Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Zone
Hola, bloggerinos. Sorry about the lack of updates. I've been in "the zone."

(fading echo: the zone, the zone, the zone, the zone, the zone...)

A perfect storm of deadlines, well restedness, and a capable mental state have, somewhat out of necessity, put me in "the zone."

Programming is a lonely pursuit. Google is a cubicle (and not an office) shop, meaning that, to block out audible distraction, I encase my pretty little ears in a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones. They do a decent amount of outside-sound muffling, but the music also serves as my daily companion.

I passively contemplate lyrics and melodies while staring at code in an emacs window. Almost always, my setup is as such: I have two widescreen LCDs, both oriented vertically, sitting next to each other. I refer to them as the "towers of power."

On the left one is the aforementioned emacs window. It takes up the whole screen and is generally split into two buffers, right down the middle. Normally, one side of the window is the file I'm working on and the other is methods of class I'm calling. Most of my work is in JavaScript, and, as the language doesn't lend itself well to an IDE and as I'm a Wisconsin grad (generally an emacs shop), emacs is the tool of choice, if for familiarity more than anything else.

On the right: a Firefox window, a JavaScript console, a debug window, and a terminal on the bottom. Maybe a DOM inspector or Venkman.

Anyway, the zone had been elusive for a while, but I've again come to encounter the plane of transcendent interconnectedness I've met before (at various times. In college, it used to involve Blind Faith).

The zone is kind of like zoning out while driving—it's not entirely conscious, but, somehow, you have everything in your head at once. You're plugging away, never getting stuck and, days later, you've got a thousand-plus-line changelist staring back at you. Pretty sweet.
Nothing like an impending deadline to rapidly induce flow. This is why we feel more refreshed after all-nighters than we do after lazy Sundays--flow is a stimulant, and we tend to get flow when we need it.
Nathan Naze: en fuego.
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