What you can learn about development from a theoretical physicist’s safecracking hobby.
I recently came across an interesting story about theoretical physicist Richard Feynman picking up a hobby of picking locks in his down time on the Manhattan Project
What started as a way to kill time in Los Alamos gained Feynman a reputation among colleagues as a master safecracker. Even being asked to retrieve documents from the locked filing cabinets of out of town colleagues.
His methods boiled down to an understanding of the locks. Which led to the discovery he could easily get the last two digits from an unlocked safe and then needed only 20 attempts to get the first number.
Of course he couldn’t let his colleagues know it only took him minutes to crack the safe or they’d know there was a trick to it. And then he couldn’t bill for the time. 😉
Eventually Los Alamos brought in a professional lock smith and Feynman heard about the lock smith cold opening the Captain’s safe in minutes. He had to know how he did it so fast since his own method required secret knowledge.
After befriending the smith Feynman discovered that the lock smith was no more of a master safecracker then he. The locksmith had his own trick. He knew the factory default combinations the safes used1
Often what comes across as an expert knowledge of a topic is simply taking the time to understand the most basic principles of how it works.
I’m a strong believer that one of they keys to developing within WordPress2 is to understand the basics of the technology.
Ways to learn the basics of WordPress
If you’re looking to improve your understanding of WordPress you don’t need to befriend an expert3 to learn the secret skills of experts.
The best ways are to play with the code itself and see what you can uncover. That could mean submitting a plugin, reviewing a theme, or working on bugs in core.
Whatever you choose to do, just know that there’s more than one way to gain the status of expert safecracker. It just depends on what tricks of the trade you come across.
Check my resources page for more links to great WordPress resources.
- Another story for another post about securing your site.
- or anything for that matter
- Though it doesn’t hurt.