thoughts and notes

Crazy as fk. I’m going mini

I remember feeling disgusted by Mark Zuckerberg’s grey shirt and jeans only wardrobe. How can a multi-billionaire mofo wear the same clothes every day? “He’s faking it for sure” I remember thinking – “he tries so hard to appear humble”. Saying that you want to clear your life to make it so that you have to make as few decisions as possible is great. But clothes? Cmon!

It didn’t make sense to me then.

But with time I learned more about myself. I’m not the cleanest person alive, nor the dirtiest rat either, but I love order and simplicity. I like my desk empty. One monitor, mouse, keyboard, and a cup of coffee – nothing more, nothing less. I dislike stumbling upon things I haven’t used in months.

Going minimalist, having less clutter, wearing the same clothes every day, was in my mind for a long time. I just didn’t have the courage to do it. Too much social pressure I guess. But fuck that. I’ma do me and focus on the things I truly care about.

PS: Zuck created a monster and it should be killed with fire.

Changing themes again and again

Even though I love writing, I suck at it. Big time. I find it incredibly difficult to write about stuff, and when some tiny idea pops in my mind, I fail to express it. I’m like a 2-year-old struggling to speak.

But as with everything else, with practice, writing can get better – it can be learned. At least I hope so.

Since writing is too difficult for me, I spend my time changing and re-changing my WordPress theme. Yes, that’s just procrastinating. Running away from the keyboard. But I’m also right.

I’ve spent countless hours looking for something to suit my style. And even if I don’t have a style yet, one thing I’m sure is I won’t be writing 1000-word posts. I like short reads. I don’t want to spend more than 5 minutes reading something.

All the themes I could find, including, and especially the premium ones, follow the same style. The full-screen slider on the homepage, the half-screen banners on single pages, and paragraphs stretching on way more space than they need to.

I’d love a theme that breaks the pattern. A theme that looks and feels like a notebook, like a diary. Something personal, where I can write short, personal, silly thoughts on.

Frontend vs Backend. What goes first?

It doesn’t matter if you’re building a mobile, desktop, or a web app – nowadays pretty much everyone breaks their applications into a frontend that uses the latest, hottest javascript framework and a backend responsible for answering ajax requests.

Arguments on what should go first, the frontend or the backend, are always there.

In my experience, doing either one first will only lead to conflicts and feelings of resentment between the two camps. Front devs will be annoyed because “the APIs are always changing” and the backend guys will be like “why can’t you understand that we had to change x thing?”.

In the software industry, everything is a subject of change. Trying to agree on the API structure and creating dummy JSON files to substitute for the real thing while the backend devs figure out their stuff isn’t a solution.

Even more so, agreeing on such a contract will harm the project in the long term. Each part will try (and fail) to hold on to their part of the deal rather than reaching out to the best solution and approach for the problem at hand.

Next time, keep the team as small as possible (2-3 people), break the application into medium sized components, and start working “as one”. Agreeing on a pre-defined structure never worked in my case. We made great progress when we focused on the same component at once – with the front dev leading the way.

Doing what others are doing

The second our eyes open for the first time, we start watching and analyzing the people around us. We start doing what they are doing. We’re smiling, laughing, and eventually walking.

We learn everything from them.

But somehow later in life, I don’t know the exact moment, following others, doing what they are doing, asking for advice, becomes something we are ashamed of. Maybe it’s because we should know better by now. Or because people might think we’re stupid. Or that we don’t have our own opinions.

That’s stupid. We can’t be good at everything. Not before doing what other people did and certainly not before listening to their findings. And no. Sharing the very same opinions with tens of other people is not “copying” or being unopinionated.

Like it or not, we’re pretty much like an open-source project. Everyone you follow, listen, or read, contributes to your development as a professional and as a human being.

Get better at admitting that. Get better at following people.
They don’t know it all, but they might know more, or better than you.

Bench press

Gym newbie? I have some tips

Disclaimer: It’s only been ~4 years since I started going to the gym regularly. While that might seem like a long time, it’s actually not. I still have lots and lots to learn.

Anyhow, I have some free tips to give for those who are just starting out:

  • stay away from isolation movements
    Bicep curls, leg extensions, hamstring curls, tricep pushdowns – exercises that train a specific muscle group.
  • do lots of compound movements
    Barbell bench press, lat pulldowns, overhead barbell shoulder press, squats, lunges – exercises that train several muscle groups at once.
  • avoid dumbbells for a while
    Dumbbells are great, but not for beginners. They rely a lot on your stabilizer muscles and when you are a newbie they’re not developed enough and you risk injuring yourself.
  • machines over free weights
    Free weights are best for muscle development but they also make it easy for you to get injured. Machines are better. You can still get injured, but the chances are significantly lower.
  • high rep sets
    You shouldn’t go to the gym and start doing sets of 3-5 reps. It takes a while to get your form right. Doing high reps allows you to stay injury free while you work on your form.
    Go with anywhere from 8-15 reps for your upper body exercises and 12-25 reps for your lower body exercises. Lower body exercises are more dangerous because they put a lot of stress on the entire body, not just your legs. Use lighter weights, do more reps.
  • short breaks
    1 min between sets
  • training 3 days a week is more than enough

Most of the tips revolve around staying injury-free. Even so, it doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or you’ve been lifting for a few years – the likelihood of getting injured is always there. Don’t be reckless. Start slow.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

A book for your ssh connections

Tired of spending time searching ssh connection details through your projects and wikis?

