Category Archives: discussion

Herding Code 216: Bash on Windows, Angular 2, Surface Book, Kindle Oasis, Windows Phone

Kevin, K Scott and Jon talk about Bash support in the new Windows Insider builds, their thoughts on Angular 2, K Scott’s new Surface Book, some general apathy on Kindles, and whether Windows Phone is alive, dead, or undead.

Download / Listen: Herding Code 216: Bash on Windows, Angular 2, Surface Book, Kindle Oasis, Windows Phone

Show Notes:

    • Bash on Windows and Windows Insider stuff
      • (00:44) Jon mentions the Bash on Windows announcement at Build and asks if Kevin or K Scott have played with it. This devolves into a discussion of Windows Insider previews. Jon likes it and talks about the steps for enabling Windows Insider preview builds. K Scott has been scared to try it, but it sounds like he’s convinced. Kevin is put off by the Insider term – Windows Insider, Visual Studio Code Insider previews, etc. K Scott adds “Windows Insider” it to his e-mail signature.
      • (05:15) Jon talks about the steps for enabling Bash on Windows. or Windows Subsystem for Linux (Beta), to use the official terminology.
      • (07:08) Feel the excitement of listening to someone type commands into a console window as Kevin asks questions about what’s installed and Jon tries to apt-get it all. K Scott and Kevin wonder about how things like filesystem and processes work, and Jon tries to make up answers.
      • (09:50) Kevin says it feels like an admission of defeat to add *nix support to Windows. Jon says it feels practical to him – developers are building for multiple operating systems (especially including mobile), so it’s nice to have it supported.
      • (11:19) Kevin’s ready for Cygwin to die in a fire, and Jon’s excited about ssh working less horribly on Windows. Kevin says the race is on to get Wine working on Bash on Windows.
    • Angular 2 and React
      • (12:55) Jon worked on a hands on lab for Build that had master-details using Angular 2 and ASP.NET Core. He said Angular 2 seemed a lot simpler than Angular 1 now. K Scott said the component model is simpler, but he’s seeing some resistance to the ECMAScript / TypeScript updates, new binding syntax, etc. The Angular 1.5 release also includes a component model that’s a much easier programming model. It almost feels like some older Microsoft component-based programming frameworks going back to Visual Basic 6: you’re working with components that have simple properties and events. The guys speculate on how soon someone will build the big visual editor for Angular 2.
      • (16:21) Kevin says TypeScript seems like a barrier. K Scott says it’s not strictly required. He rejected TypeScript for a while, but when he was working with Angular 2 and tools and editors supported it he decided he liked it. Jon and K Scott talk about how a lot of things that throw people off about TypeScript are really just modern JavaScript syntax.
      • (18:50) The guys discuss how Angular 2 and React mindshare will play out. Jon likes React as long as he never views source. Jon thinks the unidirectional flow is really simple, and Kevin agrees – after years of lower level Backbone, the simpler flow in React saves some mental energy.
      • (20:29) Jon mentions that React Native recently came to Windows, too.
    • Devices: Surface Book, Kindle and big batteries
      • (20:56) K Scott got a new Surface Book (after waiting to make sure nothing new was coming out at Build). He says it’s the best piece of PC hardware he’s bought in years – the build quality is good, the keyboard is good, he gives the trackpad of 9 out of 10. He says that the detachable tablet is a bit large as a tablet, so he’s using an older Surface for reading.
      • (23:58) Jon jokes that K Scott’s not likely to buy a Kindle and says he gradually stopped using his Kindle when he moved to Audiobooks, and kind of associates reading with work now. Kevin says that’s sad. They talk about Kindles for kids’ books.
      • (27:07) Kevin says the two big things he picked up for the new Kindle are physical page buttons and a three month battery. He says the main thing he likes about Kindle for both him and his kids (as opposed to a tablet) is that it forces you to read instead of getting distracted. The guys decide that tripling the life of an already one month battery isn’t a huge win.
      • (29:20) Jon says he recently bought a portable battery that can recharge his laptop, which is handy for long flights. (note: he said it was iPad size, it’s a lot smaller but is 1.2 pounds)
      • (31:15) Jon asks Kevin about new Apple hardware. Kevin says the iPad Pro screen is apparently astounding – he’s expecting them to be amazing in a few generations. Same for Apple Watch – he doesn’t have one yet, he’s waiting for version two. Jon says the improvement from Microsoft Band 1 to Band 2 was pretty nice, especially in the industrial design.
    • Lightning Round: Will Windows Phone be dead in one year?
      • (33:40) K Scott asks if Windows Phone will be dead in a year. Jon hopes not, as he just bought a Lumia 950 XL. He’d had a budget Blu Windows Phone since September, and the Windows 10 Insider builds were nice, but the camera wasn’t very good. He really likes Windows 10 as a phone operating system and thinks it’s sad that so few people will actually see it.
      • (35:55) K Scott got a Lumia 950 XL in January (when he dropped something on his previous phone). He got the docking station, too, and said it worked surprisingly well. The guys discuss how useful docking a phone is; Jon postulates that it could be useful for someone who does everything on their phone and occasionally needs to write a long email or edit their resume – especially if it can be hooked up to a TV.
      • (38:30) Kevin says that Windows Phone isn’t dead. it’s undead. It will linger on in a zombie-like state indefinitely.
    • Scott Koon sends us out with a request for further information by e-mail.


