Distressing times for the Rails community

Things like this sadden me: Mike Gunderloy resigns as a Rails activist, no longer wishing to be a public spokesperson for Rails. This is a great loss for the community.

Things like this disappoint me: the attitudes of a few people cause a tainting on the entire community. Even if David Naughton has misunderstood the issue, it is clear that the whole debate has had a negative effect on the Rails community.

Unexpected pornography at a professional conference surprises me, shocks me a little. I wonder whether Matt Aimonetti, at any point during the preparation of that presentation, thought “This is likely to offend some people”, and if so, whether Matt decided not to care.

The refusal of some Rails representatives to even acknowledge that there is a problem angers me. Yes it was edgy. Yes it was creative. It can be those things and still be offensive. “Creative” is not a synonym for “acceptable”. Offending people is a big deal. The unpology “I’m sorry that you happened to be offended” is a world away from apologising for having been the cause of offence.

It is not a person’s fault for being offended. Without wishing to be a Bible-basher, there is a lot to be said for this little nugget of advice:

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

You can’t please everybody all the time, but there are basic precautions that you can take, and when you have made a mistake, you can take responsibility for it and apologise for it.

I think that is the end of my rant, and i hope i will have nothing more to say about it.

* * *

I would like to say publicly, again, that i appreciate my job so very much. I am extremely lucky to work in a family-friendly, vibrant, fun, laid-back yet totally professional environment, doing a job that i enjoy with my whole heart. I don’t expect expect to be discriminated against, nor do i expect any special treatment. I receive precisely the appropriate amount of respect and admiration that i deserve based on my skill as a programmer. I am extremely grateful for it.

Here’s a picture of me loving my job today, along with some of my colleagues, sat on the picnic bench in the sunshine: yfrog.com/4o8a2j :)

* * *

Sort of related to the rant, i have been wondering tonight where my opinions come from. Different people have different opinions, and i can read and intellectually understand varying stances, so what is it that sways me so strongly in one particular direction? I have an opinion on almost any given topic, but i don’t always know what it is that makes me feel that way.

I find the various out-of-control tram hurtling down a track thought experiments quite interesting in terms of moral dilemmas to which people often have a strong opinion, yet cannot quite explain why. Ethics and morals are curious subjects.

What’s going on in aimee’s life?

I’m back! I have been away from the Internet for a week – a self-enforced leave of absence to try to avoid getting RSI. Happily to say, it seems to have worked – just typing as much as i need to at work, and having a rest in the evenings. I love programming and i love my job, so i really don’t want to injure myself.

I have been trying out another keyboard layout: Colemak. It has similar aims to Dvorak but, unlike Dvorak, they actually used a computer to help generate the layout! Also, unlike Dvorak, Colemak layout is fairly similar to Qwerty, possibly making it easier for Qwerty users to switch. It keeps Z, X, C and V in the same place, useful for the obvious keyboard shortcuts.

colemak.com – the website for the layout.
Colemak on a TypeMatrix EZ-Reach keyboard – made for my own reference, but i imagine others may come looking for it too. If you want it as a PDF, let me know.

Work has been fun lately – we’ve been trying out pair programming and i’m really enjoying it. I took a while to believe that it really is beneficial for two people to program together, but i’m coming round to the idea now. Especially when trouble-shooting – there is almost no break in the flow because the combination of two brains focussed on a problem means that we come up with the solution pretty quickly. Plus it’s also really good fun! :D I think the key is to have a separate pairing station set up with two keyboards and two mice plugged in. That gives a feeling of equality. With a little perseverance it soon starts to feel very natural to program together.

Social life has been fun too. The Spring weather is making me very happy. Church has been great, really enjoying it. In my week-of-no-internet i became totally hooked on Life On Mars – can’t wait to see the second series!

I leave you with something that i saw in a bookshop in Southampton yesterday – made me LOL ;-)

LOL

File under: notes to self

Note to self: Not everything has do be done as quickly as is humanly possible!

I tend to want to type as fast as i possibly can, all the time, and code as fast as my brain can do it. Learning Vim has been an excellent exercise in slowing down a bit, thinking of the best way to achieve the effect that i need, in as few keystrokes as possible. I am really loving Vim now. Been using it for about 3 weeks and have no intention of going back to TextMate now. The best thing was when i did some coding at home at the weekend and was just so happy to have the exact same coding environment to work with at home.

Another lesson in slowing down is when coding with someone else. I tend to find my brain goes much faster than i can form words to explain what’s going through my head. It can be a frustrating experience at times. But today i made the effort to slow down, take the time to ensure that my colleague was still following my train of thought, rather than rushing ahead at full speed. It actually was quite a calming thing to do, like an exercise in mindfulness.

