Diet Challenge: Thanksgiving!

As is my nature, I have been quite anxious about sticking to our diets for Thanksgiving. The diet plan we are on is one of those rare things in life that can change you forever. I want to get the most out of it I can for as long as I can, and am planning to tip-toe my way around the worst of the worst at our annual holiday feast.

My husband, Jim, and I are in week 4 of our diets, and so far so good! We are both working hard and could not be happier or more surprised at the results. We hired personal trainer Kelly Valles and during her twelve-week program she provides menu and exercise plans, personal guidance and check-ins. Contact me if you need a referral!

I am going to try to take her advice for tomorrow – enjoy the holiday! Don’t go overboard, but have a taste of those traditional things that you enjoy. Graze throughout the day rather than having one giant supper. Don’t feel guilty (that’s a tough one for me).

This year in addition to my family, and to new friends, I am grateful for this journey to a healthier us. I am preparing the traditional foods in a healthy way that is consistent with our diets – I’m not making anything we “can’t” eat. That being said, I’m off to make deviled eggs!

Cherry Blossom Tree Holding the Moon

Our first attempt from the art Sherpa on YouTube

Be your own best friend

I often find life’s axioms can apply to coding. Today’s lesson: be your own best friend!

Not complaining, and definitely not bragging, but sometimes I experience “genius strokes” – typically while coding. Unlike a stroke of genius, they can last hours at a time and the results can be difficult to live with in the long run.

Did I just write an entire CMS framework in a couple of hours and less than 1000 lines of code? Yes! That’s great! Do I remember how it works the next day? Maybe. Will I be able to understand and modify it in a meaningful way a month from now, when I’m not stroking out? Good luck… The dev team members at infsoln always groan when I announce a project involving genius stroke code. They know it will be difficult to comprehend the logic and figure out the inevitable clever twist that makes the whole thing work. We all hate clever.

One of the things that makes this code so difficult to work with is that it isn’t documented. Whether it’s because it seemed obvious at the time or because the ideas were flowing rapidly or even if I simply didn’t want people in my code, the lack of description and explanation is a real bummer. Just a few words could save those who follow (including myself) a tremendous amount of time and headache. It may sound psychotic to wish I had left notes to myself, but I think this almost daily. This needs to be a natural part of code-writing, as automatic as semi-colons and curly brackets.

Another issue I find when coding rapidly is terrible variable names. $spa might have made perfect sense when I created it, but wtf is that, honestly. If it requires even an instant of interpretation then it isn’t a good variable name. Every distraction like this is yet another item to temporarily remember in order to hone in on whatever it was that I was in there looking for in the first place. Knowing that my virtual desktop could catch metaphorical fire at any given moment on any given day, the easier and more direct the route to a solution, the better.

And thirdly (I won’t say lastly as there are so very many more basic things I can do to set myself up for success), DON’T HACK SHIT IN. Hacked together code full of shortcuts and lazy coding is nothing more than prototype code. If it makes it to production I am guaranteed to have future headaches. I need to take a few minutes to go back and figure out the correct variable name, or put queries in a data access object, etc… my code quality will improve drastically!

The conclusion, after a long session of trying to interpret my own code-writing, is that while it is fun to run and frolic freely in the meadow of logic, if I leave myself a few signs pointing back to reality then I will enjoy visiting the place again in the future. And it is always more fun when I bring my best friend with me!

The blog selection dilemma

When my next door neighbor and generally awesome person Kelly said she wanted a blog site the possibilities seemed endless. My company has been doing a lot of websites this year and I had high hopes of integrating a third party blog script into our custom rapid development framework. Its been a couple of years since I installed a blog and so of course I went out and looked at reviews, hoping to find something new.

Looking at reviews and feature lists, my first choice was called NibbleBlog. I read reviews, I read their site, and even went to GitHub for a quick code review. Having been burned by deploying small open source software packages in the past, I headed over to look at their open issues list. The first request was from a couple of weeks ago but was unanswered, regarding a bug when uploading photos. The lack of reply seemed to hint at abandonment but I read on. The next issue request was from a user who enjoyed the software package, but wanted to see support for seo-friendly urls. Buried in the ‘me too’ responses to that issue request was a quiet note from the package author stating that the software was no longer supported. Had I not thoroughly reviewed the open issues then I never would have known. Obviously I’m not going to deploy deprecated software, so I moved on.

I returned to the lists of options and sadly dismissed each one, all no longer supported or missing critical functionality. Many that are listed as free are actually not, and I have several reservations about purchasing blog scripts. Few offer support, and many are hosted on scary looking websites. Everyone’s first web coding project is a blog, and there’s no such thing as a free preview when buying scripts. There truly is no telling what the author’s skill level was. So, running out of time, I gave up and deployed WordPress.

Don’t get me wrong, WordPress is fine, but it doesn’t advance my original goals of creating a custom blog module. And I’m still salty after Polish spammers took over my last WP install and were hocking kayaks on my home page (not kidding). I get a lot of work requests to make custom WP apps, but I really wanted to offer a simple alternative to my clients.

So I am sad to report that, like Wal-Mart, WordPress seems to have effectively eradicated the little guy in the CMS and blog world. If you know of a php blog package that can integrate into an existing website, be sure to leave a comment. In the meanwhile, welcome to my WP blog!

 

Bomb Ass Domain Name

Drew, from AJ’s Home Services, LLC just landed a freaking sweet domain name for his upcoming site. I won’t spoil it until the site is ready, but way to go man!

Diet challenge: Eating out

Today was the first time we ate out in the 2 weeks since we started our diets. We went to On the Border Mexican restaurant for my sister-in-law’s birthday. I knew everyone would be drinking and I did feel a little emotional when ordering water while staring at a pitcher of margaritas. But they did have lots of healthy options on the menu and were more than happy to substitute extra vegetables in place of rice. Jim and I both wound up having grilled chicken with vegetables – almost exactly what we would have been having at home. The spicy salsa fresca was a nice treat and gave the meal a Mexican flair. It was difficult not to let the conversation of food and diets dominate our end of the table, but everyone had a good time and we survived with full bellies albeit sober. In all, I’m proud of us!