309: Naming the Change

Episode 309 · September 21st, 2021 · 35 mins 28 secs

About this Episode

Steph talks about a new GitHub feature and Twitter account (@RubyCards) she's really excited about and Chris talks about his new job as a CTO of a startup and shifting away from writing code regularly.


CHRIS: Oh God, my computer is so stupid slow. I need a new computer.

STEPH: Come on, little computer, you can do it. You know you could just buy a new one. You don't have to wait for the fancy-schmancy M1.

CHRIS: I want to wait for the fancy. I want it so bad.

STEPH: [laughs]

CHRIS: Do you know how long I've had this computer? And if I can hold out one more month, I want the fancy stuff. I've waited this long. Why would I give in now when I'm right on the cusp of victory?

STEPH: One more month. I'm going to send you...as a kid, did you ever make those construction…

CHRIS: Oh yeah.

STEPH: They look like chain links bow construction paper. So we would make those for a countdown to special days. I'm going to send you one that's all crumpled and folded in the mail. It would be delightful. And you'll be able to snip off a little chain each day as your countdown to your new fancy-schmancy. [laughs]

CHRIS: I love it.

Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Chris Toomey.

STEPH: And I'm Steph Viccari.

CHRIS: And together, we're here to share a bit of what we've learned along the way. So, Steph, what's new in your world?

STEPH: Hey. Well, I just got back from vacation. So getting back to work is what's new in my world. And vacation is nice. I miss it already. But it's also nice to be back, and see everybody, and see what they've been up to.

CHRIS: I've heard wonderful things about vacation.

STEPH: Yeah. Have you had one recently? I know you've been quite busy.

CHRIS: I have. I think it's hard to tell, especially because everything just kind of blends together these days. But I think I took off a few days recently. I haven't had an extended vacation since much earlier on in the summer, I think. And so I think I'm due for one of those sometime in the not too distant future. But it's one of those things where you got to plan it. And you got to think ahead, and I haven't been doing that of late really with anything. So kind of living for the moment, but that's not how you take a vacation. So I got to rethink some strategies here. [chuckles]

STEPH: Yeah, I've been trying to schedule more vacation time just further out. Because then if I don't want to take it, like if I decide that I don't want the staycation or I don't need the day off, then I can just change my mind, and that's pretty easy to do. But I'm like you; if I don't plan it, then I don't feel like I have the energy to plan a vacation, and then it just doesn't happen. So I know that's one thing that I've been doing.

I've also been mentoring or coaching others, just checking in with them to say, "Hey, when's your next vacation? Have you scheduled any days off? Do you want to schedule a day off next month?" And saying that to other people has also been a very helpful reminder to me to do so.

CHRIS: Oh, I like that a lot as a recurring one-on-one question of, so what can you tell me about vacation? What do you got in the works there? Because that's the most important thing, [chuckles] which it kind of is. It's the way that we keep doing the work that we do.

STEPH: And I think so many people just haven't been taking a vacation. I mean, in 2020, we were all locked in and going through a pandemic, so then a lot of people weren't taking those breaks. And so part of it is just reminding people that even if you can't go somewhere, still please take some downtime and just know that you can step away from work and should step away from work.

But for us, we did go somewhere. So we went out to Seattle, which I've never...I've been out to the West Coast, but it's more like I've been out to L.A., Santa Monica. But this time, we went to the Northwest region. We went to Seattle, and we explored and did a lot of hiking and camping around the Northern Cascades and then Mount Rainier. And both of those are amazing. And I've never flown with camping gear, but that went really well. It worked out nice. We had an Airbnb every so often just for showers and having a roof over your head. That's really nice. But for most of the trip, we did a lot of camping and hiking.

CHRIS: That sounds like an awesome trip.

STEPH: Yeah, it was really cool. I'd love to go back to the Olympic National Park because there are just so many national parks that are around Seattle and in Washington that we couldn't begin to do it all. But Olympic National Park is still on my list. And I'm really grateful to have also seen the Northern Cascades and Mount Rainier.

But switching gears a bit, I have something that I'm really excited to share with you because I don't think you've seen it yet. I'm excited to find out if you have. But it's a new GitHub feature that came out, I think about a month ago, but there doesn't seem to have been much fanfare from GitHub about announcing this new feature. And I happened to find out through Twitter because someone else found it, and then they were really excited. And so now I think it's really gaining some more traction. But it still seems like one of those sneaky feature releases, but it's really cool.

