A common misconception, I assume popularized by Hollywood, is that as you
get closer to shipping software, activity becomes frenetic as everybody
scrambles to finish all the things that need to be done in time for the
deadline. In the typical crappy movie, there's a mad rush of typing in a
room full of cool alterna-dressed programmers with found-object earrings and
jeans jackets. Somebody stands up and shouts to the room in general "I need
the Jiff subroutine! Somebody give me the Jiff subroutine!" A good looking
young woman in Vivienne Tam urbanwear throws a floppy disk at him. "Thanks!"
As the second hand swoops towards the :00, the whole team waits
breathlessly around Ryan Phillipe's computer and watches the "copy" progress
indicator as the final bits are put onto a floppy disk with less than a second
to spare before the VC cuts off funding.
On good teams, the days before shipping just get quieter and quieter as
programmers literally run out of things to do one at a time. (Yesterday I
took the day off to explore New York City with my wee niece and nephews.)
Joel Spolsky, "Working on CityDesk, Part One"