Zen and the Art of the Dedicated Coding Machine
I’m writing this post on my Surface Pro 3, with my 5-year-old Asus Q500A running tests on my latest project sitting next to me. I feel it is important that I do this separately on a purely philosophical standpoint. The separation of work and play is tantamount to better allocating your most important resource – your attention span.
I’ve long suffered from my own attention deficit disorder, my mind has the tendency to run away from itself when presented with distraction. This is not abnormal, despite what popular thought would attempt to have us believe. It’s an evolutionary adaptation, one that made our species more adept at taking in the details of the world around us and determining potential risks to our well-being.
Unfortunately, the modern world requires a more tunnel-visioned human. The same variables that would have presented us with danger in the past are no longer valid to the world of today. Instead, we seem to be our own biggest variable risk.
My Surface Pro 3 is a multimedia device. Its more than capable of providing every possible distraction under the sun. The screen is vivid, the hardware allows HD videos be streamed from YouTube/Netflix/Amazon at my own will, and web page load times are almost instantaneous. Heck, even the power cord has a distracting bright LED on the end of it.
My Asus, on the other hand, is technology of a different time. Pulling the heavy beast out of its carrying case is a workout. The graphic card is old, and HD video is unheard of. But with the latest Ubuntu (v. 16.04 at the moment) I was able to give the dusty machine some new life. It still has the 1TB HDD that I installed in it all those years ago, which is more than adequate for all the files I’ll be coding on it. The CPU is an Intel i5 @ 2.5GHz, and its got 5.3 GiB of usable RAM to boot!
But this isn’t a post about computer specs. The important thing to note here is that my work machine isn’t anything more than it really needs to be. I’m happy that the Asus can’t game, because it would only serve to distract me from my work. Moving to working solely on this machine has increased my productivity, and helped me to grow as a coder. I suggest everyone try it.