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… there’s another kind of detail that no shop manual goes into but that is common to all machines and can be given here. This is the detail of the Quality relationship, the gumption relationship, between the machine and the mechanic, which is just as intricate as the machine itself. Throughout the process of fixing the machine things always come up, low quality things, from a dusted knuckle to an accidentally ruined “irreplaceable” assembly. These drain off gumption, destroy enthusiasm and leave you so discouraged you want to forget the whole business. I call these things ‘gumption traps’.

– Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

We’re in a gumption trap, and it’s slowing down our eCFR feature rollout.

We’ve met some unexpected challenges (unexpected, except insofar as you expect, in a general way, that all projects have challenges). In a group as small as ours, passing around a cold can be enough to stall a project for a week – or two. Right now, though, one of the three team members who has been working on the eCFR is leaving for a new job, and this will naturally slow things down for the next few months.

We’re still working on stuff: improving our indents, for instance. But some of the new features which we have beautifully, intricately constructed in our heads — our ideas of Quality —  are going to take a while longer to get out into the real world.  We’re down a mechanic.

All projects have difficulties complications, setbacks, gumption traps. They’re not covered in the shop manual. We spend our days skinning our knuckles on coding details, saying “wait, this regex needed to be capturing and that one needed to be non-capturing!”. It’s nice, at the end, when you’re seeing the beautifully humming final product, to forget them. But they’re an essential part of the process.

In other words, “Motorcycle maintenance gets frustrating. Angering. Infuriating. That’s what makes it interesting.” Something to bear in mind when you start turning the first bolt.

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