So GitHub has added the ability to open up a web-based editor that allows you to view the source code for a repo, view it in syntax, highlighting, make a code change, and commit the change. And it's free for everybody. And there's a couple of ways to get there, but I'll pause there. Have you seen this yet? Have you interacted with it?

CHRIS: I think I've seen it and poked around ever so gently with it. I want to say this is GitHub Codespaces. Is that the name of this feature?

STEPH: Yep. That's it?

CHRIS: Yes. I poked around with it just a tiny bit, and I'm very excited about it. But it's very much in the like, huh, okay, cool; I’ll look at that someday down the road and figure out what I want to do with it. But have you actually dug into it particularly deeply?

STEPH: I used it to make a change for a personal project, just because I wanted to see the whole flow. So I went to a personal project, and there are two ways that you can open it up for anyone that hasn't seen this yet. So you can either press the period button that's on your keyboard, and that will open it up, or you can just alter the URL. So instead of github.com, replace that .com with .dev, and then that will also open up the browser.

And so I made a change to a personal project, and it worked really well, and it commits the change to main. And it was nice. It was easy. In my case, I was just making a change to make a change. I think I actually went to an older project where I was still using the underscore target to force users that when they clicked on a link that it opened a new tab, and I was like, perfect. This is a good thing to just change. And I could do it from my iPad. I didn't have to be at my computer. And it was really nifty. I was very impressed with it.

And they also mentioned that it's very easy to integrate your own VS Code settings and environment. I'm not a heavy VS Code user, so I haven't tried that. But I've heard really positive things about how easy it is to sync your settings between your local VS Code and then GitHub's editor. But overall, it was really easy to use.

CHRIS: That's super cool. My very limited understanding of it is like GitHub has had the ability to edit files and things like that for a while. But it was very much like a simple web editor where it's a big text box that happens to contain the code. And they've added some stuff for like browsing with syntax highlighting and even some context-aware show usage and things like that. But as far as I understand it, this is like a whole VS Code instance in the cloud that is running it.

And then I think what you're saying about you can have your VS Code settings in there, but even your project settings and the ability to run the tests, I'm not sure where the edges of it are. But my understanding with Codespaces it's like this is how your team can develop. Everyone gets one of these Codespaces. You're developing in the cloud. But it does VS Code remote sync type stuff. I'm very intrigued to see where it goes and that idea of...obviously, I like Vim. That's the thing that's probably known and true about me. So I will probably be one of the later adopters of this.

But the idea of being able to bottle up the development environment for your projects and have those settings, and the ability to run the test and all of that packaged up as part of the repository, and then allow people to run with that, especially in the cloud, and be able to carry that with them as they move around, that's really intriguing. And the idea of having this very easy on-ramp, especially for open-source projects and things like that. If you want people to be able to contribute easily but with the linting, and the configuration, and the settings, and all the stuff, well, now you can have that packaged up. And that is very interesting to me.

So I'm super intrigued to see where it goes. Again, I will probably be one of the later adopters of this platform for reasons. But I am super interested, and I continue to like...the work with VS Code is so interesting in the way it keeps expanding out and the language server stuff and now the Codespaces stuff. And it's super interesting developments across the board.

STEPH: Yeah, I'm with you. I don't actually see this replacing my current development that I do day-to-day, but it's more generally nice to have access. So if I needed to make a change and I don't have my laptop or if it's just something small and I don't want to have to go through…I guess essentially, if I don't have my laptop, but I wanted to make a change, then I could do this realistically from something that doesn't have my full local dev setup.

I don't know if you have the ability to run tests. I didn't explore that far as to whether you can actually have access to run those types of commands or processes. I did see some additional notes while reading through GitHub's documentation about this new editor. And they included some notes that talk about how the editor runs entirely in your browser's sandbox. So it doesn't actually clone the repo, but instead, it loads your code by invoking the services API directly from the browser. So then your work is saved in the browser's local storage until you commit it, and then you can persist your changes by then committing it back to the repo.

And because there's no associated compute, you won't be able to build and run your code or use the integrated terminal. Ah, I think that actually answers the question about running tests. So only a subset of extensions can run in the web will appear in the extensions panel and can be installed. So this does impose certain limitations for particular programming languages and full functionality, things that we may need like running tests.

