The Power of the Random Other Coder

I'm not paranoid...

Enough to make you paranoid!

If you’re a junior engineer and you have a problem you can easily ask someone more senior. But what if you’re the most senior person in the room?

Well if the problem isn’t one of not having the technical expertise but just not being able to find what’s wrong then the answer couldn’t be more simple – ask anyone.

I have a reputation for being able to find problems with other people’s code but the truth is that 90% of the time they actually find the errors themselves. The simple process of having to explain what one was trying to achieve and how he was trying to achieve it often reveals problems with the logic or problems with the code.

In fact it can be better to ask people who, although capable of understanding what you’re doing, are from a different technical area or who are considerably less experienced – the key is that you have to explain what you’re doing to them and the more explaining you have to do, the better.

At my previous company I found that the technical director was a particularly good person to ask. He had been a programmer but wasn’t really used to the way we worked in the modern production environment. He provided a very intelligent but completely different slant on things. OK, so sometimes it was frustrating when he disagreed with a perfectly good way that I was doing something, but he spotted a fair few little mistakes more often and that was very helpful.