This, "What would Feynman do?" is a question I ask myself whenever I'm trying to figure out some technical problem and I seem to be stuck.

I try to imagine what Richard Feynman would do.

Of course it's a take off on the ever-popular What would Jesus do phenonmenon, but, the WWJD question rarely helps with technical questions.

Actually, when trouble shooting technical problems, the simplest concept which I have found most helpful of all is this:

Compare that which works to that which does not.

It is absolutely amazing how often this simple, stupid, obvious advice will help you out when troubleshooting, for example, network problems.

When trying to fix something, it is too easy to fall into the trap of trying this and that more or less randomly, hoping to stumble upon the solution.

It is usually more efficient to take something which is already working, and slowly make it more and more like that which is not working, changing one thing at a time. As soon as it quits working, whatever you just changed is probably at least one thing that's wrong with whatever it is that you're trying to fix.

So the next time you get stuck with some technical problem, try this technique... it doesn't always work, but it can help you out and give you things to try in situations when you otherwise are completely lost. And it works often enough that it astonishes me. Just keep it in the back of your mind, and pull it out whenever you get stuck. It won't always help, but sometimes it does. This trick was taught to me by a wise VMS guru ages ago, and it has stuck with me, and served me well.

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