Three favorite hobbies?

June 22, 2020

June 2020 Notes

This was done in the pre-pandemic times, and with the inability to go anywhere except to the store and to exercise, they’ve become more important than ever. Having a creative outlet outside of work, where you Make A Thing, helps to refresh you for when you go back to work. Plus, it’s something fun to talk with your coworkers about (if you want).

I still plan on working on my Ralsei cosplay. I have a few small tweaks to it so that it’s ready for future, in-person conventions (or innovative online ones!).

The Word 'Just' in Code Reviews

June 10, 2020


“Why didn’t you just…” is a phrase I’ve worked very hard to eliminate from code reviews, for the benefit of others. For those of us with loud inner critics, having it written to you in a review can imply:

  • You didn’t think through the problem well enough. That may be 100% true, and the point of code reviews is to think through the problem more with help from others, but now I think you think I’m an idiot, and what could be a learning or teaching moment has made me a bit less receptive to the information.
  • You should have known better not to do that. Maybe I had looked into snakey and decided not to use it. Or that was a new thing in snakey and my knowledge of the library is out of date. In this case, a code example going along with the comment is a huge help. Show me what you’re thinking by writing some code, and it could help massage even a straight “Why don’t you just…” in a great “A-ha!” moment for one or both of you.

Remember, rogerf really thinks Bamboo will find these improvements useful. They’re not being a jerk within the rich fiction of this comic. But that doesn’t mean anything when an inner critic gets involved.

Additionally, rogerf was probably trying to soften the blow and make Bamboo feel less upset. In code reviews specifically, this is where a code example, provided within the comment and without making someone ask for it, can be much more effective.

“What do you think about” is a phrase I’ll often use in these contexts, because if they had thought about it, then cool, you already know! If not, cool, now we’ve both thought about it and we can discuss it!

There’s a lot of other ways the word “just” can be used, and there’s discussions online about how trying to govern the use of this word, especially in the workplace, could be damaging. In the context of code reviews specifically, my own experiences and conversations have shown that there are much better alternatives than the word “just”, and they trigger inner critics a lot less quickly.


Bamboo receives a code review comment notification

Reviewed by rogerf_:I think you’ll find these improvements useful!

rogerf_: Why didn’t you just use the function from snakey instead of reimplementing it here?

“Inner Critic”: Why didn’t you just do it right the first time, Bamboo? Why did you just waste their time on your crappy code, Bamboo? Why didn’t you just do the research, Bamboo? Why did you just show everyone how bad a developer you are, Bamboo?

Software Integrations

June 2, 2020


Integrating with other services, internal or external, is always a challenge. Even with the integration itself happens smoothly, a single API change on one end, or a dependency doing something odd, can create a whole host of challenges, and there’s a couple of approaches you can take.

  • You can use network capture tools to cache external responses and test against those, but those can go out of date pretty easily.
  • You can mock the services in tests, and that has the same issue.
  • You can set up monitoring and exception handling just around the API consumption, but then you’re putting a ton of data assertions into your code that have a similar problem to mocking services.

The real solution is to never integrate with other services ever and build everything you would ever need and force all your users to buy into that. That’s realistic, right?


Thwump! Thwump!


Bamboo - “Sorry! I’ll pick them up!”

Clerk - “I’m almost afraid to ask…”

Bamboo - “…I’m rigging up the exhaust of my car to a windmill to run my mixer so I can make some pizza dough…those’ll be easier to integrate than the four SaaS services with our three apps at work.”

Clerk - “Whatever helps you sleep at night, I guess.”

Process Improvement: Bamboo Colors & Checklist

May 29, 2020

One of my goals for the next three months is to improve my production processes and trim out, optimize, or batch as much of the work as I can. This will let me produce comics and other fun stuff quicker and with less stress & context switching.

The first improvement is to create a small color chart and checklist that I can import into documents as a layer when I’m drawing or coloring.

Bamboo color chart and checklist

This is the easiest way I’ve found to get a consistent palette for coloring imported into SketchBook. The checklist helps me remember to check the things I often miss when drawing Bamboo, things that often require me to re-export drawings, which is painful in SketchBook due to its lack of layer groups.

Sitting Desk, Standing Desk, or Other?

May 25, 2020


I’ve moved between sitting and standing desk a lot over the years, though since my main desk is an IKEA Jerker, it’s a little tough to make a temporary standing desk setup with it (believe me, I’ve tried). I now take frequent breaks to stretch in between sitting.

Poll Results

From the totally scientific Instagram story poll (there were no votes on Twitter):

  • Votes: 5
  • Sitting: 4 (80%)
  • Standing: 1 (20%)
  • Both! (via comment): 1

More super-scientific polls to come!