I like Slack a lot. I loved and still love IRC, and chatrooms in general, because they are an excellent form of synchronous communication to a group of people. The nature of Slack, and IRC bouncers before it, enables the service to become a useful asynchronous communication form, as well.

However, I am concerned that many Slack-using teams have mismatched values and misaligned expectations for the novelty and conveniences that Slack provides. Although it may be searchable, chat logs do not live forever in a meaningful way. They should be treated as ephemeral, even if they technically are not.

An attempt at the Avengers: Infinity War dispersion effect on the Slack logo
An attempt at the Avengers: Infinity War dispersion effect on the Slack logo
An attempt at the Avengers: Infinity War dispersion effect was made.

My biggest criticism of Slack is that it essentially adds yet another source of truth: its accumulated persistent history may burden users with an obligation to read the pages of history in order to get caught up. It’s one thing when that task takes 2–3 minutes, but it’s a whole other thing when it regularly gets up to 10–20 minutes, as I’ve noticed with some extended conversations that take place over the course of a work day. Slack’s recent ALL UNREAD feature facilitates quicker scanning, but it is not a silver bullet solution: it merely centralizes the attention queue, reducing the clicks and swipes necessary to consume all of the missed conversation. …

2020 was a rough year for the world. It was for C&S, too. While we’d decided in December 2019 to hold off on Abstractions until 2021 or 2022, we didn’t imagine that 2020 would be what it was — socially distant yet held together by the fabric that our profession of software enabled. 2021 is off to a raucous start but seems like it’ll be more like 2020 than any year before them.

This post is a quick, glanceable summary of our 2020 and what we’re imagining in 2021. Information about our Meetups, Slack, Heartifacts, Compensation Survey, and Workspace follows.

Before the pandemic

2020 was set to be a great year for C&S. …

A friend from high school posted a meme on a social network in June 2020 decrying the actions of those who sought the removal of statues of Confederate States of America generals and other U.S. Civil War figures while also expressing support for flying the “confederate flag,” as an expression of “southern heritage.”

I’ve known this man for all but maybe my first eight or nine years on this planet but haven’t interacted with him significantly in person since we graduated from high school. We reconnected online many years later. …

Abstractions II was a special event in the history of Code & Supply. It proved that our stalwart, volunteer team could pull off a huge conference again.

The first Abstractions, held in 2016, was a lofty goal for us. Built on our combined decades of conference organization experience, we aimed to attract well-known names and create a platform for new speakers alike in the largest software-focused event in Pittsburgh in a generation. We did it, and Abstractions was highly praised.

Conference organizing at the scale of Abstractions is challenging for a volunteer team of our size. We always strive to experiment so that we don’t stagnate. Our experimentation lead us to build custom systems and software that enabled us to present our attendees with a unique experience. We built our software and hardware tools when we couldn’t find tools that met our needs. We tried out mail-order fulfillment, and attendees entered quicker than ever using our wristbands. We developed our lead generation and access control solutions. We were fast and efficient, investing time in products that we could eventually take to market. Our risks paid off. …

So you’ve got a shiny new remote job but a dusty old office at home, if you even have dedicated space you can call an office! How do you create a space in which you can be the most productive? A lot of it is stuff but there are some important things that you may not think about.

I’ve been working remotely now for nearly two years and regularly worked from home for the previous 8.5 years, especially in the cold and snowy Pittsburgh winters. I’ve had various setups but I’ve identified a few things that are important for me to maximize my productivity. …

I’m a workaholic. I don’t stop thinking about the tasks at hand, especially when there’s code involved. I am compelled by my own desire to create useful things and accomplish the tasks asked of me. Sometimes, though, this “gotta keep coding” mentality gets in the way. I disappear into my own world and emerge with something, hopefully something useful or clever, even if it’s 100 ways not to do something.

Suddenly remembering that I’m in a meeting and should be listening is jarring, like suddenly awakening from a dream or a hearing an obviously stuck valve during a concerto. I’ve engaged to my fullest in neither the meeting nor my coding task. …

Image for post
Image for post

It’s no secret that Andrew W.K. is one of my favorite musical acts. A long time ago, my mother asked me what kind of music he plays. I thought for a moment and said, “It’s fast, loud, positive… happy rock and roll about deriving enjoyment from everything in life.”

Andrew W.K. spreads a message of radical positivity in something that he describes simply as partying: anything counts as partying, regardless of if that something actually fun or something difficult yet formative in your life. Here are some choice lyrics:

When you’re down on your luck / You gotta do it
And you’re covered in mud / You gotta do it
You still going on / You got to do it
Gotta do all the stuff that you…

I don’t see a strong reason not to enable HTTPS for every website, other than it not being a priority because it works fine right now.

Many B2B companies’ web sites are basically just product information, with no user interaction beyond perhaps search feature and a Contact Us page. The Contact Us form probably submits securely to something like Hubspot, Google Forms, or Mailchimp. …

Tracking problems in an office can be an onerous and frustrating task. Some companies designate one person to be the central point of contact for everything from changing lightbulbs to asking the landlord to repair a roof leak.

One thing I helped start at a past employer was an issue tracker for problems around our office. We used Github Enterprise (GHE) and Zenhub, so, naturally, we created a GHE repo to track issues around the office. This process helped us manage problems and manage better what we raised to our facilities manager, who was our conduit to our landlord.

The core of this idea was a carefully crafted set of labels describing who we felt was responsible for fixing a problem, what kind of problem was it, what aspect of our productivity was affected by it, and where the problem was located in the office. …

The average Code & Supply member makes $96,822 in Pittsburgh

In early 2017, Code & Supply conducted a survey of its Pittsburgh membership base that focused on the compensation that participants receive for software work. In addition to asking about salary, options, and other compensation, the survey asked about other issues that impact workplace satisfaction including commute, family life considerations, paid time off, and more. This article is a detailed breakdown across different measurements. Be sure to check out our other article based on this survey “Where C&S Lives, Works, and Gets Paid.”

Structure and delivery

The target population was Code & Supply members. The survey was distributed via C&S Meetup, the C&S mailing list, @codeandsupply on Twitter, and in the C&S Slack team. …


Colin Dean

Scholar, bon vivant, champion of the oppressed. Pittsburgh-based software engineer+architect+consultant and community builder seeking serenity. http://cad.cx

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store