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How a Car Is Like a Programming Language

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There are times in ones life where you find that something clicks inside you and it all makes sense. I had one of those moments recently.

I drive an ‘Opel Corsa 1997’. I should say I did drive one, as I recently got an upgrade of a ‘VW Golf’. The Corsa was great, it got the job done and it was great getting the freedom a car affords you. That being said, it was a Spartan driving experience. No ABS, no power steering, a cassette player instead of CD…etc. The bare essentials and nothing but. Which is what makes driving a powerful modern car like a Golf a delightful experience. It handles beautifully, has real power in it’s engine. It’s responsive and definitely feels safer.

There was a moment recently, while driving where I was sailing up a steep incline on my way somewhere, when I didn’t quite hit the ‘bite point’ and you get that awful drop in power, you panicking to get to a lower gear and to keep moving for fear of stalling. That was the moment when it hit me. All cars have the same kind of interface to control them. How much they do for you can vary wildly. Driving a car well isn’t about the controls, don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly important. Driving a car is about the nuances of its operation, about constantly assessing how different it is to your ‘a prior’ knowledge of how a car operates.

When it comes to programming its about few things: knowing you basics and knowing them well, constantly “restating your assumptions” and seeing how they are affected by what you are doing, being engaged.