About five minutes ago, the beeping stopped.
I was in Texas last week for BBQ, clouds, and a wedding. At some point when I was gone, something in my house started beeping. When I arrived home there was a high-pitched chirp about every 45 seconds to a minute, coming from somewhere in the house. Generally when things beep annoyingly it’s one of the UPSes which like to complain loudly after a power outage. The one at my desk and at the closet both had a weird light on back saying “Building Wiring Failure.” (Probably because I removed the ground plug to plug them into a two-socket extension cord.)
I tweaked the UPSes for a good hour or two trying to get them to stop beeping, I pressed the buttons, reset the circuit, unplugged them, left them off, I even flipped my master breaker. (Which reset all of the thermostats to 62, a chilling fact I realized the next day.)
Eventually, I realized the beeping wasn’t coming from a UPS at all, but rather from the smoke detector in my office. I stood on a wheeled chair and sure enough there was a 9-volt battery in there that looked pretty dead, yet it was still wired into the wall in a way I couldn’t disconnect easily. Now that the problem was identified, I just had to find a 9-volt battery (I didn’t have any) and everything would be okay.
That was three days ago. Since then, I came to live with the beep. I found that if I closed the office door and my bedroom door I couldn’t really hear it while sleeping, any more than a cricket chirping. I took calls in my living room instead of my office. Even sitting at my desk, not 5 feet from the smoke detector, I was able to get productive work done with the beeping like a minutely metronome that was hardly noticable. For days.
Engineers do this all the time. We ignore the high-pitched beeping 5 feet away from us that would drive any normal person insane because whatever gene that gives you the programming knack also makes it disturbingly easy to focus and ignore things we’re familiar with.
This is why releases are so important, they force you to clean up your house like you’re having company coming over.
Your assignment today is to take a walk around your blog, application, website, whatever you work with on a daily basis, and allow yourself to be supremely annoyed with the beeping smoke detector in the corner. Let the nagging details of what you do grind like nails on blackboard and amaze you that you have ignored for months or years something so familiar yet so annoying. Obsess about it until you can’t do anything else except fix it, and take the 10 minutes to walk to the store and get a 9-volt battery.