Herding Code 197: Summer Stories, C# 6, Vim and Atom, Terrible Keyboards, Poorly Aged Hipster Code, React and the Apple Watch

It’s time for a discussion show!

Download / Listen: Herding Code 197 – Summer Stories, C# 6, Vim and Atom, Terrible Keyboards, Poorly Aged Hipster Code, React and the Apple Watch

Show Notes:

  • (01:22) What’s new for Kevin? Node, Backbone, working at Brandcast, some talk about how the shop runs. Plus he’s been busy moving.
  • (03:12) What’s new for K Scott? Lots of JavaScript, C# / MVC, AngularJS, MongoDB. Jon asks how Mongo is working in production in the healthcare application K Scott had mentioned earlier. K Scott talks about some performance issues he’s looked at, including some that came down to C# queries, and an issue with a 16MB document size limit. Jon asks if they’re using Redis or other front end caching outside of Mongo. K Scott says they’re just map-reducing and storing the information in other collections. He’s not travelling quite as much
  • (06:50) Jon asks K Scott about his recent posts on C# 6 and EcmaScript 6. K Scott talks about looking into traceur to write current code today in ES6, compiling to ES5 to work in current browsers.
  • (07:25) Jon asks K Scott about his recent C# posts on property initializers and primary constructors. K Scott talks about those as well as the new "using static" feature to invoke static members without needing to use the type name.
  • (08:42) Scott K mentions a discussion about required properties with property initializers. K Scott says he was hesitant about a few things with the new syntax, and problem being that there’s no initializer body for validation. You can mitigate that a little using an assert in a the initializer. It’s nice not having to write explicit setters.
  • (11:06) Scott K says he doesn’t even think about property syntax all that much because Resharper and CodeRush handle that for him. Jon speculates how long it will take for Resharper to start yelling at him to use primary constructors everywhere. Scott K says he uses CodeRush for that reason and turns off the code hints.
  • (12:27) K Scott asks what software Kevin is using: OSX and MacVim.
  • (12:40) Jon asks if anyone’s using Scott K says he tried it and it was way too slow. Kevin says that after using Vim he has a hard time with heavy IDE’s – even WebStorm. He’s skeptical about the longevity of new code editors, while Vim is eternal. Jon says he’s interested in because it’s cross-platform and open source.
  • (16:05) What’s new for Jon? He’s been doing some courses for Microsoft Virtual Academy – Introduction to ASP.NET MVC and a Bootstrap course including some advanced stuff like Bootstrap Mix-ins. Wrox Professional ASP.NET MVC book is out. He went to Norway for fun and went to pulpit rock. He’s been spending some more time on non-Microsoft web stacks and platforms now that Azure and ASP.NET vNext are cross-platform. Scott K and Kevin talk about the fun of switching operating systems and remembering keyboard shortcuts. Jon says the biggest frustration is that he keeps trying to touch the screen on a MacBook and it doesn’t do anything.
  • (21:30) What’s New for Scott K? He got a new computer a Lenovo U530 – he calls it the consumer version of the Carbon. He talks about some of the confusing things about the Lenovo keyboard, especially the function keys. Everyone talks about function keys and keyboard problems. K Scott has a newer Carbon, and the keyboard is driving him nuts. Scott K says he’s constantly hitting the touchpad because his keyboard is off-center, which always brings up the Windows charms. Jon mentions touchfreeze and other ways of disabling the touchpad while typing. Jon says he rarely uses the touchpad because he just uses the touchscreen. Scott says he never uses it, he thinks it’s weird that you use two fingers to scroll on the touchpad and one on the screen. K Scott said he accidentally put his Carbon in caps lock, but he doesn’t have a caps lock button so it was hard to turn off. Kevin is unhappy with the Microsoft Sculpt Keyboard’s function keys. Everyone, please stop messing up the function keys.
  • (34:13) Jon asks if anyone’s use the CODE keyboard. He and Jon both agree that it looks great, but they can’t use non-ergo keyboards. Scott K wants keyboards to keep it simple and last a long time.
  • (35:27) Scott K get back to telling us about his summer activities. He was working on upgrading a MonoRail that drove him crazy due to being "craftstmanned up" with lots of opinions in the code like fluent extension methods, Brails view engines and difficulty in upgrading libraries due to dependency injection and breaking changes in NHibernate. Jon says that he’s developed an aversion to things that make great blog posts but will be hard to work with in a few years. Scott K says 90% of the problems came from strong naming – binding redirects and ILMerge with aliases didn’t help. They’ve been evaluating MongoDb and AngularJS a bit at work
  • (41:50) Scott K used React with Grunt in his MonoRail project to allow him to add client-side functionality into a frightening legacy application. Jon asks how he sets it up so it works at dev time and Scott K explains. Kevin’s been hearing a lot about React lately. Scott K like that it’s not trying to be MVC, just the V – e.g. no two-way binding – and the virtual DOM diffing is so fast that people are even using it with AngularJS and Ember just to speed up diffing large lists. Plus it’s used by Facebook for Instagram and the commenting / messenging on Facebook, so it’s been proven to work in big apps. He thinks it’s going to be bigger than Angular and Ember in the next few years.
  • Lightning round
  • (46:34) Who’s getting the new Apple Watch? Kevin says it seems iPad 1-ish. Jon likes some things about the watch UI, including the automatic answer prompts from instant messages with questions. He says the Moto 360 looks better, and we haven’t heard anything about battery life. He’s not sure what he’d do with today’s smart watches, but hopes watches will be really cool in a few years. Jon doesn’t like all the proprietary stuff – payment, chargers, etc. Scott K says he could easily switch to Android and it wouldn’t bother him, so he’s not going to be getting the new iPhone. He’s got a Pebble and likes the notifications and battery life. He thinks the Apple Watch is too little too late. He thinks everything from Apple has gone downhill post-Jobs. He also talks about his recent laptop purchase – if he wanted a posix system, he’d rather just buy a laptop and put Linux on it. He starts ranting about npm and K Scott cuts him off. But then the guys start complaining about the live stream and things go off the rails again.
  • (1:02:32) Jon asks why nobody’s moved to CouchDb. K Scott says the company behind MongoDb is pretty pushy. Nobody had looked at DocumentDb yet, and both Kevin and Scott K are bullish on Postgres.

