Wil Shipley has an excellent blog post on how using simple heuristics – ie. less-than-perfect shortcuts to a goal – can improve life significantly, and how we tend to ignore that.

He makes a point about user interfaces, but it is good as a general observation:  A good-enough solution that improves life for many people is better than a perfect solution that can’t possibly be made. Also, he points out that classic programming theory will teach you a lot of computer-sciency methods for problem solving, while in real-life are heuristic methods trying to understand user input as good as possible. That, however, I think is because he is a good programmer, not something all programmers come across: I bet the majority still will approach unexpected input with a dying program..

Or, as an otherwise very good programmer of the old-school I had the honour of knowing once said to a customer who complained about a particularly harshly crashing program: “Considering what you tried to do, that was a mild reaction”.

Also, there is this cartoon.

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