Stephanie recommends "Blue Eye Samurai" and a new ceramic pot (donabe) for cooking. Joël talks about the joy of holding a warm beverage in a unique mug. Stephanie discusses her shift to a part-time support and maintenance role at thoughtbot, contrasting it with her full-time development work. She highlights the importance of communication, documentation, and workplace flexibility in this role. Stephanie appreciates the professional growth opportunities and aligns this flexible work style with her long-term career goals. Blue Eye Samurai (https://www.netflix.com/title/81144203) Donabe pots (https://jinenstore.com/collections/nagatani-en) thoughtbot's Support & Maintenance services (https://thoughtbot.com/services/rails-maintenance) Transcript: JOËL: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Bike Shed, a weekly podcast from your friends at thoughtbot about developing great software. I'm Joël Quenneville. STEPHANIE: And I'm Stephanie Minn. And together, we're here to share a bit of what we've learned along the way. JOËL: So, Stephanie, what's new in your world? STEPHANIE: I have a TV show recommendation this week. I think this is my first time having TV or movies to recommend, so this will be fun. My partner and I just finished watching Blue Eye Samurai on Netflix, which is an animated historical Samurai drama. But the really cool thing about it is that the protagonist she's a woman who is disguising herself as a man, and she is half Japanese and half White, which the show takes place during Edo, Japan. And so that was a time when Japan was locked down, and there were no outsiders allowed in the country. And so, to be mixed race like that was to be, like, kind of, like, demonized and to be really excluded and shamed. And so, the main character is on, like, a revenge mission. And it was such a cool show. I was kind of, like, on the edge of my seat the whole time. And it's very beautifully animated. There were just a lot of really awesome things about it. And I think it's very different from what I've been seeing on TV these days. JOËL: Is this a single-season show? STEPHANIE: So far, there's just one season. I think it's pretty new, yeah. It's very watchable in a couple of weekends. [laughter] JOËL: Dangerously so. STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly [laughs]. JOËL: How do you feel about the way they end the arc in season one? Do they kind of leave you on a cliffhanger, or does it feel like a pretty satisfying place? STEPHANIE: Ooh, I think both, which is the sweet spot, in my opinion, where it's not, like, cliffhanger for the sake of, like, ugh, now I feel like I have to just watch the next part to see what happens because I was left unsatisfied. I like when seasons are kind of like chapters of the story, right? And the characters are also well written, too, and really fleshed out even, you know, some of the side characters. They all have their arcs that are really satisfying. And, again, I just was left very impressed. JOËL: I guess that's the power of good storytelling. STEPHANIE: Yeah. I was reading a review of the show. And that was kind of the theme of–it was just that, like, this is really good storytelling, and I would have to agree. Yeah, I highly recommend checking it out. It was very fun. It was very bloody, but [chuckles], for me, it being animated actually made it a little more palatable for me [laughs]. The fight scenes, the action scenes were really cool. I think the way that it's been described is kind of, like, you know, if you like historical dramas, or if you like things like Game of Thrones, there's kind of something for everyone. I recommend checking it out. Joël, what's new in your world? JOËL: Listeners of the show don't know this, but you and I are on a video call while we're recording this. And you'd commented earlier that I was holding a cool mug. It's got a rock climbing hold as a handle, which is pretty fun. I enjoy a lot of bouldering. That makes it a fun mug. But I was recently thinking about just how much pleasure I get from holding a mug with a warm beverage. It's such a small thing, but it makes me so happy. And that got me thinking more broadly about what are things in life that are kind of like that. They're small things that have, like, an outsized impact on your happiness. Do you have anything like that? STEPHANIE: Oh yes, absolutely. You were talking about the warmth of a hot beverage in your hands. And I was thinking about something similar, too, because I'm pretty sure this time of year last year, I talked about something that was new in my world that was just, like, a thing that I got to make winter more tolerable for me here in Chicago, and I think it was, like, a heated blanket [laughs]. And I am similarly in that space this year of like, what can I do or get to make this winter better than last winter? So, this year, what I got that I'm really excited to use— it actually just came in the mail—is this ceramic pot called the donabe that's kind of mainly used for Japanese cooking, especially, like, hot pot. And so, it will be a huge improvement to my soup game this year [laughs]. Similarly, it's kind of, like, one of those small things where you can take it from the stovetop where you're cooking straight to the table, and I'm so looking forward to that. It's kind of like your hot beverage in your hand but, like, three times the size [laughs]. JOËL: Right. The family-style version of it. STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. So, that's what I'm really looking forward to this year as something that is just, like, I don't know, a little small upgrade to my regular soup routine. But I think I will get a lot of pleasure [laughs] out of it. JOËL: What do you normally cook in that style of pot? Is it typically you do a hot pot in there, or is it meant for soups? STEPHANIE: Yeah, it holds heat really well, so I think that's why it's used for soup a lot. And the one that I got specifically has a little ceramic steamer plate as well. And so, I'm looking forward to having, like, this setup that's made for steaming, where you don't have to have any, like, too many extra bits. And, again, it can go from stove to table, and that's one less thing I [chuckles] need to wash. JOËL: I love it. So, something else that is kind of new in your world is you'd mentioned on a recent episode you'd wrapped up with your current client. And you've rotated on to not exactly a new client but a new almost line of business. You're doing a rotation with our support and maintenance team. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is like? STEPHANIE: Yeah. I'm excited to share more about it because this is my first time on this team doing this work. And it's pretty new for thoughtbot, too. I think it's only, like, a year old that we have had this sub-team of the one that you and I are on, Boost. In the sub-team, support and maintenance is focused on providing flexible part-time work for clients who are just needing some dedicated hours, not necessarily for, you know, a lot of, like, intense new feature work, but making sure that things are running smoothly. A lot of the clients, you know, have had Rails apps that are several years old, that are chugging along [chuckles], just need that, like, attention every now and then to make sure that upgrades are happening, fix any bugs, kind of as the app just continues to work and provide value. And then, occasionally, there is a little bit of feature work. But the interesting thing about being on this team is that instead of being on one client full-time, you are working on a lot of different clients at the same time, and a lot of them are on retainers. So, they maybe have, like, 20 hours a month of work that gets filled with kind of whatever tasks need to be done during that time. So yeah, I recently joined a few days ago and have been very surprised by kind of this style of work. It's different from what I'm used to. JOËL: That seems pretty different than the sort of traditional thoughtbot client engagement. Typically, if I'm a client and I'm hiring a team from thoughtbot, as a client, I get sort of a dedicated team. And they're probably either building some things for me or maybe working with my team and sort of full-time building features. Whereas if I hire the support and maintenance team, it sounds like it's a bit more ad hoc. And it's things I assume it's like, oh, we probably need to upgrade our Rails version since a new release came out last month. Can you do that? Here's a small bug that was reported. Can somebody fix that? Things along those lines. Is that pretty approximate of what the experience is for a client? STEPHANIE: Yeah, I would say so. I think the other surprising thing has been there have been a little bit of more DevOps type of tasks as well mixed in there. Because oftentimes, these are smaller clients who maybe have, like, a few developers actively working on new features and that type of stuff. But there is, like, so much of the connecting work that needs to happen when you have an application. And if you don't have a full in-house team for that, that often gets put on developers' plates. But it's kind of nice to have this flexible support and maintenance team, again, to, like, do the work as it comes up. A lot of it is not necessarily, like, stuff that can be planned in advance. It's kind of like, oh, we're hitting, like, our usage limit for this Heroku add-on. Let's evaluate if this is still working for us, if this is a good tier to be on. Like, should we upgrade? Are there other levers we could pull or adjustments we can make? So, that's actually been some of the stuff that I've been working on, too, which is, again, a little bit different from normal development work but also still very much related. And it's all kind of part of the job. And, you know, a lot of the skills are transferable. And to know how to do development in a framework then sets you up, I think, really well to, like, be able to make those kinds of evaluations. JOËL: So, it sounds like you almost, in a sense, provide a bit of a velocity cushion for clients so that if something does come up where they would maybe normally need to pull a dev off of feature work to do some side thing for a couple of days, you can come in and handle that so that their dev team stays focused on shipping features. STEPHANIE: Yeah, I like that phrase you used: velocity cushion. That's cool. I like it. The other surprising thing that I have kind of quite enjoyed, at least for now, is because we bill a little bit differently on this work; we have to track our hours more explicitly. And that has actually helped me focus a lot more on what I'm doing and if I should continue to be doing what I'm doing. I'm timeboxing things a lot more because I know that if there is a ceiling on the number of hours, I want to make sure that that time is spent in the most valuable way. And I also really enjoy, like, the boundaries of timeboxing, yes, but also, like, the tasks are usually scoped pretty narrowly so that they are things that you can accomplish, definitely in the week, because you don't know if you'll kind of still be working for this client next week but even more so, like, within a few days. And that is nice because I can kind of, like, you know, track my hours, finish the task, and then feel a little bit more free to go do something else without being, like, okay, like, what's the next thing that I need to be doing? There's a little bit more freedom, I think, when you're kind of, like, optimizing towards, like, finishing each item. JOËL: Do the stories of the work that you have to do does it typically come kind of pre-scoped? Are you involved in making sure that it has, like, very aggressive scoping? STEPHANIE: Yeah. So far, I've not been involved in doing the scoping work, and it has come pre-scoped, which has been nice. This was also, again, just different. Because I was on a client team previously, a lot of the work to be done was the disambiguating, the, like, figuring out what to be doing. Whereas here, because, again, we're kind of optimized for people coming in and out, if there is uncertainty or lack of clarity, it's pointed out early, and someone is like, "Okay, I will take care of this. Like, I'll take the lead on this so that it can be handed off." One client that I'm working on is using Basecamp's Shape Up methodology, which I actually hadn't worked with in a very explicit way before. And that has been interesting to learn about a little bit, too. One thing that I have enjoyed about it is instead of sprints, they're called cycles. And I like that a lot because, you know, sprints kind of have the connotation of, like, you're running as fast as you can but also, like, you can't run that way forever [laughs]. And so, even that, like, little bit of rewording change is really nice. The variable part is scope, right? It's we're focused on delivering something completely and very intentionally cutting scope as kind of the main lever. JOËL: How do you maintain sort of focus and flow if you're jumping across multiple clients? Because you said, you work with multiple clients as part of this team. And I feel like I can get a little bit frustrated sometimes, even just jumping between, like, tickets within one project. And so, I could imagine that jumping between different clients during the week or even the day might be really disruptive. Have you found techniques to help you stay in the flow? STEPHANIE: Yeah, that is a tough one because, also, every client has their different application; you then have to start up on [laughs] your local machine, and that is kind of annoying. You know, I do still tend to kind of, like, bundle similar work together. If, like, there's a few things I can do for a client on one day, I'll make sure to focus on that. But what I mentioned earlier about, like, seeing something to completion has been really, I want to say, fun even. Because it then kind of, like, frees up that mental space of, like, okay, I don't have to, like, have this thing that I'm working on lingering in my head about, like, oh, did I forget to do something? Or, you know, have, like, shower thoughts of like, oh, I just thought of a new way to implement this [laughs] feature because it doesn't spill over as much as maybe larger initiatives anyway. And so, I am context-switching, but it's only kind of after I've gotten something to a good place where I've left all of the notes. And that's another thing that I'm now kind of compelled to do a little more actively. It's like, every single day, I'm kind of making sure that the work that I've done has been reported on, one, because I have to track my hours, so, you know, and I sometimes leave notes about what that time was spent on doing. And also, when the expectation is that someone else will be picking up, then there's no, like, oh, like, let me hold on to this, and only when I know that I have to hand off something that's when I'll do the, like, dedicated knowledge dumping. It's kind of just built into the process a little more frequently. JOËL: So, you're setting up for, like, an imminent vacation factor. STEPHANIE: Yeah. Which I kind of like because then I can take a vacation [laughs] whenever I want and not have to worry too much about, oh, did I do everything I needed to do before I leave? JOËL: So, you know, these practices that you're doing are specifically adapted for the style of work that you have. Are there any that you think you would bring to your own practice if you ever rotated back on to a dedicated client project, anything that you would do there that you would want to include from your practice here? STEPHANIE: Yeah. It does sound kind of weird because part of what's nice about being on a full-time team is that there is less, oh, if I don't get something done today, I have tomorrow to do it [laughs]. And it seems like that would be like, oh, like, kind of take the pressure off a little bit. But I would be really curious to continue having, like, such an intense awareness about how I'm spending my time. Because I've certainly gotten a little bit lax on, like, full-time development work when you just go down a rabbit hole [laughs] and you come out, like, three hours later, and you're like, "What did I just do?" [laughs] And, you know, maybe that's what needed to be done, and that's fine. But if you have the information that it took you three hours, you can at least make a better-informed decision about, like, oh, maybe I should have stopped a little earlier or, like, yeah, it took about three hours, and that's okay. I think that would be an interesting area to incorporate and to be able to report more frequently. And I also like to know how other people spend their time, too. So, just, like, that sharing of information would also be really beneficial even to, like, a team. JOËL: What about the more aggressive documentation? Is that something that...because that can be really time-consuming, I imagine, as well. Is that something that you would value in a kind of, more focused full-time project context? STEPHANIE: Yeah. One part I've enjoyed about it is that I'm documenting, like, decision-making a lot more actively where, you know, I'm kind of, like, surfacing to be like, hey, here's the outcomes of, like, my research. We're not as, you know, embedded in the business, and we don't have as much of that, like, context and knowledge about what the best solutions are all the time. I'm documenting all of that, you know, usually, for the client stakeholder to be like, "Hey, here's my recommendations, like, how do you want to...what do you think is the best way to go? On one hand, it's kind of nice not to have to, like, be solely responsible for making that decision, right? And I'm kind of, like, leaning on, like, hey, like, you're the