The Bike Shed

About the show

On The Bike Shed, hosts Joël Quenneville and Stephanie Minn discuss development experiences and challenges at thoughtbot with Ruby, Rails, JavaScript, and whatever else is drawing their attention, admiration, or ire this week.

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  • 383: Code as Storytelling with Nicole Zhu

    May 9th, 2023  |  43 mins 2 secs

    Engineering manager at Vox Media and author Nicole Zhu joins Stephanie on today's episode to discuss her writing practice.

    nicoledonut is a biweekly newsletter about the writing process and sustaining a creative life that features creative resources, occasional interviews with creative folks, short essays on writing and creativity, farm-to-table memes and TikToks, and features on what Nicole is currently writing, reading, and watching.

  • 382: Domain-Specific Languages

    May 2nd, 2023  |  36 mins 9 secs

    Joël has been integrating a third-party platform into a testing pipeline...and it has not been going well. Because it's not something she usually keeps up-to-date with, Stephanie is excited to learn about more of the open-source side of things in Ruby, what's new in the Ruby tooling world, and what folks are thinking about regarding the future of the language.

    Today's topic is inspired by an internal thoughtbot Slack thread about writing a custom matcher for Rspec. Stephanie and Joël contrast DSLs vs. Object APIs and also talk about:

    • CanCanCan vs Pundit
    • RSpec DSL
    • When is a DSL helpful?
    • Why not use both DSLs & Object APIs?
    • Extensibility
    • When does a DSL become a framework?
  • 381: To TDD or Not to TDD?

    April 25th, 2023  |  40 mins 58 secs

    It's gardening season! Stephanie swaps seeds with friends and talks about her Chicago garden. Joël recently started experimenting with a dedicated bookmark manager.

    They discuss the aspirational (and sometimes dogmatic) sides of TDD and explore when to test: first or after.

    How does that affect the tests?
    How does that affect the code?
    How does that affect workflow?
    Are you a "better" programmer because you 100% TDD?

  • 380: Remote Work Life

    April 18th, 2023  |  32 mins 19 secs

    Joël has been working on his RailsConf talk about various aspects of discrete math useful in day-to-day work as a developer and going deep on some concepts from propositional logic and Boolean algebra, particularly DeMorgan's Laws, which explain how to negate a compound condition. Stephanie attended a meeting with a fun "Spicy Takes" topic. She gave a short talk on how frictionless technology may not be the best path forward and tried to argue in favor of more friction in our software.

    Together, they talk about ways they've made remote work work for them and things they'd like to try/do differently.

  • 379: Feature Flags

    April 11th, 2023  |  41 mins 56 secs

    Joël submitted a last-minute submission to RailsConf discreet math, which got picked up! 🎉 He'll be speaking at RailsConf 2023 in Atlanta at the end of April about why it's relevant to developers and all the different practical ways he uses it daily.

    Stephanie recommends headlamps for in-bed reading sessions and sets up the feature flags topic for today based on a project that must be released to the public in one go.

  • 378: Leadership and Impact as an Individual Contributor

    April 4th, 2023  |  38 mins 16 secs

    Today's episode is "Old News"! Stephanie shares her ergonomic desk setup. Joël talks about the pyramids.

    Another old thing is the Bike Shed episode two weeks ago about success and fulfillment. Stephanie and Joël realized off-mic that one area they didn't really talk about so much is impact, and that is something that is very fulfilling for both of them. Today, they talk about impact and leadership as individual contributors because leadership is typically associated with management. But they believe that as ICs, at any level, you can be displaying attributes of leadership and show up in that way on teams.

  • 377: Error Handling

    March 28th, 2023  |  45 mins 6 secs

    Joël is a mentor for RailsConf and got matched with a speaker. Stephanie has been having trouble stepping away from her work. It's frustrating when chasing down a bug because something's gone wrong, and you spend a whole afternoon figuring out where it is. Joël and Stephanie discuss error handling as a possible solution.

