Weekly Reads 2018: 10.15-10.27

I didn’t get a lot of time to read interesting things recently. I had surgery and then was doing a lot of studying. Still, the pieces I did read are pretty fab.

I don’t want to get good at gaming, I want to escape the relentless pressure to improve myself | Eleanor Robertson | Opinion | The Guardian
“If I’m going to enjoy the absurd capitalist soma of video games, the last thing I want to do is feel like I’m being badgered by a superior at a dead-end job.” Yes. This. But also this whole article because I don’t want to “git gud” at video games either.

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Love, Kindness, and the Song of the Universe: The Night Jack Kerouac Kept a Young Woman from Taking Her Own Life – Brain Pickings
A beautiful tale. For all the turbulence and other problems in Kerouac’s life, this stands alone almost as a piece of fiction someone dreamed up.

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How to Make the Perfect Cup of Tea: George Orwell’s 11 Golden Rules – Brain Pickings
Orwell tells us how a proper cup of tea should be made, including some associated opinions.

Weekly Focus 2018: 10-28-11.3

  • LSQ
    • Website rebuild
    • Editor’s Ephemera column
    • Issue production
    • Reading stories
  • Storybin tests
  • Studying
    • Custom React starter kit
    • Plan tea app
    • Rails api/proxy fix
    • Comp Sci study
    • Ruby OOP book
    • YDKJS books
  • Enrichment
    • Short story draft
    • Prep book release

A bit out from surgery and it’s time to start getting all this exciting stuff done.

LSQ moves forward even when I don’t. My planning sessions earlier this fall are showing their worth now as I have some wiggle room to absorb being out of commission for a bit.

That list looks long but much of it is copy/paste work or reading or basic issue production I can do with my eyes closed at this point. A good time to get some music listening in!

I am bound and determined to get those Storybin tests finished this week. I have put them off for far too long. They don’t need to be perfect or even complete at this point, they just need to be done enough to trust the happy path.

While I’m benched at work I have a chance to get a lot of studying done. I want to try to bounce around a little and get some reading done as well. Finding the balance between practical application skill acquisition and deepening my knowledge remains tricky for me.

After all the trials last week with all my config issues on various sample environments I’m inspired to make my own projects as easy to set up as possible.

In between all of this good work, I have some writing to do. Next time I sit down with my story-in-progress I’m going to just dump out the rest of the rough draft. It can be a mess. I’ve spent so long editing my novel into shape that I need to remember how to cut loose and just write again.

Speaking of the novel, I ahve to get myself together for its release. Even if it’s just some basic planning, my author website and the book website deserve a little love this week.

I’m doing my best not to feel behind after basically taking the last week off side projects. There is always a ton of stuff to do so my best approach is just lining things up and knocking them down and occasionally I get to send something lovely out into the world.

React, Rails, and the degradation of the developer experience

The web development field is a mess. Tutorials only 6 months old are out of date. I’m dependent on stack overflow for answers to everything. I spend more time fighting config files and setups than I do writing code.

I wouldn’t want to scare anyone away, but I would be tempted to give dire warnings to folks looking to get into web dev right now. There is a shit ton of bs involved that has nothing to do with building apps or changing tech culture. Our tools are busted & confusing as fuck. It’s only because I’ve been at this so long that I can calmly navigate this quagmire.

I don’t mind learning new things, but that learning needs to feel like I’m getting something sustainable out of my time. Honestly, I don’t think “always be learning” is healthy. It’s the nature of the beast, but I don’t think we’re built for it. I just would like the industry to get to a point where there’s a sense that any of this is learnable with consistency.

I’ve literally lost interest in React before I’ve even built my first app in the framework and that’s entirely to do with the amount of learning that has to go on that has nothing to do with what I’m trying to build.

I’m just looking at all this and seriously questioning what we’re getting out of it. How is this better than the PHP apps we were building 10 years ago? It’s a slightly better experience for the end users? Maybe, but there have been other related innovations that make things faster. I mean, I built this site on WordPress for a reason. It’s fast, it’s got a stable UI, it does predictable things.

