t0m's very occasional blog

Sufficiently advanced trolling is indistinguishable from thought leadership

The Starwars Methodology

This seemingly isn’t a well known term, and today I’m irritated by people thinking I perform ‘magic’ by using grep, so here’s a rant about what I call the “Star Wars” ™ methodology of problem solving:

To put it quite simply:

Use the Source Luke

Oftentimes grepping through the source code of the thing that’s giving you trouble (even if it’s written in a language you don’t speak) will turn up gold.

Given a basic model of OO languages, it’s easily possible to infer what’s going on (or what may be going on) most of the time given basic observations and a few print statements, or even a file and line number.

Getting a full backtrace out of most dynamic languages is real easy too, even in extreme cases..

Even if you don’t know for sure, some source diving will at least help give you more concrete ideas about how the code is built, which will allow you to frame the problem better when you do peresent it to someone with the relevant language and/or domain knowledge.

Even if your assumptions were totally wrong – at at least look more initiative (and tried to go deeper) than your average Joe, so the expert is more likely to want to help you, as you’re already demonstrated a provable desire to be taught to fish, rather than just be thrown them.