Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Standing Desk, 4 months in review


First off, I want to say that I was the first person in Rockfish to get a standing desk. There has been some conjecture, but I’m the clear winner.  No more discussion on that.  Anyway, it’s definitely been interesting.  There seems to be a big difference between standing for 8 hours a day vs sitting for 8 hours a day.  Weird, huh?

How I did it

How I actually constructed the standing desk is almost comically easy.  I bought two LACK tables from Ikea (7.99/ea), a shelf (1 dollar), and two brackets (like 49 cents each?).  For total of really effing cheap.  I just set them up on my desk and that’s it.  I am now better than everyone.

I drilled the brackets into the legs of one of the tables, the leftmost one, and put the shelf on it.  I also duck-taped the brackets to the leg because they are hollow and I knew that one ill-placed elbow was going to send my forehead straight to the corner of the desk. That would suck.

John, how has it been?

Thanks for asking!  It’s actually been very good.  The first week or two are the most noticeable.  You don’t get as tired after lunch.  You don’t find yourself being lazy or closing your eyes early in the morning.  You focus more.  I get more excited and exclamatory as I’m coding... I wave my arms and stomp my feet and generally irritate my deskmates much more than I did when I was slumped in my chair pretending to be awake. (Just kidding, Rockfish, I was always awake)

Secondly, it makes you a hell of a lot more sociable.  You walk around more.  You talk to your neighbors more.  You’re generally more likely to walk around to see someone else’s screen.  I don’t know about every work place, but here we often IM when we could talk.  That’s often because we’re  complaining about some bug we can’t fix and our diatribe is laced with profanity, but still.  Now I can curse from a standing position vocally.  It feels better.

Overall, it’s just been a great experience.  I’d recommend it to anyone.  I also got a tall stool that I can sit on if my knees get tired, which they do sometimes.  I also walk to work about a mile so sometimes my feet are hurting.  I do need one of those anti-fatigue pads.  But I’m too lazy after standing around all day to get my ass in the car and buy one.

Anyway, let me know what you think about standing desks!

Edit: People are saying the image of the desk is too small.  So, here is the largest one I have.  You'll also notice I bought a 'TALLASS" chair from Ikea, it was 4.99 or some such nonsense.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Which tools should you use? Don't ask me.

These questions bug me.  Not from newbies, but from experienced developers.

Note: When I say tools, I mean anything: language, framework, IDE, OS, whatever.

Stop worrying so much about which tool you think is going to be the best for any given project.  It’s ridiculous.  Just pick something and use it.  If you love it, that’s awesome, keep using it.  If you don’t love it, stop using it and try something else.  These spirited debates are always kind of funny to read, but they are completely impractical and pointless.  Someone is always going to think that Rails is for posers (I think that), and that Django is for solid devs (this is actually a fact, not an opinion). 

Why the hell do you care what I think?

Even though I may do this for a living, that doesn’t make me righter than you about which tool you should use.  If you know at a basic level that the tool you’re looking at can, in fact, accomplish the task you are trying to accomplish, then it’s simply a matter of what tool feels good in your hand.  What can you see yourself hammering away with for all of eternity?

Just kidding, you're going to die in like 40 years.

But seriously, quit being a whiney crybaby and asking strangers on the internet to tell you which tools to use.  Get your slender, feminine little hands dirty.  I’m embarrassed for you.

A great way to get those soft, delicate hands dirty is to just do the tutorial on the website.  Looking for a javascript MVMM or MVVM or whatever the hell it is?  Try knockoutjs.  They have some of the best formatted tutorials on the web.  Give them a shot.  Looking for a crappy tutorial that isn’t helpful at all?  Try nodejs.

That brings me to another point: GET SOME BETTER DOCUMENTATION! Jesus it’s not a herculean effort to spend 2 hours writing up a really good tutorial for potentially thousands of people who use your shit.  You have to cater to the lowest common denominator if you want to get people through the learning curve unscathed.

Damn, buddy. You’re killing me.


This took a weird turn.  Anyway: Just jump right in and use things. That's the only way to figure out what you like.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ship first, ask questions later.

"If it fits, it ships."

That’s a hell of a tagline used by the USPS to describe their flat rate boxes.  The USPS, by the way, is the best shipper in the country, hands down, but that’s a topic for another post.  Full disclosure: I do think the government can get it right some times.

Anyway, that’s not what this is about.  When I hear the phrase “If it fits, it ships,” I don’t think about red white and blue boxes, I think about MVPs.  MVP is such a loose term these days, everyone uses it to describe their product, and their product is never a true MVP.  I believe in a militant style of minimum viable product development.  It should be small in scope, and then cut out 25% of that.  Then ship it.  Whatever you can fit into that iteration is what you ship.  Make the original timeline you set out for yourself.  Timelines always get pushed.  What you think will take 8 weeks takes 12.  Or 14.  

My theory is: Ship whatever the hell you have finished in those first 8 weeks.  Then keep working.

You’ll have 100% more customers with a half-finished product that's actually on the market than you will with something that only lives in development on your laptop.  I promise.

[Redacted Yoda quote about 'doing' and 'trying']

In this modern web world, it’s those that can ship products that will win the race.  The race is to market.  People get confused and think that their idea is their baby, and they don’t want to be the mother with the ugly baby.  I promise you, by the time you’ve built a gorgeous baby, someone with an ugly baby is already getting paid for their ugly baby.  Sorry, you just missed the baby boat.  It sailed.

I treat writing the same way.  You don’t know it, but I just deleted 50 words I didn’t like.  This article is an MVP of it's own.  A crappy one, I admit.

The Takeaway

You might be asking yourself, “What the hell has this guy shipped?”  And to that, I would like to say: “Shit, I work for an agency.  Do as I say, not as I half-assedly do.”