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Roger Gentry - Perseverance and Problem Solving

Season 5, Episode 5 | April 21, 2022

In today's episode, Dan and Bekah talk to Roger Gentry about his love of solving problems and how he's brought that with him into tech.


Roger Gentry

Roger has managed the security and compliance for clients across the United States. Providing CTO/CSO level consulting to a variety of industries, Roger has worked with customers to achieve successful compliance certifications from PCI, ISO, SOC, and more.

http://r-o-g-e-r.com/

Show Notes:

This week Bekah and Dan sat down with Roger Gentry, who has spent a lot of his career managing security and compliance for clients across the United States, about his passion for problem-solving and what to do when you get stuck. We're all going to run into frustrations during our tech journeys, but knowing how to navigate through them is one of the key skills you'll need.


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Transcript:

Bekah:

Hello, and welcome to season five, episode five 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're here to share it with you here with me. Today is my cohost Dan.

Dan:

Hey Bekah. Today we're talking with Roger Gentry. Roger has spent a lot of his career managing security and compliance for clients across the United States. And this episode you'll hear from Roger about perseverance, his drive to solve problems and his process for finding solutions. He shares some tips for working through frustrations and how to ask for help.

Bekah:

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 random check-in question is if you could be an article of clothing, what would it be? My name is Bekah. I am a technical community builder from a small town in Ohio. And if I could be any article clothing, it'd probably be a sweatshirt like a hoodie. Um, because I have a collection of them since the pandemic started, I just keep buying them. I can't stop. They're very comfortable and I like them. So I'll go with hoodie.

Dan:

Yeah, hoodies are good, um, hi, I'm Dan. I am a web developer from Cleveland, Ohio, and yeah, if I could be an article of clothing. I mean, hoodie was like up there. I think, um, I think I'm going to go with like a rain shell. So like a rank. Yeah. Raincoat. So I say shell, cause it's like, that's, that's what you call it when it's camping. Right. So shell is something that can go. Yeah. Yeah. People who, people who know, who know, and, and if you don't know them, that's fine too. But, uh, it's like it's called a shell because you can put it on top of, you know, if you have a hoodie or whatever, you can still wear it. You know, your rain color, it keeps you protected, but you can wear it in summer and stuff too. But raincoat.

Bekah:

It goes over your rain coat.

Dan:

No, no, no, it's a raincoat, but like not like a fancy raincoat that looks nice. It's like a raincoat that is, you know, a utility, you call it a shell because you can put it over, you know, you can like bring the same raincoat camping in the summer and the winter and whatever, you know. So in the winter, I just put it over top of all my layers and summer put over top of the t-shirt or whatever. That's why he called it shell.

Bekah:

I would like it to look like a turtle show. shell.

Dan:

Okay, well, you can have the turtle shell rain, Rachel, and that'd be fine too.

Roger:

Hi everyone. My name's Roger, and I'm a full stack developer and sunny Southern California. And if I was an article of clothing, I'd have to be a zip-up hoodie, specifically, a zip-up hoodie, because everything else just sort of a, you get caught in the, in the web of the sweater, the zip up, you can just go quickly from hot to cold. And, you know, I love that.

Bekah:

Yeah, I, like the zip-up hoodie too. It just depends on my mood, but also like sometimes it's hot and sometimes it's cold and it's much easier to remove one that has a zipper

Dan:

yeah. I mean, zip-up buddies are clearly better than pull over something.

Bekah:

Not all the time. I mean, zippers are cold too. So if it's cold outside and they touch your skin, then it's cold Roger. Thanks for being here. Very glad to have you on the podcast. And when we start the podcast, everyone, we like to get people's origin stories. So how, what brought you to where you are today in life?

Roger:

