hanging on Lifelog. A 4am late night. Three full days of debugging trial by fire. I lost count of how many things I tried, on both frontend and backend. I recall that at some point I felt so demotivated and low in morale that thoughts of giving up altogether came to me. In the end, it was a silly little Javascript function in charge of sorting comments. All that herculean effort and sleepless nights, only to find that the solution was so small and simple. Comically simple.

I find that such scenarios—of inflated perceptions of difficulty unfolding into a laughable realisation of the solution—are usually signs that the fundamentals are missing. If I had taken the boring and labourious yet effective approach of debugging by commenting out code bit by bit, I wouldn’t have needed 4am late nights and three wasted days. Yet, here I am, deeply humbled due to a combination of newbie inexperience, impatience with the fundamentals, and that just-want-to-do-my-own-way personality.

It’s a great learning point, and even greater validation of why the fundamentals matter, not just in coding but any pursuit of skill or knowledge. Not that everyone now has to know the fundamentals before starting any pursuit. But more like the fundamentals cannot be ignored, and incidents like this are signals that I need to brush up on them, rather than haughtily brushing them off like I knew better.

Comments

You make some good points. I had no idea this latest issue was so vexing until you found the simple solution.

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therealbrandonwilson  •  8 Jan 2021, 1:39 pm

Vexing is indeed the word!

jasonleow  •  9 Jan 2021, 5:15 am