expert of your application and your product, you know, here's what I've learned. And now I've, like, put this all, like, for you and presented it to you. And I think that, for me, has gotten lost sometimes when I end up being the same person of, like, doing the research and then deciding, and it just kind of ends up being held in my head. And that, I think, is something really important to document, even if it's just for other people to, like, see how that process might work or, like, what things I already considered or didn't try. That exercise, I think, can be really important. So, so far, the documentation has not necessarily been, like, code level, but more, like, for each task, it's, like, showing your work, right? And not in a, like, you're being monitored [laughs] sort of way but in a way that supports it getting done with a lot of that turnover. JOËL: It's almost like a mini report that you're doing. So, you'd mentioned, for example, an application running into memory problems on Heroku. It sounds like you would then go maybe investigate that and then make some recommendations on whether they need to increase some dynos or maybe make some internal changes. It sounds like you may or may not be the one to execute those changes. But you would write up some, like, a mini report and submit that to the client, and then they can make their own execution choices. STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. And they can execute it themselves or then create a new ticket for the next person rotating on to support and maintenance to tackle it in a different cycle. JOËL: So, support and maintenance doesn't just do the investigation. Your team might do the execution as well. It's just that the sort of more research-y stuff and the execution stuff gets split out into different tickets because it's so tightly scoped. STEPHANIE: Yeah, that sounds right. JOËL: I like that. STEPHANIE: One area that I wasn't sure that I was going to like so much about this kind of work is, you know, when you're not kind of embedded on a team, I was thinking that I might not feel as connected, or I would miss a bit of that getting to know people and just, like, seeing people face to face on a daily basis. I'm still evaluating how that would go so far because it has definitely been, like, mostly asynchronous communication, you know, which is what works well for this type of the style of team or project. But I think what has been helpful is realizing that, like, oh yeah, like, I can also get that elsewhere, you know, with thoughtbot folks like with you doing this podcast every week. And right now, there are, like, two Boost members who are doing support and maintenance full time, and folks who are unbooked kind of come in and out. And I can see that there's still a team. So, it's not nearly as kind of, like, isolating as what I had thought it would be. JOËL: There's something that's really curious to me, I think, sitting at the intersection of the idea of fostering more team interactions and the sort of, like, mini reports that you write. And that's that I would love to see more sharing among all of us at thoughtbot about different interesting problems that we've had to solve or that we're tackling on different client work. Because I think in that case, it's a situation where we all just learn something, you know, maybe I've never had to deal with a memory leak or might not even have an idea of, like, how to approach memory issues on Heroku. So, seeing your little mini report, if you'd maybe share that, and, you know, maybe it can be anonymized in some way if needs to, I think would be really nice, at the very least, something that could be done, like, internally. So, I almost wonder if, like, building that practice of, you know, maybe not for every ticket that I do because, you know, I don't want to just be dumping my tickets in the thoughtbot Slack. But I run into something interesting and be like, oh, let me tell a little story about this and do a little write-up. That might be something that's good for the whole team and not just for folks who are on support and maintenance. STEPHANIE: Yeah, absolutely. As you were saying that, I was thinking about how it does kind of encourage me to find support outside of my, like, immediate team, right? Because I don't necessarily have one with the client and to, I don't know, I'm imagining, like, these roots growing in terms of different communities I'm a part of and bringing those problems just outside of my internal world, and kind of getting that outside feedback because by necessity a little bit, right? But also, with the added benefit of, you know, I think that's also how a lot of people end up writing content that gets shared with the world. So, I had the misconception that I would be kind of just, like, on my own off doing things like just tickets and being a little coding robot, but I've been surprised by it feels very fresh and new. So, I think, I guess, I was needing a little bit of that [laughs]. JOËL: I was having a conversation with another thoughtboter recently about how valuable sometimes change can be for its own sake and how that can sort of refresh. You want it just at the rate where you have a chance to build some stability. You don't want chaos. But sometimes change can sort of take you out of a rut, give you energy, maybe sort of restart some good habits that you had sort of let atrophy. And that finding, like, just that right level of shaking things up can really help a team, you know, get their effectiveness to the next level. STEPHANIE: Yeah. I like what you said about good habits, for sure. A couple of other random, little things that I just thought of about what I've liked is, I don't know, maybe this is a little silly. But we, you know, use shared credentials for logging into different services and applications or third parties that clients are using. And that has actually been something that has been so easy [laughs] and very low friction compared to, you know, joining a new project and manually be added as, like, your individual account to all of the different things. And things inevitably get forgotten, and then you have to rely on someone else to do it. And sometimes they don't get back to you [laughs] for a while. The self-serviceness of this work has been cool, too. And I just, yeah, wanted to say that I really appreciated the thought that went into making it as easy as possible to be like, yeah, I can find the credentials here. It is, you know, a bit more anonymized because I'm just using, like, a shared account. JOËL: Like a generic thoughtbot account on a client system rather than stephanie@thoughtbot. STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. But I think I saved so much time [laughs] this week just being able to do all of that myself and, you know, knowing where to look first before having to ask. JOËL: I guess you'd need something like that, right? If you're only jumping in on a project for the first time, for a couple of hours or something like that, you don't want to go through a whole onboarding process because that might then, like, easily double. You know, instead of doing two hours on this project, you're now doing four. STEPHANIE: Yeah, exactly. I guess the other takeaway, for me, was like, oh, definitely, if I were to have to set up accounts [laughs] for an application, you know, I've obviously seen where it was like, very clearly, like, the founder having created all these personal accounts for this services, and people are still using their credentials many years later [laughs], even though they probably, like, maybe may not even work for the company anymore. But yeah, the shared credentials and using that generic account that anyone can kind of get into when needed has really lowered the barrier to jump into doing that work, right? And especially because, like you said, it reduces that time. And we're, you know, billing by the hour anyway. So, it's kind of a win-win situation. JOËL: And I totally understand why you would not want something like that for a longer engagement. But for something like support and maintenance, it sounds like it was the right choice. STEPHANIE: Yeah, yeah. Again, I just mentioned it because it's just different. And so, maybe if this sparks any ideas for our listeners about how processes could be different or, like, the styles or ways of working can be different, I think that would be cool. JOËL: And just to be clear here, it sounds like what you're doing is for sort of each client; you create a separate set of credentials that are for that client but that are about thoughtbot generically. You don't have, like, one thoughtbot email and password that we reuse for every client. STEPHANIE: [laughs] Oh yes. That would be not so good [laughs] if we got hacked and suddenly, now they have access to everything. JOËL: So, every client gets its own unique email password combo. We're using security best practices here. And then, since you do have to share them through a team, are you doing some sort of, like, shared 1Password vault or something along those lines? STEPHANIE: Yeah, we are using a shared 1Password vault. That is definitely what I meant [laughs] the first time when I was mentioning the shared credentials, where that was basically the only thing I had to get onboarded to, the vault, for support and maintenance to be able to hit the ground running. JOËL: So, this sounds like a pretty exciting new style of project for you. Is this something that you would see yourself preferring to do longer term, to sort of focus on this style of project? Or do you think that you'd like to come back to more classic project work in the near future? STEPHANIE: I'm not sure yet, but I'm also hoping to have an answer to that question. And it definitely does feel like an experiment for me personally. I can see liking it, and that also fitting well with some of my longer-term goals of being able to, like, step back from work. Maybe working fewer days a week is something that I've, like, thought about in terms of, like, a long-term goal of mine because I'm not as needed [laughs] on a team. Which I think, in the past, I also had a bit of a misconception that, like, in order to be a good developer, I had to have all the domain knowledge, and be indispensable, and, like, be the go-to person to answer all the questions. But now I'm at a point where I don't want to [laughs] necessarily have to answer, like, every question because that creates, like, a dependency on me. And if I need to step away from work, then that could be tough, right? The vacation factor that you mentioned. So, this style of work is very interesting in terms of if it might provide me a little bit more of that, not exactly work-life balance, but just kind of be closer to my goals in terms of what I want out of work and my time. And, hopefully, I'm going to be doing this next week, but I don't know because that's the nature of it [laughs]. But if I am, then I'll definitely have more to say about it. Probably. JOËL: Well, it definitely sounds like we'll have to check in again on what's, I guess, not so new in your world on a future episode. On that note, shall we wrap up? STEPHANIE: Let's wrap up. Show notes for this episode can be found at bikeshed.fm. JOËL: This show has been produced and edited by Mandy Moore. STEPHANIE: 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. It really helps other folks find the show. JOËL: If you have any feedback for this or any of our other episodes, you can reach us @_bikeshed, or you can reach me @joelquen on Twitter. STEPHANIE: Or reach both of us at email@example.com via email. JOËL: Thanks so much for listening to The Bike Shed, and we'll see you next week. ALL: Byeeeeeeee!!!!!! AD: Did you know thoughtbot has a referral program? If you introduce us to someone looking for a design or development partner, we will compensate you if they decide to work with us. More info on our website at: tbot.io/referral. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Brass locomotives are dead. There's no point in buying them. They're a bad investment. In fact, we couldn't understand why anybody would even want to buy and sell them until we met Matt Dowd at Resourced Rail's. Not only is Matt an avid Model Railroader but he's been an avid collector and trader of brass locomotives in all scales for decades, and now he's turned it into a full-time business. We decided to have a return visit to find out how this fledgling company turned into a full-time job for Matt who now employs seven people to help him keep up with demand. Plus he tells us all about his exciting trip to the “Land of the Rising Sun” and what model railroading is like in Japan as he introduces us to some of the great brass locomotive builders of our time. It's a great episode and one we're all sure you'll enjoy!!
The engines have trouble with Travis the new tram, Class 40 returns to help and Duncan visits Australia in five train-tastic stories! Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
In this episode, we're unwrapping the highlights from Laracon AU, with a special focus on Laravel Pulse leading our discussion. Taylor takes the reins to guide us through the origins and functionality of Laravel Pulse, a health monitoring tool for your Laravel applications.We then shift our discussion to Laravel first party packages. Taylor openly shares insights into his decision-making process—revealing how he selects packages to join the Laravel family and when it's time to bid them farewell.Our conversation doesn't end there though. We also look at the future of Laravel and examine the strategies used for continually injecting innovation and fresh ideas into the Laravel ecosystem. Taylor Otwell's Twitter - https://twitter.com/taylorotwell Matt Stauffer's Twitter - https://twitter.com/stauffermatt Laravel Twitter - https://twitter.com/laravelphp Laravel Website - https://laravel.com/ Tighten.co - https://tighten.com/ Laravel Pulse: https://pulse.laravel.com/ Laracon AU - https://laracon.au/ Bugsnag: https://www.bugsnag.com/ Cashier: https://laravel.com/docs/10.x/billing Docker: https://www.docker.com Forge - https://forge.laravel.com/ Herd: https://herd.laravel.com/ Horizon: https://laravel.com/docs/10.x/horizon Inertia - https://inertiajs.com/ Livewire: https://laravel-livewire.com/ Lumen: https://lumen.laravel.com/docs/10.x Mix: https://laravel-mix.com/ Next.js: https://nextjs.org/ Passport: https://laravel.com/docs/10.x/passport Pennant: https://laravel.com/docs/10.x/pennant Sentry: https://sentry.io/for/php/ Tailwind: https://tailwindcss.com/ Telescope: https://laravel.com/docs/10.x/telescope Tony Messias Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonysmdev Valet: https://laravel.com/docs/10.x/valet Vapor - https://vapor.laravel.com/ -----Editing and transcription sponsored by Tighten.
It's probable that the same person committed a series of axe murders between 1898 and 1912 across the United States, including the infamous 1912 Villisca axe murders in Iowa. And, this serial killer appears to have traveled by train to perform these heinous acts. If it were the same person, he was responsible for at least 59 deaths, with the potential to have committed up to nearly 100. The theory of a single killer hinges on a pattern of behaviors and circumstances: the murders were typically carried out with an axe belonging to the victim, the majority of the murders took place near a train track, the killings were done at night, and the victims were often asleep in their beds. The Villisca axe murders are the most notorious of these cases; however, with the passage of over a century, definitive answers are likely out of reach, and the true identity of "The Man from the Train" remains a subject of speculation.Visit us at email@example.com/mydarkpath
Welcome to the Nothing Shocking Podcast 2.0 reboot episode 210 with our guest Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot (Ozzy Osbourne Whitesnake, Dio, Blue Oyster Cult, Guess Who). In this episode we discuss Quiet Riot's 40th Anniversary of Metal Health tour, 2024 plans for Monsters of Rock Cruise, and more! Rudy is also the author of the book, Off the Rails. For more information visit: https://www.quietriot.band/ https://guitarnuttees.myshopify.com/collections/rudy-sarzo-iconic-bass-design-collection https://www.chromacast.com/rudy-sarzo-gig-bags Please like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/nothingshockingpodcast/ Follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/hashtag/noshockpod. Libsyn website: https://nothingshocking.libsyn.com For more info on the Hong Kong Sleepover: https://thehongkongsleepover.bandcamp.com Help support the podcast and record stores by shopping at Ragged Records. http://www.raggedrecords.org
NTD News Today—11/23/20231. Macy's Parade: Float Displays2. Macy's Parade: Inflatable Balloons3. Macy's Parade: Holiday Spirit4. Macy's Parade: Marching Joy5. Macy's Parade: Iconic Characters6. Macy's Parade: Live Performances7. Macy's Parade: Crowds Cheer8. Macy's Parade: Seasonal Magic9. Macy's Parade: Family Tradition10. Iconic Macy's Balloons11. Macy's Holiday Cheer12. Macy's Musical Performances13. Macy's 2023 Thanksgiving Day Parade14. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Excitement15. Macy's Workers to Strike on Black Friday16. Thanksgiving Travelers Hit Roads, Rails and Skies17. U.S. Troops in South Korea Celebrate Thanksgiving18. Ukraine Launches ‘Food Train' to Help Residents19. AZ: Accidental Thanksgiving Invite Sparks Unusual Tradition20. Hy-Vee Turkey Gravy Recalled Over Labeling Issue
Kevin and Scott describe a dozen historic practices that have, to one degree or another, been forgotten in much of the Catholic world. Join them in rediscovering the holy uses of chalk, salt, and tying knots.
