It starts by me just keep trying to solve it. After a while I decide that maybe I should look at the documentation. It turns out it's incomplete or just not specific enough to answer my question. Then I shout over the cube wall - see if the guy on the other side knows. Or walk in my boss' office and ask him. He usually goes "Goddamn it man can't you solve anything by yourself!? I don't know why we pay you!!" Then he tells me. Usually that's that.
But sometimes he doesn't know - so he sends me to our in-office guru. The guru has programmed everything that has a microchip in it at one time or another. I don't know if he was around for the vacuum tube era - there is a good chance he was.
Sometimes the guru is not in though. Then I search online - I usually have a suspicion what the problem is - so I search - "how to make A do B". After I while I end up on Wikipedia - reading about pre-historic weapons making techniques... It's never too late to start preparing for World War 4...
I don't believe I got stuck that often in a programming task before I was first exposed to the Internet in 1989. This was my first year at the University of Pittsburgh as an Engineering Student. Although in the first years there was not web browsing but gopher, ftp, telnet, news. And then there were also dial up bulletin board servers that I vaguely remember..
Hmm, I am not sure much of that solved my problems. However when I think of it back then a large programming assignment was 1 thousand to 2 thousand lines. I typically work on projects where I write 75 thousand lines (1.5 year project) and I have several dozen times written more than 1000 lines in a single day. Back then I would have turned to a book first. And programming language of choice was Borland Turbo Pascal.
There is the same quantity of a "Bacon" optional answer as of the CListCtrl. The world has changed, a new era is incoming. I have never posted CListCtrl before but in the next survey I'm gonna to for it.
... you find a match to your elusive search and it's turns out to be someone saying "We won't do your homework." (Although I use that as a clue that it's time to switch from specific to general or hit MSDN. )
Heh, what's been frustrating for me is running across all of those leech sites that harvest content from Stack Overflow. So I think I need to go in the other direction from the general to the specific, i.e. search Code Project, Stack Overflow, MSDN, etc. directly instead of relying on a general google search.