Show Links:


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Herding Code 137 – Mass Assignment, New New iPad, JavaScript libraries, Windows 8, Visual Studio, and Sad Trombones

Oh, hey. A discussion show. Haven’t done one of those for a while. Bonus: recorded during the day so K Scott’s awake. Download / Listen: Herding Code 137: Mass Assignment, New New iPad, JavaScript libraries, Windows 8, Visual Studio, and Sad Trombones Show Notes: K Scott asks everyone’s opinions on the GitHub / Ruby on […]

How we learn to write code

Great post titled “Your code is my hell” describing some particular problems with Ruby and Rails projects.

One thing that is brought up in the comments that I wanted to expand the discussion on is how universities teach programming.

I blame the education system for developers. Shockingly few universities and colleges deal with the “why” of programming, only the “how”, and almost all seem more focused on the tuition money coming in rather than the quality of education going out. The only programmers worth a damn anymore are the ones who taught themselves from youth, and we’re outnumbered by the 9-to-5ers churned out by higher education.

I think the “why” of programming can’t really be taught, or at least it is miscommunicated. The “why” is often thought of in terms of features or user needs. These needs do have to be considered, and “git ‘er done” is valid thinking. But maybe it should be expanded to “git ‘er done right”.

The “why” of programming can also be thought of in terms of developers and maintainers needs. Why do we need unit tests? So people who come after us, including us a few years from now, who have to work on this code can tell if something breaks when they make a change without having to wait for QA or the users to tell them.

Mostly it seems like we learn to program by working on new, or greenfield, projects. All the classroom assignments start with creating a brand new project with well defined requirements. All the sample code put out by Microsoft, Apple, Google, and others assumes the same starting point. While it is important to start new projects, most of the code you will work on as a professional developer, in my experience, is NOT written by you from scratch.

Maybe young developers and university students would benefit more from joining an internship program? Or maybe university CS departments could function as consultants or “offshore” firms and provide low-cost temporary employees to firms, killing two birds with one stone.

Herding Code 95: MonoDroid with Miguel and the Mono gang

Hey, it’s a bunch of Mono guys! That’s always fun. This time they’re talking about MonoDroid. Joining the gang this week are Miguel de Icaza, Joseph Hill, Geoff Norton, and Mike Kestner talk about developing .NET applications for the Android platform with Mono. Jon asks about where MonoDroid is at in the product lifecycle. Jon […]