Thursday, February 28, 2008

Patience is a Virtue

Sometimes people accuse me of being patient, to which I often reply "I believe you are mistaking persistence for patience." But I looked up Wikipedia's definition of patience which describes it as "the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties" so maybe folks were right. I must admit that I don't endure waiting or delay very well. I dive right in to make things happen quickly and I expect the same from others. Also, when it comes to dealing with provocation, I suppose I've gotten a lot better at overlooking that, but I'm still perhaps more inclined to slap the other's cheek as to turn my other cheek. I've learned from experience though that winning a battle is sometimes the best way to loose the war; oddly enough, most people don't like losing an argument and some people are vindictive. Some subjects are best left untouched.

When it comes to patience, it's really persevering in the face of difficulties that I do best, but not always calmly. Does that still count as patience? I'm getting a lot better at faking being calm, and I suppose the appearance of being calm is more important than actually being calm. I've learned that the pitch of my voice changes when I'm upset, i.e., I become shrill, so controlling my voice seems to be an effective way to control the underlying tension as well. It's pretty hard to get the ever-patient anemone excited, so I should learn to emulate that.

As an Eclipse board member, patience is an important virtue. That being said, just like diversity, patience also has dark side. When things need to get done, waiting patiently while nothing happens isn't going to generate positive feedback from the voters, nor should it. Patience ought not to be an excuse for lack of results. When I wanted to see solid statistics about strategic developer activity, i.e., whether each strategic developer really has eight full time active developers as required in their membership agreement, I didn't wait patiently for others to gather this data---thanks, by the way, to Doug and Scott for keeping this issue alive---I gathered the data myself. Well, actually, I delegated it to Nick. Nevertheless, it got done and now it's very easy for anyone to have a look at where we stand on this issue at any point in time; the data gathers itself. When Nick does something, he does it extremely well! This sea turtle waited patiently to be photographed, but unlike land turtles, sea turtles are capable of significant speed.

Darin had a great idea a while back to add pictures and a biography to the foundation's directors page. But we don't have control over that page so we must wait patiently for a great many months for it to happen. You'll recall I've blogged about this a few times already. I'm not feeling very patient anymore. I'm sure Nick would have done this in a few hours. Of course I fully understand that something like this is a minor detail and that there are likely a hundred things of higher priority, like Mike's excellent idea of a "meet the board members" booth at EclipseCon. I highly recommend you take the opportunity to chat with your board members; we're not as scary as we might look.

Climbing on my high horse for a moment, when it comes to addressing requests from people, I often find it's best to do the ones that take very little time first and the ones that take more time later. Everyone will notice when something that ought to take an hour takes weeks, but no one will notice when one more hour of delay is added to something that takes weeks. I believe this type of thinking, i.e., do small things first and big things later, is helping with the IP review turnaround. Clearly it helps improve perceptions as a general principle. I'll climb off of my seahorse now.

I waited patiently for a number of years for JDT to support external folders on the classpath; I just don't have the skills to solve such a problem myself. Well, patience has finally paid off! Kudos to the JDT team as a whole, and to Jerome in particular, for addressing 182537!! This will greatly simplify bootstrapping EMF from CVS. Chris is going to do the PDE part of the equation in time for M7. The quality of JDT and PDE is such an impressive thing. I have more confidence in JDT's compiler than I do in javac. If the two disagree on something, JDT typically turns out to have done it correctly as demonstrated in 219865 . And of course if there are problems in JDT, you know they will be fixed so fast your head spins. This angel fish is the most beautiful fish I photographed this year, so to me it represents the JDT team.

In closing, the lesson of the week from me is to be patient, but not too patient, especially when it comes to voting and registering for EclipseCon. For goodness sake, the clock is ticking!


Anonymous said...

Yes, the external library folder support is one of those things we always delayed because we knew it would take a long time to implement :-) It actually took me 1 full month without counting the work from Szymon.

I'm glad you appreciate our work though.

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