don't worry, it's probably fine

Notes from the Week #22

08 Jun 2019

weeknotes gds

This was what I would call a good week, despite having severe disagreements with one of my wisdom teeth about what constitutes “reasonable levels of pain” - I really feel like I’ve started mucking in and doing damage contributing to the team.

In particular, I rediscovered my love for pairing on non-infrastructure code which eluded me during the last year, mostly due to extra responsibilities.

But first, some thinkings.

The privilege of being open

I read a great weeknotes by stamanfar on Twitter, and it got me thinking about how being able to be open (on the internet!) about what I do at my job is not something that everyone is able to do.

Thus far, I have been relatively isolated from consequences of anything I’ve written, although on reflection this is possibly due to my weeknotes tending to have a either a positive spin or when it is negative, that negativity is about myself or my experiences like a period of exacerbated mental health issues.

Would this be the same if I published something more negative or critical? Quite possibly not. In general I won’t be able to write about everything, but I have a responsibility to not abuse the section of this space that I’m lucky to have.

It leads me to wonder about whether my weeknotes are as authentic as I want them to be, or whether I’m subconsciously treating it like an instagram-but-in-text and only showing my highlight reel. Some more reflection needed here, I think.

She also made a very astute observation about underrepresented groups in the weeknotes community and while I agree, I do not think I possess the necessary toolset (yet) to improve this, something I’ll be aiming to correct.

UCL’s Doing Democracy Better report

I, along with two other people called Alex, attended the launch of the Doing Democracy Better report from The Constitution Unit at UCL.

I really enjoyed the format of the evening - a presentation of the report, followed by small-table discussions where the authors would float around and join different chats through the evening.

There’s enough reckons in my head to warrant a future dedicated post, but I met some great people with interesting opinions on how our democratic machinery behaves now vs how it should behave.

Getting stuck in

I spent a decent part of the latter half of the week pairing with Benjamin, a fellow developer on my team. I’d spiked out the beginning of a change set for a series of stories on Wednesday, mostly to get a feel for the codebase.

I cannot over-emphasise the discoverability that a decent development environment (IntelliJ is bae) can provide. As a new-comer to this particular codebase I feel my understanding of where everything fits together is amplified by the tooling.

And can I just highlight how much pairing is one of my favourite things? It has its downsides (more tiring, not good for everything/everyone), but I love combining the coding with the social.

Until the beginning of this week, I had been feeling a bit anxious about not being an effective team member, which was partially alleviated when I did an initial spike on my first story.

I got my first pull-request merged this week, in partnership with Benjamin, and a lot of that anxiety just … melted away.

Sarah from my team at Unruly used to talk about how formative “first contact” events are, like:

  • First meeting
  • First conflict
  • First triumph
  • First failure

The way these first events are handled, by the person and the team, set the tone for all future events of that kind.

I feel #grateful that my first triumph was such a satisfying one and I was able to do it in my “happy place” of ping-pong TDD in Java.

Things that I learned

  • Don’t trust your build tools - as a rule, I always run clean before I try to do anything with a build tool like Maven because I fundamentally do not trust the tooling to discover when I’ve made a change. I’d hoped this would be different in Gradle. How WroNG i WaS
  • Improving my git skillz - I’m used to committing straight to trunk, so I’m fairly confident in my single-branch git commands but less so with my “moving things around between branches” ones. I learned a fair bit from Benjamin this week when we shuffled some hunks around between branches and pull requests.
  • The Slack app is actually really good for remote pairing: I did my first proper work-from-home day on Friday! We were finishing off some of the work we’d started on Thursday, and I was genuinely shocked that Slack provided screen-sharing but also control-sharing. Switching between my laptop and my pairing-partner’s to allow us to “drive” was close to seamless too.
  • I need to invest in my home-desk setup: I moved home at the beginning of the year and haven’t got my external monitor/desk setup done yet, need to get a move on with this.

(Some of) what I’m listening to

I’m on a bit of a prog-rock kick this week