I have mentally renamed the toilet as the prayer room. Turns out it’s a great place to say a quick prayer, assess how i’m feeling, recenter myself, pray for peace and mental inspiration, wish blessings upon my colleagues … I have been wanting to be more aware of God in my everyday life, and this is a great way to do it.

I’m feeling great at the moment – really happy! People say that God makes a positive difference in their lives. Whether a divine being is really at work in my personal daily activities, or whether it’s my enhanced state of mind that comes from focus and prayer, i don’t know and i don’t really care. I just know that it’s working out well for me at the moment! :)

I have such a good job!

How cool is it that i can spend the day doing fun stuff like this and get paid for it?!

New ykyat.com home page

This is how ykyat.com looks now!

Commenting on ykyat.com

See – you can comment now!

RSS feeds from ykyat.com

And you can get RSS feeds!

If you’re on Twitter, why don’t you join in! It’s fun! The hashtag is #ykyat – you know you’re addicted to. Think of something you’re addicted to, and something that proves it. E.g.

#ykyat your job when you blog all about it!

Or, go on http://ykyat.com and make some comments, or vote up your favourite addictions!

I do love my job! :)

Addicted – a web app in a day!

Today was a rather different day at work – when we arrived we learnt that we were going to build a web app in a day! Just for fun! This morning there was no ykyat.com. Now there is! We bought the domain, built the app, registered the Twitter account (@ykyat), got it importing data … oh, it was a lot of fun!

ykyat - you know you're addicted to ...

The application scans Twitter to find out what people are addicted to, in the form “You know you’re addicted to x when …” It sucks up the tweets, categorises them, lets you vote them up and down.

Being the person with previous experience of the Twitter API it was my responsibility to get the data in and send an @reply to people who use the hashtag #ykyat. My colleagues worked on the models, routes, user interface, interaction, the rating system, and getting it live and working on EC2.

It was great fun all to be working on the same thing together, and the challenge of doing the whole thing in one day! Credit to my colleagues for being so great to work with – it was a bit hectic at times! Huge credit to my boss, @chrismdp for thinking up the idea (yesterday!) conveying it to us, and directing us all to achieve it. I reckon that is pretty impressive!

It looks as if there will be a series on the Eden Development blog about how we did it! :)

On learning Vim

I’m sure Vim is going to be a wonderful thing for me to have learnt – a skill that will stay with me and benefit me for the rest of my life. It’s just getting there that’s so hard!

I started using Vim in earnest this week. On Monday i used Vim in the morning, and switched to TextMate when i got too frustrated. Tuesday was periodic switching between the two. TextMate when Vim got on my nerves, and back to Vim when i found myself missing Vim features. Yesterday and today i have been entirely on Vim.

Yesterday was great – i really felt i was getting somewhere, and gaining speed. It started to be less about me getting around Vim, and more about me doing my work. Today has been a bit more frustrating, as i know it is slowing me down significantly in the short-term, but i’m sure it will be worth it!

I keep finding myself smiling at Vim when i have elegantly told it to do something quite complex. It’s like “Wow, Vim, you’re so clever!” Selecting a block of text and duplicating it, going five words in and changing the text to the end of the quote marks: vapyP5wct" - said as "visual a paragraph, yank, Paste above, 5 words, change till quote marks.

It's so cool to have Git integration right within Vim, and now that i've got the hang of the NERD Tree, and manipulating windows and buffers, i'm coming along a treat! I've discovered i have quite a strong perception of the layout of a project - without a project drawer i just couldn't think what to do or where to find anything! I've also decided i really like side-by-side windows so that i can see code and spec at the same time. I'll do a screenshot when i'm on my big computer.

The biggest problem in fact is not the super-amazing-cleverness of Vim and its plugins. I'm getting the hang of them pretty fast. The hardest thing is just learning the basic commands - like - moving around! I still get j and k mixed up, and it requires so much brain energy to remember whether i want to type a or i, o or capital O ... even to remember to press <Esc> to come out of insert mode. Invariably i get it wrong and have to undo all the time. Either that or i'm undoing when i don't want to, because i think u is for up. Fortuately i discovered on a Dvorak keyboard, k is underneath u so that sort of reminds me that k is up.

I just hope it is not my dyslexia making it hard to learn the basic movements. Most of Vim makes a lot of sense to me. I like that it uses mnemonics and mostly pressing one key at a time. I love how you can combine keystrokes in sequences to achieve really powerful effects. I hear that when you get really good at Vim you're not even aware of exactly which keys you're pressing. You just think about what you want to do, and your fingers do it automatically. I'm sure i can get to that level of proficiency ... it's just a case of being patient with myself whilst i'm still learning.

It was like this when i was learning Dvorak, but i'm glad i did, and my fingers do just type without my having to think about where the letters are. I type at around 80 words per minute, which is pretty nice, so i'm sure with the power of Vim, i could be truly awesome!

