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Mel Reams

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Link of the day

Learning Fluency, by Sara Simon is a really interesting article and you should definitely read it. It’s kind of hard to summarize, what I got from it was that there are a lot of parallels between learning natural languages and learning to program, one of which is that rote memorization is both really useful and really underrated. Variables and for loops are really boring for experienced programmers (which I’m suspicious.. Read More

Parallels between writing and programming

You might have guessed from my extremely wordy blogposts that I like writing as well as programming :) Aside from having a personal interest in writing, I think there are some really useful parallels between writing and programming. Let’s talk about one of them: separating writing and editing. This is a pretty common piece of writing advice, I’ve seen it all over the internet. More specifically, what separating writing and.. Read More

Process smells

I’ve been talking about code smells for a while, but code is far from the only thing that can go wrong. What about process smells? There are things in your development process that may not necessarily be wrong in every situation, but are a signal that something could be wrong. Some of these are more definitely stinky than code smells, but not all of them. As always, if you’re happy.. Read More

“How do you approach a new codebase?”

Why yes I do love mining the internets for blog post ideas :) This particular question is about learning a new codebase at work, but I think there’s plenty of stuff here that would carryover to learning the codebase of an opensource project you want to contribute to. When you want to learn a new codebase, the very first thing you need to do is get it to build on.. Read More

Let’s poke at Tomcat!

A while ago I mentioned that every Java project has to have a main method somewhere. I started thinking it would be interesting to dig into a larger project and show how even a whole servlet container starts with a main method, just like the smallest hello world program. So let’s poke at Tomcat! Why tomcat? Because it’s open source, I’ve used it before, and honestly it was the first thing.. Read More

“Does working at a bad company damage one’s career?”

Another blog post inspired by a question on The Workplace, specifically: does working at a bad company damage one’s career? Yes, but not the way the questioner seems to think. The bad company in this case is very disorganized, which I’m sad to say isn’t exactly unheard of. That company does sound like an especially bad example, but if you get a few developers together you’ll hear plenty of very similar.. Read More

Code smell: temporary fields

Today’s code smell is temporary fields. Like with all code smells, sometimes these aren’t a problem at all. For example, it’s pretty normal to have a user object with a bunch of optional fields. Sometimes you have users who just start out with a username and a password and fill in their profiles later and sometimes you have fields for stuff like social media accounts that only some users will.. Read More

Arrogance is definitely a blocker

The latest The Workplace question to inspire me to write a whole post is How do you counter the argument that “Arrogance isn’t a blocker”? I don’t understand why a professional would ever say that arrogance isn’t a blocker, but I’ve sure got opinions on how to counter that argument! First of all, software development is a team sport. Sure, side projects and prototypes can be built by individuals, but the vast,.. Read More

It doesn’t work unless it all works together

Or, let’s talk about context some more! So last week I talked about how you can’t know if code is good or bad without knowing the context, what you’re actually trying to accomplish with that code, what was most important when it was written (priorities change, that doesn’t mean that the way the code was written at the time wasn’t perfectly reasonable for the context it was written in). But.. Read More

Context!

So I was browsing workplace.stackexchange.com questions late one night, as you do, and came across an interesting one: How to explain business priorities to a programmer. That one didn’t go at all the way I thought from the title. It turns out the business priorities actually did make sense (the business had this wild idea that queries, even especially complicated ones, should take less than 4 hours to run) and the programmer.. Read More