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Amy Shackles - Finding a job you love

Season 5, Episode 2 | March 31, 2022

In today's episode, Dan and Bekah talk to Amy Shackles about the importance of good communication in finding a job you love and defining your career path.


Amy Shackles

Amy is a Senior Software Engineer currently working at MURAL. She loves information, human interaction, solving problems, helping people, and cats - not in that order. She spends most of her free time lately learning Spanish, practicing calligraphy, singing, writing parody songs, and crocheting.

Show Notes:

This week Bekah and Dan sat down with Amy Shackles, a Senior Software Engineer at MURAL, about how she made her way from being a Psychology and Anthropology double major to being a Senior Software Engineer. She shares what’s made her experience at MURAL a great one and the importance of openness in communication.

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Transcript:

Bekah:

Hello, and welcome to season five, episode two of the Virtual Coffee podcast. I'm Bekah. And this is a podcast that features members of the Virtual Coffee community. Virtual Coffee is an intimate group of developers at all stages of their coding journey. And they're here on this podcast, sharing their stories and what they've learned. And we are here to share it with you here with me. Today is my cohost.

Dan:

Thanks Bekah, what's going on. Um, today we talked with Amy Shackles. Amy is a senior software engineer at MURAL. MURAL is a really cool company, a real cool product. Um, it's a sort of an online collaboration tool, um, and lot of cool stuff you can do with it. So we got to hear a lot about MURAL and working there and also the tool. Um, we, what else did we talk about?

Bekah:

Yeah. We talked about how much Amy loves her job, but she always like talks about it. She's like, I'm not, I'm not just saying this because it's my product, but it's really nice to hear her talk about enjoying what she does, because I feel like we're always getting. Almost like horror stories of terrible jobs. And sometimes we lose sight of like, there are good places out there. And so it's, it's great to have, uh, Amy's energy and to hear about what that, what that path was.

Dan:

Yeah. A hundred percent agree. It was really great hearing about her journey and what do they do at their, at MURAL that makes, um, that makes it a good experience and. God, I'm so bad at ending things. That's my worst skill is ending sentences, paragraphs, whatever.

Bekah:

Yeah. I'm not particularly good at it. We do. We're good podcast hosts. We should like bring in a guest ender for things, and they're just there to finish our sentences and our paragraphs and the end of the show. That's just their job. Ender. Like a closer in baseball.

Dan:

I like it. Let's do that. Um, okay. Well, we don't have out closer yet, so, um,

Bekah:

If you want a job as closer you can email podcast@virtualcoffee.io.

Dan:

yes, audition start tomorrow. Um, anyway, uh, it was a good time. It was all, I was trying to say. We had a great time talking with Amy and I know you're going to enjoy it.

Bekah:

Yeah, she does a better job of ending things. So go Amy. We start every episode of the podcast. Like we start every Virtual Coffee. We introduce ourselves with our name, where we're from, what we do and a random check-in question. We hope you enjoy this episode. Today's check-in question is if you were a vending machine, what would you dispense? And I'm cheating a little bit, cause this is the one that we use this morning, Virtual Coffee,

Amy:

was going to say I'm prime for this one,

Bekah:

yeah. I already know my answer. I don't have to think about it,

Amy:

except I had a bad answer

Dan:

I'm just getting punished for not, not

Bekah:

yup. That's right.

Dan:

the

Bekah:

I'm Bekah. I am a technical community builder from a small town in Ohio, and I would dispense kindness,

Dan:

Aw, that's nice. That's heartwarming.

Bekah:

you making fun of me for dispensing kindness?

Dan:

Um, hi, I'm Dan. I am a web developer from Cleveland, Ohio, and, um, yeah, well, I mean, The questions, you know, like what would you want to dispense or what would you actually dispense? Because those answers are different, I think right now. Um, yeah, I would dispense be dispensing free anxiety for people. That's all I have a surplus of right now. Um, you know, I think, uh, if I, if I had to choose anything, maybe, um, maybe like camping, camping tools or camping supplies, something like that. I think that'd be kind of cool, you know, Uh, titanium silverware, or, uh, you know, I don't know as fire starters and a pocket knife or something, I don't know, pocket knife might be a little, little, a little dicey, but you know, stuff you need for camping. That's going to be my real answer. You know that I think that's it camping. That'd be cool. That'd be cool. The new machine.

Amy:

That is a really good answer. Camping supplies. I agree with you with the avoidance of including knives and that

Dan:

Yeah. Probably not. No, sir. Yeah.

Amy:

know, want to use your vending machine. If I were a vending machine, what would I dispense? Um, I think I would dispense very intricate paper hearts with uplifting messages of hope.

Dan:

Well, that's cool. Like a. Oh wait, like origami, like to 3d or 2d

Amy:

That's a good question. I was thinking like 2d, because I was thinking that it would be like calligraphy on it with the messages of hope. So now that I'm thinking about it, maybe it could be a, like one of those, what do you call those thirds?

Dan:

Yeah. Fortune teller.

Amy:

Yeah, fourtune tellers, where you open different sections and it would be a different message of hope stylist.

Bekah:

one of those on my desk.

Dan:

Yes. I love that. Ah, man,

Bekah:

All right. And your name, where are you from? What you do?

Amy:

sorry. Yes. My name is Amy Shackles. Um, I'm a senior software engineer at MURAL and, uh, yeah, that's what I do.

