As a bad, amateur, untrained, unprofessional — did I mention bad? — programmer, the only way I can possibly complete some of my ambitious projects is through aggressive use of Google. I use the search engine the way professionals use O’Reilly books, as my first and last reference.
Say I’m coding a PHP page and I get an error like…
PHP Warning: Function registration failed – duplicate name – mysql_connect in Unknown on line 0
…rather than trying to understand what’s happening, I just copy-and-paste that message into Google, and more often than not it pops-out the correct explanation for what went wrong. I know this is a hacky, unprofessional, and possibly repulsive work habit, but then again I already acknowledged that I’m a bad, bad, bad programmer.
The flip side to this is that whenever I actually solve a unique problem (it does happen!), my first instinct is to post the results on the web so they will be available on Google for all the other poor shmoes out there.
For example, when I customized the MovableType “add entry” screen for a client I posted an article about it, and now the article is the number one hit on Google for the phrase “add entry screen movable type.”