Looking for the Summary version of this build? Click here! Join the Guild during our Black Friday sale! Get 40% OFF a single course using the code TURKEY40 Stuff I Used: Taper Maker Hardware Kit RevMark White Marker Festool Domino Festool OF1400 Router 1/4″ Upspiral Bit Titebond Extend Dovetail Bit Milwaukee Die Grinder Cove Bit […]
Sara is a team lead at thoughtbot. She talks about her experience as a professor at Kanazawa Technical College, giant LAN parties in Rochester, transitioning from Java to Ruby, shining a light on maintainers, and her closing thoughts on RubyConf. Recorded at RubyConf 2023 in San Diego. -- A few topics covered: Being an Assistant Arofessor in Kanazawa Teaching naming, formatting, and style Differences between students in Japan vs US Technical terms and programming resources in Japanese LAN parties at Rochester Transitioning from Java to Ruby Consulting The forgotten maintainer RubyConf Other links Sara's mastodon thoughtbot This Week in Open Source testdouble Ruby Central Scholars and Guides Program City Museum Japan International College of Technology Kanazawa RubyKaigi Applying mruby to World-first Small SAR Satellite (Japanese lightning talk) (mruby in space) Rochester Rochester Institute of Technology Electronic Gaming Society Tora-con Strong National Museum of Play Transcript You can help correct transcripts on GitHub. [00:00:00] Jeremy: I'm here at RubyConf, San Diego, with Sara Jackson, thank you for joining me today. [00:00:05] Sara: Thank you for having me. Happy to be here. [00:00:07] Jeremy: Sara right now you're working at, ThoughtBot, as a, as a Ruby developer, is that right? [00:00:12] Sara: Yes, that is correct. Teaching in Japan [00:00:14] Jeremy: But I think before we kind of talk about that, I mean, we're at a Ruby conference, but something that I, I saw, on your LinkedIn that I thought was really interesting was that you were teaching, I think, programming in. Kanazawa, for a couple years. [00:00:26] Sara: Yeah, that's right. So for those that don't know, Kanazawa is a city on the west coast of Japan. If you draw kind of a horizontal line across Japan from Tokyo, it's, it's pretty much right there on the west coast. I was an associate professor in the Global Information and Management major, which is basically computer science or software development. (laughs) Yep. [00:00:55] Jeremy: Couldn't tell from the title. [00:00:56] Sara: You couldn't. No.. so there I was teaching classes for a bunch of different languages and concepts from Java to Python to Unix and Bash scripting, just kind of all over. [00:01:16] Jeremy: And did you plan the curriculum yourself, or did they have anything for you? [00:01:21] Sara: It depended on the class that I was teaching. So some of them, I was the head teacher. In that case, I would be planning the class myself, the... lectures the assignments and grading them, et cetera. if I was assisting on a class, then usually it would, I would be doing grading and then helping in the class. Most of the classes were, uh, started with a lecture and then. Followed up with a lab immediately after, in person. [00:01:54] Jeremy: And I think you went to, is it University of Rochester? [00:01:58] Sara: Uh, close. Uh, Rochester Institute of Technology. So, same city. Yeah. [00:02:03] Jeremy: And so, you were studying computer science there, is that right? [00:02:07] Sara: I, I studied computer science there, but I got a minor in Japanese language. and that's how, that's kind of my origin story of then teaching in Kanazawa. Because Rochester is actually the sister city with Kanazawa. And RIT has a study abroad program for Japanese learning students to go study at KIT, Kanazawa Institute of Technology, in Kanazawa, do a six week kind of immersive program. And KIT just so happens to be under the same board as the school that I went to teach at. [00:02:46] Jeremy: it's great that you can make that connection and get that opportunity, yeah. [00:02:49] Sara: Absolutely. Networking! [00:02:52] Jeremy: And so, like, as a student in Rochester, you got to see how, I suppose, computer science education was there. How did that compare when you went over to Kanazawa? [00:03:02] Sara: I had a lot of freedom with my curriculum, so I was able to actually lean on some of the things that I learned, some of the, the way that the courses were structured that I took, I remember as a freshman in 2006, one of the first courses that we took, involved, learning Unix, learning the command line, things like that. I was able to look up some of the assignments and some of the information from that course that I took to inform then my curriculum for my course, [00:03:36] Jeremy: That's awesome. Yeah. and I guess you probably also remember how you felt as a student, so you know like what worked and maybe what didn't. [00:03:43] Sara: Absolutely. And I was able to lean on that experience as well as knowing. What's important and what, as a student, I didn't think was important. Naming, formatting, and style [00:03:56] Jeremy: So what were some examples of things that were important and some that weren't? [00:04:01] Sara: Mm hmm. For Java in particular, you don't need any white space between any of your characters, but formatting and following the general Guidelines of style makes your code so much easier to read. It's one of those things that you kind of have to drill into your head through muscle memory. And I also tried to pass that on to my students, in their assignments that it's. It's not just to make it look pretty. It's not just because I'm a mean teacher. It is truly valuable for future developers that will end up reading your code. [00:04:39] Jeremy: Yeah, I remember when I went through school. The intro professor, they would actually, they would print out our code and they would mark it up with red pen, basically like a writing assignment and it would be like a bad variable name and like, white space shouldn't be here, stuff like that. And, it seems kind of funny now, but, it actually makes it makes a lot of sense. [00:04:59] Sara: I did that. [00:04:59] Jeremy: Oh, nice. [00:05:00] Sara: I did that for my students. They were not happy about it. (laughs) [00:05:04] Jeremy: Yeah, at that time they're like, why are you like being so picky, right? [00:05:08] Sara: Exactly. But I, I think back to my student, my experience as a student. in some of the classes I've taken, not even necessarily computer related, the teachers that were the sticklers, those lessons stuck the most for me. I hated it at the time. I learned a lot. [00:05:26] Jeremy: Yeah, yeah. so I guess that's an example of things that, that, that matter. The, the aesthetics or the visual part for understanding. What are some things that they were teaching that you thought like, Oh, maybe this isn't so important. [00:05:40] Sara: Hmm. Pause for effect. (laughs) So I think that there wasn't necessarily Any particular class or topic that I didn't feel was as valuable, but there was some things that I thought were valuable that weren't emphasized very well. One of the things that I feel very strongly about, and I'm sure those of you out there can agree. in RubyWorld, that naming is important. The naming of your variables is valuable. It's useful to have something that's understood. and there were some other teachers that I worked with that didn't care so much in their assignments. And maybe the labs that they assigned had less than useful names for things. And that was kind of a disappointment for me. [00:06:34] Jeremy: Yeah, because I think it's maybe hard to teach, a student because a lot of times you are writing these short term assignments and you have it pass the test or do the thing and then you never look at it again. [00:06:49] Sara: Exactly. [00:06:50] Jeremy: So you don't, you don't feel that pain. Yeah, [00:06:53] Sara: Mm hmm. But it's like when you're learning a new spoken language, getting the foundations correct is super valuable. [00:07:05] Jeremy: Absolutely. Yeah. And so I guess when you were teaching in Kanazawa, was there anything you did in particular to emphasize, you know, these names really matter because otherwise you or other people are not going to understand what you were trying to do here? [00:07:22] Sara: Mm hmm. When I would walk around class during labs, kind of peek over the shoulders of my students, look at what they're doing, it's... Easy to maybe point out at something and be like, well, what is this? I can't tell what this is doing. Can you tell me what this does? Well, maybe that's a better name because somebody else who was looking at this, they won't know, I don't know, you know, it's in your head, but you will not always be working solo. my school, a big portion of the students went on to get technical jobs from after right after graduating. it was when you graduated from the school that I was teaching at, KTC, it was the equivalent of an associate's degree. Maybe 50 percent went off to a tech job. Maybe 50 percent went on to a four year university. And, and so as students, it hadn't. Connected with them always yet that oh, this isn't just about the assignment. This is also about learning how to interact with my co workers in the future. Differences between students [00:08:38] Jeremy: Yeah, I mean, I think It's hard, but, group projects are kind of always, uh, that's kind of where you get to work with other people and, read other people's code, but there's always that potential imbalance of where one person is like, uh, I know how to do this. I'll just do it. Right? So I'm not really sure how to solve that problem. Yeah. [00:09:00] Sara: Mm hmm. That's something that I think probably happens to some degree everywhere, but man, Japan really has groups, group work down. They, that's a super generalization. For my students though, when you would put them in a group, they were, they were usually really organized about who was going to do what and, kept on each other about doing things maybe there were some students that were a little bit more slackers, but it was certainly not the kind of polarized dichotomy you would usually see in an American classroom. [00:09:39] Jeremy: Yeah. I've been on both sides. I've been the person who did the work and the slacker. [00:09:44] Sara: Same. [00:09:46] Jeremy: And, uh, I feel bad about it now, but, uh, [00:09:50] Sara: We did what we had to do. [00:09:52] Jeremy: We all got the degree, so we're good. that is interesting, though. I mean, was there anything else, like, culturally different, you felt, from, you know, the Japanese university? [00:10:04] Sara: Yes. Absolutely. A lot of things. In American university, it's kind of the first time in a young person's life, usually, where they have the freedom to choose what they learn, choose where they live, what they're interested in. And so there's usually a lot of investment in your study and being there, being present, paying attention to the lecture. This is not to say that Japanese college students were the opposite. But the cultural feeling is college is your last time to have fun before you enter the real world of jobs and working too many hours. And so the emphasis on paying Super attention or, being perfect in your assignments. There was, there was a scale. There were some students that were 100 percent there. And then there were some students that were like, I'm here to get a degree and maybe I'm going to sleep in class a little bit. (laughs) That is another major difference, cultural aspect. In America, if you fall asleep in a meeting, you fall asleep in class, super rude. Don't do it. In Japan, if you take a nap at work, you take a nap in class, not rude. It's actually viewed as a sign of you are working really hard. You're usually working maybe late into the night. You're not getting enough sleep. So the fact that you need to take maybe a nap here or two here or there throughout the day means that you have put dedication in. [00:11:50] Jeremy: Even if the reason you're asleep is because you were playing games late at night. [00:11:54] Sara: Yep. [00:11:55] Jeremy: But they don't know that. [00:11:56] Sara: Yeah. But it's usually the case for my students. [00:11:59] Jeremy: Okay. I'm glad they were having fun at least [00:12:02] Sara: Me too. Why she moved back [00:12:04] Jeremy: That sounds like a really interesting experience. You did it for about two years? Three years. [00:12:12] Sara: So I had a three year contract with an option to extend up to five, although I did have a There were other teachers in my same situation who were actually there for like 10 years, so it was flexible. [00:12:27] Jeremy: Yeah. So I guess when you made the decision to, to leave, what was sort of your, your thinking there? [00:12:35] Sara: My fiance was in America [00:12:37] Jeremy: Good. [00:12:37] Sara: he didn't want to move to Japan [00:12:39] Jeremy: Good, reason. [00:12:39] Sara: Yeah, he was waiting three years patiently for me. [00:12:44] Jeremy: Okay. Okay. my heart goes out there . He waited patiently. [00:12:49] Sara: We saw each other. We, we were very lucky enough to see each other every three or four months in person. Either I would visit America or he would come visit me in Kanazawa. [00:12:59] Jeremy: Yeah, yeah. You, you couldn't convince him to, to fall in love with the country. [00:13:03] Sara: I'm getting there [00:13:04] Jeremy: Oh, you're getting Oh, [00:13:05] Sara: it's, We're making, we're making way. [00:13:07] Jeremy: Good, that's good. So are you taking like, like yearly trips or something, or? [00:13:11] Sara: That was, that was always my intention when I moved back so I moved back in the Spring of 2018 to America and I did visit. In 2019, the following year, so I could attend the graduation ceremony for the last group of students that I taught. [00:13:26] Jeremy: That's so sweet. [00:13:27] Sara: And then I had plans to go in 2020. We know what happened in 2020 [00:13:32] Jeremy: Yeah. [00:13:33] Sara: The country did not open to tourism again until the fall of 2022. But I did just make a trip last month. [00:13:40] Jeremy: Nice [00:13:40] Sara: To see some really good friends for the first time in four years. [00:13:43] Jeremy: Amazing, yeah. Where did you go? [00:13:46] Sara: I did a few days in Tokyo. I did a few days in Niigata cause I was with a friend who studied abroad there. And then a few days in Kanazawa. [00:13:56] Jeremy: That's really cool, yeah. yeah, I had a friend who lived there, but they were teaching English, yeah. And, I always have a really good time when I'm out there, yeah. [00:14:08] Sara: Absolutely. If anyone out there visiting wants to go to Japan, this is your push. Go do it. Reach out to me on LinkedIn. I will help you plan. [00:14:17] Jeremy: Nice, nice. Um, yeah, I, I, I would say the same. Like, definitely, if you're thinking about it, go. And, uh, sounds like Sara will hook you up. [00:14:28] Sara: Yep, I'm your travel guide. Technical terms in Japanese [00:14:31] Jeremy: So you, you studied, uh, you, you said you had a minor in Japanese? Yeah. So, so when you were teaching there, were you teaching classes in English or was it in Japanese? [00:14:42] Sara: It was a mix. Uh, when I was hired, the job description was no Japanese needed. It was a very, like, Global, international style college, so there was a huge emphasis on learning English. They wanted us to teach only in English. My thought was, it's hard enough learning computer science in your native language, let alone a foreign language, so my lectures were in English, but I would assist the labs in japanese [00:15:14] Jeremy: Oh, nice. Okay. And then, so you were basically fluent then at the time. Middle. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. Hey, well, I think if you're able to, to help people, you know, in labs and stuff, and it's a technical topic, right? So that's gotta be kind of a, an interesting challenge [00:15:34] Sara: I did learn a lot of new computer vocabulary. Yes. [00:15:39] Jeremy: So the words are, like, a lot of them are not the same? Or, you know, for, for specifically related to programming, I guess. [00:15:46] Sara: Hmm. Yeah, there are Japanese specific words. There's a lot of loan words that we use. We. Excuse me. There's a lot of loan words that Japanese uses for computer terms, but there's plenty that are just in Japanese. For example, uh, an array is hairetsu. [00:16:08] Jeremy: Okay. [00:16:08] Sara: And like a screen or the display that your monitor is a gamen, but a keyboard would be keyboard... Kībōdo, probably. [00:16:20] Jeremy: Yeah. So just, uh, so that, they use that as a loan word, I guess. But I'm not sure why not the other two. [00:16:27] Sara: Yeah, it's a mystery. [00:16:29] Jeremy: So it's just, it's just a total mix. Yeah. I'm just picturing you thinking like, okay, is it the English word or is it the Japanese word? You know, like each time you're thinking of a technical term. Yeah. [00:16:39] Sara: Mm hmm. I mostly, I, I I went to the internet. I searched for Japanese computer term dictionary website, and kind of just studied the terms. I also paid a lot of attention to the Japanese professors when they were teaching, what words they were using. Tried to integrate. Also, I was able to lean on my study abroad, because it was a technical Japanese, like there were classes that we took that was on technical Japanese. Computer usage, and also eco technology, like green technology. So I had learned a bunch of them previously. [00:17:16] Jeremy: Mm. So was that for like a summer or a year or something [00:17:20] Sara: It was six weeks [00:17:21] Jeremy: Six weeks. [00:17:21] Sara: During the summer, [00:17:22] Jeremy: Got it. So that's okay. So like, yeah, that must have been an experience like going to, I'm assuming that's the first time you had been [00:17:30] Sara: It was actually the second time [00:17:31] Jeremy: The second [00:17:32] Sara: Yeah. That was in 2010 that I studied abroad. [00:17:35] Jeremy: And then the classes, they were in Japanese or? Yeah. Yeah. That's, uh, that's, that's full immersion right there. [00:17:42] Sara: It was, it was very funny in the, in the very first lesson of kind of just the general language course, there was a student that was asking, I, how do I say this? I don't know this. And she was like, Nihongo de. [00:17:55] Jeremy: Oh (laughs) ! [00:17:56] Sara: You must, must ask your question only in [00:17:59] Jeremy: Yeah, Programming resources in Japanesez [00:17:59] Jeremy: yeah. yeah. That's awesome. So, so it's like, I guess the, the professors, they spoke English, but they were really, really pushing you, like, speak Japanese. Yeah, that's awesome. and maybe this is my bias because I'm an English native, but when you look up. Resources, like you look up blog posts and Stack Overflow and all this stuff. It's all in English, right? So I'm wondering for your, your students, when, when they would search, like, I got this error, you know, what do I do about it? Are they looking at the English pages or are they, you know, you know what I mean? [00:18:31] Sara: There are Japanese resources that they would use. They love Guguru (Google) sensei. [00:18:36] Jeremy: Ah okay. Okay. [00:18:38] Sara: Um, but yeah, there are plenty of Japanese language stack overflow equivalents. I'm not sure if they have stack overflow specifically in Japanese. But there are sites like that, that they, that they used. Some of the more invested students would also use English resources, but that was a minority. [00:19:00] Jeremy: Interesting. So there's a, there's a big enough community, I suppose, of people posting and answering questions and stuff where it's, you don't feel like, there aren't people doing the same thing as you out there. [00:19:14] Sara: Absolutely. Yeah. There's, a large world of software development in Japan, that we don't get to hear. There are questions and answers over here because of that language barrier. [00:19:26] Jeremy: Yeah. I would be, like, kind of curious to, to see, the, the languages and the types of problems they have, if they were similar or if it's, like, I don't know, just different. [00:19:38] Sara: Yeah, now I'm interested in that too, and I bet you there is a lot of research that we could do on Ruby, since Ruby is Japanese. [00:19:51] Jeremy: Right. cause something I've, I've often heard is that, when somebody says they're working with Ruby, Here in, um, the United States, a lot of times people assume it's like, Oh, you're doing a Rails app, [00:20:02] Sara: Mm hmm. [00:20:03] Jeremy: Almost, almost everybody who's using Ruby, not everyone, but you know, the majority I think are using it because of Rails. And I've heard that in Japan, there's actually a lot more usage that's, that's not tied to Rails. [00:20:16] Sara: I've also heard that, and I get the sense of that from RubyKaigi as well. Which I have never been lucky enough to attend. But, yeah, the talks that come out of RubyKaigi, very technical, low to the metal of Ruby, because there's that community that's using it for things other than Rails, other than web apps. [00:20:36] Jeremy: Yeah, I think, one of the ones, I don't know if it was a talk or not, but, somebody was saying that there is Ruby in space. [00:20:42] Sara: That's awesome. Ruby's everywhere. LAN parties in college [00:20:44] Jeremy: So yeah, I guess like another thing I saw, during your time at Rochester is you were, involved with like, there's like a gaming club I wonder if you could talk a little bit about your experience with that. [00:20:55] Sara: Absolutely, I can. So, at RIT, I was an executive board member for three or four years at the Electronic Gaming Society. EGS for short, uh, we hosted weekly console game nights in, the student alumni union area, where there's open space, kind of like a cafeteria. We also hosted quarterly land parties, and we would actually get people from out of state sometimes who weren't even students to come. Uh, and we would usually host the bigger ones in the field house, which is also where concerts are held. And we would hold the smaller ones in conference rooms. I think when I started in 2006, the, the, the LANs were pretty small, maybe like 50, 50 people bring your, your, your huge CRT monitor tower in. [00:21:57] Jeremy: Oh yeah, [00:21:57] Sara: In And then by the time I left in 2012. we were over 300 people for a weekend LAN party, um, and we were actually drawing more power than concerts do. [00:22:13] Jeremy: Incredible. what were, what were people playing at the time? Like when they would the LANs like, [00:22:18] Sara: Yep. Fortnite, early League of Legends, Call of Duty. Battlegrounds. And then also just like fun indie games like Armagedtron, which is kind of like a racing game in the style of [00:22:37] Jeremy: okay. Oh, okay, [00:22:39] Sara: Um, any, there are some like fun browser games where you could just mess with each other. Jackbox. Yeah. [00:22:49] Jeremy: Yeah, it's, it's interesting that, you know, you're talking about stuff like Fortnite and, um, what is it? Battlegrounds is [00:22:55] Sara: not Fortnite. Team Fortress. [00:22:58] Jeremy: Oh Team Fortress! [00:22:59] Sara: Sorry. Yeah. Oh, yeah, I got my, my names mixed up. Fortnite, I think, did not exist at the time, but Team Fortress was big. [00:23:11] Jeremy: Yeah. that's really cool that you're able to get such a big group there. is there something about Rochester, I guess, that that was able to bring together this many people for like these big LAN events? Because I'm... I mean, I'm not sure how it is elsewhere, but I feel like that's probably not what was happening elsewhere in the country. [00:23:31] Sara: Yeah, I mean, if you've ever been to, um, DreamHack, that's, that's a huge LAN party and game convention, that's fun. so... EGS started in the early 2000s, even before I joined, and was just a committed group of people. RIT was a very largely technical school. The majority of students were there for math, science, engineering, or they were in the computer college, [00:24:01] Jeremy: Oh, okay. [00:24:01] Sara: GCIS, G C C I S, the Gossano College of Computing and Information Sciences. So there was a lot of us there. [00:24:10] Jeremy: That does make sense. I mean, it's, it's sort of this, this bias that when there's people doing, uh, technical stuff like software, um, you know, and just IT, [00:24:21] Sara: Mm hmm. [00:24:23] Jeremy: there's kind of this assumption that's like, oh, maybe they play games. And it seems like that was accurate [00:24:27] Sara: It was absolutely accurate. And there were plenty of people that came from different majors. but when I started, there were 17, 000 students and so that's a lot of students and obviously not everyone came to our weekly meetings, but we had enough dedicated people that were on the eboard driving, You know, marketing and advertising for, for our events and things like that, that we were able to get, the good community going. I, I wasn't part of it, but the anime club at RIT is also huge. They run a convention every year that is huge, ToraCon, um. And I think it's just kind of the confluence of there being a lot of geeks and nerds on campus and Rochester is a college town. There's maybe like 10 other universities in [00:25:17] Jeremy: Well, sounds like it was a good time. [00:25:19] Sara: Absolutely would recommend. Strong Museum of Play [00:25:22] Jeremy: I've never, I've never been, but the one thing I have heard about Rochester is there's the, the Strong Museum of Play. [00:25:29] Sara: Yeah, that place is so much fun, even as an adult. It's kind of like, um, the, the Children's Museum in Indiana for, for those that might know that. it just has all the historical toys and pop culture and interactive exhibits. It's so fun. [00:25:48] Jeremy: it's not quite the same, but it, when you were mentioning the Children's Museum in, um, I think it's in St. Louis, there's, uh, it's called the City Museum and it's like a, it's like a giant playground, you know, indoors, outdoors, and it's not just for kids, right? And actually some of this stuff seems like kind of sketch in terms of like, you could kind of hurt yourself, you know, climbing [00:26:10] Sara: When was this made? [00:26:12] Jeremy: I'm not sure, but, uh, [00:26:14] Sara: before regulations maybe. ha. [00:26:16] Jeremy: Yeah. It's, uh, but it's really cool. So at the, at the Museum of Play, though, is it, There's like a video game component, right? But then there's also, like, other types of things, [00:26:26] Sara: Yeah, they have, like, a whole section of the museum that's really, really old toys on display, like, 1900s, 1800s. Um, they have a whole Sesame Street section, and other things like that. Yeah. From Java to Ruby [00:26:42] Jeremy: Check it out if you're in Rochester. maybe now we could talk a little bit about, so like now you're working at Thoughtbot as a Ruby developer. but before we started recording, you were telling me that you started, working with Java. And there was like a, a long path I suppose, you know, changing languages. So maybe you can talk a little bit about your experience there. [00:27:06] Sara: Yeah. for other folks who have switched languages, this might be a familiar story for you, where once you get a job in one technology or one stack, one language, you kind of get typecast after a while. Your next job is probably going to be in the same language, same stack. Companies, they hire based on technology and So, it might be hard, even if you've been playing around with Ruby in your free time, to break, make that barrier jump from one language to another, one stack to another. I mean, these technologies, they can take a little while to ramp up on. They can be a little bit different, especially if you're going from a non object oriented language to an object oriented, don't. Lose hope. (laughs) If you have an interest in Ruby and you're not a Rubyist right now, there's a good company for you that will give you a chance. That's the key that I learned, is as a software developer, the skills that you have that are the most important are not the language that you know. It's the type of thinking that you do, the problem solving, communication, documentation, knowledge sharing, Supporting each other, and as Saron the keynote speaker on Wednesday said, the, the word is love. [00:28:35] Jeremy: [00:28:35] Sara: So when I was job hunting, it was really valuable for me to include those important aspects in my skill, in my resume, in my CV, in my interviews, that like, I'm newer to this language because I had learned it at a rudimentary level before. Never worked in it really professionally for a long time. Um, when I was applying, it was like, look, I'm good at ramping up in technologies. I have been doing software for a long time, and I'm very comfortable with the idea of planning, documenting, problem solving. Give me a chance, please. I was lucky enough to find my place at a company that would give me a chance. Test Double hired me in 2019 as a remote. Software Consultant, and it changed my life. [00:29:34] Jeremy: What, what was it about, Ruby that I'm assuming that this is something that you maybe did in your spare time where you were playing with Ruby or? [00:29:43] Sara: I am one of those people that don't really code in their spare time, which I think is valuable for people to say. The image of a software developer being, well, if you're not coding in your spare time, then you're not passionate about it. That's a myth. That's not true. Some of us, we have other hobbies. I have lots of hobbies. Coding is not the one that I carry outside of the workplace, usually, but, I worked at a company called Constant Contact in 2014 and 2015. And while I was there, I was able to learn Ruby on Rails. [00:30:23] Jeremy: Oh, okay. So that was sort of, I guess, your experience there, on the job. I guess you enjoyed something about the language or something about Rails and then that's what made you decide, like, I would really love to, to... do more of this [00:30:38] Sara: Absolutely. It was amazing. It's such a fun language. The first time I heard about it was in college, maybe 2008 or 2009. And I remember learning, this looks like such a fun language. This looks like it would be so interesting to learn. And I didn't think about it again until 2014. And then I was programming in it. Coming from a Java mindset and it blew my mind, the Rails magic also, I was like, what is happening? This is so cool. Because of my typecasting sort of situation of Java, I wasn't able to get back to it until 2019. And I don't want to leave. I'm so happy. I love the language. I love the community. It's fun. [00:31:32] Jeremy: I can totally see that. I mean, when I first tried out Rails, yeah, it, like, you mentioned the magic, and I know some people are like, ah, I don't like the magic, but when, I think, once I saw what you could do, And how, sort of, little you needed to write, and the fact that so many projects kind of look the same. Um, yeah, that really clicked for me, and I really appreciated that. think that and the Rails console. I think the console is amazing. [00:32:05] Sara: Being able to just check real quick. Hmm, I wonder if this will work. Wait, no, I can check right now. I [00:32:12] Jeremy: And I think that's an important point you brought up too, about, like, not... the, the stereotype and I, I kind of, you know, showed it here where I assumed like, Oh, you were doing Java and then you moved to Ruby. It must've been because you were doing Ruby on the side and thought like, Oh, this is cool. I want to do it for my job. but I, I thought that's really cool that you were able to, not only that you, you don't do the programming stuff outside of work, but that you were able to, to find an opportunity where you could try something different, you know, in your job where you're still being paid. And I wonder, was there any, was there any specific intention behind, like, when you took that job, it was so that I can try something different, or did it just kind of happen? I'm curious what your... The appeal of consulting [00:32:58] Sara: I was wanting to try something different. I also really wanted to get into consulting. [00:33:04] Jeremy: Hmm. [00:33:05] Sara: I have ADHD. And working at a product company long term, I think, was never really going to work out for me. another thing you might notice in my LinkedIn is that a lot of my stays at companies have been relatively short. Because, I don't know, I, my brain gets bored. The consultancy environment is... Perfect. You can go to different clients, different engagements, meet new people, learn a different stack, learn how other people are doing things, help them be better, and maybe every two weeks, two months, three months, six months, a year, change and do it all over again. For some people, that sounds awful. For me, it's perfect. [00:33:51] Jeremy: Yeah, I hadn't thought about that with, with consulting. cause I, I suppose, so you said it's, it's usually about half a year between projects or is It [00:34:01] Sara: varies [00:34:01] Jeremy: It varies widely. [00:34:02] Sara: Widely. I think we try to hit the sweet spot of 3-6 months. For an individual working on a project, the actual contract engagement might be longer than that, but, yeah. Maintainers don't get enough credit [00:34:13] Jeremy: Yeah. And, and your point about how some people, they like to jump on different things and some people like to, to stick to the same thing. I mean, that, that makes a lot of, sense in terms of, I think maintaining software and like building new software. It's, they're both development, [00:34:32] Sara: Mm hmm. [00:34:32] Jeremy: they're very different. Right. [00:34:35] Sara: It's so funny that you bring that up because I highly gravitate towards maintaining over making. I love going to different projects, but I have very little interest in Greenfield, very little interest in making something new. I want to get into the weeds, into 10 years that nobody wants to deal with because the weeds are so high and there's dragons in there. I want to cut it away. I want to add documentation. I want to make it better. It's so important for us to maintain our software. It doesn't get nearly enough credit. The people that work on open source, the people that are doing maintenance work on, on apps internally, externally, Upgrades, making sure dependencies are all good and safe and secure. love that stuff. [00:35:29] Jeremy: That's awesome. We, we need more of you. (laughs) [00:35:31] Sara: There's plenty of us out there, but we don't get the credit (laughs) [00:35:34] Jeremy: Yeah, because it's like with maintenance, well, I would say probably both in companies and in open source when everything is working. Then Nobody nobody knows. Nobody says anything. They're just like, Oh, that's great. It's working. And then if it breaks, then everyone's upset. [00:35:51] Sara: Exactly. [00:35:53] Jeremy: And so like, yeah, you're just there to get yelled at when something goes wrong. But when everything's going good, it's like, [00:35:59] Sara: A job well done is, I was never here. [00:36:02] Jeremy: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know how. To, you know, to fix that, I mean, when you think about open source maintainers, right, like a big thing is, is, is burnout, right? Where you are keeping the internet and all of our applications running and, you know, what you get for it is people yelling at you and the issues, right? [00:36:23] Sara: Yeah, it's hard. And I think I actually. Submitted a talk to RubyConf this year about this topic. It didn't get picked. That's okay. Um, we all make mistakes. I'm going to try to give it somewhere in the future, but I think one of the important things that we as an industry should strive for is giving glory. Giving support and kudos to maintenance work. I've been trying to do that. slash I have been doing that at ThoughtBot by, at some cadence. I have been putting out a blog post to the ThoughtBot blog called. This week in open source, the time period that is covered might be a week or longer in those posts. I give a summary of all of the commits that have been made to our open source projects. And the people that made those contributions with highlighting to new version releases, including patch level. And I do this. The time I, I, I took up the torch of doing this from a co