You know, it's kind of funny. I kind of remember the first time that I saw somebody building a website and it was some friends of mine in the school library and, uh, they. Just we're having fun. And I wanted to do that as well. So I kind of acquired a free computer and, uh, just set that up in my room. Like, you know, this is, I can't even remember the year early, two thousands. So, you know, it wasn't that, uh, I advanced to have a laptop quite yet for me. And once I kind of figured out how I could build a website with HTML and CSS and notepad on the windows, I kind of was hooked. And it just sort of became a, almost like a hobby that just kept me going all the time. And. I took that skill set and immediately did the thing that I've done kind of forever now is turned it into a way to make money, which I did by going to just the businesses that were in my town and finding the one that just had a terrible website and convincing them that they needed a new one and I could be the person to build it. Um, kind of. As I went along in school and eventually high school, I had an opportunity to take kind of a, a multimedia course, which taught me a lot of like Photoshop illustrator, just a lot of, uh, photo editing and video editing skills that I kind of combined into this, you know, love of code with the web design side of things. And, you know, that kind of propelled me forward and I've always had a knack for fixing things. I kind of landed in this weird place of, uh, fixing a lot more things than I was building, but then using the skillset of being, you know, a developer at heart to build a solutions, to solve problems in ways. People weren't thinking about, and that excited me more and more, and, you know, I'm kind of a, a person in necessity. If I, if I see something that I really need, I'll figure out a way to get it. And I wanted to build a SAS product for fun. I, and the kind of. Managed to make that possible with a company I was working at and we, we had a lot of fun putting it together, but then I kind of found, I had a lot more fun building kind of the prototype and understanding the code and coming up with the methodologies and how we were going to do things and looking at. Back. I kind of have always been a, like a web developer, but it was at that point where I was putting together this weird little cloud service that I really saw a need to become on everything developer because you know, there was so much more. That was missing from what I wanted to put together. And that led me to, just to kind of absorb into building iOS and Android applications and then a web backend and, you know, combining everything together and finding the glue that works the best, which surprisingly there's no really good fit all solution. Despite any of the marketing that you'll see on anybody's products. And. Getting everything together. And finally seeing like an API that I wrote and connect to the apps that I helped build with the website that I put together for a customer that I sold an idea to. Like that was the moment that I really kind of found like. The group that I liked to exist in, and it's always propelled me to have ideas and projects that I like working on, but, going back, I still think of the dorky kid that was sitting in his room, reading the HTML and CSS for dummies book that he bought at the thrift store for 50 cents. And, you know, that's propelled me into a lifelong period of not only learning, but also figuring things out and solving problems in just a different way, because you know, Come from a place where I've been building out a necessity. And if you tell me that there's a problem, I'll figure out a way to fix it. The way to fix it might not be the best way, it's working.

Dan:

I love that. I love that. You're. And, and like, I, I think, uh, maybe not where you ended up in your career path, but the beginnings of your career started off very similar to mine. Right? Uh, I think I had that exact same for dummies book that I bought at their store as well. Um, and, yeah, I mean like the, the cool thing for me is, is that like how, how you. Sort of organically followed. Right? What you, what you found interesting, what you saw, you know, neat. Like you saw there was a need for different pieces to different puzzles, right. And, um, the idea that you don't have to stay in one lane or, or, or one specialty or anything like that. Right. I mean, full stack developers is a pretty common phrase these days, I think, but, um, I think. I think that my favorite part about that, the full sec ideas is the idea that like you have the power, any person has the power to kind of go and chase down, you know, something that they want to, that they find interesting and want to, and want to build it, want to fix or solve.

Roger:

Something that would happen when I was working as a technician is, you know, I'd come in and I'd fix a problem. That for the user was really, really difficult. And I made it seem impossibly easy, and a lot of them would say, wow, you're a wizard. You fix it like magic. Right. When you sit in front of, you know, a terminal for the first time, so to speak and you run that code and it does the thing that you told it to, like, it feels like magic. It feels like you cast a spell and something cool happened. And, I feel like that that magic is captivating for, for a lot of people. And like, once you, once you see it, once you realize that you can cast that spell and make that magic happen, like it's almost an addiction. Like you're like, well, what other things can I do? It's like, oh Yeah, this doorbell is no longer supported. Let's see if we can, you know, hack it and make it something, something useful. Again, like it's just, you find solutions to problems that, you know, you didn't even know were problems because now, you know, the magic behind how it all works.

Bekah:

Yeah, I love how you talk so much about the magic and the problem solving. And I think that's one of the things that interest, so many people about being in tech and it's simultaneously one of the most frustrating things about being in tech, right? Like can get hard and you're stuck on those problems in Um, sometimes it can be. Feelings of self doubt, like, oh, what kind of program or am I, I can't figure this out. So how do you approach problem solving and, and maybe avoid those feelings? Or do you have tips on how to avoid those feelings?

Roger:

You know, so much of what I've been able to figure out has been a, let me just change this line of code refresh and see if it fixes the problem. And. You know, I come from a background of fixing a lot of weird problems that I never had a say in creating. And so a lot of the times it was like, okay, this was doing a thing correctly before, and this is how we got to there. Now, when I try to do these steps, this is what happens. Well, now I know how to replicate the problem. And I got to just work backwards from there and try to figure out why it's failing in that step. And okay, well now we know it's this problem. Let's search around and see if we can figure out if there's a solution for this somewhere that we can use or. If we just keep having to dig further down. So it's kind of more of a beat it with a hammer until it shows you like something that's useful. And then you take that little spec and it's like, okay, let's analyze this and go down a rabbit hole and solve that problem and then move on to the next error. And eventually you'll find kind of the answer. And then once you have like that experiences to that one problem. You know, that that networking piece of equipment in the closet was actually the faulty, you know, problem, the whole thing. And it was a bad ethernet cable that somebody. Broken the door that caused everybody's issues for the day. And now in the future, when you're sitting in there looking at that similar problem, you know, your mind is thinking about these things as well, whereas before it may have taken you hours to get there. Well, now I know I can overcome that because I had to do it in a time of crisis. And I can, if I can overcome that this little error that I'm dealing with, I'll figure out eventually. And it's the same thing with programming. Like I was dealing with like just, uh, Data formats that I wasn't familiar with. And I wanted to just sort of see if I could figure it out. It took a little while, but eventually, you know, I put enough pieces to the puzzle together and I got the answer I needed. And like, it, it was one of those moments where it's like, I overcame something that was only existed because the way that I formatted the first time wasn't necessarily the correct way to parse that data. But then once I figured out the right way, It worked. And then I'm sitting there being like, huh. Now how it works instantly. I was trying to find the next problem to solve.

