Exciting times ahead

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Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Built my first app for Solid

At the start of the month I took a dive into building an app that uses a Solid pod for data storage. I’ve been wanting to give Solid a go for a while now as I think it will be something we’ll see in the future, either in it’s current form as an open source project or as an government/enterprise level adoption that means people use their work/government pods for everyday use.

I do have a few concerns around Solid and it’s lack of granular permissions but as it gets adopted more I’m sure that’ll be resolved as more and more users ask for it. …


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An example of the Miro web plugin I built to add specifications to the images my team uses to plan new functionality. Doing this allows us to define specs on the fly and see the test results as we discuss new functionality

Miro is an amazing tool, I’ve been using it for about 3 years now and I love it.

Miro’s strength is that it, much like the physical whiteboard it’s emulating, can hold anything which makes it really powerful for collaboration and big picture work.

My team have been using it to aid visualising the ‘as-is’ and ‘to-be’ for the work our client is requesting, using images to visualise the user journey with loads of arrows and stickies to pinpoint areas we need to build an understanding in.

This works well, but I felt there was something missing from the conversation which was the output of our automated tests. …


I’ve been too busy to write a proper blog this week so here’s a bunch of programming memes.

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I once crashed a server with 16GB of RAM back in 2010 because I forgot to free memory in the search call
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It’s amazing how often you come across the same basic problems just wrapped up inside fancier paradigms as a programmer
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22307 passing tests in 681ms is something I think even non-programmers want
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Deleting code (and everything still works) is one of the best feelings you can get
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I use this one a lot at work when the monthly release starts ramping up and the other teams start creating merge conflicts for my team’s PRs
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Java makes me sad
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I once worked with someone who felt very strongly about self-documenting code. They learned the hard way that there is no such thing as self-documenting code.
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A rite of passage. Made me very sad when the story of the junior dev who dropped a prod database got fired was circulating a year or so ago.
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How to win Java friends as a Python dev
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Had other devs do this a bunch of times and removed my team’s work in the process
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Once had to debug an issue using nothing but try, catch and the PHP die() command. That was a fun time…
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Instead these days you install 300MBs of node_modules to use a React component that wraps an animation library. I miss the old HTML that I cut my teeth on sometimes
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Over-engineering ftw
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On the 6th day the code makes it into prod and crashes. In my experience anyway
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People who knowingly do this should be imprisoned
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At time of writing npm does not have a JS framework called Sparkling


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Photo by Andrej Lišakov on Unsplash

On the internet your data is most likely your most valuable asset. With it, companies can deduce all aspects of what drives you and target their advertising efforts to change you into a consumer of their products or to change your opinions on subjects that matter to them.

You don’t own this data though. It exists in a multitude of silos across the various services, websites and apps you use and while you can access this data via a GDPR (or non-EU equivalent) request you won’t get all the data that company holds on you, just the data that falls within the legal obligation the companies have. …


Time to get spoopy

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Photo by Lina White on Unsplash

Worked on my app

This month has been a bit of a mixed bag on the app development front as the bulk of the app is in place and the Android automation is complete but there’s external factors that need to be cleared before it can go further.

So I’ve been keeping myself busy, firstly by trying to get iOS automation done and failing as it turns out there are a number of bugs in the way that XCUITest and Appium work with deeply nested UI structures.

I then moved onto exploring the functionality we’re looking to introduce in version 1.1.0 as this functionality was something we felt will make the existing app way more valuable to the user. …


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Photo by Alex on Unsplash

The final (although I have my doubts it will be the final one) DLC for Pokemon Sword and Shield — The Crown Tundra released, added a lot of existing Pokemon (most of them legendaries), a couple of new Pokemon and regional variants.

The Crown Tundra adds a new region to the Galar map, sitting underneath the town that you start from which as a British person (Galar being based on Britain) I have to say has some confusing terrain choices.

The south of the UK is the warmest area and in areas like Cornwall there are beaches that would resemble those in The Isle of Armour so I feel like The Crown Tundra and The Isle of Armour are potentially swapped around in this regard as I can see The Crown Tundra being similar to an island off of the north of Great Britain. …


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Photo by Julia Kadel on Unsplash

The app I’m currently building makes use of three smaller libraries that are combined to help the user complete their tasks:

  1. A React Native component library for all the UI elements
  2. A TypeScript library that contains all the classes and functions required to work with the data structures we’re using in the app
  3. A React based templating library that contains all the components we’re using to render the data structures into HTML and produce printable PDFs

Each library deals with a particular job and it’s the app’s job to hook the UI elements up to code that works with the data structures with the end goal of getting that data into a template and printed to a PDF. …


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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

My first paying job as a developer was as a web developer for my local hospital where we didn’t have a CMS and I had to hand code every web page in Classic ASP.

That job was probably the last time I did any form of ‘simple’ website creation. Sure, I have a personal website but that’s just automatically generated from my resume using a CI workflow I set up years ago and haven’t touched since.

When it comes to building a website; that’s a couple of pages, just says what it needs to say and there’s no data to model, back-end to write or front-end app to build— it’s been about seven years. …


Last week I added a new date picker component to my React Native app. This date picker looked amazing in my component library and I was really proud of how it was working.

Then, I updated my app pull in the new version of the component library, added the new component, took it for a test run on my iPhone and was presented with a blank box where the date picker was meant to be.

After a couple of new releases of changing the code in a desperate bid to get it to work and failing I finally found the answer to my problems — The date picker was there, it’s just that as my phone was in dark mode the text was white and my picker just happened to be on a white background too. …


Made a lot of progress on my app but completely failed to get a mortgage sorted :(

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Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash

I failed to buy a flat

At the start of the month I put an offer in for a flat just outside of Leeds City Centre and it was accepted which was surprising to me as it was about 10k under what was being asked for.

I had decided now was a good time to buy as with COVID-19 kicking about it felt like a good excuse to get somewhere away from people as the block of flats had about 20 flats in it, opposed to the giant block I live in currently. …

About

Colin Wren

Technical Lead at BJSS. Interested in Automated Testing, Dev practises, Metal, Chiptune. All views my own.

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