Dan:

That's awesome. Hey, I have a question about MURAL MURAL. Every time I see it as spelled in all capital letters. Is it a, uh, what do you call it? It's an abbreviation. No, I mean, uh,

Amy:

I don't believe it's an acronym.

Dan:

Acronym. Yeah, it's not an acronym. Okay. That's just a stylistic choice. That's cool. Something I've wondered, you know, for while. Nice.

Bekah:

All right. Thanks so much for being here with us today, Amy. Um, we always like to start off with the origin stories. So tell us a little bit about how you got to this point in your life.

Amy:

Good question. Well, once upon a time I was born, uh, and probably don't need to go back that far. So I growing up always thought that I wanted to be a psychologist. So, uh, I did my undergrad in psychology and the Anthropocene. Uh, because I loved people and the study of people, thus the anthropology, which was funny because my anthropology, um, professor understood the double major was psychology. The psychology professor did not understand how those would relate. And, uh, it was just funny that there was a disconnect, um, But I, I re I realized I'm the kind of person who, uh, people have the tendency to like, open up to me and share their secrets and their, uh, like struggles. And I tend to want to respond by sharing things about myself. And you can't do that as a psychologist. You're like banned, like no personal sharing and so on like that, I would be a really bad psychologist. I can't turn that part of myself off. It's not going to happen. So I didn't pursue psychology, even though I have a degree in it. And so I got out of college and I was a transcriptionist for like a decade, just listening to audio, uh, typing what you hear, which is great, except, um, the robots are getting better at it. And so.

Bekah:

The company, I work for speech

Amy:

we're being replaced. So I, uh, decided to switch careers and my husband was a software developer software engineer. And so I had an idea of what that life was like, and I wanted it for myself. So I did a bootcamp and, uh, then just started working in tech.

Dan:

That's awesome. So how long ago was, what did you do the bootcamp.

Amy:

Uh, I started in April, 2018. I ended in October, 2018.

Dan:

Nice. That's really cool. So when you were doing transcription or was it a normal keyboard or what you're doing? Like isn't one of those, I don't know. Isn't one of those.

Amy:

stenography.

Dan:

Yeah, that's it? Yeah. Like,

Amy:

a stenography machine. Uh, I used a regular keyboard,

Dan:

Yeah. Impressive

Amy:

faster typing speeds than I currently do.

Dan:

man. Yeah. That's that skill is an impressive skill to me. I always, my, uh, I don't know if I could do it for you in more than like five minutes.

Bekah:

hard. I, I did it once for an event. All I had to do was one talk and it took me so long to do that. Talk like this was not worth it.

Amy:

Yeah, the trick is knowing that foot pedals exist and you can use them. Uh it's what most of us use when

Dan:

Wait, how do you use foot

Amy:

Yeah. you just plug it into your computer. There's a play a play pad, uh, fast forward rewind. You can usually, uh, configure it to do it the other direction. Some people decided to have rewind on the right instead of the left. It kind of varies. You can have your playback, uh, replay the last 10 seconds or five seconds or whatever. So it just depends on your own personal.

Dan:

Oh, okay. So you didn't have a special keyboard, but you had the secret, you had specked secret tools. That's right. Okay. The truth comes out. That's awesome. That's really cool. That's I mean, obviously also a good idea. I have just seen, um, they've probably been around for a while, but I just saw them coming out for, um, like gaming and stuff, you know, or streaming or I dunno something, but oh, it seemed like good. Yeah. You know, on unused. Appendages for, you know, when you're working

Amy:

It's an extension of yourself. Yes.

Dan:

I mean, your feet are just sitting there most of the time doing nothing to get them to work.

Amy:

One of the downsides of being transcriptionist, though, with a foot pedal is that you can't really do a standing desk because you need that foot on the floor and it would be really awkward to have to balance.

Bekah:

that'd be tough. Okay. All right. So you went from transcription, then you went to bootcamp and you graduated in 2020, right? Oh, And then did you start working at Muir? No you weren't at MURAL first.

Amy:

No I was at Skip List first.

Bekah:

Okay. So what was that transition like from boot camp into your first.

Amy:

That's a good question. Um, uh, the transition for me was kind of interesting insofar as like, When I started my job at skip list, I was already the React expert and I was working on an application. It was React and Redux. And so from like the jump, I was already the person with the most experience with React and Redux. And I had to like refactor the entire application because it was written kind of generally, uh, there, it was a lot of responsibility from the get-go, uh, which was.

Bekah:

Sound super stressful.

Amy:

A little bit.

Bekah:

All right. And then I, one of the things that I always love hearing you talk about is MURAL. And just for reference, this is not a sponsored episode of the podcast, but Amy, you always talk about how much you love it. And I like hearing you talk about it because. I often hear people talk about how terrible their jobs are. So anytime someone has a good experience, I always want to know more about that. So what kind of drew you to MURAL and what do you think makes it a good place?

Amy:

Um, what drew me to MURAL? Uh, I'll be honest was that I had a friend that works there and gave me an internal referral. So I, I'm not one of those people that knew the product and love the product and then joined the company. Uh, But I fell in love with it afterward. Uh, I use it all the time. I recommended to friends. I think I recommended it to you at one point, because you were looking for a tool.

Bekah:

Yeah, we got a team account on there.

