In less politically correct times the adage was a “bad workman blames his tools”. As a one-time apprentice mechanical engineer (failed!) I heard this a lot. However in recent times I’ve been wanting to use this put-down a lot when hearing people talk about their technology tools. “Ah, man, Jenkins is broke again”, “Damn it, the Puppet run failed”, “Holy cow, Git hasn’t got my source code”. If you are reading this, and none of this resonates, then you are reading the wrong blog!
Seriously, we need to elevate the status of some of these tools so that they reflect the important job they do for us. I was thinking about this when reading an article about Kevin Jorgeson and Tommy Caldwell who scaled the El Capitane in Yosemite National Park. Whereas we, as software engineers and the like, use our preferred tools, and blame then when things sometimes go wrong, the life of these guys depended on their tools. Heck, these guys used to sleep by hanging themselves (in a tent) off a cliff face. I think we’d all take more interest in our tools if our lives depended on it, right? So let’s stop blaming the tools for the stuff we do. Take a leaf out of the book of Kevin and Tommy and make sure, when you want a tool to do something (run a test, deploy some servers, build some code) think as if you’re life depended on that tool. Check, double check and even triple check that you have done things right. And if you don’t get the result you expect (a test failed, a server didn’t start, the build “broke”) at least you’re life did not depend on it. A bad work-person blames their tools!!!