CHRIS: Interesting. That now puts it back more on the uncanny valley for me where it's like, oh, it's just VS Code, except it can't do a bunch of the stuff. So yeah, I'll probably be hanging out in Vim for a while. But again, I'm super interested to see where they can push this and what the browser platform allows, and then how they're able to leverage that and so on and so forth.

STEPH: There is one flow that I was testing out because I was reading someone else mentioned that not only can you use this for looking at source code and then changing that source code but also for a pull request. And so I went to a pull request and changed the URL to dev. And I do have the ability to make changes, but I'm not quite sure if I could commit my changes and if that would go to the branch or how that would work. It wasn't obvious to me how I could save my changes. But it was obvious to me that I could make changes. [laughs] So that part feels weird to me, and I will have to test that out. But I'm going to wait until I have my own PR before I start fooling around [laughs] so I don't ruin somebody else's PR.

CHRIS: Ideally, the worst case is you just push commit to a branch, and commits are reversible. You can throw them away. You can reset, and you can do all sorts of stuff. But I agree with you that maybe I'll do this on my home turf first before I start messing around with somebody's PR.

STEPH: That way, someone doesn't reach out to me and say, "Steph, what is this commit that I have on my PR?" And I'm like, "Oh, I'm just testing." [laughs] But that's something that I was excited to talk about and share with you. What's new in your world?

CHRIS: Well, what's new in my world? I think we've talked about this a little bit, but to give a little bit of context on what's new in my world, I joined a startup. I am now engineer number one. I'm also CTO, a very fancy title, but again, I'm the team of one, so count it as you will. But we do have some consultants working with us. So there is a small team that I am managing, and very quickly, I found myself shifting away from the code or having to balance that trade-off of maker versus manager time. Like, how much of the time am I actually coding and shipping features versus managing and communicating, and trying to figure out the work to be done and triaging the backlog? And all of those sorts of things.

I've also just been coding less, and I think that's a trend that will almost certainly continue, and I'm intrigued by that. And that's a thing that I want to poke at just a little bit. And then I've also noticed that my work has become much more reactive than it used to be, where there are lots of things in Slack. And there's stuff that I'm kind of the only person that can do certain things because I have certain access levels and yadda yadda. And I want to make sure other folks aren't blocked. So I'm trying to be as responsive as possible in those moments. But I'm also struggling with that that trade-off between reactive versus proactive.

My ideal version I think of the work is gather all of the information, all of the different permutations, and what are all the features we want? And then I think about them holistically, and then I respond once solidly as opposed to little one-off interactions and things like that. So there are just a lot of subtle differences. And I think there are trends that will continue. And so I'm trying to just take a step back, observe them from a distance and say, "How do I feel about these?"

But probably most interesting to me is the moving away from code. Have you noticed that at all in your work? Or is that something you've thought about, something you'd be interested in, opposed to? How do you feel about that space in the coding world?

STEPH: That is a wonderful question. It's one that I have wrestled with for a while because I really love my current position. I love being a team lead because I feel like there's this wonderful balance between where I get to code a lot of the time, but then I also get to learn how to be a manager, and help those around me, and provide some coaching or mentoring or just help people find the resources that they need essentially. And I really like that balance. That feels like the right balance to me, where I still get to grow in both areas.

But then, as you'd mentioned, it still feels like one tries to take over the other with time. Like you find that more responsibilities are growing as CTO of the company. And so you feel more responsible to do more of the managerial task or unblocking others and taking on that role, and then that reduces your time for coding.

And I often find myself in that space where I think it's just how I'm wired. I'm very interested and empathetic towards how people are doing and how they're feeling. So I'm always looking for ways to support others and to help unblock them and make sure that they're having a very positive experience with our project. And so then that may mean I'm coding less because then I'm more focused on that. But then, it's still also a very valid part of my job to code. So finding the right balance between those is frankly hard.

To answer your other question, I don't think I want to give that up. I've considered for myself if I'm going to head towards more of a manager path, and I'm going to reserve the right to change my mind. But currently, I still like maintaining most of my individual contributor status with a dash of management sprinkled in there and then some responsibilities for making sure that the team is doing well and that people are enjoying their work.