  • 376: Success and Fulfillment

    March 21st, 2023  |  41 mins 3 secs

    Stephanie has a win and a gripe from her client project this week. In a previous episode, Joël talked about his work exploring how to model dependent side effects, particularly D&D dice rolls. He went from the theoretical to the practical and wrote up a miniature D&D damage dice roll app that you put in a few inputs. Then it will roll all the dice necessary and tell you did you successfully hit your target and, if so, how much damage you did.

    Together, they discuss how they think about fulfillment at work and what brings them fulfillment as developers.

  • 375: Deleting Code

    March 14th, 2023  |  31 mins 19 secs

    The idea of deleting code has been swimming around in Stephanie's brain recently because she's been feeling nervous about it. Together, Joël and Stephanie explore ways of gaining confidence to delete code while feeling good about it.

  • 374: Discrete Math

    March 7th, 2023  |  30 mins 54 secs

    Joël is joined by a very special guest, Sara Jackson, a fellow Software Developer at thoughtbot.

    A few episodes ago, Stephanie and Joël talked about "The Fundamentals" and how many of the fundamentals of web development line up with a Computer Science degree. Joël made a comment during that episode that his pick for the most underrated CS class that he thinks would benefit most devs is a class called
    "Discrete Math." Sara weighs in!

  • 373: Empathy, Community and Gender Bias in Tech with Andrea Goulet

    February 28th, 2023  |  42 mins 21 secs

    Stephanie is joined today by a very special guest, Andrea Goulet. Andrea founded Empathy In Tech as part of writing her book Empathy-Driven Software Development. She's also the founder of the community Legacy Code Rocks and the Chief Vision Officer of two companies: Corgibytes and Heartware (which provides financial support to keep Empathy In Tech running).

    Stephanie has strong opinions about the concept of "Makers and Menders" that the Corgibytes folks have written/spoken about, especially around those personas and gender stereotypes. Andrea joins Steph to evolve the conversation and add nuance to the discussion about legacy code/maintenance in our community.

  • 372: Onboarding (Well!) Onto a Project

    February 21st, 2023  |  37 mins 37 secs

    Stephanie raves about more software development-related zines by Julia Evans. Joël has been thinking about the mechanics of rolling dice.

    Stephanie also started on a new client project that Joël has already been working on for many months. They talk about onboarding.

  • 371: The "Fundamentals"

    February 14th, 2023  |  36 mins 32 secs

    Joël has been fighting autoloading in a Rails app recently, and it's been really unpleasant. Stephanie has been experimenting with how she interacts with Slack.

    What are "the fundamentals"? People often argue for the value of Computer Science classes for the jobbing programmer because we need "the fundamentals." But what are they? And does CS really provide that for us?

  • 370: Creative Expression in Software Development

    February 7th, 2023  |  38 mins 52 secs

    Stephanie shares that she's been taking an intro to basket weaving class at a local art studio, and it's an interesting connection to computer science. Joël eats honeycomb live on air and shares a video that former Bike Shed host Steph Viccari found from Ian Anderson. It's a parody to the tune of "All I Want For Christmas Is You," but it's all about the Ruby 3.2 release.

    In this episode, Stephanie and Joël shift away from literature and lean into art. Writing code is technical work, but in many ways, it's also aesthetic work. It's a work of art. How do you feel about expressing yourself creatively through your code?

  • 369: Most Impactful Articles of 2022

    January 31st, 2023  |  50 mins 23 secs

    Joël has been pondering another tool for thought from Maggie Appleton: diagramming. What does drawing complex things reveal? Stephanie has updates on how Soup Group went, plus a clarification from last week's episode re: hexagons and tessellation.

    They also share the top most impactful articles they read in 2022.

  • 368: Sustainable Web Development

    January 24th, 2023  |  36 mins 3 secs

    Stephanie talks about hosting a "Soup Group"! Joël got nerd-sniped during the last episode and dove deeper into Maggie Appleton's "Tools for Thought."

    Stephanie has been thinking a lot about Sustainable Web Development. What is sustainability? How does it relate to tech and what we do?