Melissa Godowski, a rock climber whose blog I’ve enjoyed following for years, just posted her Top 31 Things I Have Learned in 365 Days. It’s a great list, and applies equally to climbing and life. I have a few favorites, which seem especially applicable to my life at the moment:
- Slow and steady wins the race. Go at your own pace, not someone else’s.
- The present will dictate the future. Be in the moment and make smart decisions.
- There is no such thing as normal. Even if there was, individuality is too special to give up.
- It is important to have variety. Have a variety in activities and interests just like you would have a variety of vegetable colors.
- Get to know yourself. Learn your patters, likes, and dislikes. Become aware of your emotions. Work together with you body. Having this knowledge about yourself will help you reach your goals faster.
Talk to someone who rejects the conclusions of climate science and you’ll likely hear some variation of the following: “That’s all based on models, and you can make a model say anything you want.” Often, they’ll suggest the models don’t even have a solid foundation of data to work with—garbage in, garbage out, as the old programming adage goes. But how many of us (anywhere on the opinion spectrum) really know enough about what goes into a climate model to judge what comes out?
One of the major problems with political discourse in America is that everyone thinks they have the answer, but very few have the knowledge to back up their answer.
Like many designers and developers these days, I set up a lot of blogs and web sites, often without enough time or budget to design a custom theme. In these cases, installing a free or cheap off-the-shelf theme is usually the best option.
And there are hundreds of beautiful themes available. Browsing Themeforest seems, at first, like an embarrassment of riches. But each time I mine the theme directories, flagging my favorites, I notice a problem: the details are off.
Out of every 10 themes with impressive and beautiful splash pages, it seems that 9 have fatal flaws which disqualify them from my search (often discovered only after purchasing and installing). Most are minor issues: a misaligned search box, a sidebar that deviates from the baseline grid, a lazily-chosen secondary typeface, unstyled page number indicators, and so on. But such minor issues often break the design’s gestalt, and prevent so many good themes from being truly excellent.
Of course, it’s likely that my graphic design background has hyper-sensitized me to some of these flaws, but design principles exist whether we consciously acknowledge them or not. A designer may recognize that your theme’s H2 tags have awkward margins; a non-designer will simply move on to a theme that feels “right”.
The other day, my good friend Brad asked a question on Stack Overflow regarding LESS and Bootstrap 3. Sensing an opportunity for some easy reputation points, I hopped on and posted a quick solution.
Except, it didn’t work. Neither did my next solution, or the next, or the next. I’m familiar enough with Bootstrap, and with LESS, to know my solutions should have worked. But they didn’t. So I dug in, forked the repo, and built a test case.
It turned out that Bootstrap didn’t support the functionality that Brad was trying to use. The docs weren’t even totally clear on whether it should. So after explaining the problem, and workaround, on Stack Overflow, I thought: why not submit the “fix” back as a pull request? So I did, and to my surprise, it was accepted and rolled into Bootstrap 3 RC2.
For you veteran Githubbers, my experience is nothing special. In fact, I’ve submitted plenty of pull requests myself. But this was my first to a major open-source project, so it still feels shiny and cool to me.
More importantly, though, it’s a valuable reminder: just because a project is large and popular, it not necessarily free of issues. Don’t assume that other developers are smarter than you, or that you have nothing valuable to contribute. You probably do! But you’ll never know unless you get your hands dirty.