Along that line, as I've been having conversations with others around, tell me more about your job as a manager, and what does that look like? What responsibilities do you have? How much coding do you still get to do? There have been a couple of books that have been recommended to me that really help someone define are you interested in management? Is that a place that you see yourself going? This is really an honest look at what it means to be a manager. The fact that a lot of your fulfilling work isn't necessarily work that you get to produce, but it's actually helping someone else produce that work and then getting to see them succeed. That is your new fulfillment or a big part of it.

So you are losing that closeness of being a maker,, but instead, you are empowering someone else to be the maker, and then that becomes your win. And that becomes an indication of your success. Versus as an individual contributor, it's really easy to see our wins in a different light: how many tickets have we addressed? How many PRs have we reviewed? That type of work. So there is an interesting dichotomy there, and I can't remember the books off the top of my head, but I will find them and I'll add a link to them in the show notes.

CHRIS: Yeah, definitely interested to see the book recommendations. And generally, yeah, everything you're saying makes sense to me. I think I'm somewhat on the adventure right now. I very much intentionally chose this, and I want to lean into it and explore this facet of the work and doing more of the management and leading a team. But I have to accept that that comes with letting go of some of the individual contributor parts. And I was coding a bit over the weekend. I was just rediscovering the flow of that. And I was like, oh yeah, I really like this. Huh, that's interesting. What am I going to do with that? But I think, again, it's an exploration. And there are facets of both sides that I really like.

And I've spent a lot of time deeper in the individual contributor side. And I've explored the manager side somewhat but not quite as much. And so this is very much about that I want to push on those edges and try and find what feels true to me. So the moving away from code and then moving more into management, I think I like that overall. Although I know there's the small amount in the back of my head that I'm like, I know there's a cost there. That is a trade-off. And so do I find more time in my evenings and weekends to do personal coding projects and things like that just to have that enjoyable work for myself?

The maker versus manager stuff is interesting, though, where my day is now split up into smaller pieces. And even if I'm not coding, there's still writing up docs, or there are things that still require structured blocks of time. And my day is now just sprinkled with other things. And so trying to find that heads down of I want to just do the work right now, and I want to think hard about something is just fundamentally harder to do with more meetings and things speckled throughout the day. So that's one that I think I just don't like overall. But it's sort of a trade-off inherent to the situation.

So I think there's also a version of trying to be intentional about that and saying, you know what? I need some heads-down time. And so Tuesday and Thursday afternoons those are going to be mine. I'm going to wall those off on my calendar and try and protect that time so that whatever necessary heads-down work that I need to do this week fits into those blocks of time and then fit the rest of things around that. But I think I have to make that intentional choice to do that.

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STEPH: Your mention of having more meetings really resonates with me. And it also made me think of a recent episode of a new TV show I just started watching. Have you seen the TV show called Schmigadoon!?

CHRIS: I have indeed.

STEPH: Okay. We need to have a whole conversation about Schmigadoon! in an upcoming episode. I'm very excited about this show. It's delightful. [laughs] There's a particular line that Keegan-Michael Key says that I just love so much where he says that he became a surgeon because he wanted to help people without talking to people. And I was like, oh, that's a developer. [laughs] I'm the same way. And I really enjoyed that. Although I do like talking to people but still, it just made me think about when you're talking about more meetings and then increasing the amount of talking that needs to be done as you progress into more of a management role.

Also, circling back, I really like what you said earlier about you're noticing the changes that are happening. You're letting those changes happen, and then you're reflecting on how you feel about it. I really like that approach. Do you think that's working well for you? Does it feel too loose because then you don't feel in control enough of those changes? Or do you actually feel like that's a really good way to explore a new role and then find out if you like those changes?

CHRIS: Now that you are restating it back to me, I'm like, oh yeah, I guess that is a good way to do things. But to clarify, I'm not doing nothing with it. I am trying to proactively, where I can, structure my days and do things like that or recognize that right now, I'm probably not the right person to be moving code along. And so I'm saying okay, that is true. And I'm actively choosing to not pick up the bigger pieces of work or to pair with someone else so that they can then run with it but not having me being the person that owns it. So it's not completely letting it happen, but it is almost like meditation to invoke that idea of I'm observing that I'm having these thoughts, and I'm just going to let them go. And it's more about the thinking and the response to it.

