Programming Outdoors

As a software professional, I spend a lot of time indoors. It’s really not so bad: I have a nice comfy chair, ample desk space, and the office is always nice and air conditioned :-) But the past few days have been so beautiful here in Windsor that I’ve been taking my coffee and laptop outside to read the morning news and catch up on email. It makes me remember the good old days when I was working to pay for my undergraduate.

Back when I was in school, I took a programming job for the Odette school of business at the university of Windsor. This programming job had me writing high-performance simulation software to test new optimiztion algorithms for dynamic warehouse management. One of the perks of this job was that I had no fixed office - I worked from home, from the lab, anywhere I wanted. Most days that summer I actually worked from the park by the river! I’d grab my laptop and head out to the water, and work away under the shade of a nice big tree, every once in a while stepping into a McDonald’s or Tim Horton’s restaurant to connect to their free wifi. There I would upload my programs to the compute server I was using for the experiments, and sync my email (this was around the time that I developed my offline-email setup, which I blogged about previously.)

The job was amazing. I was getting paid more than a typical student should have, and I was getting more sun and fresh air, which is always a good thing.

I feel like every programmer should be able to work outside when the weather is nice. Not always, of course. Physical presence in the office is important. But when I was outside working, the happiness I felt feeling the breeze in my hair and hearing the birds chirp and watching the boats go by counteracted the stresses of deadlines, debugging, etc. I love my current job, but I would love it even more if I could take off to the river for a few hours to program outdoors.

 
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