Monday, May 5, 2014

I am (or aim to be) a problem solver

Back in 1995, O'Reilly published the first edition of Oracle PL/SQL Programming. Changed my life...thanks readers! The following extended dedication appeared in that first edition, early evidence of my compulsive verbosity. But I still like it and thought I would offer it for your reading pleasure.

Sometimes I have trouble explaining to my about-to-be-nine-year old son, Eli, the nature of my professional occupation. The statements "I work with computers" and "I write programs on computers" certainly describe my means of employment, but they do not afford much of an explanation.

After some thought, I have found what I believe to be the simplest and also most accurate statement of my professional role in life:

I am (or aim to be) a problem solver.

Every time I write a program or assist other developers with their code, I work to solve a problem. The problem might be as broadly defined as "Build an application to keep track of all product complaints." It could also have a scope as narrow as "Find out why the string parsing mechanism in Sam's package doesn't work." At hear, there is really very little difference between these two requests. 
I am asked to bring logic, experience and technical skill to bear on an unresolved issue – and resolve it.

Solving problems is an extremely satisfying experience. This is part of the reason, I believe, that software programming can be such an addictive habit. In 1995, the quality of life – indeed, the very lives – of hundreds of millions of people around the world are threatened by the greed and out of control ambitions of a very few. Software, with its simple rules and clearly defined boundaries, offers a haven, an oasis, a paradise, into which we can escape, debug out programs, and feel that we have accomplished something constructive.

I dedicate this book to my youngest son,. Eli Silva Feuerstein, in the hope that as an adult he will be an effective and compassionate problem solver, both in the area of his professional interest and in the infinitely more troubled world at large.

I also dedicate this book to my parents, Sheldon and Joan Feuerstein, as a meager expression of my thanks for their lifelong dedication to the happiness and success of their five children (and now six grandchildren).

Eli is now 27 and an Oracle Application Express developer! But I am pretty sure he likes music more than software....

1 comment:

  1. Hello Steven,

    Lot of philosophy contained in that dedication :):)

    Yes, software can be a nice refuge from the real life if one likes to solve problems
    just for proving him/herself that he/she is able to do so, and not just for producing money
    ( most typically for somebody else ... ).

    Unfortunately, at least based on my own experience, this ability does not make you a better
    "competitor" in the real life ... the "more troubled" one as you called it :( :(

    Writing beautiful software is very close to creating beautiful music, they are both arts,
    if one is only capable to enjoy software only "up to the door" where it gets outside from the realm of art .... so, I think it is quite explainable why Eli felt inclined towards both :):)

    Most artists in the history, and the greatest ones first of all, were always unhappy people ...
    but they surely could have never chosen another way in their lives ...

    Thanks a lot & Best Regards,