Amy:

Yes. Um, but, uh, things that I love working there for reasons I love working there, uh, include like the fact that it's actually really global. Um, like some companies say that they're global, but it's like, you have a team in India, you have a team in the United States and those teams don't really interact with each other. Like if you do, it's occasional, it's not an everyday thing. Um, but my team specifically, like. I think now we're finally at a point that there are more Americans than there are Argentinians, but when I first started, it was just Argentinians and I, and so there's that four hour gap for a part of the year in five-hour gap for another part of the year. Um, so because we have so many people from different regions, there's a lot of like having to understand that, uh, communication, uh, is. Easily misunderstood. And you have to be patient it's like the same thing that we've we talk about in Virtual Coffee, like being receptive to how other people interact and like taking it on good faith that like they're not intentionally being abrupt or rude or whatever. Like there's lots of things that can be lost in translation. And, uh, one of the things I really love is that they're like very encouraging of me to. Like try to learn Spanish. I'm like working on it. I'm still pretty terrible. But learning Argentinian Spanish is like, ah, I love it so much. It's like so different than the Spanish I grew up with in like high school learning Spanish. Um, but I, I just love how. Like every everybody's like open and receptive, so like helping other people and like, even if it's not your team, everyone bands together over a problem, like it's just really communal in the, in the way that we operate, I guess. Uh, that's one of the reasons I love it.

Dan:

I, uh, I was just gonna say, I'm glad to hear that like that. And it is also not surprising, I guess, that, um, a company like MURAL where their product is about collaboration and, you know, team building and stuff like that, that they also have, like, they reflect that in internally. Um, it's cool. Yeah. It doesn't always, it's not always true, you know? Um, but it says a lot about the product too, I think. Right. Cause, um, I imagine you guys, do you use.

Amy:

Oh, yeah.

Dan:

in the company. Yeah, that's what I was gonna say.

Amy:

the

Dan:

Yeah. I didn't want to make assumptions, but the fact that the fact that like you're using your own tool at, you know, as, uh, probably pretty heavily and, you know, you'd probably depend on it. Um, the tool that you're making in selling other people it's, uh, says a lot, you know, a lot of good things about the tool itself. So that's pretty cool to have to have that, you know, and I'm working right now on, uh, an app. The company that makes, uh, like pressure gauges and stuff, you know, and it's like, great work. And like, this is not anything against my team, you know, but I'm not like going out there getting excited about pressure gauges in my life. You know, we don't have like meetings where we're looking at it, you know, we're, uh, We talk sometimes about trying to like blow into it, to see how, you know, if we can, if we can get the pressure gauge to, I don't know, do something, but it's not the same, you know, it's not the same. So it's cool that you guys have this tool that what'd, they call it. Oh, I'm dark footing, right? That's dogfooding we got it. We have jokes about that. I don't, I know it's not good. One. It's not a good one, but I think that it's at least the right thing where you're using the thing that you're selling to other people or whatever. And probably helps it make, make it better. Do you guys,

Amy:

we definitely feel the pain points that our customers feel because we run up against the same blocks and more often than not like w we develop features because we want them and at other people also want them. And like, we discover bugs before our customers do most of the time, because we are also using the product. So.

Dan:

Yes. That exactly that's well put, and that is exactly what I was sort of getting towards was was that, you know what I mean? It's like a, you're naturally improving the product, uh, even when you're not like, you know, writing code or not, not working on it, you know what I mean? Because you use it so much. It's really neat. That's it? It's a unique, uh, customer zero.

Amy:

Customer zero makes it sound like it's the beginning of an infectious disease.

Dan:

Yeah. Yeah. I was thinking more like some sort of spy movie or something, but, man. Yeah. Well, thank you for that.

Amy:

How this podcast ends up being 20 minutes.

Bekah:

Oh, okay. Okay. I'm going to back up and get on track here a little bit. Uh, all right. So you went from bootcamp and then you had a couple of days. And you are a senior software engineer and that's, I feel like you've accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time, so good job and congratulations. But also what does that, what does that career progression like for you? I know that, you know, a lot of people, especially who are coming out of bootcamp are self-taught like, am I in entry-level? Am I mid-level? Like, how, how did that feel as you made that career progress?

Amy:

So if my, if I'm honest, like that's the one thing that's been like, the struggle for me ever since I got out of bootcamp is like, I, I applied for entry-level positions and I applied for mid-level positions. And then sometimes when I'm feeling confident, I fly for senior positions and, uh, it just worked out that this time they thought I was a senior engineer because of my previous experience. uh, I've definitely had interviews with, uh, companies that like mid-level, uh, I think even some junior positions where they're like, yeah, you don't really have the level of experience that were looking for. It's just, that's the one thing that's really frustrating about the software engineering, uh, space is just, there's so many differences in opinion about what it means to be an engineer like. A lot of it is mindset. I feel like the ability to learn new things and pick things up quickly and then work iteratively on solutions is like the most important thing. But it's hard to pinpoint where people are in that journey. So like it's a struggle that everybody has. And. So I can't really give advice on how to gauge where you are. Cause I, I, I struggled with it also. I I'm glad that a company made the decision for me and that going forward. I can just say I'm a senior engineer because I am. Uh, but before that I was kind of lost with the wind.

