A Ruby hash, Luxury Touring Edition

map.rb, quality software by Ara T. Howard:

the awesome ruby container you’ve always wanted: a string/symbol indifferent ordered hash that works in all rubies

m = Map.new

m[:a] = 0
m[:b] = 1
m[:c] = 2

p m.keys #=> ['a','b','c'] ### always ordered!
p m.values #=> [0,1,2] ### always ordered!

m = Map(:foo => {:bar => 42})
s = m.struct # maps can give back clever little struct objects
p s.foo.bar #=> 42

I like little tactical improvements to the Ruby standard library that give it a slightly more modern feel.

Designing technological empowerment

Applied Discovery:

What future are we building, given that we play a role in such an important process?

On the role designers play, what they do as careers progress, and how design can positively enhance the world.

Reminder: if you tilt your head just so, developers do a lot of design activities too.

Quit your desk

Things I’ve quit doing at my desk: Many writers maintain a private writing hut. The hut has one purpose: it’s the place they go to write. They don’t do anything else there. Once they can’t write any more, they go do something else. I think we need to think of our desks in the same way:… Continue reading Quit your desk

It’s all made of maths

Math: humans mostly have a love/hate relationship with it. And yet, even if you’re challenged by the continuous maths like myself, it’s hard to argue that there isn’t something magical to seeing the commonplace of our world in mathematical terms.

Confidence despite evolving systems

Facing risk by instrumenting the hell out of it:

Software development is a complex system existing as it does at the intersection of people, systems, good intentions, confused and changing goals, and overly literal state machines. Past behavior isn’t always an indication of future behavior, and humans are terrible at reasoning about complex systems. As such we’re unlikely to know or have good visibility into whether we’ve reached a steady state and our hypotheses are likely to be wrong. In this uncertain and complex environment we initiate change only when the cost of not making a change overcomes the fear of making it.

First in a series on how Etsy writes, deploys, and operates changing software without The Fear. Thanks for writing this stuff down, Kellan!

Categorized as Code, Curated

Problems as ever-changing mazes

Problems, puzzles, startups as dynamic mazes:

just running to the entrance of (say) the “movies/music/filesharing/P2P” maze or the “photosharing” maze without any sense for the history of the industry, the players in the maze, the casualties of the past, and the technologies that are likely to move walls and change assumptions

I love this idea about thinking of solving systems as though they were an ever-changing maze, with history (fallen players) embedded within the system. Doubly so when you extend the metaphor to solutions that route around one problem to brazenly take on another problem. If this had a further extension to football playcalling, it would be perfect.

Refactor for value over cleanliness

Practice Responsible Refactoring:

When cleaning up the code enables you to work faster for a task you aren’t dreaming up but actually have at hand, refactoring is the way to go.

Dave Copeland makes the point that refactoring without a value-added change (feature, improvement, bug fix, optimization, etc.) is a losing proposition. By the numbers, he’s absolutely right. Further, I’ve found that probably half of the refactorings I’m convinced are necessary aren’t as simple or useful as I thought once I get an hour into them. Despite all that, keep doing therapeutic refactorings for practice and to keep your spirits up.

Categorized as Code, Curated