worker, Mike Burns, who used to do it 10 years ago. I do this so that people can get acknowledgement for the work they do, even if it's fixing a broken link, even if it's updating some words that maybe don't make sense. All of it is valuable. [00:37:54] Jeremy: Definitely. Yeah. I mean, I, I think that, um, yeah, what's visible to people is when there's a new feature or an API change and Yeah, it's just, uh, people don't, I think a lot of people don't realize, like, how much work goes into just keeping everything running. [00:38:14] Sara: Mm hmm. Especially in the world of open source and Ruby on Rails, all the gems, there's so many different things coming out, things that suddenly this is not compatible. Suddenly you need to change something in your code because a dependency, however many steps apart has changed and it's hard work. The people that do those things are amazing. [00:38:41] Jeremy: So if anybody listening does that work, we, we appreciate you. [00:38:45] Sara: We salute you. Thank you. And if you're interested in contributing to ThoughtBot open source, we have lots of repos. There's one out there for you. Thoughts on RubyConf [00:38:54] Jeremy: You've been doing programming for quite a while, and, you're here at, at RubyConf. I wonder what kind of brings you to these, these conferences? Like, what do you get out of them? Um, I guess, how was this one? That sort of thing. [00:39:09] Sara: Well, first, this one was sick. This one was awesome. Uh, Ruby central pulled out all the stops and that DJ on Monday. In the event, in the exhibit hall. Wow. Amazing. So he told me that he was going to put his set up on Spotify, on Weedmaps Spotify, so go check it out. Anyway, I come to these conferences for people. I just love connecting with people. Those listening might notice that I'm an extrovert. I work remotely. A lot of us work remotely these days. this is an opportunity to see some of my coworkers. There's seven of us here. It's an opportunity to see people I only see at conferences, of which there are a lot. It's a chance to connect with people I've only met on Mastodon, or LinkedIn, or Stack Overflow. It's a chance to meet wonderful podcasters who are putting out great content, keeping our community alive. That's, that's the key for me. And the talks are wonderful, but honestly, they're just a side effect for me. They just come as a result of being here. [00:40:16] Jeremy: Yeah, it's kind of a unique opportunity, you know, to have so many of your, your colleagues and to just all be in the same place. And you know that anybody you talk to here, like if you talk about Ruby or software, they're not going to look at you and go like, I don't know what you're talking about. Like everybody here has at least that in common. So it's, yeah, it's a really cool experience to, to be able to chat with anybody. And it's like, You're all on the same page, [00:40:42] Sara: Mm hmm. We're all in this boat together. [00:40:45] Jeremy: Yup, that we got to keep, got to keep afloat according to matz [00:40:49] Sara: Gotta keep it afloat, yeah. [00:40:51] Jeremy: Though I was like, I was pretty impressed by like during his, his keynote and he had asked, you know, how many of you here, it's your first RubyConf and it felt like it was over half the room. [00:41:04] Sara: Yeah, I got the same sense. I was very glad to see that, very impressed. My first RubyConf was and it was the same sort of showing of [00:41:14] Jeremy: Nice, yeah. Yeah, actually, that was my first one, too. [00:41:17] Sara: Nice! [00:41:19] Jeremy: Uh, that was Nashville, Yeah, yeah, yeah. So it's, yeah, it's really interesting to see because, the meme online is probably like, Ah, Ruby is dead, or Rails is dead. But like you come to these conferences and yeah, there's, there's so many new people. There's like new people that are learning it and experiencing it and, you know, enjoying it the same way we are. So I, I really hope that the, the community can really, yeah, keep this going. [00:41:49] Sara: Continue, continue to grow and share. I love that we had first timer buttons, buttons where people could self identify as this is my first RubyConf and, and then that opens a conversation immediately. It's like, how are you liking it? What was your favorite talk? [00:42:08] Jeremy: Yeah, that's awesome. okay, I think that's probably a good place to start wrapping it. But is there anything else you wanted to mention or thought we should have talked about? [00:42:18] Sara: Can I do a plug for thoughtbot? [00:42:20] Jeremy: yeah, go for it. [00:42:21] Sara: Alright. For those of you out there that might not know what ThoughtBot does, we are a full software lifecycle or company lifecycle consultancy, so we do everything from market fit and rapid prototyping to MVPs to helping with developed companies, developed teams, maybe do a little bit of a Boost when you have a deadline or doing some tech debt. Pay down. We also have a DevOps team, so if you have an idea or a company or a team, you want a little bit of support, we have been around for 20 years. We are here for you. Reach out to us at thoughtbot.com. [00:43:02] Jeremy: I guess the thing about Thoughtbot is that, within the Ruby community specifically, they've been so involved with sponsorships and, and podcasts. And so, uh, when you hear about consultancies, a lot of times it's kind of like, well, I don't know, are they like any good? Do they know what they're doing? But I, I feel like, ThoughtBot has had enough, like enough of a public record. I feel It's like, okay, if you, if you hire them, um, you should be in good hands. [00:43:30] Sara: Yeah. If you have any questions about our abilities, read the blog. [00:43:35] Jeremy: It is a good blog. Sometimes when I'm, uh, searching for how to do something in Rails, it'll pop up, [00:43:40] Sara: Mm hmm. Me too. Every question I ask, one of the first results is our own blog. I'm like, oh yeah, that makes sense. [00:43:47] Jeremy: Probably the peak is if you've written the blog. [00:43:50] Sara: That has happened to my coworkers They're like, wait, I wrote a blog about this nine years ago. [00:43:55] Jeremy: Yeah, yeah. So maybe, maybe that'll happen to you soon. I, I know definitely people who do, um, Stack Overflow. And it's like, Oh, I like, this is a good answer. Oh, I wrote this. (laughs) yeah. Well, Sara, thank you so much for, for chatting with me today. [00:44:13] Sara: Absolutely, Jeremy. Thank you so much for having me. I was really glad to chat today.
In this episode, Jason, Chris, and Andrew welcome guest, Amanda Perino, ExecutiveDirector from the Rails Foundation. Today, they discuss their experiences at RailsWorld, touching on the importance of community enthusiasm and the benefits of in-person events. Amanda shares how the Rails Foundation coordinated Rails World andmanaged feedback, with a special mention of the EventStack team. They highlight thecustom design elements of the conference and the speaker experience. Amandaemphasizes the significance of having a strong team, and they discuss the decision tohost the next Rails World 2024 in Toronto and the potential for future rotations to diverseregions. There's also a conversation about the importance of communal spaces fornetworking at conferences, and they touch on documentation improvements and theneed for technically knowledgeable contributors.Honeybadger Honeybadger is an application health monitoring tool built by developers for developers.Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
We released episode one of this podcast on June 11, 2012. Now, more than a decade later, we're celebrating the 500th episode of our show. In honor of this milestone, Victoria, Will, and Chad caught up with each of the past hosts of the show: Ben Orenstein, Chris Toomey, and Lindsey Christensen. We chatted about what they're up to now, what they liked and learned from hosting the show, their time at thoughtbot, and more! Follow thoughtbot on X (https://twitter.com/thoughtbot) or LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/company/150727/). Become a Sponsor (https://thoughtbot.com/sponsorship) of Giant Robots! Transcript: VICTORIA: This is the Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots Podcast, where we explore the design, development, and business of great products. I'm your host, Victoria Guido. WILL: And I'm your other host, Will Larry. CHAD: And I'm your other host, Chad Pytel. We released episode one of this podcast on June 11, 2012. Now more than a decade later, were celebrating this: the 500th episode of our show. In honor of this milestone, Victoria, Will, and I caught up with each of the past hosts of the show: Ben Orenstein, Chris Toomey, and Lindsey Christensen. We chatted about what they're up to now, what they liked and learned from hosting the show and their time at thoughtbot, and more. First up: Ben Orenstein. Ben was the very first host of the show back in 2012 when he was a developer at thoughtbot. He is now the co-founder and Head of Product at Tuple, a remote pair programming tool for designers and developers. Ben, it's great to talk to you again. It's been a while since you and I talked. How have you been? BEN: I've been decent, yeah. It's fun to be back to my roots a little bit. I told some folks that I work with that I was coming back to the pod for the 500th Episode, and they were stoked. So, it's kind of a treat to get to be on these airwaves again. CHAD: What have you been up to since you left this show and thoughtbot? BEN: Well, I started a company. So, I was at thoughtbot for a while; I think it was seven years. And I eventually sort of struck out to start my own thing–had a false start or two here and there. And then, I ended up starting a company called Tuple, and we still exist today, fortunately. Tuple is a tool for doing remote pair programming. We started off on macOS and then wrote a Linux client. And we're launching a Windows client now. But it's sort of, like, screen sharing with remote control for developers who are actually writing code and want to have great, low latency remote control and who care about screen share quality and that sort of thing. I started that about five years ago with two co-founders. Today, we are a team of 11, I think it is. And it's been going well. Our timing was really great, it turned out. We launched a little bit before COVID. So, remote work turned into a lot more of a thing, and we were already in the market. So, that helped us a ton. It was quite a wild ride there for a bit. But things have calmed down a little lately, but it's still fun. I'm, like, really enjoying being a co-founder of a software company. It was what I've always sort of wanted to do. And it turns out it actually is pretty fun and pretty great. Although there are, of course, the ups and downs of business ownership. It is never quite as calm or relaxing as being an employee somewhere else. CHAD: You started Tuple instigated by...full disclosure: thoughtbot's an early customer of Tuple. We're still a customer. We use it a lot. BEN: Woo-hoo. I appreciate that. Thank you. CHAD: If I remember right, you started and were sort of instigated to create Tuple because there was a prior product that then Slack bought, and then it started to degrade. And now, it no longer exists in the same way that it did before. BEN: Yeah. So, there was this tool called Screenhero, which I actually started using -- CHAD: [inaudible 02:14] BEN: Yeah, first at thoughtbot. Some other thoughtboter introduced me to it, and we would use it for pair programming. And I was like, oh, this is nice. And then yeah, Slack kind of acqui-hired it and more or less ended up shutting the product down. And so, there was this gap in the market. And I would ask my friends, I would ask thoughtboters and other developers, like, "What are you using now that Screenhero is gone?" And no one had a good answer. And so, after a while of this thing sort of staring me in the face, I was like, we have to try to solve this need. There's clearly a hole in the market. Yeah, so we were heavily inspired by them in the early days. Hopefully, we've charted our own path now. But they were definitely...the initial seed was, you know, let's do Screenhero but try to not get bought early or something. CHAD: [laughs] How did you or did you feel like you captured a lot of the Screenhero customers and reached them in those early days? BEN: I think so. The pitch for it was sort of shockingly easy because Screenhero had kind of blazed this trail. Like, I would often just be like, "Oh, we're making a thing. Do you remember Screenhero?" And they'd go, "Oh yeah, I loved Screenhero". I'd be like, "Yeah, we're going to try to do that." And they'd be like, "Nice. Sign me up." So, it for sure helped a ton. I have no idea what percentage of customers we converted. And they were a pretty large success, so probably a small fraction, but it definitely, like, made the initial days much easier. CHAD: Yeah. And then, like you said, COVID happened. BEN: COVID happened, yeah. I think we had been around for about a year when COVID hit. So, we were getting our feet underneath us. And we were already, like, the company was already growing at a pretty good rate, and we were feeling pretty good about it. I don't think we had quite hit ramen profitable, but we were probably pretty close or, like, flirting with it. Yeah, the business, like, I don't know, tripled or quadrupled in a matter of months. We had a few big customers that, like, just told everyone to start using Tuple. So, we had, like, thousands and thousands of new users kind of immediately. So, it was a crazy time. Everything melted, of course. We hadn't quite engineered for that much scale. We had a really rough day or so as we scrambled, but fortunately, we got things under control. And then had this, like, very nice tailwind. Because we started the company assuming that remote work would grow. We assumed that there would be more remote developers every year. And, you know, it's probably maybe 5% of dev jobs are remote or maybe even less, but we expect to see this number creeping up. We don't think that trend will reverse. And so, COVID just, like, it just yanked it, you know, a decade in the future. CHAD: You haven't tripled or quadrupled your team size, have you? BEN: No. Well, I mean, I guess, I mean, we started as 3, and now we're 11, so kind of. CHAD: [laughs] Yeah, that's true. BEN: Expenses have not grown as fast as revenue, fortunately. CHAD: That's good. That's basically what I was asking [laughs]. BEN: Yeah, yeah. We're still a pretty small team, actually. We have only, like, four or five full-time engineers on the team at the moment, which is kind of wild because we are now, you know, we have three platforms to support: Linux, Windows, and Mac. It's a pretty complicated app doing, like, real-time streaming of audio, webcams, desktops, caring about OS-level intricacies. So, I think we will be hiring more people soon, although we haven't said that for a long time. We sort of have always had a bit of a hire-slow mentality to try to get the right team members and, like, feel a real pain before we hire someone into it. But we have been getting a bit more aggressive with hiring lately. VICTORIA: Well, I really appreciate Tuple. I installed it when I first started working here at thoughtbot. And we have random pairings with everyone across the company. So, I'll randomly get to meet someone halfway across the world who's working on similar projects. And I think they really enjoy that I have a tool they like working to share what they're working on. So, I want to thank you for that. And I'm curious about when you really started to scale during COVID, what were some of the technology architecture trade-offs you came across, and where did you land with it? BEN: Well, we got fairly...I don't know if it was lucky, but we...for a long time, for years, even through COVID, maybe the first four years of the company, all Tuple calls were purely peer-to-peer. And there was no server that we owned intermediating things. This was, like, kind of one of the keys of, like, not having expenses. The scale of revenue was we could have lots more calls happen. And it wouldn't cost us bandwidth or server capacity. To this day, still, for any calls with three or fewer participants, they're purely peer-to-peer. And this is nice for latency purposes because it just...we can find the most direct path to the internet between two people. It's also nice from our cost perspective because we don't need to pay to send that data. And that was hugely useful as call volume went up immensely. Didn't have to worry too much about server load and didn't have to worry too much about bandwidth costs. CHAD: Today, is there a central service that makes the initial connection for people? BEN: Yes, yeah, yeah. So, there is a signaling server. So, when you launch the app, you sign in, and you see, like, oh, which of my co-workers are online? So, there is actually a Rails app that handles that, actually, increasingly less the Rails app. We have now...I think it's a Go service that actually manages all those. I'm further and further from the code every year. Some of the technical questions might be a little bit beyond me, or I might have slightly out-of-date info. But back to the architecture question for a second, we did a pretty big refactor when we decided to go from just being a Mac client to supporting other platforms, where we split out a cross-platform real-time communication engine written in C++ so that we could use that for all of the heavy lifting, all the managing of the connections, and the tricky bandwidth estimation, and all this stuff, and use that across different platforms. And so, today, you have the cross-platform engine, and then on top of that is a, like, a less specific layer for each of the operating systems that we support. CHAD: So, you mentioned you're less and less in the code these days. So, what do you spend your time doing then? BEN: It's a mix of things. These days, it's basically mostly -- CHAD: Just cocktails on the beach, right? BEN: Cocktails, yes [laughs], cocktails on the beach, appearing