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Jason Leow ~
Jason Leow ~

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Step 1, reboot the server

Yes, switch on and off that computer. Same principle, different computer.

Some days, just rubberducking alone doesn't help.

Today I had to seek help for a bug again again, but this time writing out the question out loud (aka rubberducking) didn’t work. A friend helped me out in the end, and all it took was that dreaded question: “Did you reboot the server?”

You know how the first thing you should try when your computer/smartphone acts up is to switch it off and back on again? Yep. Same principle, different computer. A server is a computer too. It was hands-down a mistake that only a rookie can make. One of those laughable yet relieving moments. Thankfully, I didn’t spend the whole day on it!

My friend mentioned that he used to have a sticky note stuck on his screen, outlining the tips for debugging before he asked someone else for help. The very first point was “Reboot the server”. That got me thinking…if I had to write the same sticky note, what should it contain?

  • Reboot the server.
  • Rake/migrate db (for Rails users).
  • Check the code for syntax errors, missing semi-colons, commas or closing brackets.
  • Type out the code if you had copy-pasted over some bits of code.
  • Google {language/framework} {error message}.
  • Search Stack Overflow.
  • Stop all debugging after 30min, take a break.
  • Try a new approach after break, whatever it may be.
  • Rubber ducking: Write out what you’re trying to do, talk about the error you got, outline the things you tried, paste public code repo. And wait. Don’t send it out yet.
  • Continue debugging for 30min.
  • Send it out to friends.

That definitely can’t fit into a sticky note for sure! But as a first noob version, it’ll do. For now.

Follow my daily writings on Lifelog, where I write about learning to code, goals, productivity, indie hacking and tech for good.

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