The Day I (Almost) Reinvented the Wheel

The Day I (Almost) Reinvented the Wheel

A few years into my career, I found myself working at a scrappy startup, my heart brimming with passion for all things code. I had dabbled in a colorful array of languages and frameworks, from PHP to Ruby on Rails, Python to Django, even dipping my toes into machine learning, data science, game development, and the arcane arts of assembly language. Money wasn't my primary motivator; the thrill of creation was my fuel. Sleep was a mere inconvenience, as every waking moment was dedicated to learning and tinkering with new side projects.

One day, as we were building an MVP for a Bluetooth beacon-based product, I was tasked with creating an API to detect devices within a certain radius. Eager to prove my worth, I dove headfirst into research, determined to find the most elegant solution. The haversine formula, a trigonometric gem from the realm of physics, caught my eye. With my background in physics, I quickly grasped the theoretical underpinnings, but the implementation was another beast altogether.

Hours melted away as I meticulously crafted and optimized the code in our Python-DRF stack. My boss, sensing my deep focus, periodically inquired about my progress via Slack, even though he was sitting mere feet away. I was in the zone, oblivious to everything but the problem at hand.

Finally, the moment of truth arrived. I fired off a payload in Postman, and the response came back with impeccable latitude and longitude coordinates. A wave of euphoria washed over me. I felt like I had cracked the Enigma code. With a triumphant grin, I showed my work to my boss, explaining my solution with the fervor of a mad scientist.

He listened patiently, a knowing smile playing on his lips. Midway through my explanation, he gently interrupted and asked me to join him at his computer. He opened an old repository and revealed a similar problem he had encountered in the past. PostgreSQL, our trusty database, already had a built-in solution.

We shared a hearty laugh, acknowledging the irony of my over-engineered approach. My boss, ever the pragmatist, offered two valuable lessons that day:

  1. Don't Reinvent the Wheel: "If a solution seems too difficult or original, first check if some 'Shana' (genius) has already done the work for you."

  2. Collaboration is Key: "If you had asked me earlier, you wouldn't have been so exhausted by this problem. I could have saved you a lot of time and effort."

He reassured me that my independent problem-solving skills were admirable, but reminded me that it's okay to ask for help. More often than not, the solution is less daunting than it seems, and collaboration can lead to faster, more efficient outcomes.

Looking back, I chuckle at my youthful exuberance and the naive belief that every problem requires a groundbreaking solution. That day taught me the importance of humility, pragmatism, and the power of teamwork.

It also taught me that sometimes, no matter how tough or unique the problem seems, there's a possibility that some "Shaana" (Genius) has already created the solution. So, before you embark on a quest to reinvent the wheel, take a moment to ask around. You might be surprised at what you discover.

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