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C Style: Standards and Guidelines (contents)

CHAPTER 2 : Psychological Factors

PART 1 : BASICS

CHAPTER 2 : Psychological Factors

2.1 Pattern Recognition
2.2 Filtering
2.3 Habit
2.4 Redundancy
2.5 Cues and Context
2.6 Recognizing Basic features
2.7 Short Term, Working and Long Term memory
2.8 Chunking
2.9 The Rule of Seven
2.10 Context Switching
2.11 Modifying the image
2.12 Memorizing sounds
2.13 Eye focus
2.14 Eye movement
2.15 Looking ahead
2.16 Looking back
2.17 The subconscious is always right
2.18 Natural ambition
2.19 Summary

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2.3 Habit

Habit is a bane and a boon. It can help us to use standards without too much effort, but it also makes changing from our old styles painful. The saying, "You can't teach old dogs new tricks," refers to fact that as our pattern-set changes less and less, we become less willing to learn new patterns. It no longer matters why we do something. It is just, "The way we always do it."

Thus, as we grow older, the concepts of new technology grow ever more difficult to understand. An old man, who can conduct a powerful argument about difficult and esoteric points of philosophy, may find the operation of a video recorder almost impossible to grasp.

Similarly, as a programmer becomes more experienced, he tends to fall into one programming style, and finds other styles more and more objectionable. This, you might think, is an argument for not having a standard style. But as discussed in Chapter 1, standards are less for the individual and more for the group. It may be painful, but it is possible for a programmer to change his programming style. The good news is that he will eventually prefer the standard, as it changes from effort into habit.

 

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