Links and Notes - April 19th 2021

Back at work and back to school

Two returns this week. I'm back to work and my son's back to school too. Or at least he should be.

With all the new year's celebrations going on and the mass shopping sprees happening, I'm not feeling very confident about sending any child to school for the next week at least. I feel sad that he won't be seeing friends for a bit longer but it feels like the upside for all of us is more. He'll hopefully have the rest of the year run along in relative normalcy.

As for returning to work? I've definitely returned to a little bit of chaos. I've got interviews lined up back to back this week. Looking forward to running them. I ran my first technical interview today and I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun thinking of how to make the interview beneficial to both of us instead of trying to make it an asymmetric dynamic. That meant sticking to a script but adjusting and clarifying within said script to allow the candidate to engage confidently while also sharing how the company works.

Looking forward to a good week ahead.

Career possibilities for game development on MakeCode

This is based off the ideas I wrote about on March 30th regarding the possibilities of publishing on alternative platforms. For context, the ideas aren't mine. It's a rehash and extension of what I heard on the "My First Million" podcast. Basically, there's potential to carve out untapped revenue in marketplaces that are less saturated.

As I wait for my Xtron Pro to be delivered (come onnnn) I keep thinking about the possibilities of MakeCode based games.

MakeCode is a niche tool. Most often used for conceptual stuff or education or just small prototypes.

Having played around with the platform, I can safely say that there's room for a lot more in it. Outside of the colour palette limitations there's no reason why one can't make deep engaging games on it. And so far, I'm not so sure anyone has. Although, people are trying.

I wonder if there's space for someone to make high quality games that are accessed only via subscription (like Patreon) or Gumroad. Obviously there's concerns of piracy since games are shipped using zip files, but that's a bridge to cross later. If gog can do it, so can others.

Looking in the right place when debugging

Today was quite the day at work. During the week I was off, there had been an issue with an internal tool that I'm responsible for. It's a small web app that grants short lived access to another server. We'll call the server we are accessing "the final server". The web app server can be called "the intermediary server".

The intermediary server calls an API of the final server to get and revoke access. The intermediary server uses a binary to do this. The issue with the web app was that it was running very slow whenever access to the final server was requested. So I rolled up my sleeves and investigated. Here's what I did.

  1. I started with the final server. Was it running too slowly? Did it need a reboot after having run for so long? Turns out it didn't. When I ran commands on it directly it ran quickly.
  2. I moved on to the intermediary server. Verified that it was communicating slowly over here.
  3. Digging into this I initially thought that it was taking a long time to connect to the final server. A few curl commands proved that to be false.
  4. I finally discovered that the binary was taking a long time to start up. Even a simple binary-tool --help took about 10 seconds to run. Argh! This must be a resource issue.
  5. I bumped up the resources on the intermediary server and everything started working as normal.

And that's when I scratched my head and asked myself "hang on? If resources were an issue why am I running into this only now?". Turns out that a modification had been made to the resources definitions that I wasn't aware of. My forehead was smacked adequately.

If I had checked the resources definition right at the start, I would have solved this whole issue in 5 minutes. But I didn't. This isn't the first time this has happened. I go searching starting from one side, and it turns out that the other side was where the issue was. I end up feeling vexed and questioning myself.

This begs the question. Is there a way to increase the chances of avoiding this? Should I write down a list of possible issues before starting an investigation? Should I do a search where I start from one end, then try the other, then back to the end I started from?

How does one find the right place to start debugging when the issue could be a giant logical error just as much as it could be a missing semicolon?

Everything I Know About Relationships, I Learned From Gilmore Girls

I wouldn't agree with the title. But the rest of the blog post is such a treat to read. Also, if you haven't watched Gilmore Girls, you probably should watch it, but with someone else. That's when it becomes most fun.

There was an interesting turn in the article which shares a quote from some research that states that discussing movies about relationships helps improve relationships between couples. Fascinating. Probably worth digging into.

The quotable quote came right after

that’s kinda what I like about Gilmore Girls. My wife and I get to shout at the TV screen “OMG! Just tell her!” or “FFS! Just ignore his attention seeking!” or “You’ve had a dozen Martinis! Why are you driving?!” or “If you’re going to enable them, don’t be surprised by the consequences.” or… Well, you get the picture.

In our case, it's usually just me yelling at the TV especially when a particularly nasty character gets their comeuppance. In fact, I just finished watching another episode of Velvet where I was muttering for some characters to get what's coming their way already. God bless my wife's soul for putting up with my constant noise directed at the characters on the screen.

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Posted on April 19 2021 by Adnan Issadeen