Start with stupid


March 17, 2014 by Kenneth Fisher

True story: I worked in a computer lab many years ago and one day this guy (a grad student) checked out a computer. I spent half an hour watching him hit the keys repeatedly, check every cable, shake the mouse and in general get really agitated. He eventually came back to the desk and told me the computer was broken. I calmly got up, walked over, and turned on the computer.

It seems that when trying to resolve a problem we frequently skip past the easy stuff and go straight to the middle range and work our way up from there. And then hours into the process we discover it was something stupid that we could have checked and fixed in 5 minutes if we had just started with the easy stuff.

I’ve found that if I just start with the simple stuff, the stupid stuff, that I can resolve half of my problems quickly and easily. Everyone makes simple mistakes, it’s just human nature. Unfortunately it’s also human nature to think that you couldn’t possibly have done something that stupid.

So here is my recommendation to you. Start with the stupid. Check your syntax, make sure you are connected to the right server, that you typed the right table name, and that the computer is in fact turned on.

2 thoughts on “Start with stupid

  1. […] user either didn’t know about or had forgotten. That’s why this has become one of those Start with Stupid steps that I take when someone can’t connect but everything else looks […]

  2. […] everything is made up of smaller pieces. When you are running across a problem, (well, after you check the stupid things) start breaking up what you are doing into smaller pieces. I’m going to give a simplified […]

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