• Week 19

    I’m tired this week so you only get cliffnotes:

    • apis, abstractions and what does the customer want?
    • our trip up the p’matta river
    • opening up and seeing friends ๐Ÿฅฐ
    • biang biang
    • pokemon legends: arceus (and r/patientgamers)
  • Week 18

    little/big week

    I spent this week thinking a lot about API design. It turns out there’s actually A LOT to API design beyond just “does it return the right status code and make use of the correct HTTP verbs?”. It feels very much like an art, and an art I am not very skilled at.

    Like when you envision something in your head but when you try to put it on paper it is an objective disaster. Probably one to work on in the future.

    I got the new Pokemon game! Pokemon Legends: Arceus. Also I got a long-overdue haircut, now that we are boosted. My thoughts on PLA basically match pretty much everyone elses (although I’m still only a few early hours in, I’m trying to savour the experience):

    • Bloody hell we needed a mainline (i.e. Gamefreak produced) refresh of the Pokemon formula like….four generations ago. Sun and Moon DO NOT COUNT.
    • Gamefreak cannot compete on graphics at all in 2022, and it is obvious even to non-gamers. This may never actually be a problem for them but, even given the graphical limitations of the Switch, the graphics are absymal. The water rendering and tree rendering in particular.
    • Relatedly, the open worlds are slightly more alive than SwSh but not by much. This is very hard to solve without overwhelming new players.

    I’m glad they tried! I’m not super convinced on the longevity of the franchise based on this effort though.

    We took a venture out to Sydney Olympic Park and surrounds. It’s a very weird area, half extremely built up, half parklands. And a third car-driven suburban hellscape.

    The walks were stunning though, I’m super keen to go back ๐Ÿ˜

    The mangroves were EXTREMELY healthy
    Neato ship

    I had a dream mid-week that they had fixed the L1 line in Sydney (which is currently down) and that I was on the first test run upon re-opening. I was allowed to be on the tram because I knew the emergency breaking procedure at Haymarket ๐Ÿค”

    Afterwards I posted a photo from the trip on my IG story with the caption of “life changing”. Dream me was WAY too excited.

  • Week 17

    Booster week ๐Ÿฅณ got my third jab and I am KEEN TO SEE PEOPLE.

    My ongoing flirtation with Cities Skylines has intensified! I have apparently spent 25 hours in the past two weeks playing it. Yikes!

    I am learning more and more about roadway hierarchy and how to build effective city connections.

    There’s also a sale on Cities Skylines, two of my lovely friends bought me some of the DLCs (they really wanted me to have trams and universities) so now I have:

    • After Dark
    • Mass Transit
    • Campus
    • Park Life
    • Snowfall

    I didn’t manage to get anything done outside of core project work this week ๐Ÿ˜… so no updates on that front.

    I did however get to play with Parcel 2, which is even more zero-config than prior versions. I was very impressed ๐Ÿ™†โ€โ™‚๏ธ I wonder how hard it would be to write a vanilla-extract plugin for Parcel ๐Ÿค”

    I’m finding it a bit hard to find things to look forward to. My mind is a bit of a mush after almost a month since I’ve seen anyone. Hopefully this is the peak and we can soon..

  • Week 16

    A major breakthrough with vanilla-extract this week; finally using it for a a vertical slice of functionality we couldn’t do without it. The biggest challenge in my mind remains is how best to implement things like scoped variables that rely on some non-Web-API calculations. For example, we have some code that does a11y contrast checking on foreground against background. This is pretty simple in LESS or SASS, since its all running against Node or whatever behind the scenes, but with vanilla-extract all you have are dynamic variables, and you can’t pre-run them through a JS engine.

    This week, I also got to grips with how the Slate editor library implements history and an undo/redo stack. It’s very clever, and took some time to wrap my head around. The benefit of an operations log (which comes as part of Slate) really becomes clear with things like this.

    While the code itself is a bit complicated, the idea is simple: with the undo stack, just create an inverse operation for the given operation you’re undo-ing ๐Ÿ’ฅ

    Been enjoying and exploring the natural and man made surrounds of Sydney the past few weeks.

    Last weekend, we walked a bunch more of the Cooks River trail, from Dulwich Hill to Campsie. I treated myself to Hot Star chicken at the end, cos I couldn’t resist ๐Ÿคค

    And then this weekend we did the “Two Creeks Track” in Lindfield. Absolutely stunning trip, mild signage difficulties aside.