on podcasts trying to sound important and impressive, yeah. Mostly product work. So, right before this, I just got off a call with some folks from The Browser Company. They are some of our first alpha users for our new Windows clients. So, I hopped on the call with them and, like, watched three of them install the product and inevitably run into some bugs. And, you know, chatted through those with the engineer that was working on it, prioritized some stuff, made some decisions about what's coming up next, and what we're going to ignore. So, mostly product work these days. For the first five years of the company, I was CEO, so I was doing kind of everything: marketing, and also hiring, and also product. About two months ago, I stepped down as CEO, and one of my other co-founders, Spencer, stepped up. And so, now my focus has narrowed to be mostly just product stuff and much less on the marketing or hiring side. VICTORIA: Yeah, you mentioned that it was a little more comfortable to be an employee than to be a founder. I don't know if you could say more about that because, certainly, a lot of engineers are smart enough and capable enough to run their own company. But what really informed your choice there, and do you regret it? [laughs] BEN: I definitely don't regret it. thoughtbot was a close second in terms of wonderful professional experiences. But running my own thing has been the most interesting professional thing I've done by a big margin. It has also been more stressful. And, Chad, I don't know if you remember, I think, like, maybe eight years ago, you tweeted something like, if you want to sleep well at night, and, like, value that, like, peace of mind, like, don't start a company or something. I have experienced that. CHAD: [laughs] BEN: A lot more, yeah, like waking up in the middle of the night worrying about things. It feels a little bit like the highs are higher; the lows are lower. Being an employee somewhere, it's like, if this company fails, I know I can go get another job, right? Like, you're a developer. You're extremely employable. But as the owner of the company, if the company fails, like, a huge chunk of your net worth is gone. Like, this thing you poured your life into is gone. It's way more stressful and traumatic to have that happen, or have that threatened to be happening, or just imagine that happening. So, overall, I have found the trade-off to be totally worth it. It's awesome to make your own decisions and chart your own path. And when it works, it can work in a way that being a salaried employee can't. So, I'm happy with those trade-offs. But I think that is a good question for people to ask themselves as they consider doing something like this is, like: is that the kind of trade-off that you want to make? Because it has significant downsides for sure. WILL: I am a big fan of Tuple also. I love it. It [inaudible 10:08] easy, especially with remote work. You hit the jackpot with COVID and remote work, so kudos for that [laughs]. Was there anything...because I know from our previous companies, about over...hopefully a lot more of the good stuff than the bad stuff. But was there anything that you learned? Because you were at thoughtbot for seven years. Was there anything that you're like, oh my gosh, I learned that, and it's helped me till this day while I'm running my company? BEN: Yeah, quite a bit, actually. I think it'd be hard to tease apart exactly which lessons, but I do...so I ran Upcase for thoughtbot and also FormKeep. So, I got a chance to kind of run a small division of the company, while still being a normal employee and, like, having not much of that risk. And I think that was a really wonderful opportunity for me to, like, practice the skills that I was interested in. Just, like, how do you market a thing? How do you design a product and have it be good? How do you prioritize user feedback? There were a ton of lessons from those days that I feel like made me better at running our company when we actually took a shot at it. So, there were, like, the specific things that I learned by the work I was doing there. But then just, like, I mean, I think I am the programmer I am today because of, like, the weekly dev discussions that happened. Like, spending so much time with Joe Ferris and, like, trying to copy as much of his brain as possible, like, really, like, imprinted on me as, like, a programmer. And also, just, like, a lot of the sort of cultural things from my time at thoughtbot of, like, you should be sharing the things you're learning. Like, writing blog posts is a great use of time. Like, doing open-source work is a great use of time. And maybe you can't directly trace how doing, like, working in public or sharing information benefits the company. It's hard to, like, attribute it from a marketing sense. But if you sort of have faith that in the large, it's going to work out, it probably will. That feels like a thoughtbot lesson to me, and I think it has served us really well; where I recorded a weekly podcast for a long time called The Art of Product. I'm recording a new podcast called Hackers Incorporated with Adam Wathan of Tailwind fame. And I don't ever think, like, hmm, how many new leads do we think we get per episode, and how many hours has that taken? What's the ROI? I just have this sort of reflex that I developed from thoughtbot time of, like, you should be putting stuff out there, or you should be giving back. You should help other people. And that will probably help your business and make it work in the long term. CHAD: That's a good lesson [laughs]. One of the other things, you know, while you were a host of Giant Robots, you were the first host. I remember, you know, encouraging you to be the first host, and I think we talked about that in one of the episodes along the way. But we also transitioned the format a little bit, especially as you started to work on products here; you know, it was more about the building of those products and following along with those. And one of the things that sort of half-jokingly defined, I think, your impact on a lot of products was pricing, experimenting with pricing, learning about pricing, increasing prices more than people were maybe comfortable doing so. How has that worked out with Tuple, pricing in particular? BEN: It's really hard to say. It's hard to know what, like, the other path would have been through the world-. We sort of decided from, like, the early days that we wanted to have, like, a fairly premium price. Like, we wanted to be the product that was really good and was, like, a little bit annoyingly expensive, but you still paid for it because it felt worth it. And I think people could debate in both directions whether we nailed that or not. We have had a price increase that we ended up rolling back. We went, like, a little too far one time and said, "You know what? I think we're a little bit over," and we reverted that. But I would say even today, we are still a fairly pricey product. I mean, I'm pretty happy with how the company has done. I can't prove to you that, like, if the price were half what it is, we would have, you know, better success or not. CHAD: I think it'd be very hard to make the argument that if it was half that, you would have double the number of customers. BEN: Yeah, that's probably not true. CHAD: Not with the customers that you have, who are companies that will pay for products that they use as much as Tuple. BEN: Yeah, I'm happy serving the kind of companies, and they end up being mostly tech companies that really value developer happiness. When their developers come to them and they say, "We don't want to pair over Zoom. We like this thing. It's better. It feels nicer to use," they say, "Okay," and they buy the tool for them. There are places where that's not the case. And they say, "We already have a thing that does screen sharing. You're not allowed to buy this." We don't invest a lot of time trying to sell to those people or convince them that they're wrong. And I'm pretty happy serving sort of the first group. CHAD: So, you've mentioned that you've still been podcasting. To be honest, I didn't realize you were starting something new. Is it live now? BEN: It is live now, yeah. CHAD: Awesome. Where can people find that? BEN: hackersincorporated.com. It's about the transition from developer to founder, which is kind of what we've been touching on here. Yeah, hopefully, the audience is developers who want to start something or have started something who are maybe a little bit further behind progression-wise. And it's kind of, like, I have some lessons, and Adam has some lessons, and, you know, we don't think that we're experts. But sometimes it's useful to just hear, like, two people's story and sort of see, like, what seemingly has worked for them. So, we've been trying to share things there. And I think people will find it useful. VICTORIA: I was going to ask you for a lesson, maybe give us a little sample about how would you advise someone who's built a product and wants to market it, and it's targeted towards developers since you mentioned that previously as well. BEN: Yeah, in a way, the question already contains a problem. It's like, oh, I built the product; now how do I market it? It's a little bit indicative of a very common failure mode for developers, which is that. They sort of assume, okay, after you make the product, you then figure out how you're going to market it. And marketing is sort of a thing you layer on later on when you realize that just, like, throwing it on Twitter or Product Hunt didn't really work. When we started building Tuple, I was out there marketing it already. So, I had two co-founders, so this is a luxury I had. My two co-founders were writing code, and I was out doing stuff. I was recording podcasts. I was tweeting about things. I was making videos. I was giving conference talks. And I was getting people to hear about our product well before it was done. In fact, I was even selling it. I was taking pre-orders for annual subscriptions to the app while it was still vaporware. So, I would say, like, you basically can't start marketing too early. If you start marketing early and no one really cares, well, then you don't really have to build it probably. I would actually even go a little further and say, like, I started marketing Tuple before we had a product available. But in reality, I started marketing Tuple seven or so years before that when I started publishing things through thoughtbot. It's like when I was traveling around giving talks about Ruby, and when I was making screencasts about Vim, and when I was running Upcase, I was, over time, building an audience. And that audience was useful for thoughtbot, and it also was useful for me so that when I left, I had something like 10,000 Twitter followers or something, a few thousand people on our mailing list. But there were a lot of developers that already sort of knew me and trusted me to make fairly good things. And so, when I said, "Hey, I've made a new thing, and it's for you," I really benefited from those years of making useful content and trying to be useful on the internet. And in the early days, we had people sign up, and they would say, "I don't even really think I'm going to use this. But I've learned so much from you over the years that I want to support you, so I'm going to pay for a subscription." VICTORIA: I like your answer because I think the same thing when people ask me, like, because I am an organizer for Women Who Code, and I know all these great people from showing up for years in person months over months. And so, then people will ask, "Oh, how do I recruit more women in my company?" I'm like, "Well, you got to start showing up [laughs] now and do that for a couple of years, and then maybe people will trust you," right? So, I really like that answer. WILL: How has your relationship with Chad continued to grow since you left? Because seven years at the company is a lot. And it seems like you're still on really, really good terms, and you're still friends. And I know that doesn't happen at every company. BEN: I mean, it was tough deciding to leave. I think, like, both of us felt pretty sad about it. That was the longest I'd ever worked anywhere, and I really enjoyed the experience. So, I think it was tough on both sides, honestly. But we haven't kept in that much touch since then. I think we've emailed a handful of times here and there. We're both sociable people, and we sort of get each other. And there's a long history there. So, I think it's just easy for us to kind of drop back into a friendly vibe is sort of how I feel about it. CHAD: Yeah. And the way I explain it to people, you know, when you're leading a company, which Ben and I both are, you put a lot of energy into that and to the people who are on that team. If you're doing things right, there's not really hard feelings when someone leaves. But you need to put in a lot of effort to keep in touch with people outside of the company and a lot of energy. And, to be honest, I don't necessarily do as good a job with that as I would like because it's a little bit higher priority to maintain relationships with them, the people who are still at thoughtbot and who are joining. BEN: What you're saying is I'm dead to you [laughter]. That's CEO, for you're dead to me. CHAD: No. It's just...no hard feelings. BEN: Totally. CHAD: I think one of the things that has been great about the show over the years is that we haven't been afraid to change the format, which I think has been important to keeping it going. So, there is sort of; in fact, the website now is organized into seasons. And I went back and re-categorized all the episodes into seasons. And when the seasons were made up of, like, sort of the format of the show or particular hosts...when we started, it was just an interview show, and it was largely technical topics. And then we started The Bike Shed, and the technical topics sort of moved over there. But it also went with your interests more under the product and business side. Then you started working on products at thoughtbot, so it started to go even more in that. And I think Chris joined you on the show, and that was sort of all about those topics. BEN: Yeah, that makes sense. I think if you don't let the hosts kind of follow their interests, they're going to probably burn out on the thing. It's not fun to force yourself, I think, to record a podcast. CHAD: Yeah. And then when you left, you know, I took over hosting and hosted by myself for a while, went back to the interview format, but then was joined by Lindsey for a little while. We experimented with a few different things: one, interviews, but then we did a whole, just under a year, where we followed along with three companies. And each month, we would have an interview episode where we talked to them, all three companies, about the same topic. And then, we also did an episode with just Lindsey and I talking about that topic and about what we learned from the startup companies that we were following along with for the year. And now we're back to interview freeform, different guests, different topics. It seems like we're going to stick with that for a little while. But, obviously, as Will and Victoria have said, like, we'll probably change it again in some way, you know, a year, two years, three years from now. VICTORIA: Yeah, and I'm definitely bringing my interest around DevOps and platform engineering, so you'll see more guests who have that focus in their background. And with that, sometimes my interview style is more; how do I ask a question that I can't read from your developer docs and that I might not understand the answer to? [laughs] That's kind of where I like to go with it. So yeah, I'm really excited about...it's probably one of my favorite parts of my job here at thoughtbot because I get to meet so many interesting people. And, hopefully, that's interesting to everyone else [laughs] and our guests, yeah. BEN: Totally. Well, I dramatically underestimated how awesome it would be to meet all kinds of cool people in the industry when I started the podcast. I didn't truly connect in my head, like, wait a second, if I have a 45-minute conversation with, like, a lot of prominent, awesome people in our field, that's going to be really interesting and useful for me. So, I think, yeah, it's nice to be in the hosting seat. VICTORIA: And it's so surprising how I'll meet someone at a conference, and I'll invite them onto the podcast. And the way it winds up is that whatever we're talking about on the show is directly relevant to what I'm working on or a problem that I have. It's been incredible. And I really appreciate you for coming back for our 500th Episode here. CHAD: Ben, thanks very much again for joining us, and congratulations on all the success with Tuple. And I wish you the best. BEN: Thank you so much. Thanks for being a continuing customer. I really appreciate it. CHAD: Next, we caught up with Chris Toomey, who had a run as co-host of the show with Ben throughout 2016. CHRIS: Hi there. Thanks for having me. So, we're talking with all of the past hosts. I know you joined the show, and you were on it with Ben. And then you moved over to The Bike Shed, right? CHRIS: Yeah. So, I had co-hosted with Ben for about six months. And then I think I was transitioning off of Upcase, and so that ended sort of the Giant Robots “let's talk about business” podcast tour for me. And then, I went back to consulting for a while. And, at some point, after Derek Prior had left, I took over as the host of The Bike Shed. So, I think there was probably, like, a year and a half, two-year gap in between the various hostings. CHAD: Are you doing any podcasting now? CHRIS: I'm not, and I miss it. It was a lot of fun. It was, I think, an ideal medium for me. I'm not as good at writing. I tend to over-edit and overthink. But when you get me on a podcast, I just start to say what's in my head, and I tend to not hate it after the fact. So [chuckles], that combination I found to be somewhat perfect for me. But yeah, lacking that in my current day-to-day. CHAD: Well, what's been