So I'm trying to name the thing and be like, oh, this is interesting that this is happening. And I'm noticing an immediate visceral reaction to it where it's like, you're taking away my coding? And I'm like, well, hey, it's not them, it's you; you chose to do this. But let's just spend a minute there. That's okay. How do we feel about this? And so it's trying to not have it be a purely reactive response to it but have it be a more intentional, more thoughtful, and more observing, and then giving it a little bit of time to ruminate and then see a little bit more what I think.

And also, some of it is purposefully pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I think I'm happy, and I do a reasonable job when I'm the person moving the code along. But I also have really enjoyed being at the edge of an engineering team and working with sales or working with other groups and facilitating the work that's happening. And so, if I explore that a little bit more, what's that going to look like for me?

So this period of my career, I'm very intentionally trying to do stuff that I'm like, well, this is a little bit different for me, or this is stretching a little bit, but that is the goal. And I hope good things will come out of it across the board. But it may be that I find like, you know what? Actually, I really miss coding, and I need to find a way to restructure that. And I have seen examples of individuals who are even in CEO positions that are like, no, no, no, I still make some time to code.

Like Amir, the founder of Todoist talks regularly about the fact that he is a CEO who still codes. And that organization has a very particular approach to work. And they're very much about async remote, et cetera. So having these blocks of times and being intentional about how they work. So it's not surprising that he's been able to do that and a purposeful thing that he's structured. I don't think that will make sense for me immediately. But I could see a version down the road where I'm like, this is who I am. I need to get this thing back. But for now, I'm purposefully letting it happen and seeing how I feel from there.

Also, as I'm saying all of this, it sounds like I'm totally on top of this and really thinking it through. I'm like, no, no, no, this is in the moment. I'm noticing some stuff and being like, oh, okay, well, that's interesting. And some of it I intentionally chose. Again, intentionally chose to get out of my comfort zone. So I think I'm just actively out of my comfort zone right now and saying things about it. And then I think I'm telling the story of how I want to respond to it moving forward but not necessarily perfectly achieving that goal immediately.

STEPH: I think that's a nice representation of essentially how you and I have processed things. We've highlighted before that you and I...it's funny, I just made the joke about not talking to people, but it's how I actually process stuff. And the best is when I'm talking out loud to somebody else. And so it totally makes sense that as you were noticing this and reflecting on it, that then this is another way that you are then processing those changes and reflecting on it and thinking through is this a good change? Is it something that I'm going to enjoy? Or am I really going to miss my street coding creds? I need to get back to the editor.

CHRIS: I just need that precious flow state that comes from drinking some Mountain Dew and coding for hours.

STEPH: Do you drink Mountain Dew?

CHRIS: No, I gave it up years ago.

STEPH: [laughs]

CHRIS: I don't drink soda broadly. But if I'm going to drink soda, it's going to be Mountain Dew because if we're going to do it, let's do this thing. I'm pretty sure that stuff is like thermonuclear, but that's fine.

STEPH: [laughs] That's funny. I know we've had this conversation before also around Pop-Tarts where you're like, hey, if I'm going to have a Pop-Tart, I'm going to have the sugariest (Is that a word - sugariest?) Pop-Tart possible.

CHRIS: To be clear, that means it has icing on it because some people in the world, namely you, would prefer the ones without icing. Although we recently learned that the ones without icing have a higher fat and calorie content, so I don't know. The world's murky. I wish it were all just clear, and we could just work with it. But it turns out even Pop-Tarts icing versus not is not a simple question.

STEPH: It's a very simple question. You just need to be on the right side, which is the non-frosted side. [laughs] I can simplify this for you because fat is delicious. Fat trumps sugar; that’s my stance. That's my hot take.

CHRIS: I'm saying both, a little from column A, a little from column B. You got yourself a stew.

STEPH: [laughs] You got a fat sugar stew.

CHRIS: Yeah. That was in Arrested Development. All right, we're veering way off course now. [laughter] To bring it back, what you were highlighting of I'm definitely someone who thinks through stuff by talking out loud, and so it's been wonderful. I've learned so much about myself while talking to you on this podcast. I'll say something, and I'll be like, wait, I actually believe that thing I just said. This is fantastic. Now I can move forward with the knowledge that I've just gained for myself by talking about it on a podcast. So highly recommended: everybody should get a podcast.