Dan:

Yeah, I like the way you said that about, um, excuse me about, um, being able to like learn things and then iterate on, on like improving them and stuff like that. I feel like that I feel like, um, for me, one of the. Well, there's a lot of different things going on in this, in like this process of, you know, uh, job finding and, and, and like level-setting yourself and things like that. Right. But, um, for me, with development, especially when you get to senior levels or whatever, it's, it's a lot less, um, or it should be anyway, a lot less, uh, about like a specific checkbox on a list of skills or whatever, and more about mindset. That's just the way exactly the way you put it, you know? The ability and the confidence that you can, you know, pick things up and, um, and you know, you know, that you'll be able to learn things and you know, that you have to learn things like everybody learns every, like that's part of the developer being a developer, you know, uh, experience right. Is, is, um, having to learn things all the time. I have, like, I've been doing this for a real long time and still I'm learning new things every day, you know? And it's one of the things I like about it, but, uh it's um, and I feel like that. People get caught up. I think when they're younger, well, not younger, but, um, earlier in the career in trying to match those checkboxes or whatever, and you know, this job listings always have these ridiculous requirements that were written by a marketing person probably. And, um, but that, like that process of learning things iterating on them, you know, uh, and, and. And then, and then learning, moving on and learning new things, you know, is, is the, that's the real thing. Right. And that's the, I feel like that's the thing that's sets aside or sets apart people that maybe I would call it senior, you know, senior level, at least then than not is less like all of the things I know and more like sort of internal competence that I can take up thing and then learn it and then do it, you know, I think that's, uh, I guess, cool. Um,

Amy:

think it's less about like, pretending that, you know, things or like waffling on like what, you know, uh, like trying desperately to pull things in and more like admitting you don't know it, but you can't. I, I will learn it in the future, but I'm not going to say that I know it now because that's a lie.

Dan:

yeah, yeah, totally. Like if I was doing a, if I was conducting an interview and I asked somebody, oh, can you do X or whatever? And they said, uh, maybe, or so, you know, like waffling, just like you said that. Not as like, but, but if somebody said, no, I didn't know that. I don't know that, but I know that I could pick it up. You know what I mean? Like, without like, without any waffling, uh, that's like, that's a big sign for me, you know, that that's um, that's cool. That's good to hear. Do you, um, in your position at Sr or do you do much management at all or are you doing mostly just coding?

Amy:

I am just doing coding. I am not in the management track at all. Uh, we have two different tracks and I chose the one that involves engineering, uh, because I I've, I've had so many friends that, um, They, they level up in engineering and then become managers and they hate it because it's just managing people and they never get to touch code. And they're like, why am I even an engineer now? This isn't fun anymore. And I'm like, uh, that's not for me. At least not now, maybe in the future, but it's not where I see myself currently.

Dan:

absolutely completely different skill set too. Right. So you're all of a sudden starting from zero in a new job. I think some people like companies don't understand that lots of times and people that are accepting positions don't maybe don't always grab that either, but that's really cool. That MURAL has that track. Um, even at being at a senior level. That you can't concentrate on just being an engineer, not just, but like only an engineer. Um, that is another really nice thing. Sounds like a pretty great place to work.

Amy:

love it.

Dan:

Oh man. And again, we're not being sponsored. We're not being sponsored by MURALs.

Amy:

But we are hiring.

Bekah:

Um, okay. So, so MURAL we have established is a very good place to work and they are hiring. so you can apply if you want to. Um, but not everybody is going to get a job at MURAL, right? So for people who can not get a job at MURAL, what do you think are some things to look for in a company, um, to help them to determine. Okay. Is this a good company? Is this a positive space or, you know, like maybe some of the things that you just love about MURAL that they can kind of think about, uh, when applying to other places.

Amy:

Yeah. So, uh, one of the things that I usually try to. Uh, ask companies when I'm in the interview process is like, what's your, what's your procedure for, uh, actually shipping code? Like what's the process? Do you, do you have code reviews? If you have code reviews, how many people signed off? What's the process? If there's conflicts, how do you actually interact with your team? Like, what kind of structure is in place? Like, is there a hierarchy? Is there not a hierarchy? It really depends, uh, on company, whether they decide to have, uh, multiple people at different levels within a team, or if they'll consider them homogenous, um, Uh, like asking, like what, what kind of things happen? Like how do they handle conflict is something that I really like asking companies, just like, they usually like asking you, like, it's important for both sides. Like, uh, I also tend to ask like for like, uh, time off, like how they prioritize. Because some companies do unlimited PTO and for some companies unlimited PTO is a lie that they use to say that, you know, you can have as much time off as you want, but really it's really hard to approve that. And there's so many caveats, so it's not actually a PTO and no one takes it. Um, other companies really prioritize PTO and, uh, even take it so far as some people are not taking PTO and we've noticed this. So now going forward every quarter, there is a day that everyone has off because we want people to take breaks. Um, and so like figuring out how they feel about time off is also important. Uh, asking about work-life balance is a good one. Um, But sometimes it's important to like find people that work at the company and ask them rather than like asking the recruiter. Who's going to tell you the like, company line, uh, it's always better to ask real people who are going through it, what their experience.