taking up your time since you left? CHRIS: I had decided it was time to sort of go exploring, try and maybe join a startup, that sort of thing. I was sort of called in that direction. So, just after I left thoughtbot, I did a little bit of freelancing, but that was mostly to sort of keep the lights on and start to connect with folks and see if there might be an opportunity out there. I was able to connect with a former thoughtbot client, Sam Zimmerman, who was looking to start something as well. And so, we put our act together and formed a company called Sagewell, which was trying to build a digital financial platform for seniors, which is a whole bunch of different complicated things to try and string together. So, that was a wonderful experience. I was CTO of that organization. And I think that ran for about two and a half years. Unfortunately, Sagewell couldn't quite find the right sort of sticking point and, unfortunately, shut down a little bit earlier in this year. But that was, I would say, the lion's share of what I have done since leaving thoughtbot, really wonderful experience, got to learn a ton about all of the different aspects of building a startup. And I think somewhat pointedly learned that, like, it's messy, but I think I do like this startup world. So, since leaving Sagewell, I've now joined a company called August Health, which has a couple of ex-thoughtboters there as well. And August is post their Series A. They're a little bit further along in their journey. So, it was sort of a nice continuation of the startup experience, getting to see a company a little bit further on but still with lots of the good type of problems, lots of code to write, lots of product to build. So, excited to be joining them. And yeah, that's mostly what's taking up my time these days. CHAD: So, I know at Sagewell, you made a lot of technical architecture, team decisions. It was Rails in the backend, Svelte in the frontend, if I'm not mistaken. CHRIS: Yep, that's correct. CHAD: You know, hindsight is always 2020. Is there anything you learned along the way, or given how things ended up, that you would do differently? CHRIS: Sure. I was really happy with the tech stack that we were able to put together. Svelte was probably the most out there of the choices, I would say, but even that, it was sort of relegated to the frontend. And so, it was a little bit novel for folks coming into the codebase. Most folks had worked in React before but didn't know Svelte. They were able to pick it up pretty quickly. But Inertia.js was actually the core sort of architecture of the app, sort of connected the frontend and the backend, and really allowed us to move incredibly quickly. And I was very, very happy with that decision. We even ended up building our mobile applications, both for iOS and Android. So, we had native apps in both of the stores, but the apps were basically wrappers around the Rails application with a technology similar to Turbolinks native–if folks are familiar with that so, sort of a WebView layer but with some native interactions where you want. And so, like, we introduced a native login screen on both platforms so that we could do biometric login and that sort of thing. But at the end of the day, most of the screens in the app didn't need to be differentiated between a truly native mobile app and what like, mobile WebView would look like. So, we leaned into that. And it was incredible just how much we were able to do with that stack and how quickly we were able to move, and also how confidently we were able to move, which was really a nice thing. Having the deep integration between the backend and the frontend really allowed a very small team to get a lot done in a short time. CHAD: Does that code live on in any capacity? CHRIS: No. CHAD: Oh. How does that make you feel? [chuckles] CHRIS: It makes me feel very sad, I will say. That said, I mean, at the end of the day, code is in service of a business. And so, like, the code...there are, I think, probably a couple of things that we might be able to extract and share. There were some interesting...we did some weird stuff with the serializers and some, like, TypeScript type generation on the frontend that was somewhat novel. But at the end of the day, you know, code is in service of a business, and, unfortunately, the business is not continuing on. So, the code in the abstract is...it's more, you know, the journey that we had along the way and the friends we made and whatnot. But I think, for me, sort of the learnings of I really appreciate this architecture and will absolutely bring it to any new projects that I'm building from, you know, greenfield moving forward. VICTORIA: I'm curious what it was like to go from being a consultant to being a big player in a startup and being responsible for the business and the technology. How did that feel for you? CHRIS: I would say somewhat natural. I think the consulting experience really lent well to trying to think about not just the technical ramifications but, you know, what's the business impact? How do we structure a backlog and communicate about what features we want to build in what order? How do we, you know, scope a minimal MVP? All those sorts of things were, I think, really useful in allowing me to sort of help shape the direction of the company and be as productive of an engineering team as we could be. CHAD: A lot of the projects you worked on at thoughtbot were if not for startups, helping to launch new products. And then, a lot of the work you did at thoughtbot, too, was on Upcase, which was very much building a business. CHRIS: Yes. I definitely find myself drawn in that direction, and part of like, as I mentioned, I seem to be inclined towards this startup world. And I think it's that, like, the intersection between tech and business is sort of my sweet spot. I work with a lot of developers who are really interested in getting sort of deeper into the technical layers, or Docker and Kubernetes and orchestration. And I always find myself a little bit resistant to those. I'm like, I mean, whatever. Let's just...let's get something out there so that we can get users on it. And I am so drawn to that side, you know, you need both types of developers critically. I definitely find myself drawn to that business side a little bit more than many of the folks that I work with, and helping to bridge that gap and communicate about requirements and all those sort of things. So, definitely, the experience as a consultant really informed that and helped me have sort of a vocabulary and a comfort in those sort of conversations. WILL: How did Upcase come about? Because I know I've talked to numerous people who have gone through Upcase. I actually went through it, and I learned a ton. So, how did that come about? CHRIS: I think that was a dream in Ben Orenstein's eye. It started as thoughtbot Learn many, many years ago. There was a handful of workshops that had been recorded. And so, there were the video recordings of those workshops that thoughtbot used to provide in person. Ben collected those together and made them sort of an offering on the internet. I think Chad, you, and I were on some podcast episode where you sort of talked about the pricing models over time and how that went from, like, a high dollar one-time download to, like, $99 a month to $29 a month, and now Upcase is free. And so, it sort of went on this long journey. But it was an interesting exploration of building a content business of sort of really leaning into the thoughtbot ideal of sharing as much information as possible, and took a couple of different shapes over time. There was the weekly iterations of the video series that would come out each week, as well as the, like, longer format trails, and eventually some exercises and whatnot, but very much an organic sort of evolving thing that started as just a handful of videos and then became much more of a complete platform. I think I hit the high points there. But, Chad, does that all sound accurate to you? CHAD: Yeah, I led the transition from our workshops to Learn, which brought everything together. And then, I stepped away as product manager, and Ben took it the next step to Upcase and really productized it into a SaaS sort of monthly recurring billing model and took it over from there. But it still exists, and a lot of the stuff there is still really good [laughs]. CHRIS: Yeah, I remain deeply proud of lots of the videos on that platform. And I'm very glad that they are still out there, and I can point folks at them. VICTORIA: I love that idea that you said about trying to get as much content out there as possible or, like, really overcommunicate. I'm curious if that's also stayed with you as you've moved on to startups, about just trying to get that influence over, like, what you're doing and how you're promoting your work continues. CHRIS: I will say one of the experiences that really sticks with me is I had followed thoughtbot for a while before I actually joined. So, I was reading the blog, and I was listening to the podcasts and was really informing a lot of how I thought about building software. And I was so excited when I joined thoughtbot to, like, finally see behind the curtain and see, like, okay, so, what are the insider secrets? And I was equal parts let down...actually, not equal parts. I was a little bit let down but then also sort of invigorated to see, like, no, no, it's all out there. It's like, the blog and the open-source repos and those sort of...that really is the documentation of how thoughtbot thinks about and builds software. So, that was really foundational for me. But at the same time, I also saw sort of the complexity of it and how much effort goes into it, you know, investment time Fridays, and those sort of things. Like, a thoughtbot blog post is not a trivial thing to put up into the world. So many different people were collaborating and working on it. And so, I've simultaneously loved the sharing, and where sharing makes sense, I've tried to do that. But I also recognize the deep cost. And I think for thoughtbot, it's always made sense because it's been such a great mechanism for getting the thoughtbot name out there and for getting clients and for hiring developers. At startups, it becomes a really interesting trade-off of, should we be allocating time to building up sort of a brand in the name and getting ourselves, you know, getting information out there? Versus, should we be just focusing on the work at hand? And most organizations that I've worked with have bias towards certainly less sharing than thoughtbot, but just not much at all. Often, I'll see folks like, "Hey, maybe we should start a blog." And I'm like, "Okay, let's just talk about how much effort that [laughs] actually looks like." And I wonder if I'm actually overcorrected on that, having seen, you know, the high bar that thoughtbot set. CHAD: I think it's a struggle. This is one of my [laughs] hot topics or spiels that I can go on. You know, in most other companies, that kind of thing only helps...it only helps in hiring or the people being fulfilled in the work. But at most companies, your product is not about that; that's not what your business is. So, having a more fulfilled engineering team who is easier to hire—don't get me wrong, there are advantages to that—but it doesn't also help with your sales. CHRIS: Yes. CHAD: And at thoughtbot, our business is totally aligned with the people and what we do as designers and developers. And so, when we improve one, we improve the other, and that's why we can make it work. That is marketing for the product that we actually sell, and that's not the case at a SaaS software company. CHRIS: Yes, yeah, definitely. That resonates strongly. I will say, though, on the hiring side, hiring at thoughtbot was always...there was...I won't say a cheat code, but just if someone were to come into the hiring process and they're like, "Oh yeah, I've read the blog. I listen to the podcast," this and that, immediately, you were able to skip so much further into the conversation and be like, "Okay, what do you agree with? What do you disagree with? Like, let's talk." But there's so much. Because thoughtbot put so much out there, it was easy to say, like, "Hey, this is who we are. Do you like that? Is that your vibe?" Whereas most engineering organizations don't have that. And so, you have to try and, like, build that in the context of, you know, a couple of hour conversations in an interview, and it's just so much harder to do. So, again, I've leaned in the direction of not going anywhere near thoughtbot's level of sharing. But the downside when you are hiring, you're like, oh, this is going to be trickier. CHAD: Yeah. One of the moments that stands out in my mind, and maybe I've told this story before on the podcast, but I'll tell it again. When we opened the New York studio, it was really fast growing and was doing a lot of hiring. And one of the people who had just joined the company a couple of weeks before was doing an interview and rejected the person was able to write an articulate reason why. But it all boiled down to this person is, you know, not a fit for thoughtbot. Based on what they were able to describe, I felt very confident with the ability or with the fact that they were able to make that call, even though they had been here only a couple of weeks, because they joined knowing who we were, and what we stand for, and what our culture and our values are, and the way that we do things, and all that kind of thing. And so, yeah, that's definitely a huge benefit to us. VICTORIA: I've certainly enjoyed that as well, as someone who hires developers here and also in meeting new companies and organizations when they already know thoughtbot. That's really nice to have that reputation there, coming from my background—some really more scrappier startup kind of consulting agencies. But, you know, I wanted to talk a little bit more about your podcasting experience while you're here. So, I know you were on both The Bike Shed and Giant Robots. Which is the better podcast? [laughter] So, what's your...do you have, like, a favorite episode or favorite moment, or maybe, like, a little anecdote you can share from hosting? CHRIS: Well, I guess there's, like, three different eras for me in the podcasting. So, there's Giant Robots with Ben talking more about business stuff, and I think that was really useful. I think it was more of a forcing function on me because I sort of...Both Ben and I were coming on; we were giving honest, transparent summaries of our, like, MRR and stats and how things were growing, and acted as sort of an accountability backstop, which was super useful but also just kind of nerve-wracking. Then, when I joined the Bike Shed, the interviewing sequence that I did each week was just a new person that I was chatting with. And I sort of had to ramp them up on, hey, here's a quick summary on how to think about podcasting. Don't worry, it'll be great. Everybody have fun. But I was finding each of the guests. I was sort of finding a topic to talk about with them. So, that ended up being a lot more work. And then, the last three years chatting with Steph that was by far my favorite. There was just such a natural back-and-forth. It really was just capturing the conversations of two developers at thoughtbot and the questions we would ask each other as we hit something complicated in a piece of code or, "Oh, I saw this, you know, article about a new open-source repository. What do you think about that?" It was so much easier, so much more natural, and, frankly, a lot of fun to do that. And, two, I actually do have an answer to the favorite podcast episode, which is the first episode that Steph was ever on. It was before she actually joined as a co-host. But it was called “What I Believe About Software.” And it was just this really great, deep conversation about how we think about software. And a lot of it is very much, like, thoughtbot ideals, I would say. But yeah, Steph came in and just brought the heat in that first episode, and I remember just how enjoyable that experience was. And I was like, all right, let's see if I can get her to hang out a little bit more, and, thankfully, she was happy to join. WILL: What was your favorite position, I guess you can call it? Because you say you like the mixture of business and, you know, development. So, you've been in leadership as development director, CTO. You've been a web developer. You've been over content, like, with Upcase. What was your favorite position [inaudible 16:43] you were doing, and why was it your favorite? CHRIS: The development director role feels like sort of a cheating answer, but I think that would be my answer because it contained a handful of things within it. Like, as development director, I was still working on client projects three days a week. And then, one day a week was sort of allocated to the manager-type tasks, or having one-on-ones with my team sort of helping to think about strategy and whatnot. And then, ideally, still getting some amount of investment time, although the relative amounts of those always flexed a little bit. Because that one sort of encompassed different facets, I think that's going to be my answer. And I think, like, some of what drew me to consulting in the first place and kept me in that line of work for seven years was the variety, you know, different clients, as well as, even within thoughtbot, different modes of working in podcasts or video. Or there was a bootcamp that I taught, a session of Metis, which that was a whole other experience. And so, getting that variety was really interesting. And I think as sort of a tricky answer to your question, the development director role as a singular thing contained a multitude, and so I think that was the one that would stand out to me. It's also the most, you know, the one that I ended on, so [laughs] it might just be recency bias, but yeah. VICTORIA: Oh, I love that. Is there anything else that you would like to promote on the podcast today? CHRIS: No, although as you ask the question, I feel like I should, I don't know, make