Save Early, Save Often

Kenneth Fisher relays an important life lesson:

So years and years ago, when I was in college, one of my favorite classes was Assembly Language. We were working with Mac Assembly in case anyone is interested (yes I used a Mac at school, one of the big ones that had the monitor built into it). Somewhere around week three or four, we were supposed to print something to the screen. I spent several hours (this was only my second programming class so even Hello World was a challenge) and got my program ready to test. It worked! Sort of.

Hello World was written to the top of the screen! Then a second or so later the bottom half of the screen turned into random ASCII garbage. Then a second or so later the computer rebooted. Well, that’s not good. Time to debug!

So the computer comes back up, I take a look, and I don’t have ANY code. I hadn’t saved (and this was long enough ago there was no auto-save). I had to start ALL over again. In the end, I did manage to re-write my code, got it working and even got an A. I also learned that I needed to save my work before running it. Well, learned my lesson for the first time (of many).

I have attempted to put a sanguine spin on this mishap, based on something Phil Factor once wrote:  if you throw away (or lose) the code the first time around, the second time you write it, the code will probably be better.  This is because the first time you’re writing a set of code, you’re trying to force the pieces together and get the code working; the second time around, you have a working algorithm in mind, so the code will likely be much cleaner.

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1 Comment

  • Kenneth Fisher on 2017-07-12

    To be fair, it was probably better code in the end. On the other hand HOURS of work lost. Remember this was assembly and it was only my 2nd semester programming 🙂

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