Bekah:

Yeah, you learn so much that way. And I think asking for examples, kind of like you were saying, you know, the company asks you for these things. It's okay to ask them the same thing back, but like give me an example of how your company prioritizes work-life balance or, uh, how their paid time off is. Uh, something that they prioritize for their employees or whatever. Um, cause it does give you a good sense of the company, but also the team that you're working on. You know, if you, if there's an emergency and you're worried that you might miss a meeting or something like that, that shouldn't be the priority, right. It shouldn't be like, oh, I'm missing a meeting. She'd be like, I need to deal with this emergency. I think that's a pretty good indicator that. Maybe there's problems with the company or the team. So asking people about experiences and getting examples from people is super helpful.

Amy:

Yeah, one question that I, I usually ask that I, um, forgot, uh, up until this point. Cause I'm good at things. Um, is, uh, how do you measure success? 'cause, uh, that'll usually like give you a good idea about where their priorities lie. Um, though, I'll give you a caveat that, that some interviewers, uh, will not be prepared for that question and will waffle a bit just because it's not a question that everyone asks.

Bekah:

How do you measure success, Amy?

Amy:

So good question. I'm not prepared. I I'm proving my own point. I measure success when people feel comfortable being vulnerable and opening themselves up to admitting mistakes, admitting, uh, a lack of understanding, uh, admitting that they need help. Like you need to have a lot of workplace safety. To get at that point that like people, individual people feel like they can be vulnerable that way. And it's only through people feeling like they can be vulnerable, that you can help people succeed. So that's how I measure success.

Dan:

That's a really good answer to saying, well, yeah, there's, I mean, there's lots of, uh, bad ways that people, that companies, you know, measure success or at least today that would call bad, you know, and that those are usually like more like check boxes or whatever, you know, uh, or how

Amy:

Okay.

Dan:

that they get done. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and your answer is not that, and that's.

Bekah:

Yeah. it seems like. A lot of the positive things that we've been talking about has to do with, um, vulnerability and open communication. And those things are hugely important. And even going back to what differentiates a senior developer to like having, I mean, there were plenty of very terrible communicators who are senior developers, but I think that a good senior developer. Is has good communication skills. They're willing to listen to other people, um, and do exactly what you said, like express when, when they need help with something or they don't have a clear understanding of what's going on because that also sets the example for everybody else on the team that it's okay to have questions. It is okay to make a mistake. And it's how, how do you improve on that?

Amy:

Yeah. Uh, I like to say that there are no stupid questions. There's just stupid reactions to quick. Like the answer is being stupid. Uh, it's not the question itself. Um, I used to be part of a different developer, um, community and I built a slack bot that would automatically respond to the, the phrase stupid question where there are no stupid questions just cause I, I wanted to train the juniors out of saying it.

Dan:

Yeah, that's big it. Maybe she'd get that. Get that on our site going,

Bekah:

I just had like nine ideas all at once now.

Amy:

Infinite possibility.

Dan:

it ha it happens every ever podcast. One of the guest says something in both Bekah and I are just like, just thinking, just like, oh man,

Bekah:

Yeah. I, um, okay, so, so maybe there's not a connection here, but your background is in psychology and. Now you're a developer. So have you utilized any of the things that you've learned with your degree? Or can you talk about any transferable skills from that?

Amy:

Definitely. I mean, Interacting with humans in general that like having some knowledge of how a consciousness operates, like how people think and how different people think like cultural differences. Uh, it, it definitely is helpful when you're dealing with communication between people, um, facilitating communication and making sure that different people. Same page. Um, it it's something that I've always had. Like, I always consider it like a gift and a curse that I can hear. Two people talk about something and see their point of view. Even if there are contrasting points of view and then you get them to realize. They're saying different things and coming from different places, but really their goal is the same and you can get them on the goal if they just realize what the other person's saying. So you just have to like translate to the other person's speaking style, like how they're actually thinking. Um, it, thankfully that, that, that part of it is less, um, I've utilized that less at work, but I do find it helpful in. In life, especially Twitter.

Dan:

Me. Yeah, probably I'll use a little bit of extra extra of that on Twitter. That's pretty cool. It sounds like the kind of stuff, a really good manager who says to us. So I was kind of surprised that you hadn't mentioned stuff, but I bet you'd be good at it if you want it to, but then you'd be managing and not coding. So.

Amy:

for the future.

Bekah:

What I would have been like some of the biggest surprises along your journey.

Amy:

Uh, good question. Um, well, I guess one of the surprises for me is like personally, when I, when I started getting into coding, I did coding all the time. Like all the time I had no other hobby, it was just developing things, creating things and pushing code, like. Whereas we're always green and people would always say, Amy, you're going to burn out. This is how people get burned out. Don't do it. It's bad. And I was always like, no, I'll never stop loving coding. I love this. That's what I'll do for forever. Um, but now I'm to the point where I code at work and I don't usually go to outside of work. Um, like I got really big into crochet and, and so now I crochet and I will talk people's ears off about regex. Cause I love regex with a fierce ungodly passion

Bekah:

You're the only person in the world I've ever heard say that

Amy:

Which is Also

Bekah:

you like a

Amy:

Also surprising to me because when I first, when I first came into contact with regex, I hated it. Like fiercely hated it. I avoided it at all costs. Um, but then I decided that it w it was just going to be one of those things that I, I fear. So I'm going to get in contact with it. So I stopped fearing it. Yeah. Conquer it. And so I got way down into the deep rabbit hole that is regex, trying to build a regex parser. And I'm still on that journey. It's still one of my side projects that always haunts me. It's just taunting me on a regular basis, but I have so much regex knowledge, just like in my head at all times. It's like the only reason I have any Stack Overflow credit is, is regex.

