Programming and Ego

In my experience, most good programmers, and some not so good programmers, have an ego about it. I certainly do. Sometimes my ego writes checks that my ability can’t cash, but normally it doesn’t cause problems. Much.

The biggest problem is that when people say there are problems in my code, my immediate reaction is disbelief, annoyance or anger. I know there are bits of the code, especially the bits I inherited from others, but also some of my own, that are bug ridden and questionable, and I don’t react that way to those. But there are other areas I’m proud of, sometimes justifiably. And when somebody says something is wrong with those, I flare up internally. I try to catch that before I express it, and sometimes I succeed. Sure, QA sometimes reports a bug because they tested something wrong. But they have a job to do, and they do find stuff that I missed distressingly often.

The worst problem is when my ego clashes with that of another programmer. Right now I’m in a bit of an ego battle with another programmer. He says that a certain method in my database code that he’s supposed to call every night is returning the wrong values. I say that’s impossible because that method was tested last year, and it hasn’t changed in two years. (It’s dead simple, too, just a select * from playables where end_effective >= ?) He says “here are some log files that show your method returning the wrong values every day until the 28th”. I say “wait a second, those log files show that you didn’t even call my method until the 28th!” He says that’s because he turned on full debugging on the 28th. And that’s where it sits. Tomorrow we have the show down. The QA person has set up a test case, and tomorrow we all meet in the lab to examine the log files and database together.

It should be fun. Unless it turns out the problem is in my code, in which case I’ll have to go into a 2 week sulk. Anybody taking bets?