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Communications

How developers communicate.
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Hidde de Vries hiddedevries.nl

Criticism pushes the web forward

Hidde de Vries takes a strong, reasoned stance to online criticism of others’ work:

This week, a friend shared a blog post that critiqued a popular framework for CSS. Twitter started to discuss if it’s okay to criticise tools. In this post, I’ll say it is not just okay, it is also important.

This is a tough subject because we identify so closely with the things we create (our code), but Hidde is right: if we want to progress as an industry (and individually) we need to be able to criticize (constructively) and receive criticism. It’s part of the process.

We should give feedback respectfully and constructively, but we should give feedback. And open up to feedback, not demand it to go away. It may not be easy, but it is important to include perspectives outside your own.

Evgenii Ponomarev evgenii.info

How to deal with pushback to your initiatives

This article covers three main reasons why other engineers may reject your technical initiative (such as refactoring, changing methodologies or switching tools):

  1. The proposed goals look unattainable
  2. They tried the first version and they didn’t like it
  3. They don’t agree that the problem is worth solving

For each of these reasons, there are tips you can use to drive your initiative forward.

Elixir github.com

Papercups - open source live customer chat in Elixir

You can think of this like Intercom or Drift, only it’s open source and self-hosted (unless you use their hosted offering).

We wanted to make a self-hosted version of tools like Intercom and Drift for companies that have privacy and security concerns about having customer data going to third party services. We’re starting with chat right now but we want to expand into all forms of customer communication like email campaigns and push notifications.

Try out the live chat widget on their demo page.

Git github.com

Communicate important updates to your team via git commit messages

Sometimes you need to communicate changes to other developers on your project. In a small team, a Slack message works okay, but in larger teams and distributed organizations (such as open source projects), reaching everyone can be a pain.

Logging this because it’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure if it’s a good idea. Is this a good idea?

Communicate important updates to your team via git commit messages

Jessica Kerr jessitron.com

Why purple developers are the real 10x engineers

Jessica Kerr talking productivity:

What makes a software engineer productive? You can list attributes like experience with the language, scientific mindset, intelligence, focus, a personally crafted IDE setup. Yet, in my experience, far and away the biggest factor is: familiarity with the codebase they’re changing.

This echoes some of our conversation with Jessica last year. She goes on to explain how the purple developer (pictured below) is 10x more productive than the others, not because they are inheritently better than them in some way, but because they are the ones who built the system in the first place.

Spread the knowledge, spread the productivity.”

Why purple developers are the real 10x engineers

Communications github.com

An open source alternative to Twilio

Project Fonos is open-source telecommunications for the cloud. This repository assembles the various components needed to deploy a telephony system. It helps VoIP integrators quickly deploy new networks and include value-added services such as Programmable Voice, Messaging, and Video.

I sincerely love the audacity on display when open source hackers sit down, roll up their sleeves, and compete with publicly traded companies. 💪

Ben Kuhn benkuhn.net

How to make video calls almost as good as face-to-face

LOTS of good advice in this “4500 word doorstopper” from Ben Kuhn. I’ll climb aboard Ben’s potentially controversial opinion on virtual backgrounds:

Probably controversial. I’m speaking strictly from the point of view of immersiveness here—not e.g. expressing your individuality, making your coworkers laugh, or hiding the pile of laundry behind you. Those are all valid reasons to want to use backgrounds! Just be aware that you’re sacrificing immersiveness when you do.

Why? Zoom’s background detection software is not very accurate, and it’ll periodically delete parts of your hair/body, make the background show through your eyeballs, etc. Plus, it’s really bad at detecting boundaries so some of the real background will show through your hair.

Communications screego.net

Screego is screen sharing for developers

In the past I’ve had some problems sharing my screen with coworkers using corporate chatting solutions like Microsoft Teams. I wanted to show them some of my code, but either the stream lagged several seconds behind or the quality was so poor that my colleagues couldn’t read the code. Or both.

That’s why I created screego. It allows you to share your screen with good quality and low latency. Screego is an addition to existing software and only helps to share your screen. Nothing else (:.

Test drive the demo right here.

Kevin Ball speakwritelisten.com

Speak. Write. Listen.

JS Party co-host KBall just launched a new site:

Improve your career, your relationships, and your self-confidence by becoming a better communicator.

I’ve known Kevin for awhile now and I can assure you, the dude is an excellent communicator. This, from his newsletter, resonates 100% with me:

If there’s one thing that I can point to that has contributed most to my career success, it’s been my relentless focus on improving my abilities to speak in public, write coherently, and listen carefully.

We nerded out on this stuff back on JS Party #93. I heartily suggest listening to that if you haven’t yet.

Communications birdeatsbug.com

How to report bugs (if you want them fixed)

most of the time engineers get poor bug reports that they cannot act upon, which results in either the bug not getting fixed at all or additional communication between departments needed, that can be easily avoided with a good bug report.

This is a nice bug report template you can share with folks in your life (especially non-technical ones) to help them get better results when reporting bugs. Wash it down with JS Party #93 where we spend the entire episode discussing communication skills for coders.

Lazarus Lazaridis iridakos.com

Composing better emails

Lazarus Lazaridis:

Email communication is not my favorite but since I can’t avoid it, I am trying to compose messages in a way that I think it makes it easier for both me and the recipient:

  • to quickly address what is being communicated
  • avoid misunderstandings
  • save time

There are some really solid tips in this post. I’ll add another one:

If your email contains multiple questions and/or requests*, number them. In my experience this greatly improves the odds that they each get addressed in the reply. When I don’t number them I usually only get the first or last one addressed.

*let’s please stop referring to requests as “asks”, kthxbai

Derrick Reimer derrickreimer.com

The war on developer productivity (and how I intend to win it)

Derrick Reimer:

Slack felt like the much-needed grease in the gears of our budding startup. It brought visibility to conversations that would have otherwise been trapped in an email silo. It lowered the barrier of formality that plagues email correspondence. It increased the velocity of communication.

In the beginning, this seemed like an indelible leap ahead. Fast forward five years, and I’m convinced it has become the single greatest threat to developer productivity in the modern workplace. The problem is that today’s chat tools are amplifying the troublesome parts of human nature, rather than minimizing them.

My head bobbed in agreement to just about everything he said in this piece, and I’m verrrry interested to see what he comes up with in response.

Miguel Piedrafita coderyouth.club

CoderYouth - a code community for teenagers by teenagers

Miguel Piedrafita –a 16-year old developer– is building a community for his likeminded-peers.

CoderYouth is a teenager-only community, that is, you can only register if you are under 20.

This community is exclusive by design. On its face that exclusivity cane be a bit off-putting, but I understand what they’re trying to do.

In short, when you learn to code at a young age, your friends aren’t interested, so in CoderYouth you can connect with others with the same interests as you.

Right now CoderYouth consists of just a forum and a GitHub org. The forum has a fair bit of activity happening, so he may be on to something…

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