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Mel Reams

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“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

Be a better programmer while still having a life: part 12

Keep it simple! It sounds obvious, but I have wasted so much time debugging problems that turned out to be something ridiculously simple like my browser cache being outdated, having forgotten to deploy my code, having made my updates in my local database instead of the staging database, etc, etc. Better developers are more productive, and you know what instantly makes a person more productive? Wasting less time! Double checking extremely.. Read More

OnePlus 5 review

Because you definitely all care about my opinions on phones :) The very short version is I really like this phone and recommend it for anyone who likes the Google Pixel but is put off by the price. Now for the details! The hardware is really nice, it feels solid and well put-together. Fair warning, it is a phablet and the formfactor is very large – without a case the.. Read More

Back to basics: Classes

Let’s talk about classes! Classes in Java are super weird (okay they’re weird in any language), and I really struggled with them when I was learning Java, so don’t feel bad if classes/objects are hard for you. When you write simple code where everything is in main and runs immediately, it’s way easier. With classes you can’t just write it and call it, you have to create an instance first. What’s.. Read More