Dan:

that's cool. Yes, no, I generally try to avoid it, but I mean, I know that there's some, you know, there's problems where you, you recognize pretty quickly, like regex would be a good tool for this, you know? And then I go Google for hopefully a regex solution. And if I can't find it quickly, I'm like, all right, forget this. We're going, we're doing for loops. We're going through it. That's awesome. So, wait, you're writing a regex parser, um, to parse regex like threads experience.

Amy:

the idea.

Bekah:

we just pause for a second? Because I know that not everybody listening to the podcast is going to be familiar with. Yeah. Yeah. Can you just give a explanation?

Amy:

Yeah, let's see if I can find a good online. Um, because I don't know how I would describe it to other people. you have a good definition

Dan:

no, it's a, so it's an expression. That's very regular, regular expressions.

Amy:

not. Okay. A regular expression is a sequence of characters that specifies a search pattern in text. Um, and

Dan:

That's exactly what I said. All right. By the way.

Amy:

I love you guys. um, the, the goal of my project, uh, which is to, uh, build a. Tool that eventually would be extended to a vs code extension. Uh, the goal is that it would scan a file, find anything that had a regular expression in it. And then if you hovered over the regular expression, it would break down what that expression is doing. Okay.

Dan:

That would be dope.

Amy:

Human language. Uh, just because there are so many bugs that can be caught that way, because like, you don't realize that you're over matching. Um, and yeah, so it's a ongoing project that I started a while ago and I I've rewritten it like three times and I keep finding new ways for it to be broken and new edge cases. But one day I will succeed.

Dan:

That's awesome. Yeah, that's really cool. Yeah. So, I mean, I was kind of joking, but yeah, you use, if you are still unfamiliar with what a regular expressions are, you know, like, do you use them for things like. For, you know, matching strings inside of a bigger string. Right. Uh, so if you want to find all of the instances of Bekah in the podcast, transcripts or something, that's a really simple one, right. Um, except that if you want to throw in, okay, so you want, um, you know, capital and lowercase in case the transcribing thing. It was messing up. Right. You know, there's like, uh there's um, little, and it looks like nonsense when you are first learning it, but a little piece of code that you stick in to the matching string. So you can say, okay, just do lowercase, right. Or do all cases, ignore cases, um, uh, things like that. Right. And, and then you can start doing chunks of like, patterns, right. So you could do. Any sentence that starts with Bekah is or something, right. Like that kind of thing. Um, there's lots of like, there's a million different, I'm sure you can think of more interesting examples. Cause I, I use them very infrequently, but it's, it's the, that's what the tool like, that's what the regular expression tool in general is used for. And pretty much all I don't know about pretty much all, but like most of the coding languages you use have, you know, have that ability right in them. Um, And it's, I dunno, it's one of those. Yeah. It's one of the things that's like, it looks like nonsense when you look at it. And so if you're learning, you probably would just ignore it, you know, as fast as you can run away from it. I

Amy:

I use and probably abuse it too. Uh, do find replace a lot like text replacement. And whenever I'm like, I have a comma dilemma delineated line, and I want to turn into an object. Uh, I'm going to use regex to find her place.

Dan:

Yeah. That's awesome. Yeah. And so if you use vs code, uh, you, you have the option of turning that on in your, in your final replace, in VS code, it is regex. It's like S like hiding around everywhere. Like a lot of at least in developed in developer tools, you know, you'll, you'll see it, you know, turn it on and then you'll turn it off because it doesn't do what to expect if you don't. Um, if you don't, aren't already familiar with it.

Amy:

Yeah. You have to know what to escape. If you have

Dan:

right, exactly. Yeah. I, uh, yeah, no, that that'd be a cool tool that would be able to, um, be able to see that like sort of interactive, um, stuff with this stuff you're typing. That'd be neat. So get to work on that.

Amy:

I'm working.

Bekah:

Is it, is it, open?

Dan:

So I was going to say, is it open source?

Amy:

All of the versions are public GitHub, but, um, uh, They might be broken at different parts. I don't know what state they're in. A lot of the things that I build are open source. So. I think I have a react selector that's like accessible. And so that's opensource. That's like the one, uh, repo that I currently have that actually has a contribution from somebody other than myself. It was very surprising. One day when I got an email while it was a work that there was an issue and I was like, oh no, I'm going to have to solve this issue. And I got another email also while I was at work saying I had a pull request. To fix that issue and it was magic.

Dan:

That's that's awesome.

Bekah:

we'll have to drop links to all those in the show notes.

Dan:

parse, underscore rejects. That's one more.

Amy:

I wasn't one of them,

Dan:

Is that the one we're talking about?

Amy:

I think there's a regular expression parser, so many variations.

Dan:

There's a there's regex parser, but it's empty. So this might be not the right word. looking around your

Bekah:

I created a pull request today and it was like one file changed, empty, like, oh, that's great. Glad that I was very effective, but that. So not sure how that happened. Um, uh, well, so I think the goal may be then for 2022, should be to complete one of those successfully.

