Failure is not costly.

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by Chromatix » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:33 am
I just came across an article talking about a game.  The game isn't what caught my eye, however.  The commentary did.

http://penny-arcade.com/report.....satisfying

I think that programming has the same sort of quality.  Success is highly satisfying, but failure is not in itself costly - you can just tweak it and try again.

Perhaps that has something to do with the surprising enthusiasm that kids get when introduced to easily programmable computers.
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by Lynbarn » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:27 am
Indeed, far from being costly, failure is often a great benefit. One can learn far more from failing, then finding out why and how one failed, than succeeding first time every time.

With the emphasis in education (from a UK perspective, at least) over the past several years, on everyone achieving something at every stage, I do wonder if this learning opportunity is often denied our young people, to their - and society's - ultimate detriment.

I certainly wouldn't be the man I am today if I had never failed at anything! ;)

(...climbs off soap-box...)
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by croston » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:42 am
This is what I was taught when I was younger:

Experience is directly proportional to equipment ruined.
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by nick.mccloud » Mon Mar 19, 2012 11:22 am
croston said:


This is what I was taught when I was younger:

Experience is directly proportional to equipment ruined.


Some of my gliding club colleagues think that too :-(
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by johnbeetem » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:51 pm
croston said:


This is what I was taught when I was younger:

Experience is directly proportional to equipment ruined.



I like this version:


Good Judgement comes from Experience.

Experience comes from Bad Judgement.

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by tritonium » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:02 pm
When the ice rink opened way back, in Bristol, some friends and myself joined and started to attend once a week.

I well remember the first night when we wobbled onto the ice - one after the other they fell over, and laughing profusely got up and fell again, while I on the other hand was VERY careful and didn't fall once; that evening they went home bruised and I smugly went home unscathed. And so it was every week until I noticed my friends falling less often and starting to do daring stuff like going backwards and those skiddy stops when you spray ice everywhere. Another few weeks and they were dancing - and I was still wobbling around never having fallen and never having learnt anything!

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by SN » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:41 pm
You know how the saying goes. . . "no pain. . . No gain!"
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by Burngate » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:23 am
SN said:


You know how the saying goes. . . "no pain. . . No gain!"


As management says: "Cause the workers pain, you're bound to gain"
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by Jaseman » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:56 am
I remember getting stuck with programming back in the 80's.  There was nobody I could turn to when I got stuck with something, and that was very frustrating.  Sometimes I could just keep trying and solve it, but other times I eventually had to give up (I think my 'keep trying to solve it threshold' was about 2 days).  These days we have internet communities to offer support when we do have trouble finding the solution.

So I would say: Try, try and try again - and if that doesn't work - find help!
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by birger » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:26 pm
Failure is highly necessary to learn, but it is also extremely important that the material and the teachers/mentors build the correct atmosphere/mindset for learning from faults.

If you have anything to do with mentoring/teaching other people (and that is why you are here, right?), please read this short article and take the lesson to heart.

http://m.wired.com/wiredscienc.....-faster-2/

The first fractions of a second after a failure actually determine how you will learn from the error, so the mindset has to be there before the failure. Just a slight change in wording can mean a lot for how a whole class will learn from their errors.
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by williamhbell » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:41 pm
Sometimes failure is not an option.  For example, when daq code has to be finished in time for a one off test-beam setup.

Then again, there is a lot of fun to be had by asking a student to debug an obfuscated memory leak.  One such example overloaded the kernel so quickly that it caused the machine to reboot.
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by abishur » Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:22 am
I guess it all depends at what point the failure happens.  If it's toward the beginning of things then yeah, failure isn't costly and is quite expected, but if it happens late in the process then it can bankrupt a company.

I mean take the BP oil spill, that was costly on both a financial and an ecosystem scale.  As someone who works for a company who programs everything from waste water plants to Soda plants, to oil plants, I know that it's entirely possible that improper programming prevented the system users to be warned the that drill was improperly aligned; a problem that prevented the blowout preventer from operating correctly.

So maybe I'm being over literal here, but failure can be devastatingly costly depending on what part of the production process it occurs on. :-P
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by alexeames » Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:50 am
I hope we won't be asking our kids to program mission critical systems that really matter. (At least not in their first year anyway. That should be at least A level ;) )
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by Wage_Slave » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:41 pm
alexeames said:


I hope we won't be asking our kids to program mission critical systems that really matter. (At least not in their first year anyway. That should be at least A level ;) )



I think you will find that they seem to all start by programming 'Direct.Gov' - have you actually tried to use that!
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