The Programmer's Guide to Pairing on Pregnancy

You don’t have to be physically carrying a child to be involved in a pregnancy. If you pair program, you know that you don’t have to have your hands physically on the keyboard to contribute to the experience. I’m currently on track for my second little one and wanted to give a shout out to some things I’ve seen that partners of all genders have done to help with pregnancies. While I cannot physically carry my child to term, that doesn’t mean pregnancy is a passive event for me. Let’s get started.

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Writers Write

I’ve been writing more recently. One of the biggest reasons is that I’ve been writing more recently. Writing begets writing; the more I do it, the easier it is to do it more. I’ve found diet to be similar. When I’m eating fresh fruits and veggies, it’s what my body craves. But as soon as I “treat” myself with a bag of chips or a fatty big honking slice of greasy pizza, guess what my body wants? More of the same.

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Coders Code

As truisms go, one of my favorites is “writers write”. Many developers walk around pondering whether they are “real coders”, or they ask “how can I be more senior”. To them, I say “coders code”. If someone is writing, then by definition they are a writer. It doesn’t matter if they are J.K. Rowling or working a blog post. The act of writing creates a writer. The same is true of coding. If you’re in QA or DevOps or Front End or Backend or spend your days hunting down missing semicolons in code-reviews, you’re a coder. When you put your fingers to the keyboard at your editor of choice, even if it’s not Emacs or Vim or **, you're still a coder. If your fingers never grace a keyboard and you drive a pair session or dictate text, you're a coder.

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Ruby Backend Performance Getting Started Guide

You want a faster app - where should you start? At RailsConf 2017 I was in a panel “Performance: performance” moderated by Sam Saffron and joined by Eileen Uchitelle, Rafael Franca, and Nate Berkopec. While we talked about many things, I realized I’ve never written explicitly about how to go from “zero” to “working on application performance”. Here’s the video from the panel if you’re interested:

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Stopping the Death Spiral of Indecision

Break things and move fast. Which things? How fast? What if we’re stuck? A death spiral of indecision is when there’s a problem everyone agrees that must be solved - But there’s not one clear obvious winning answer. Today, I want to share an extremely effective technique I’ve used to make progress in these hairy situations.

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The Fastest Way to Generate a Heap Dump on Heroku

You’ve got an app with runaway memory use, what do you do hotshot? What do you do? If you’ve exausted the usual suspects it might be time to take drastic steps. It might be time to take a production heap dump. I previously wrote about doing this on Heroku, but since then we’ve launched Heroku exec, a way to SSH into a live running Dyno to allow you to debug. Now that you can do that, you don’t need an AWS account or any fancy gems to generate a heap dump, just activate this feature and add the rbtrace gem to your app. Let’s do this to an app together.

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A Variable By any Other Name

Sometimes when you do everything right, things still go wrong. I previously talked about how bad I am at spelling and grammar in “The Four Year Typo”, which reminded me of my first major production failure at Heroku.

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The Four Year Typo

I’m a horrible speller. I often joke that I got into programming because it doesn’t matter how you spell your variables, as long as you spell them consistently. Even so, I spend a good portion of my days writing: writing docs, writing emails, writing commit messages, writing issue comments, and of course writing blogs. Before I publish an article, I run my work by an editor, which makes this typo even more exceptional.

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Jumping Off The Ruby Memory Cliff

The memory use of a healthy app is like the heartbeat of a patient - regular and predictable. You should see a slow steady climb that eventually plateaus, hopefully before you hit the RAM limit on your server:

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Double Ruby Rainbow Bug

What happens when “don’t do that” turns into “it worked before”? This is exactly the scenario I was faced with recently. We had a string of tickets in under two days with the same weird error message. This frequency normally indicates that something changed, but the error was in a weird place, didn’t seem to be related to any new code. Here’s the error people were reporting on Heroku:

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