Amy:

that is my goal. I should stop spending all of my time crocheting and actually get to work on this regex parser

Bekah:

No, let other people help you. I wasn't saying to do it by yourself. That's an open source channel in slack and posts every single one of them in there. And we'll make it a competition. We'll, we'll send swag to whoever wins.

Amy:

That'd be amazing.

Bekah:

I'm having ideas again.

Amy:

I'm down for it. Uh, help would be lovely because. Knowing all of the, uh, parts of rejects and I've even sketched out all of the different chunks that is regex. I have a entire, I couldn't, I haven't ported it to MURAL yet. I still have it on whimsical, but, uh, it's just this very elaborate mind map of how regex expressions work. Uh,

Dan:

That's

Amy:

that was redundant. I said,

Dan:

You should probably, uh, yeah.

Bekah:

It's okay.

Dan:

Well, regular expression. Expressions now, what do you call an individual one. I guess he just call it a regular expression.

Amy:

Yeah.

Dan:

That's boring though. Yeah. All right. We can fix English later. One thing at a time.

Amy:

What is English?

Bekah:

W,

Dan:

exactly.

Bekah:

sorry, I didn't know what I was

Dan:

Yeah. You almost said something there.

Bekah:

And then I had a thought and it left me.

Amy:

man, I like lost the thread

Bekah:

right now. It is.

Amy:

thread.

Dan:

Yes. Three for three in this particular podcast for ADHD. So.

Amy:

I really loved that discussion we had on Tuesday about ADHD. That was

Bekah:

Yes. It's my favorite discussions when we're in a breakout room and everybody is talking about their ADHD and we go off on the best tangents. It's just so much fun.

Amy:

There's so much kinship to be had from having a diverse brain mapping.

Bekah:

It is. Yeah. So, so for those of our listeners who are not there on Tuesday, they're just kind of wrapped up. I don't even remember how we got started talking about ADHD, then

Amy:

remember.

Bekah:

a number of people had ADHD, somebody else that they might based on our conversation, Yeah. Do you want to talk a little bit about your experience with ADHD?

Amy:

Yeah, sure. Um, I didn't get diagnosed with ADHD until I was an adult. The only reason I got diagnosed was that my husband got diagnosed and his psychologist was like, take this written assessment home with you and have your wife take it because in my professional experience, as someone with ADHD and who treats people with ADHD, if you're undiagnosed as an adult and you're married, your spouse also is undiagnosed with ADHD because they're the only people that can tolerate us for that long. And so I took the assessment and the other assessment and yeah, totally ADHD. And it was totally mind blowing to me that like my entire life I've had this like, anxiety that got worse. As I got older to the point that like I would leave the house. And if it was a windy day, I would have in the back of my mind at any point a tree could snap a branch and then I'm going to be dead. Cause the branch inevitably is going to find the back of my cranium and smash it and that's going to be the end of me. And so like, I was always looking for danger at any situation, like. Sit in a room with my back facing a door. It was not a thing I could do. And so, like I had tried to get treated for anxiety and it just never seemed to work. And then I got diagnosed with ADHD. He got treated for ADHD and my psychologist was. The only reason you have anxiety is because you have untreated ADHD. Once we treat that that's probably going to go away. And that has been my experience. I am no longer in anxious anxiety muffin. I am like a normal human.

Bekah:

I, when I was diagnosed a couple of years ago, that the first thing that my doctor wanted to do was rule out he's like, is that ADHD? Or is it anxiety? Like what is starting this? And so we started by ruling out, uh, anxiety that was causing these symptoms, uh, and then went on to be treated for ADHD, which has been really good and helped me to understand things much better. And also like how I communicate with other people because my whole family is probably undiagnosed ADHD. And so we have a very unique way of communicating with each other that I just thought everybody communicated with each other in that way. And that's probably why I had a lot of problems, forming friendships and relationships with people because not everybody communicates in that way apparently. Um, but

Amy:

mean, not everyone wants you to finish their sentences,

Bekah:

And take you on a 10 minute tangent before giving them a one word answer.

Amy:

but you have to have set up to stories. And sometimes those lead you to different stories that are tangentially related and you have to go into those stories and then eventually circle back and then you forgot what the original story was. And it's just that, that's just how storytelling goes.

Bekah:

I'm like one of two ways. So either I am like that web of storytelling or like my brain is just very direct. So it's either you get along story or I'm just going to tell you how I feel right now in this moment that directness can be hard for some people, but, but it has been good to know that. Okay. There's a way to approach this communication with somebody else and to talk through things, to make sure that we are on the same page and that we can communicate with each other successfully. And Yeah. so I always appreciate hearing other people's stories. Actually, Dan, when, uh, I started working with Danny, he was talking about his ADHD and that's how I got diagnosed with ADHD. Oh, is that, is that, is that what that is?

Dan:

Yeah. I found out because I read a tweet that described my whole life and I was like, oh, I started reading about it. No, as I read about it a lot. And then, um, like, you know, I was consumed by obviously for a couple weeks. And then I was like, I went to talk to my wife and I need to have, like, I need to talk to you about something. I think I have ADHD. Well, yeah. And I'm like, what? She's like, I just thought you knew who else knows. And she's like, I don't know all your friends, anybody who's met you, I guess.

Amy:

You just thought I was untreated on purpose.

