Talking to the Duck


That's my duck. No, it doesn't have a name, it's just the duck. The duck was given to me by a Googler (hiring manager??) at a how-to-interview-at-Google talk at my university. They gave everyone ducks in fact, though they had a nice showing of diversity (you'll notice mine is purple and has no hat).

They said:

Talk to the duck! Debug with the duck! Pair program with the duck!

Now I don't normally talk to ducks, but if I want to work at Google...gotta do it. The idea is simple, you probably have heard of it before. Doing a code review out loud - actual sound coming out of my actual mouth - is really helpful at fixing small logic bugs. Small logic bugs being bugs that break the program, but are often a 1-line fix. They taught us to read our writing out loud to find spelling and grammer mistakes in 7th grade English class too.

This duck advice is dead simple to give, but very difficult to take. Every student who went to my high school is familiar with this idea, but approximatly none of us ever use it for real. Nobody at Google talks regularlly to their duck.

But why not?

It's human nature. If I code review in my head, I look normal. If I code review with my friend/coworker/mentor, I look normal. If I code review with my inanimate, purple, hatless, rubber ducky I look (and feel) insane.

Oh and I don't actually want to work at Google, the first reason being when I get there, no one will be talking to their ducks.