Interlude: Short Software Poems

Over the last few weeks, I had been working in my free time on integrating robots for the SwissEurobot competition with my robotics team CVRA. This period of intense work has curiously spurred some rhymes in my head that I’m sharing in this blog post. An interlude in poetry, not as good as Rimbaud or Hugo, you have been warned.

Robot wheelbase seen from under: 'Hello, I am wheelbot, nice to meet you!'
Robot wheelbase seen from under: "Hello, I am wheelbot, nice to meet you!"

Sleepless nights

Remove the math
From the critical path
Or the lack of sleep
Will get you in troubles, deep

This one recounts the difficulty of reasoning properly after missing on hours of sleep. The saying “Sleep is a competitive advantage” has some truth to it.

Debugging Session

Pulling the plug
Won't get rid of the bug
So don't be a slug
It's time to debug

For those moments of frustration, when you encounter a bug, it is tempting to just “pull the plug” and go home. The right thing to do, is to take a deep breath, open the debugger, analyze the situation, and start hunting.

The best way to avoid the bug in the future, is to reproduce it in a unit test, then fix it. That way your automated builds / continuous integration system will make sure you never introduce it again. Future You will thank you for that.

Fear

Don't be anxious, do not fear
Prepare, for the test is near
So, pack your best gear
Don't freeze, but persevere
For behind the fear
Lies a treasure, dear

Some say “fear is an illusion”. I prefer to think that fear is a bodily reaction, like hunger. Insecurity is the act of submitting to it. Courage is the act of facing the fear with all you have (“your best gear”).

I have seen myself and many people around me get paralyzed by fear. My best resort has always been to prepare as much as possible, then make the jump. Very often, fear acts as a mental barrier to something great that you strive for (the “treasure”). And the feeling of being ready will never arrive. Your best bet is on preparing, a lot, then making the jump when it becomes urgent.

While my 3D printer gently prints

There may be more poems in the future. In the mean time, I’ll go back to programming, while my 3D printer gently prints… 🎵

CVRA Headquarters in the dark, while the 3D printer gently prints