Coding matters: Effort is required

Photo of a man and a woman doing one-handed pushups.

July is the month that tempts me most to do less. It's hard to get up when it's dark. It's hard to summon energy when it's cold. A blanket, my Kindle and hot chocolate are so much more appealing than my desk.

But to paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt: anything worth having or achieving requires effort. Or, as exercise coaches say: no pain, no gain.

Learning requires effort

I came across an blog post titled "How to Learn Better in the Digital Age".

The author explained how - like many of us - he spent hours consuming (useful) digital content. Then he realised that it didn't make him more productive. He wasn't learning. Why? Because he wasn't putting in real effort.

There are no learning hacks because there’s no such thing as easy learning. We only learn when we put serious effort into the process of learning.

This is why you have to type code to learn how it works. You can't just watch YouTube videos, or copy and paste. Information does not magically flow from the screen to your brain without effort.

It's like exercise. You can watch the Comrades Marathon, and look at reviews of running shoes. But you won't get fitter or faster until you actually do the work of running.

The R5 million cost of no effort

The Protection of Personal Information ACT (POPIA) took effect on 1 July 2021.

Almost exactly two years later, the Information Regulator has issued its first fine. It fined the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ) the amount of R5 million.

In 2021, the DoJ suffered a ransomware attack that halted services and exposed data. In part, because the DoJ hadn't renewed the licences for antivirus and security software. I haven't seen any explanation for this. In my experience, most software will display warnings about licence expiry. The vendors send emails about the renewal. For big accounts like this, the vendors would arrange meetings to discuss renewal. But nobody put in any effort.

The Regulator didn't fine DoJ for its failure to protect sensitive data. Instead it issued an enforcement notice. This gave DoJ 30 days to take action, including renewing the licences. The R5 million fine is for failure to do any of the actions required by the notice.

Everything about this disturbs me. DoJ did nothing. No effort. The systems remain at risk, and I expect our taxes will pay the fine.

Reminder to self

Effort costs - time and energy and sometimes money. But no effort costs much, much more. Something to remember when the effort seems like, well, effort.

How do you handle mid-winter productivity blues? I'd love to hear your tips.

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