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How regressions happen

Working with software is frustrating, and working on software doubly so, because things up and break. Seemingly without warning or cause. One day the software is fine, the next day it flat-out doesn’t work. Even worse, one day it has this one bug or missing feature and the next day the bug is fixed or feature added but there’s all new bugs. What gives?

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My 2019 routine, your mileage may vary

I’m having a moment where I feel like I’ve got a winning wakeup/morning formula 🎊. Wake up early, around 6:30am. Feed the cats so they don’t barf in protest later. Skim the tweets and feeds for a few minutes while the brain boots up. Write for five, fifteen minutes or so. Organize and think about notes/files/projects/research (I’m trying PARA) and the structure of my work. Meditate. Work out, get to work (around 9:30am, lately).

Drink coffee. Focus before lunch. Teamwork after lunch, focused if possible. But probably meetings or 1:1s. Land ideas/tasks/projects/articles into Things as I work so I can avoid distractions.

Backfill things I finished into my todo so I don’t have days where I accomplish a lot but check off little. Finish work by 6ish. Read in the evenings. Restrict gaming to weeks my wife travels for competitions. (Narrator: he used restrict in a loose sense, here). Watch the Peak Television, or just Bob’s Burgers re-runs in the evening. Read a bit before bed, but probably also end up watching car videos on YouTube.

I fall to sleep easily, which is my superpower. Rinse, repeat.

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Sometimes you have to compile a list of known issues and ship

“’tis better to have known a software bug than to have never had a software at all”

Lord Alfred Tennyson, except not

Software that never ships never has issues. Draw the line, get it out there. Celebrate a little and recharge your batteries. Now fix the important stuff; it may not even be the bug that almost held up your release.

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Supporting remote work when you're co-located

Dave Rupert, Everything I Know About Remote Work. Me, everything I know about working with remote workers when you’re co-located:

  1. Every single meeting has a video link.
  2. If one person is remote on a meeting, it’s optimal to have everyone on the video call. Meeting rooms with video equipment are good, but don’t put everyone on equal footing. Mind the dynamic! One person with their laptop open vaguely facing most participants is not even acceptable.
  3. People naturally discuss and even decide things face-to-face/offline when colocated. That’s fine! Make sure one person summarizes the shape of the conversation and important take-aways in email/Slack/whatever you’re using.
  4. You now work async. On the downside, that means anyone on your team could now be heads-down, in the zone, not responding to your emails/Slacks while they get stuff done. On the upside, you can turn off all your distractions and get some stuff done too!

The end.

Narrator: there was probably more…

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Writing to a past version of myself

Left to my own devices, I write in the second person. With apologies to my high school English teachers, I have a justification for this: I’m writing to myself from one, five, ten, twenty years ago.

I’m writing a thing on the skill of reading framework code. I try to keep in mind that I should write to you the reader from me the first person, so as not to project upon you. But I keep writing to you the past version of myself, like I’m Scrooged‘ing myself, sending back little bits of wisdom about things that worked out for future me and things that future me wishes past me tried differently.

So sometimes you, the reader, will see me hastily publish something written in the second person. Sometimes I’m diligent and search&replace for “you”. Tools like Grammarly could probably help me here. But sometimes, I like to leave in the notes to my past or future self. 🤷‍♂️

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Your father's janky graphs these are not

You can Graphviz on the web now. Roughly-drawn sketch style, slightly Swiss modernism, or even in the design tool Figma. Mostly enabled by a port of Graphviz to Web Assembly via emscripten. This is one of the futures I was promised.

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Things makes a nice landing pad

One of the better productivity ideas I’ve seen over the years is using some app as a landing pad for all the random ideas, recommendations, and notes I come across in the moment. I’ve been using Things for this lately, and its surprisingly effective while remaining stress free.

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Automotive function determines form

I generally think function should have a strong influence on form, if not determine the form outright. I like to use cars an example of this, but I’m having trouble reconciling the past of “function over form” with the future.

Back in the days of peak car culture (1960s), the Jaguar E-Type was (and currently is) considered one of the finest looking cars ever produced:

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Social media in the morning? Whichever.

Austin Kleon recommends skipping the news/social media/blinky lights in the morning. I’ve found this works great for me, and sometimes not! I’m a morning person, so I’ve got that going for me. If I’m already in a groove, have ideas about what to write or code on, and jump in first thing, this advice works out for me.

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Blogging, like writing, is challenging

The thing which makes blogging difficult is not engagement, analytics, finding just the right theme, curating to a newsletter, managing comments, finding reach after the demise of Google reader, etc.

The hardest part is showing up, every day, writing. The hardest part is writing! The second hardest thing is hitting the publish button on a regular basis, not necessarily every day.

Deciding what to write about is pretty tricky too. And not falling prey to “hmm this idea really deserves a nine-part, 15 thousand word treatment, probably in eBook form”. And hitting Publish even when you’re not sure.

So I’m trying to blog (most/many) days in November. Which is easier than writing a whole book! The roadblocks look pretty similar, though.