Search no more.

sshls is a small command line app acting as an address book for your ssh accounts.

Once installed, you can start adding records and list them in your terminal.

Have a cheat meal

Keeping your calories in check

Some have it easier than others. Some have extraordinary willpower. But with enough planning, anyone can do it.

Those who have it easy are those who rarely have cravings and live a temptation-free environment. It’s harder to keep yourself in check when your roommate is eating fries, burgers, pizza and sweets all day.

If you’re used to eating out, sticking up with any kind of nutrition plan is going to be ten times harder for you. Not impossible, but a lot harder.

You’re going out with your friends. The waiter comes up, people start ordering: burgers, steaks, burritos, tacos, your favorite pizza…all the good stuff. Will you be ordering a salad? Hell no. You’ll jump on the “everybody is ordering something good” excuse in no time.

The solution is to plan ahead and try to reduce the times you eat out. Planning can mean eating fewer calories before dinner. Or making sure the place you’re going out to eat has food that’s delicious and also fit your macros and calories.

Visiting your parents? You know they’ll have all kinds of fats and sugars waiting for you. Ask them to cook something else. Or even better, to not cook at all. You’ll be their chef for the weekend. Maybe they’ll learn a few things – like not to boil your eggs in oil.

Cheat meals. Avoid them. Have a cheat day.

Having a cheat meal won’t completely satisfy your cravings – and it’s also easy to turn it into an excuse to have another cheat meal. Do that a few times and you’ll find the excuse for not following with your nutrition plan at all. You know, get a bit sad and say “I cheated three days now, there’s no point to continue…”

Have a day when you get to eat whatever you want. It will be enough to relax and deal with your cravings and it won’t affect you that much. Be decent, don’t eat like you never saw food before – eat what you want without going too crazy.

Putting in the work

It doesn’t mean 60hrs/week. It doesn’t mean 30 or 40hrs/week either. In fact, It has nothing to do with the amount of time spent “working”.

It has to do with being responsible and dedicated enough to do your best in being consistent in finding your flow. Every single day. Even for just a few hours.

“People are interrupting me every time”.

Start with you appreciating others flow. Force yourself to avoid interrupting others. Especially when they clearly don’t want to be interrupted.

Try that for a few weeks. If that doesn’t work, continue by expressing your dislike towards being interrupted. Without being a dick.

If that doesn’t work, move on and find another job.

Face-to-face interactions drop 70% in open workspaces

There’s this idea of collaborative intelligence saying that working closely and putting our minds together makes it easier to achieve goals and objectives. So it’s something we want more of.

You’d think removing the walls and reducing the physical distance between people would raise their level of interaction, leading to an increase in collaborative intelligence and productivity.

Well…nope. Actually, the opposite happens. According to a recent study. the volume of face-to-face interactions drops with about 70% and most of our interactions shift to email and IM.

Removing physical barriers between two, three, or four people works. But it doesn’t scale. It doesn’t work when ten, fifteen, or more people are involved.

Looking at my day-to-day office interactions, most of them are about asking or giving help. Asking for help makes us feel vulnerable. It’s hard enough to do it in front of one person – let alone with fifteen other people, watching and hearing every stupid thing you say.

The study can be found here.

Business now, details later

Three minutes into a meeting discussing a new feature and we already have a list with tables, columns, flags, objects and methods in our head. It’s involuntary. Whenever we talk about a new feature we jump into programmer mode as soon as we get the chance. We need a model for this, a controller for that, and then we render this component and sync with that API.

Going into too much detail when discussing features makes us lose focus. Programming and figuring out how things should work are hard enough on their own. There’s no need to mix them together.

It’s not only harder for us to reason about the system we’re building. It also creates some kind of lock-in. It’s hard to reverse any of those decisions taken during the meeting. Even harder if you’ve already built something. Because “we discussed and decided that this is how we’re going to do things”.

We act like those initial thoughts are set in stone. Instead of going back to the drawing board and undo the things we’ve done, we build around them, making an even bigger mess.

Refrain from including implementation details whenever you’re trying to figure out how a new feature should work. Get your business rules spot on. Then figure out the implementation.

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