Dan:

Yeah. I don't know. No. Yeah. I mean it, my, my, my, the reason I just didn't know anything about it, you know what I mean? I didn't know. I had the. Never thought about it very much had to, if somebody asked me I had the like sort of old stereotypical, you know, idea of what, of, what, like ADD is, you know, that kind of thing. Um, and, uh, well it turns out that's not, you know, accurate obviously like, you know, the hyper kid who can't run, you know, who's running around, you know, in school and, and making noise and stuff, and that wasn't ever me, but all of the. Everything else, you know, made my whole life, like a lot, a little more, a little more clear, like very all of a sudden,

Amy:

Yeah, I think that's one of the like unfortunate parts about add is that most people just think of the hyperactivity as being symptomology symptomatic. And like the opposite is also kind of a symptom, right? Like daydreaming and not focusing on things is also a sign.

Dan:

Yes, yes. Yeah. And I, yeah, no, I, I mentioned this exact experience with my doctor a couple of days ago actually. Um, and he's like, yeah, those are the first kids that get diagnosed. You know, the ones that are disrupting class really, and the teachers are like, you have to get him assessed or, or him or assessed, or, um, he's not coming back. You know what I mean? Like, and so they get diagnosed, but the, the people who, um, are yeah, exactly a quiet and more. Different. Um, my experience was just getting labeled as well. He's smart, but he's lazy or whatever, you know, like that kind of thing, my whole, uh, sort of school career as it were. Uh, and, uh, yeah, so, no, it's, it's been a very interesting and enlightening journey for me, but it's kinda, it's cool. I dunno, I'd encourage anybody to read more about it and think more about it. There's there's a lot of good resources out there these days. Um, To learn about it, you know? Cause that's what I did for a couple of weeks was just like read stuff, you know, you don't have to be a doctor to at least start thinking about it,

Bekah:

I just messaged Dan and said, what should I read?

Dan:

Yeah. Yep. And I sent her like a, like a list of a billion things. So.

Bekah:

I had a similar experience. I told my sister-in-law, I was like, I think I have ADHD. And she's like, oh, you didn't, you didn't know? Oh, no, it does. It's all a lot of rethinking of those past experiences, but it's useful to understand how to talk about things and to know more about yourself and your interactions with other people. So, yeah. I will second talking about it and learning more about it. That's something you think you might have.

Amy:

yeah.

Dan:

just a little shout out. If you are in Virtual Coffee, we have a neuro-diverse, um, channel in our slack. So if you want to learn more or, uh, you know, join and talk to people like minded people and you're in Virtual Coffee, ready, uh, you know, feel free to drop in that, um, channel to. W we, we hang out and chat there sometimes just posts, you know, gifs and stuff, but it's a good,

Bekah:

Gifs? mean Jifs

Dan:

No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. We got so far. You're so close to ending

Bekah:

We really did.

Amy:

Gif one,

Bekah:

Jiff two

Dan:

Couldn't just let it

Amy:

they're G-rafical images.

Bekah:

I can't, I like, it's painful to my ears to hear that. I'm like, what is, what is he talking

Amy:

we don't say ragexe so we shouldn't say GIF. a hard jet.

Dan:

Right checks. Oh, no, that's going to bother me too.

Amy:

expression.

Dan:

that's

Amy:

should be reg X, but it's not ragexe because

Dan:

it red. I reg X from now.

Amy:

See, this is, this is how I get the people who are hard lining GIF. I'm like, Hmm, we're not consistent.

Dan:

Well, that's true. It's again, English. So that's sort of the only consistent thing is that it's inconsistent

Bekah:

Well, Amy,

Dan:

English major right here, English.

Bekah:

I'm an English. major.

Dan:

Okay. Well

Bekah:

master's in English, masters.

Dan:

yes, no, we fight about this quite a bit.

Bekah:

Never stops.

Dan:

Oh

Bekah:

I was going to say, thanks Amy, for being here today. Um, and in, during this conversation with us, uh, this has been fun and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Is there anything else you want to share or any last words of wisdom you would like to leave for our listeners?

Amy:

Good question, which is how I preface everything. Cause I need to think about it. And, uh, I would, I would just say that, you know, times are hard, but we don't have to be and like try to be kind to other people, even if it it's hard sometimes.

Bekah:

It's like, if they're saying GIF,

Amy:

Like, if they're saying GIF and you want them to say Jif or they're saying ragexe and you want them to say regex. Compassion.

Dan:

Compassion.

Bekah:

I'm sorry. I ruined that it was like very meaningful and great and I could not stop myself.

Amy:

I understand the impulse. Well, I can't even say anything. it all the time.

Bekah:

All right. Thanks so much, Amy. And we will talk to you soon.

Dan:

Thank you, Amy.

Amy:

Bye.

Dan:

Bye. Thank you for listening to this episode of the Virtual Coffee Podcast. This episode was produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel. If you have questions or comments, you can hit us up on Twitter at VirtualCoffeeIO, or email us at podcast@virtualcoffee.io. You can find the show notes, sign up for newsletter, check out any of our other resources on our website, virtualcoffee.io. If you're interested in sponsoring Virtual Coffee, you can find out more information on our website at virtualcoffee.io/sponsorship. Please subscribe to our podcast and be sure to leave us a review. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next week!


The Virtual Coffee Podcast is produced by Dan Ott and Bekah Hawrot Weigel and edited by Andy Bonjour at GoodDay Communications.