    Some guides suggest you walk through the stormwater drain to get to the other side of the creek; we decided that would not be a lot of fun during La Nina, so ran over a 6-lane highway instead ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

    In retrospect, it was pretty quiet I think BECAUSE of the lack of good guides. Still, stunning af.

    Unsurprisingly, I’ve moved on from my Sims addiction to the impressive Cities Skylines. I started watching a really solid tutorial, and it’s guided me on the basics of building out a city that doesn’t grind to a halt once to get over 5000 citizens ๐Ÿ˜…

    I’ve always had a soft spot for city building simulations, but never really quite _got_ it. Turns out the biggest pain points I’ve missed are:

    • budget REALLY matters at the start; economies of scale soon to make this irrelevant
    • once budget DOESN’T matter, your real limiting factor is fear of experimentation and tweaking, razing buildings to the ground
    • relatedly, roads and road hierarchies matter a LOT

    I’m really keen to get some DLC for it, but I’m also kicking myself for not buying any during the December sales ๐Ÿ˜ญ so I’m not sure if I’ll bite the bullet and buy anything more. Also, most of the ones I want seem like they’ll just make me go crazier about this game ๐Ÿ˜…

    I completed week 3 of the Couch to 5K program ๐Ÿ˜ฎ this was the first week where you run more than you walk. I was almost SURE I couldn’t run for 3 minutes straight. I WAS WRONG?!?!?!

    Super cool stuff.

  • Week 15

    Another week, another spent in isolation ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

    This article on the battle for time hit me in the feels, especially:

    …these stances all have their uses, but theyโ€™re still just one side of the axis. You can also choose to simply live atemporally. To understand that you have already died, will always have died, and all thatโ€™s happening here is your experience through the temporal axis of your own life.

    I have always felt not quite right about hackathons. I tend to get really stressed out during them, oscillating wildly between ecstatic excitement and the lows of never quite matching to with your expectations. Afterwards you slump in a catatonic state for the next 24-48 hours, with very little in the way of catharsis unless you win a prize.

    So reading my friend and ex-colleague Georgie’s article on redefining her relationship to hackathons was super refreshing and uplifting. The biggest takeaway for me was that hackathons are not about you, especially if you’re a mid-to-senior engineer who’s been around the organisation for awhile. It’s about helping out your team members, showing them the way, helping them build connections.

    As I mentioned previously, I’ve been looking into vanilla-extract to help solve some problems. Unfortunately it doesn’t work in our server context due to the lack of appropriate plugins, which was a big pain point as some of our CSS and style attachments are run on the server side.

    One of my coworkers explained that WE COULD WRITE OUR OWN TRANSPILATION PLUGIN(?!) for Node by adding a require middleware, and went about doing it. It’s technically not recommended to do this, especially nowadays, but it was good for a spike.

    I really enjoyed all the articles on this Stripe employee’s blog. Highlights:

    A lot of this adds to my existing knowledge base and was hyper readable for me; I’ve been lucky enough to work on billing systems in my prior roles, and interned at American Express which had a truly fascinating domain once you got over the “ew finance” thing.

    Finally, I’ve been playing lots of The Sims 3 the past few weeks in iso. I got into the wild world of Sims 3 Store Deals, which is somehow extremely mundane and also very cool.

    Basically it relies on two mechanics of the store that have remained constant since the game was abandoned by EA marketing:

    • Sims 3 Daily Deal (DD) – a rotation of hourly deals on items available in the store, some quite heavily discounted
    • Sims 3 Complete Your Set (CYS) – basically the equivalent of iTunes’ “complete your album” which allows you to pay a discounted price to get the rest of the items in a “set”

    Some of these sets are available under DD, and the CYS price is also influenced by the DD, to the point where your CYS price can sometimes fall below the price of the DD for the set. This means, with a little bit of planning (the DD schedule is now entirely predictable and repeating) you can own the store by buying a few items (also on a DD), and then just getting the set for free.

    The weirdest quirk in this is that some items may appear in multiple sets, which means that these free CYS deals can “cascade” to the point where you can spend a few Simpoints and get multiple sets.

    Finally, I’ve been seeing a lot more of my faves in the park, TURTLES:

  • Week 14

    A bit late being back into it all. COVID is everywhere, and the risk tolerance is extremely person-to-person. It’s enough to really kill my holiday vibe.

    In good news, I finally got around to planting my Psyduck succulent pot. Maybe this will be the one I won’t kill ๐Ÿ˜…

    I’ve started running! That’s new. I downloaded this neato Apple Watch based interval timing app, since I’m following the couch to 5K program. It looks like I first tried to complete this program in uh, maybe May 2020? And I injured my ankle back then which put a stop to it after day 5.