STEPH: Plus one. I also have a very real, maybe silly, follow-up question for you as we are, like you just said, exploring the things that we believe or not. My question for you is part of the transition to management and moving away from coding. Isere some fear in the back of your mind where you're like, if I stopped coding, I'm going to lose this skill?

CHRIS: Honestly, no. And I feel kind of bad saying that because I feel like I should say, "Yeah, I feel like it'll fade away and whatnot." But I think I have an aptitude and an interest towards this work. And if I were to ignore it for two years, then frankly, I also know myself. And I'm still going to keep an eye on everything for a while. So I think I'll be aware of what's going on and maybe just haven't spent as much time with it.

But I think if I need to two years from now, I'm like, all right, I got to rebuild my coding muscle. I'll skip a couple of JavaScript frameworks, which will be nice, and I'll be on to the 15th iteration that's new now. But I hope that I could revisit that not trivially, not with no effort. It's the wonderful nature of coding. It's one of the things that I love about it so much is that there are blog posts and YouTube tutorials. And it's so individually discoverable that I'm not really worried about that aspect.

My concern, if anything, isn't so much that I'm going to lose my skills or not be able to code anymore; it’s that I really enjoy coding. It's a practice that I find very enjoyable. A workweek is enjoyable when it contains big blocks of me putting on my headphones, listening to music, and digging into a problem, and then coding and producing a solution. And those tiny little feedback loops of test-driven development or running something and then going to the browser and clicking around like that, there's a directness there that has always really worked well for me.

And so the more I'm abstracted away from that sort of thing, and the more of my work is I'm helping a team, and I'm directing strategy, or whatever it is, that just feels so indirect. And so I'm very interested to find out how I respond to that sort of thing. I've definitely enjoyed it in the past, and so that's why I'm intentionally leaning into it.

But I know that I'm giving up a part of the work that I really love, and giving up is too strong of a word as well. I'm going to find what shape makes sense moving forward. And I expect I'll still be pairing with the other developers on the team and helping to define architecture and things like that. So it's not like it's 100% gone. But for now, I think the world where most of my week was spent coding is no longer the case. And so just naming that and being intentional about it. And yeah, that's the game.

STEPH: Cool. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I was mainly interested in that question because that is a question that I've asked myself from time to time that I think I do have that worry that if I step away from coding for too long, then it won't be easy to jump back into. And I've talked myself out of that many times because I don't think it's true for all the reasons that you just said. But it is something that I have considered as like, well, if I take this leap of faith into this other direction, how easy is it for me to get back if I decide to change my mind and go back to being more of an individual contributor?

And one other thing that weighs on me as I'm splitting my time between two areas that I really want to grow…So I'm constantly trying to grow as a developer. I'm also trying to grow as a manager, and I don't want to do a bad job at either. I want to do a great job at both, and that's frankly not always possible. And at times, I have to make trade-offs with myself around okay, I'm going to focus a little heavier this day or this week on being a really great manager or focus a little bit more on being a developer and to pick and choose those topics. And then that sometimes means doing like B+ work in one area, and that's really hard for me. I'm an A-work person. So even downgrading to a B+ level of effort is challenging. But I have found that that's a really great space to be because then I'm doing well in both areas, not perfect, but doing well enough. And often, that's really what counts is that we're doing well enough and still pursuing growth in the areas that are important to us.

CHRIS: Yeah, I think that intentional switching back and forth between them is the space that I'm in. I expect my work will remain very technical, and I hope that that's true. And I think to a certain extent; I get to shape it and determine that. And so how much of it is strategy and planning and things like that? Versus how much of it is helping the team with architecture and defining processes as to how we code, and what are our standards, and what are our languages and frameworks and all of that? I expect I'm still going to be involved in the latter. And again, I think to a certain extent; I get to choose that.

So I am actually interested to see the shape that both naturally the organization needs out of the role that I'm in. But also, what sort of back pressure I can apply and be like, but this is how I want it to be. Is there room for that, or is there not? And it's all an experiment, and we're going to find out. But personally, for me, I'm going to keep reading Twitter and blog posts every day, and I'm probably going to code on the weekends and things.

So the idea of my coding muscle atrophying, I don't know, that one doesn't feel true. But we'll see what I have to say a year from now or after what that looks like. But I expect...this has been true of me for so long, even when I had an entirely different career that I was just reading blogs and other things all the time because this is a thing that deeply interests me. So we will see.

