Content from 2014-09
Why do Programming?
After going to Strangeloop for the first time in 2012, I was really fired up about programming. I'd only been out of school a year and was already a full-remote Clojure developer making a great salary. Even better, I had made good progress on my lisp emulation project and received some recognition from hackers I respected for it.
The last two years Strangeloop has been a lot more sobering. I told myself things in 2012 about how fast I'd get better and how good I'd be. Even though my expectations were unreasonable it's taken a long time to not feel bad about my (relative lack of) progress. I've been slow to accept the fact that I don't want to fight my way to being the best in my field.
I got in Tuesday night, dropped my bags at the hotel, and immediately ran off to drinks and phenomenal conversation at the Schlafly Tap Room. Many of the best experiences I've had at Strangeloop have been at the tap room. Sure there is excellent food, beer, and technical conversation, but I've always gotten a sense of personal acceptance at gatherings there. Strangeloop is certainly a welcoming crowd.
Wednesday was a blast as well, as any day with a trip to the STL City Museum should be, but more and more I found I cared about personal interactions more than the content of the talks I attended.
By the end of Thursday, I was stressed out. I wasn't even excited about the talks, which isn't to say they weren't good. I hated the idea that I was just an average programmer, that I didn't aspire to more than hacking bog-standard Rails apps as a career, that I'd spent almost $2000 out of my own pocket to come to a conference that someone else might have gotten more out of. I went to bed early that night.
I kept my mindset in check much better on Friday. I reminded myself to be excited about others discoveries and creations, not to demand myself learn every tool or technique. The conference wrapped up well and I particularly enjoyed some of the Distributed Systems talks, a subfield I still have no experience with. Not to say I want to go fight distributed heisenbugs soon or design highly reliable systems. The talks were quite entertaining and informative is all.
The main takeaways I've had from Strangeloop have nothing to do with tech and everything to do with me. Strangeloop has, in many ways, been a time for me to reflect these last two years. I'm not sure that's a good way to use the conference but it seems to be what I've done.
The first takeaway that comes to mind is that I need to try and respect myself for just being a decent Rails developer. I'm not great at solving algorithmically tricky problems and my CS background is, frankly, pretty damn weak. But no matter what I shouldn't beat up on myself for being "just a programmer". I need to put in an honest day's work and actually pat myself on the back at the end of it.
The second takeaway is that I need to program for me again. I got into programming mostly because I wanted to know more about how computers work. The emulator and talks surrounding it, some of my favorite work, is really more an investigation than artifact. I still want to support coleslaw. It actually has a few satisfied users and I'm one of them. But the only real purpose of the emulator is to sate my curiosity. Not to become a real thing or be special or groundbreaking.
There is plenty I'm still digesting and plenty I'm still not sure of, both technically and in terms of what I want for myself, my career, my life. But I'll leave that for another day. Cheers.
I'm working towards 1.0 and Coleslaw's basic architecture seems to have settled down. The areas of focus for 1.0 will be better error handling, command-line conveniences, more content types, and possibly some new ways to ingest data.
Coleslaw 0.9.6 will be released this Saturday and, not long after, make it into the next quicklisp release. Seeing as it contains big changes, some of them breaking, I thought I'd put out an announcement.
Coleslaw 0.9.6 unifies how we handles URLs throughout the application and
simplifies the deploy strategy. The good news is, this makes the install
process easier for new users. The bad news is, if you've got an existing
install, you'll need to add a new plugin
(versioned) to your config
file for the old deploy behavior.
That's not so rough, right? In addition, custom themes and plugins that haven't been upstreamed may need some minor tweaks. The NEWS has more details.
Feel free to grab the
basic-deploy branch from my repo and
try it out. There are some new docs and the README has been
cleaned up. There's also a plugin for Twitter Summary Card
support and the usual smattering of bugfixes.
While I'm happy to maintain Coleslaw if no one else steps up to work on it, I'm going to try and shift my focus towards emulation work and weird lisp noodling. If you're interested in taking on a co-maintainer role or working with me on the project please get in touch. I've been very appreciative of the help and interest thus far. If there's anything I can do to make the project more approachable or help people get started, do let me know.
It's time for the best programming conference of the year, again!
I fly out to Strangeloop later today. Here are the talks I'm planning on attending:
Thursdsay the 18th:
- 09:00 - Joe Armstrong, The Mess We're In
- 10:00 - Stephen Kell, Liberating the Smalltalk Lurking in Unix
- 10:50 - Christine Flood, Shenendoah: Open Source Pauseless GC for OpenJDK
- 12:20 - Leo Meyerovich, The Sociology of Programming Languages
- 13:10 - Paul Snively, Type Systems: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- 14:00!! - Core.async Debugging Toolkit, or Production Prolog?
- 15:10!! - Consistency without Consensus, or Aeron: High Performance Messaging?
- 16:00 - Stefanie Schirmer, Dynamic Programming at Ease
Friday the 19th:
- 09:00 - Nada Amin, Programming Should Eat Itself
- 10:00 - Evan Czaplicki, Controlling Time and Space
- 10:50 - Yodit Stanton, The Internet of Things in Practice
- 13:10 - Ian Davis, The Challenges and Benefits of an FRP Frontend
- 14:00 - David Renshaw, Cap'n Proto and Rust: Type Systems for Sharing
- 15:10 - Julia Evans, You Can Be A Kernel Hacker!
- 16:00 - Aaron Bedra, Deterministic Memory Management for Managed Runtimes
- 16:50 - Carin Meier, Sam Aaron - Our Shared Joy of Programming
!! = Denotes time slots I'm uncertain about. Open to suggestions...
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