On Let’s Code JavaScript

I’m really enjoying Let’s Code Test Driven JavaScript, from James Shore.

His aim is to release videos overtime, showing how he’s developing an arbitrary application. Using JavaScript and Nodejs and driving the development with tests. Not just the code, but the set up as well.

The videos also come with DRM free download links.
The videos also come with DRM free download links.

It’s subscription based, but with a free trial (all access to the content, for seven days). I discovered this whilst in-between jobs and had no income, so in a time where money is heavily budgeted it’s a testament to James’s work that I decided it was worth the money.

In fact, I think it’s so important to the dev space that I’ve linked to LCTDJS in what I usually reserve for ad space on this blog. You guys need to be watching these videos, even if you already know how to write node apps – the test driven component is brilliant and getting to hear some of James’ ideas should make this a really compelling subscription.

The videos are fairly short. I think they’ve been designed that way so they’re commute friendly. I can’t imagine sitting on a train watching these videos, but maybe you can. The shortness is pretty helpful for me since I’ve now got something to watch whilst eating that’s actually productive (instead of endless Youtube). Despite being short, I’ve not yet watched an episode and thought “well, that was a waste of ten minutes”. I’ve always walked away with a new idea to think about. And there’s such a backlog of videos for me to catch up on, if you need more just watch another.

The videos manage to kick off at a really good point – assuming you know how to program. What you’re learning really is the methodology behind programming (the thing that good programmers focus on). Where you should be spending your time. The code is often secondary to how well it’s tested. The best practices talked about in the series really should be sitting along side industry standards set out in Clean Code.

The videos start by adding build automation and linting. Nothing to do with getting the app working, just making it work cleanly. The emphasis on this throughout the series is why I keep watching. I don’t care to watch a guy telling me the problems and features needed in a collaborative painting app. I care about how the code is designed, and how to think about the choices that come up.

The chapter I’m on at the moment is about deploying the code. It’s not something that would have been consider a software developers job in the past, but now people in our job are going to find themselves more often in the command line. Faster deployment means developers are the ones pushing to live, not administrators. So it’s interesting to see how you can wrap tests around deployment. Had you every thought about TDD for things that aren’t strictly code? Because you should be.

My favourite aspect of the series is the warts and all approach. It would have been easy for James to have edited the videos in a way that just shows how to do TDD. But he also leaves in the walls he runs into. My favourite episode so far is episode 31. He starts the episode realising what he’s worked on recently is a waste of time, and then ends it by running straight into a bug. This is exactly how I program. More than likely how you do to. It’s amazing to see that these problems aren’t a reflection on me as a programmer, but they’re just part of the daily trials of every programmer.

Kongregate games: Splitter

Maybe I’m just overly stressed tonight, but playing Splitter for the past 17 levels has given me the biggest headache I’ve had in days. I’m not sure why I carried on playing for so long whilst leaving that stupid music turned on! I know it’s flash game and that they need to stay small, and to do that they use looped music. But developers, please, make sure the loop isn’t obvious and god dammed annoying. It’s totally possible, Bloody Fun Day did it, so did Areas. Tonnes have. It is possible.

It’s not even noticeably annoying, until you’ve heard it for fifteen minutes and then BAM! average sized headache.

I'd much rather take my knife to him, thanks.
I'd much rather take my knife to him, thanks.

That stupid grin on the ball guy’s face? Grr! What’s he got to be so happy about? He could blink or something once in a while. I have no urge to help him in the slightest.

Physics engine games are always fairly fun for a while, until you get to the impossible levels that you can only hope to complete by chance after downing half a litre of Felix Felicis. Challenge is always good, but when you know you’re doing the right thing, just not at the exact right millisecond it gets really quite annoying. I spent six or so tries on the stupid level pictured above before angrily giving up and deciding to bitch about it on my blog.

I don’t like this game. I’m sure you’re all dying for one though, so here’s a walk through. At least this video has the common decency to mute the sound and overlay his own music.

Finally finished Twilight

Twilight seems to be the new Harry Potter. In the way it’s taken off at least, in no way does it match it in storytelling, writing, nor even cover art for that matter. In fact, the only way it is in any way comparable to Harry Potter is that both series exploded from relative obscurity. There the comparison ends, and I feel dirty for bringing it up.

It tells the story of Bella Swan moving from sunny Phoenix to mouldy Forks. She looks on the move with dis-passion, not being able to adjust to the drop in temperature she’s so used to in the desert, but it quickly hots up as Edward Cullen moves onto the scene. This could have been an ordinary boy-meets-girl love story, but as it turns out it’s not, as Bella discovers Edward’s a vampire.

Continue reading Finally finished Twilight

Why Watchmen should never have been a film

Leaving the cinema after seeing Watchmen left me with a heavy, disappointed heart. Even though I’ve not read the graphic novel, I knew the epicness of it. I knew that if it were only it were a little more popular it would be a comic book foundation, like the X-Mens and Batmans of the world. Because of that, this film had a lot to live up to, and it didn’t put out. Continue reading Why Watchmen should never have been a film

An xbox 360 review: My bandwagon turned up late.

I recently got my student loan and like any good geeky student does, I immediately spent it at the closest electronics store possible (ordering online and have to wait a few days just to save a few pounds simply wasn’t an option). So, one merry day, just before Christmas I purchased myself an xbox 360. At least I only got the premium edition though, rather than the Elite (though, it was tempting).

Continue reading An xbox 360 review: My bandwagon turned up late.