STEPH: Yeah, I'm excited to hear how it goes. And I think there's something to be said for the fact that you are also a CTO that's very close to the work that's being done. So being someone that is very involved in the technical decisions and the code that's being written but then also taking on more of the management responsibilities. And that feels more of a shift where you still have a lot of your coding skills.

And you are writing code day-to-day at least based on what you're saying, but then you are also acquiring a lot of these management skills to go along with it. Versus if someone were going into management and maybe they're at a really large company and then they are very far away from the development team. And they're focused on higher-level themes and discussions, at least that's my guess. But I'm very excited to hear more about your updates and how this experiment is going and to find out who is the true Chris?

CHRIS: Who's the true Chris? That feels complicated. I feel like I contain multitudes. But yeah, you know what? I'm excited to find out as well. Let's see what's going on there. But yeah, so that's a grand summary of the things that are going on in my head. And I expect these are topics that will be continuing to evolve for me. So I think we'll probably have more conversations like this in the future but also some tech stuff. Because like I said, I don't know, I can't stop.

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STEPH: Yeah, that's actually the perfect segue as we were talking earlier about just ways that we're looking to grow as developers. And I saw something that I really enjoyed, and it's published by another thoughtboter. Their name is Matheus Richard. And Matheus runs a Twitter account that's called @RubyCards. And I don't recall the exact cadence, but every so often, Matheus will share a new snippet of either Ruby or Rails code and then will often present the information as a question.

So I'll give you an example, but the highlight is that it teaches you something, either about Ruby or Rails. Maybe you already knew it, maybe you didn't. But it's a really nice exercise to think through okay, I'm reading this code. What do I think it's going to return? And then respond to this poll and then see how other people did as well. Because once the poll closes, then Matheus shares the actual answer for the question.

So one example that I saw recently highlights Ruby's endless method definition, which was introduced in Ruby 3. So that would be something like def, and then let's say the method name is message. And then you have closing, but empty parenthes equals a string of "Hello, World." And so then the question is if you call that method message, what would that return? And then the poll often has options around; it would return "Hello World," or it's going to return a syntax error. It's going to return nil. And then it highlights, well, because of Ruby's endless method definition, this would return "Hello, World."

And then I also saw a new method that I hadn't used before that's defined in Ruby's Hash class that's called store. And so you can use it calling it on a Hash. So if you have your hash equals and then curly brackets, let's say foo is equal to an integer of zero, then you can call hash.store and then pass in two arguments. The first argument's going to be the key. The second argument is the value. And then, that would essentially be the same syntax that we use for assigning a value to a hash. But I just hadn't actually seen the method store before.

So there are fun snippets of Ruby or Rails code. A little bit of a brain teaser helps you think through how that code works, what it's going to execute, what it's going to return. And I really enjoy it. I'll be sure to include a link to it in the show notes so other people can check it out.

CHRIS: Oh, that sounds fun. I hadn't seen that, but I will definitely be following. That's the word on Twitter, right? You have subscribing, subscribe and follow, smash that like button, all of the things. I will do all of the things that we do here on the internet. But I do like that model of the question and answer, and it's slightly more engaging than just sharing the information. So yeah, super interested to see that.

STEPH: Yeah, I like the format of here's some code, and then we're going to ask you what does it return? So that way, you get a moment to think it through. Because if I read something and it just shows me the answer, my brain just doesn't absorb it. And I'm like, okay, that makes sense, and my brain quickly moves on. But if I actually have to think about it and then respond with my answer, then it'll likely stick with me a lot longer. At least we'll find out; that’s the dream.

On that note, shall we wrap up?

CHRIS: Let's wrap up. The show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm.

STEPH: This show is produced and edited by Mandy Moore.

CHRIS: If you enjoyed listening, one really easy way to support the show is to leave us a quick rating or even a review in iTunes,; maybe as it really helps other folks find the show.

STEPH: If you have any feedback for this or any of our other episodes, you can reach us at @_bikeshed or reach me on Twitter @SViccari.

CHRIS: And I'm @christoomey

STEPH: Or you can reach us at hosts@bikeshed.fm via email.

CHRIS: Thanks so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week.

All: Byeeeeeeeeeee!

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