Mel Reams


Mel Reams

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Dealing with imperfect requirements

A very common question developers ask is what they can do about bad requirements. The internet definitely needs more opinions on it, so here’s mine! The first thing you’ve got to do is accept you will never get perfect requirements. If anyone knew how to get perfect requirements every time no matter how large the feature was, you would know their name because they would be deservedly famous for finally.. Read More

Linux tip of the day

Take out the trash! Unlike Windows, Linux (at least my distro, Mint) doesn’t have a recycling bin/trashcan icon on the desktop to remind you to empty your trash directory once in a while. That really adds up if you forgot to empty your trash for, uh, a while. Technically you can just hunt down your trash directory and delete everything inside it, but do you really want to have to.. Read More

Back to basics: advanced Java generics

Last time I mentioned that there are bounded generic types and wildcards. I’ve never actually used one of those if I remember correctly, which I why I left them for a followup post. Bounded generics are really cool – they let you narrow down which types you can use with a generic class or method while still having the flexibility to work with different types in the range you’ve defined. There are.. Read More

Lastpass tip of the day

LastPass tries to be helpful by filling in form fields for you, but sometimes it gets it wrong. If you see it fill in the wrong data or if you just mysteriously struggle to sign into services that use 2FA (for me LastPass was helpfully inserting an old 2FA code when I tried to sign into AWS, which meant AWS thought my authenticator app was wildly out of sync and.. Read More

Back to basics: Java generics

Every so often you’ve got to go back to basics no matter how long you’ve been doing something. It’s amazing how much you forget when you haven’t done something in a while, even if it’s kind of a core feature of a language you use all the time. Like Generics in Java! So let’s talk about Generics. First of all, what is a Generic? It’s just a placeholder for a.. Read More

App of the day

Today’s app is Authenticator Plus It’s available for both Android and iOS and will save you a lot of hassle if your phone dies on you like mine did. On an unrelated note, I do not recommend the Nexus 5x but you can’t buy new ones anyway so that’s kind of a wash. Authenticator Plus, on the other hand, is great! It stores your accounts in your dropbox so you can.. Read More

What does reasoning about code even mean?

Programmers talk about “reasoning about code” all the time, but what does that actually mean? Is it really just pretending to be a CPU and working out exactly when your for loop ends? Yes and no. Figuring out exactly what your loops are up to is part of it, but at a higher level it’s also about how your methods, objects, modules, functions all work together. Like this stackoverflow answer says,.. Read More

How does a thread work, anyway?

Threads are used a lot in java, so I should probably understand how they actually work. They’re one of those things you use all the time without thinking about what’s really happening under the covers. I know threads and processes are related, but not exactly how. First of all, what’s a process? To understand threads inside a process you need to understand processes first. A process is an individual thing that’s separate.. Read More

Let’s play CPU!

I think one of many reasons it’s so hard to learn to code is that the people doing the teaching have all forgotten what it was like not to know how to code, so we skip over some really important basic steps because we think they’re inherently obvious. Case in point, this poor redditor who nobody ever taught how to work through a piece of code with a pencil and.. Read More

Project of the day

Somehow I came across a link to this one episode of a podcast called Reply All. That particular episode is about Anxiety Box, a delightfully odd project by Paul Ford. He was dealing with some pretty serious anxiety and being a nerd, decided to write a program to be anxious for him. It’s a really interesting story, and while Anxiety Box is now defunct, all the code is available so you can.. Read More

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