some things to promote, get back into some, I don't know, content generation or something like that. But for now, no. I'm, you know, diving into the startup life, and it's a wonderful and engrossing way to do work, but it does definitely take up a lot of my headspace. So, it's an interesting trade-off. But right now, I don't know; if folks are online and they want to say hi, most of my contact information is readily available. So, I would love to say hi to folks, anyone that listened in the past or, you know, has any thoughts in the now. Would love to connect with folks. But otherwise, yeah, thank you so much for having me on. CHAD: In 2017, I took over from Ben as solo host of the show but was joined by Lindsey Christainson as cohost in 2019. After some time away from thoughtbot, Lindsey is back with us and we sat down to catch up with her. VICTORIA: Why don't you tell me about your current role with thoughtbot? LINDSEY: I am currently supporting marketing and business development at thoughtbot, as well as working as a marketing consultant for thoughtbot clients. VICTORIA: Great. And I understand that you had worked with thoughtbot many years ago, and that's when you also came on as a co-host of Giant Robots. Is that right? LINDSEY: Yeah, a couple of years ago. I left thoughtbot in spring of 2021. And I forget how long my stint was as a co-host of Giant Robots, but over a year, maybe a year and a half, two years? CHAD: Yeah, I think that's right. I think you started in 2019. LINDSEY: Yeah. Yeah, that sounds right. And Chad and I were co-hosts, I think, similar to the setup today in which sometimes we hosted together, and sometimes we were conducting interviews separately. CHAD: And then we sort of introduced a second season, where we followed along with a batch of companies over the course of the entire season. And that was fun, and we learned a lot. And it was nice to have consistent guests. LINDSEY: Yeah, that was a lot of fun. I really liked that format. I don't know; they almost were, like, more than guests at that point. They were just like other co-hosts [laughs] that we could rely on week in, week out to check in with them as they're working on early-stage companies. So, every time we checked in with them, they usually had some new, exciting developments. WILL: I really like that idea. How did y'all come up with that? CHAD: I'm not sure. I think a few years before I had taken over hosting of the show, and I forget...my memory maybe is that I went to Lindsey and said, "You know, let's do something different." But I'm not sure. Does that match your memory, Lindsey? LINDSEY: Yeah, I think there were two main drivers; one was I think you were feeling like you were having similar conversations in the interviews every time. Like, you couldn't get to a certain depth because every time you were interviewing someone, you were doing, like, the, "Well, tell me your founding story." And, you know, how did you raise funding? It kind of got a little bit repetitive. And then, on the side, the few we had done together, I think we both really enjoyed. So, we were thinking, like, what's the format in which the two of us could co-host together more regularly? Because I'm a pleasure to talk to [laughter]. I think you were like, I need to talk to Lindsey more. [inaudible 3:13] VICTORIA: What is your hosting style? How would you describe your approach to hosting a podcast? LINDSEY: I mean, obviously, it's a podcast about products and business. I think as a marketer, I am, you know, drawn a lot to the marketing side, so tending to ask questions around go-to-market audience, users. That's always just, like, a particular interest of mine. But then also, like, the feelings. I love asking about the feelings of things, you know, how did it feel when you started? How did it feel when you made this tough decision? So, that's another thing I think I noticed in my interviews is asking about some of the emotions behind business decisions. VICTORIA: And I like hearing about how people felt at the time and then how they felt afterwards [laughs]. And, like, how people around them supported each other and that type of thing. That's really fun. I'm curious, too, from your marketing background and having to do with podcasts like; some founders, I think, get the advice to just start a podcast to start building a community. But I'm curious on your thoughts about, like, how does podcasting really play into, like, business and marketing development for products? LINDSEY: Oh yeah. It's become definitely, like, a standard channel in B2B these days. I feel like that it's pretty typical for a company to have a podcast as one way that they engage their audience and their users. In marketing, you're really vying for people's attention, and people's attention span is getting shorter and shorter. So, like, if you have an ad or a blog, you're getting, like, seconds, maybe minutes of someone's attention. And whereas something like a podcast offers a unique channel to have someone's undivided attention for, you know, 30 minutes, an hour, and if you're lucky, you know, checking back in week over week. So, it became a really popular method. That said, I think you're probably also seeing the market get saturated [laughs] with podcasts now, so some diminishing returns. And, you know, as always, kind of looking for, you know, what's the next way? What's the next thing that people are interested in in ways to capture their attention? CHAD: What is the next thing? LINDSEY: I don't know, back to micro-content? TikTok videos -- CHAD: Yeah, I was going to say TikTok, yeah. LINDSEY: Yeah, you know, 10-30 seconds, what can you communicate? VICTORIA: I see people live streaming on Twitch a lot for coding and developer products. LINDSEY: Yeah, I think we've seen some of that, too. We've been experimenting more at thoughtbot with live streaming as well. It's another interesting mechanism. But yeah, I don't know, it's interesting. It's another form of, like, community and how people engage with their communities. So, it's always evolving. It's always evolving, and sometimes it's not. Sometimes, people just do want to get in a room together, too, which is always interesting. WILL: What has been, in your experience, the good the bad? Like, how do you feel about the way that it has shifted? Because I think you started in, like, 2000, like, kind of earlier 2000, 2005, something around there. And it was totally different than now like you're saying. Because I feel like, you know, Channel 5 30-second ad, you know, with some of the marketing depending on what you're doing, to now to where you're, like, you're paying influencers to advertise your product, or you're doing an ad. Or it's more social media-driven and tech-driven. What has been your opinion and feelings on the way that it has grown and evolved? LINDSEY: Marketing, in general, yeah, I graduated college in 2005 and started my marketing career. And yeah, you could, like, actually get people to click on banner ads back then, which was pretty [inaudible 07:14] [laughs]. WILL: I forgot about banner ads [laughs]. LINDSEY: I don't know, yeah. I don't know. In order for myself to not just get too frustrated, I think I've got to, like, view it as a game kind of. What new things are we going to try? You know, what do we see work? But it can really depend. And I've always been in B2B side of things. And consumer, I'm sure, has its own kind of evolution around how people engage and how they consume content and byproducts. But in B2B, you know, it can really depend on industry too. You know, I'm working with a client right now in the senior living space, and they're really big in in-person conferences. So, that's how people consume, get a lot of their information and, make connections, and learn about new products. So, it's been interesting to work in an industry that what might be considered, like, a little bit more old-school channels are still effective. And then just thinking about how you weave in the new channels with the existing ones without ignoring them. They might get information in conferences, but they're still a modern human who will then, you know, search online to learn more, for example. VICTORIA: It reminds me of a phrase I like to say, which is that, like, technology never dies; you just have more of it. There's just more different options and more different ways to do things. And some people are always, you know, sometimes you have to be flexible and do everything. CHAD: So, tell us more about what you did in between...after you left thoughtbot, what did you do? LINDSEY: I was heading up B2B marketing for a company called Flywire, which is headquartered in Boston but is a global company now. And they were just kind of starting their B2B business unit, which, as I mentioned, B2B is my personal specialty. I had been connected to their CMO through the Boston startup community. And yeah, I was helping them kind of launch their go-to-market for B2B. The industries they were in before...they got their start in higher education and then expanded in healthcare and found a niche in luxury travel, and then we were figuring out the B2B piece. But yeah, I was there for about a year and a half. They actually went public the second week I was there, which was an interesting [laughs] experience. I knew they were, like, on that journey, but it was kind of funny to be there the second week, and people were, like, "Congrats." And I was like, "Well, I definitely didn't have anything to do with it because I just finished my onboarding, but thank you," [laughs]. CHAD: One of the things that really impressed me when you joined thoughtbot was the way in which you learned about who we were and really internalized that in a way where you were then able to pretty meaningfully understand our market, our positioning in the market, and come up with new strategies for us. I assume that's something you're good at in general [laughs]. How do you approach it? How did you approach it when you joined Flywire, for example? And how was it the same or different than how you approached thoughtbot? LINDSEY: Ooh, yeah, that's a good question. And I appreciate that comment because it's difficult. But I think, yeah, with any new organization that I'm joining, you know, I think starting out with your kind of mini-listening tour of your key stakeholders across, you know, the different departmental focuses to get a sense of, what are the challenges? What are the opportunities? It's actually like, you know, it's the SWOT analysis, kind of trying to fill in your own mind map of a SWOT analysis of where the company is. What are the major hurdles you're facing? Where are people trying to go? What have they tried that's worked? What have they tried that's failed? But then, like, I think for the culture component, I think a part of that maybe is, like, feel, and maybe something that I do have a knack for. Again, maybe this is, like, you know, emotional intelligence quotient, where it's like, you know, but it's the company, you know, who is this company? What is important to them? How do they work and go about things? I know thoughtbot is certainly very unique, I think, in that arena in terms of being, like, a really value-driven company, and one where especially, like, marketing and business work is, like, distributed across teams in a really interesting way. You know, I'm sure the fact that it fascinated me and was something I could get passionate and get behind was something that also helped me understand it quickly. CHAD: I was excited that...or it was sort of a coincidence because I had reached out to you and without realizing that you had left Flywire. And Kelly, who had been doing a combined sales and marketing role, was going on parental leave. And so, it was fortuitous [laughs] that you were able to come back and help us and provide coverage, like, Kelly was out. LINDSEY: Yeah, it definitely felt like stars aligned moment, which, you know, I'm pretty woo-woo, so I believe in [laughter]...I believe in that kind of thing. You know, yeah, it was wild. It really did feel like your email came out of nowhere. And, you know, I mentioned it, obviously, to my partner and my friends. And they were like, "Oh, he definitely knows, like, that you left your last company." And I'm like, "I actually don't think he does [laughter]. I actually don't think he does." Yeah, and then we started chatting about me coming back to help. And it was great. thoughtbot makes it hard to work anywhere else [laughs]. So, I was happy to come back. I missed the team. CHAD: And one of the exciting things, and you've mentioned it, is you're not just doing marketing for thoughtbot now. We have started to offer your services to our clients. LINDSEY: Yeah, I'm super excited about this. And it's something I'd started thinking about. I had decided to take some time off between Flywire and my next thing and had started thinking about doing marketing, consulting. And as I'm doing that, I'm thinking a lot about how thoughtbot does consulting and, you know, wanting to emulate something like that. So, I started back up at thoughtbot. That wasn't part of the plan. I was just going to, you know, fill in for Kelly and help with marketing things. But then, you know, a good opportunity arose to work on a client, and I was really excited. When, you know, Chad, you and I chatted through it, we came to the conclusion that this was something worth exploring under the, you know, thoughtbot umbrella. And it's been a really great experience so far. And we now have brought on another client now. And if you're listening and need early-stage B2B marketing support, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. CHAD: Definitely. And Lindsey is pretty good, so you're going to like it [laughs]. LINDSEY: Yeah, you're going to like the way you look. WILL: Yeah, definitely. Because I can even feel your presence here, you know, coming back. Because even like, you know, the market where it's at now and some of the suggestions that, you know, you've been helping us. For example, like, I do a lot of React Native, and you're like, "Hey, you know, blog posts have done a lot of traction, you know, let's get some more blog posts out in the market to help with the traffic and everything." So, the question I have with that is, like, thank you for even suggesting that because it's, like, those little things that you don't even think about. It's like, oh yeah, blog posts, that's an easy transition to help the market, clients, things like that. But with the market the way it is, what has been your experience working during this time with the market? I don't know if you want to call it struggling, but whatever you want to call it that, it's doing [laughs]. LINDSEY: Yeah, I mean, the economy is difficult now. We also went through a really tough spot when I was here last time. During COVID, you know, we faced a major company challenge. And, I mean, I'll let Chad speak to it, but I would imagine it's probably one of the bigger, like, economic inflection points that you faced. Would you say that? CHAD: Yeah, definitely. The thing about it that made it worse was how quickly it happened. You know, it was something that you didn't see coming, and then, you know, about 40% of our business went away in a single month. That's the kind of thing that was a real shock to the system. I think the thing that made it difficult, too, was then the aspects of COVID, where we were no longer able to go into our studios. We were all working remotely. We were isolated from each other. And so, that made executing on what needed to be done in order to make the company survive additionally challenging. LINDSEY: Yeah, so I think, like, going through that experience, also, and seeing how the team and the leadership team rallied together to get through it. And then, you know, ultimately, I think 2021 and 2022 have, like, really good years. That was a really positive experience. And something I'll definitely take with me for a while is just, like, keeping a cool head and just knowing you have, like, really smart, talented folks with you working on it and that you can get through it. And just, like, doing some, I mean, we relied on what we did best, which was, like, design thinking, using design exercise to think about, like, how we might re-organize the company, or what other services we might try launching, or how might we re-package, you know, larger services into smaller more palatable services when people have, like, kind of tighter purse strings. So, that was, like, a great educational experience, and I think something we just continue to do now: be open to change, be open to changing how we package services, what clients we go after, and coming at it with, like, an agile, experimental mindset and try to find out what works. VICTORIA: I really appreciate that. And it aligns now with the new service we've developed around you and the marketing that you provide. And I'm curious because I've had founders come up to me who say they need help with marketing or they need to, like, figure out their marketing plans. So, say you've met a founder who has this question, like, what questions do you ask them to kind of narrow down what it is they really need and really want to get out of a marketing plan? LINDSEY: I've been thinking about this a lot recently. And, like, obviously, I see other marketing leaders in the market. Marketers like to talk about what they do on LinkedIn [laughs], so I get to...I read a lot about different people's approaches to this. And some people kind of go in and are like, okay, this is what you need. This is how we're going to do it, and they start executing on it. And I really do take a very collaborative approach with founders. I think they're, especially in early stage, they're your most important asset in a way, and a lot of their intuition around the market and the business, you know, it's gotten them to where they're at. And so, I think starting from the point of, like, taking what they view as priorities or challenges, and then helping them better explore them or understand them with my own marketing experience and expertise, to