Cart 0

Rubber Duck


Requirements: Solved problems by standing there and nodding.

The Pragmatic Programmer calls it "Rubber Duck Debugging": sometimes, the most intractable problems resolve themselves only when you explain them to someone else. Even if that person just nods, even if they have absolutely no idea what you're talking about, the act of describing your problem often dislodges the solution.

If your desk is within a hundred feet of a programmer, you've probably been on both sides of this conversation a dozen times:

PROGRAMMER, anguished: "Can you help me? I can't understand why the lambda won't pass the code block to the partial! See, I've got the declaration right HERE. And then the map/reduce should be diverting power from the forward deflector array..."
RUBBER DUCK: [nods understandingly]
PROGRAMMER: "So why doesn't the code block execute when the polarity..." *slaps head* "THE POLARITY! I'll just reverse the polarity, and it'll work!"
RUBBER DUCK: [nods understandingly]
PROGRAMMER: "Thanks, Rubber Duck! You've done it again!"

The power of the Rubber Duck is not limited to the world of computers, though. An understanding ear (and the act of explaining the problem) can magically solve almost any problem. Like a lost cellphone:

Matt Bramanti: *calls wife*: "Hi, honey, have you seen my... oh damn."

Everybody believes in the revelatory power of the rubber duck. This badge recognizes their heroic service in standing there and nodding while the frustration of a three-day coding problem is upended over their head. Maybe the rubber duck points out that missing curly brace, that extra colon in an Excel file, or realizes that the server is unplugged. But more often the power of the rubber duck is in the nodding while the problem unspools around them. Do you know a rubber duck? Reward them! Have you been a rubber duck? Good work, friend!

In a pinch, you can even talk directly to the badge. Or sing your problems to it!

Bemused-rubber-duck artwork by the talented Michele Melcher!

Share this Product