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Sharpening the tools

Before I packed it all up, I had a workshop habit that I suspect other makers of sawdust shared. Before embarking on any work, I would spend some time cleaning up the workshop area. I would make sure the bench was clean and clear, sweep the floor, check that tools were sharp and sharpen them if necessary. I’d check the tables on the big tools for rust, and the tracking on the bandsaw. Sometimes I would get out particular tools and lay them out on the bench, ready to go.

And all the while I was doing this, I would be thinking about the work I was going to engage on, think about the processes I was going to follow, the pattern of work. I find this enormously relaxing, and a fantastic way to focus. I found that I would be trimming away, sweeping away, everything in my head that I didn’t need for the job at hand.

Over the past few years I’ve been trying to take the same approach to programming work, with a similar resultant focus (and one day I hope that I find it relaxing too). Thus, today, I’m re-reading Better Builds with Maven. Sharpening the tools and cleaning the bench.

One nice thing about re-reading books like this, particularly well written ones, is that there is always something to learn, some nuance that pops out that was previously invisible, highlighted by fresh experience. Even the import of a simple statement like “convention over configuration” can change over time.

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