The Power of Walking Away

Published on April 8, 2008

Last night, I spent several frustrating hours trying to untangle a problem with the update manifest for my Firefox extensions. After releasing my updated extensions, I noted that while CoLT automatically updated without any problems, Googlebar Lite did not. I double-checked, triple-checked, and even quadruple-checked everything I was doing. Everything I had done for CoLT was exactly what I was doing for Googlebar Lite. But the automatic update consistently failed.

As past experiences have taught me, simply walking away from the problem is occasionally all that is needed. Taking a mental break is a surprisingly effective way of going directly to a problem’s solution. And this is exactly what happened last night.

Being well past my usual bed time, and having made no progress towards a solution, I decided to call it a night, and so headed to the bathroom to take a shower and brush my teeth. As I stepped into the shower, the solution instantly occurred to me! I was incorrectly using a wild card in the minVersion value in my installer manifests (2.0.0.* instead of 2.0). Immediately after getting out of the shower, I rushed to test the solution. Lo and behold, it worked.

Sometimes, all it takes is walking away.

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