Are these web apps we’re building really anything more than html forms and pages? Is this really any more straightforward (and powerful) than what we were using a few years ago? I was working through a React course last week and the instructor half-jokingly said he called himself a “professional forms developer” which is scarily accurate for what many of us are actually doing.

There is room for innovation. I just wish it was happening a bit more slowly and thoughtfully. I think my last year of working with Rails has had a big influence on how I’m feeling about this stuff. There are changes to Rails, but it’s measured. JavaScript-land is a hot mess in comparison. The Rails apps I work on are plenty quick and responsive, even on mobile. Most of the time, there’s little to no javascript involved. Okay, fine, I’m blaming the single-page application fad.

All of this complexity is supposed to make the “developer experience” better. We’re meant to be more productive and write better, more stable code by using these frameworks. I’m just not seeing that play out so far in practice. If we’re not even having a better experience doing the work, then what is the point of all this, really?

At the end of the day, I like building things. I really do. Today is just one of those days where the barrier between what I’m doing (and where the industry keeps going) and being able to build things is very very high.

Weekly Reads 2018: 9.16-10.15

A bit behind on posting these because of some ongoing health issues. I’m looking forward to doing a lot more reading again soon. 😀
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How One Man Is Recreating Lost Colors – The New York Times
In our ephemeral world, so many things slip quietly away. It always pleases me to find someone is doing this kind of work and research.

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The Rise and Demise of RSS
Fabulous article on the history of my beloved RSS. I still miss Google Reader every single day.

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Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong – The Huffington Post
This is a long read, but no matter what your weight is, it’s worth the time.

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558m-year-old fossils identified as oldest known animal | Science | The Guardian
How on earth these scientists even found these fossils in the first place feels miraculous. The journey from 558m years ago to today, where these fossils exist and show us a picture of an incomprehensibly long ago past? Mind boggling.

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Now Damien Echols Will Teach You the Secrets of Magick – The New York Times
Surprised to see this level of openness in an article about high magick, though in a lot of ways this reminds me of Alan Moore.

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Where in the World Is Larry Page?
Interesting read that gives some insight into what’s going on at Google, and I was really surprised to hear that Page is little more than a phantom at the company.

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How Your Notifications Are Lying to You and How to Make Them Stop
A much healthier approach to dealing with notifications. These things are tools that are supposed to help us, not make us miserable. It is possible to have a more humane relationship with our devices, but it takes a little work.

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The Festival Where Millions of Women Prepare a Feast for a Goddess – Gastro Obscura
It’s unfortunate that for the rest of the year these women’s lives are so restrictive, but even so, this kind of ritual is amazing to learn about.

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Kitchen Soap – On Being A Senior Engineer
As I struggle to find my identity in this field, this piece was helpful in clarifying that my attitudes and approaches are in the right place, even if my technical skills are a mashup.

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The Joy of Cooking for One – The New York Times
I’ve been cooking for myself a lot lately out of necessity and this sums up a lot of what I’ve been feeling about it.

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’M.A.S.H.’ Remains One Of The Most Influential Sitcoms of All Time | Inverse
A piece of writing that sums up so much of what I love about this show. It remains relevant in so many ways and had a huge influence on me.

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We Could All Use a Little Snail Mail Right Now – The New York Times
Love this and would love to get into sending more snail mail. Just tactile, physical things in general seem to be getting more and more important to me.

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How to build rock-solid Ruby on Rails apps with BDD – DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻
Coincidentally part of a book I have queued up to read. This was a nice overview of the flow from scenario to code and back.

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Notes to Myself on Software Engineering – Member Feature Stories – Medium
A great set of reminders for those that build software. Some real gems of wisdom in here.

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A Suggestion on How to Spend a Day at Home
This is just delightful. And full of breakfasts.

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