    I’m up to day 4, so we’ll see how it goes this time!

  • Week 13

    Ah that week between Christmas and New Years. The impending pressure of the new year, an urge to reflect on the year that has been, and the eating of a metric fucktonne of chocolate. And, thanks to Eugene in 2018, the joy of doing absolutely nothing scot-free.

    Having said that, this week went so freaking quickly. I am panicked that I didn’t do enough during my summer break. Didn’t go to enough beaches, didn’t read enough summertime books, didn’t play enough board games.

    I read a lot of posts from smart-sounding people on the internet talking about the future of COVID. I’m now almost positive that Sydney is in for a huge wave of COVID over the next two to three months, but it’s so hard to tell what the lag will be from the US and UK experiences.

    I read two quite good books, Where the Crawdads Sing, and Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism. The latter raised a bunch of interesting points, including one really unexpected one:

    โ€œWhat people struggle with,โ€ Abbie continued, โ€œand itโ€™s a huge philosophy question in Buddhism, is how do you challenge social injustice?โ€ How do you address external problems that are so clearly not rooted in your own baggage, while still following Buddhismโ€™s principles?

    Montell, Amanda. Cultish (p. 131). Harper Wave. Kindle Edition.

    I’ll be chewing on this one for months, as I consider myself a very very very low-key follower of Buddhism.

    I lie though, we got to lots of beaches.

  • Week 12

    Final work week of the year! ๐Ÿฅณ my employer has kindly given us a week off outside of standard leave ๐Ÿ˜Ž

    This week I spent mostly working on bugs and spiking out a new service to do PDF generation outside of our monolith. Still slowly learning how to ensure we can do good long-term work to solve chronic problems over multiple support engineering rotations, but I think I’m getting better. More importantly, I’m actually putting hope and therefore energy into it this time.

    It once again involved working with Docker containers, something that I’m getting better at doing. I feel like I need some spaced repetition program for Docker, I forget all of the commands and concepts after maybe two weeks away from using it (and we don’t use it in day to day development).

    I’ve found it a bit hard to unwind the past few weeks. I feel like everyone is very VERY exhausted, and the temperamental weather has probably contributed to it. Oh, and the world is rapidly being consumed by Omicron lol!

    Cases of Omicron in NSW (graph not mine, can’t be bothered to find whose)

    I’ve been practicing making these cookies a few times. They turned out waaaaaay better the second time. It’s looking like the third (and final, to be served at Christmas lunch) set will be okay, but less good than the second.

    The first set were okay, but the colours were a bit washed out, and not very Christmas vibe at all.
    Joey had the great idea of microwaving the red food colouring to concentrate it, to get the deep red you see here. I do not recommend the method, but you can’t argue with the results.

    Till next year, byeeeee ๐Ÿ‘‹

  • Week 11

    Today I finally got to the beach for the first time this summer ๐Ÿ˜ญ thank you la nina. Hopefully it’s looking like there’s a few more hot days ahead that I can take advantage of — definitely tomorrow.

    After work on Friday I walked around the Botanical Gardens, and listened to Patricia Karvelas say goodbye on her Radio National Drive program. It’s been my lockdown and COVID listening, so it’s sad to hear her go. I’m happy for her though, cos she’s going to be on RN Breakfast next year, taking over from the venerable Fran Kelly. I hope the next person will bring a new energy to the show.

    It was a really stunning afternoon, I was grateful to go ๐Ÿ˜

    Reflecting on this year, a few of my happy achievements:

    • Shipping a bunch of interesting new features (saved blocks sidebar, image gallery sidebar, ROI calculator, the quote block upgrade and recurring pricing)
    • Understanding more about my strengths and what I want to get out of work
    • Going on walks basically every day during lockdown โœ…
    • Taking a stab at learning Japanese — it’s on pause for now, but I’m really glad I got to try and learn a new language

    I think that’s pretty much it ๐Ÿ–– catch y’all next year

  • Week 10

    Week 3 of being the sole engineer on a project. Really really hate working on solo projects! They make me feel like useless garbage.

    Really enjoyed watching a talk on how the developer of a Short Hike designed, developed and shipped the game. It was a great game, so really nice to revisit different aspects of it. Pairs well with the short video on how the game employs music maps. ABSOLUTE FUCKING MAGIC.

    There were some cool looking clouds I took a photo of this week. It was very rainy all week.


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