So long, 2008

Approximately a year ago, you may have wished me a happy 2008. If you did, thank you! I had a pretty awesome year!

Reading back in my blog, it feels like a long year. In fact, i noticed a stark contrast between the two halves of the year, pivoting on the moment i got my new job. I was amazed by how much of a difference it made in my perception: the first half of the year feels much longer than a year ago, but everything since my new job feels very recent. Yet the two halves are separated by just one weekend! I also noticed how many more blog posts i made in the earlier half of the year compared to the latter.

So it’s new year’s eve again, the time when i get all retrospective and nostalgic. I actually quite like staying in on new year’s eve and blogging. Here is a summary of the year.

Continue reading

Cucumber!



cucumber
Originally uploaded by viZZZual.com

I’ve been sent home. I’m too ill. I’m not *that* ill … i managed to get a decent bit of work done this morning, but it made me very tired. So i’ve come home with a fascinating book to put me to sleep keep me occupied: Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software by Gamma, Helm, Johnson and Vlissides. Nearly 400 pages – yikes!

I like cucumbers. Sometimes i think a nice fresh cold, crisp and juicy cucumber tastes almost like a watermelon! Depending on my mood i might prefer slices, chunks or strips. I like cucumber grated in salad, and it makes a tasty and refreshing juice. Wow, cucumbers are great!

Today i discovered another Cucumber that i like – the feature runner that supports behaviour driven development. We switched over to Cucumber at work today. Just like that! We converted two of our projects to Cucumber and already gained the benefit of having ambiguous steps pointed out, and enjoyed the pretty colours and helpful information in the output.

One thing i like about Cucumber is it is multilingual. I have been thinking about writing my features for MyChores in LOLCAT! I’m not quite sure how it’s going to work, but i think it would be pretty funny[0] to pretend i have a team of cats testing the code! Maybe it’s a bit impractical, i don’t know. Perhaps i’ll give it a try this afternoon.

[0] My interpretation of the word ‘funny’ may not be the same as everybody else’s!

At my parents' home

Just a quick post to say, hello, and celebrate the fact that i’m on my netbook at my parents’ home! :)

Predictably, they didn’t know the password for the wireless internet. I thought it would be written down on a piece of paper somewhere, but no, it’s worse than that … only my uncle in Yorkshire knows the password! Happily i managed to poach a network cable and use that. It’s nice to have my own machine, with my email and calendar, and internet preferences and keyboard and everything just the way i like it! :)

This has been a tough week at work, and i was feeling rather overwhelmed yesterday, but several things all came together nicely today. It was a good day. I’m also very happy and relieved to say that my brother, who has been very ill for some time, is significantly better now.

I’m going to bed in a minute … i’ve been given some Nytol sleeping tablets which will hopefully help me to sleep better. I’ve had a lot of nightmares and sleepwalking lately. I can feel the tablets kick in as i type this (or maybe that’s just psychological?!) … i think this is going to be a nice relaxing weekend.

Lack of a plan

I am waiting for some inspiration to occur to me about what to do for the rest of the afternoon. I know i have some chores to do (don’t i always?!) but not too many today. I might watch The Bill which my sweetie kindly recorded for me in the week. I might work on the MyChores API a little bit … or i might just continue lying in bed. Blogging from my bed is the best thing, haha!

I went to church again this morning. It was perfectly fine. I met a few more people, including many of the musicians. I keep dropping hints that i’d like to join their band, but i haven’t yet spoken to the people i would need to in order to join! I felt very content this week, and happy to be at the church. I love it that there are so many South Africans at the church. They are friendly and kind … and i love their accents! I’m probably going to pick up a bit of Afrikaans if i keep on going!

Work was good this week. I did a good job and i knew it. There’s no doubt that the work i’m doing now is the hardest i’ve ever had to do. I’m not used to finding my job difficult. But hey, it’s so rewarding to overcome a challenge and know i did it really well. I feel proud of myself. It’s tiring, though. I had a lovely relaxing day yesterday, but i still feel like i need a bit more time to relax before going into another busy week of hard work.

Yesterday afternoon was spent with nyecamden who came to Winchester to meet me. We had a good time together. Visited the library to have a go on their wifi with our netbooks! :) Went to my favourite cafe, The Sanctuary for a delicious hot chocolate. We walked down to the cathedral green to idly pass the time. On the way we found several messages written in chalk on the pavement of The Square. I don’t know who started it, but they were interesting to read. Many of them began with “This is …” and contained recollections of Winchester and happy memories.

Adding to the chalk messages

I added to the messages, with “This is my favourite place to live”. It’s true, i love Winchester. Such a beautiful city, steeped in history and culture. I am very happy to live here.

Thank you Nye for the picture! :)