It’s really better to be a pessimist than an optimist. I think pessimists get a bad rap. Sure, everyone likes the idea of being upbeat and happy. But it’s not a good survival perspective. Problems only get solved because people worry about them.

David Brin answered the critics of the pre-millennium Y2K disaster theorists by saying that it was a classic case of a self-defeating prophesy. I agree with him. If everyone had just said, “She’ll be right, mate” and done nothing at all about the problem, then almost certainly IT departments everywhere would have been extremely busy and stressed come Jan 1, 2000. (You just know that’s an understatement.)

Good programmers are pessimists. They have to be – they learn to be very early in their career.

“That will never work, you know.”

“Why not? I’ve debugged it, it runs fine. I’ve tested it. I’m a good programmer…”

“What about more than one user running that screen at a time? What about a user who stays in that screen overnight while your midnight triggers are running? What about machines with no audio card? No installed printer? You’re doomed.”

“Why, I’ll show you, you… you… big fat pessimist, you.”