Dan:

Yeah, that, um, dopamine rush from. Actually solving the thing. Right. And it's like greater. I feel like for me, at least most of the time, anyway, it's, it's greater. The harder it is, the deeper down the rabbit hole you go, right. There's sometimes where I get all the way down and I figured it's taken me so long. That I'm just like, I just hate this. Like finally, his bug is squashed, you know, but I think lots of times I get that, I get that same, um, that same like spike of, uh, just feels good and like, okay, let's find out what's next, you know?

Roger:

I've had times where I spent a lot of the night in a networking closet, trying to solve some weird networking problem and trying to get something that was on the network that was working before I got there. Wasn't working now to back to that working state and it's hot and it's terrible and I'm hungry. And so anytime that I'm sitting in front of my computer, working on a hard coding problem, I think. I think back to myself and the networking closet and remember I'm not there and I can't eat something and I step away and is fine because I will figure it out. And it's kind of like the sense of encouragement that I tell myself when I'm dealing with the hard problem. Just knowing that eventually it will be solved one way or another. And there's only so much I can worry about with it right now. And eventually you just have to say enough's enough, walk away and come back to it later. And then you're like, oh yeah, you know? what? I don't know why this is so hard earlier. I was just grumpy.

Dan:

I think that's great advice. And I like, I want to reiterate that cause that's the, one of the hardest things to remember, and it's so easy to get stuck in that like, It's it's so easy. It's it's like when you're down in some hole, you know, trying to figure something out and nothing makes sense. It's hard to step away. It's at least for me, it's hard. I hard time stepping away and, you're right. Roger. Like every time that I do, it's helpful. Like it's always helpful and I'm always like, why didn't I just do this hour ago? Like, why didn't I stick go walk around the building or go get it, you know, across the street, get a cup of coffee or something like that. Every time, not every time, but it happens to me so often, you know, and it's like, I don't know, almost physically hard to get myself to step away. I'm like, I know I can get this if I just,

Bekah:

I always get annoyed when people are like, just step up, you just need to go for a walk. I'm like, you just don't need to tell me what to do. Right. And then like an hour and a half later, I do it. I'm like, oh, okay. Fine. Like, yes, now I get it.

Roger:

I think part of that is, uh, you know, that there's like that dopamine rush when you're going to solve the problem. And so you're like, I, if I just do this a little bit longer, it will be solved and I'm going to feel good about it. so you're, you're you're so in the middle of like that frustrating piece where you just like, you know, the payoff is going to be so much better than more frustrated at the problem that you're going to you are want to finish it. And stepping away is almost like a sign of defeat into yourself. No one else cares. But you, but even so like that, that step away is what you need and yet doing it. is so frustratingly difficult.

Bekah:

Yeah, was working on this problem last week and I knew that I was close. Right. Like I could feel it there, something wrong and I, I just needed to spend more time going over. Line by line, which I had already done. I had already done with other people too. And then finally, I, uh, well then I go into this mode of all right. I know that one of these things is wrong. And then I just start like throwing code. Chaotically does not what you should do because in there I had the right piece, but then I messed up the other piece that connected it. so then it still didn't work. And then I was, uh, debugging it with a coworker. Um, said, oh yeah, it's this thing. This is what I expected. It was, you know, you, you forgot to. I was like, I did have that. I had it at one point I just deleted. Okay. And so instead I had this mess of a, a code base that that's not what you want. So like taking, I think that taking that. Advice of walking away thinking through the problem, rather than just like throwing all of the things at it is a skill I need to learn. Maybe.

Roger:

The other approach that I like to the mingled code base is the burn it all to the ground. Take what we know is good. And let's just start over for a little bit. Cause we learned a lot and throwing all of this spaghetti against the wall, but yet nothing really stucks, but we've learned some stuff in the process. going to take what the good bits that we know go back to where we know the data is good and try to do what fit, what we want. Right. Probably starting over with a fresh slate is going to give us the answers we need, because we were not good. When we were writing that other kids, we were frustrated.

Dan:

Yeah, and I think that's great advice and it helps sort of isolate, you know, you can still add things a bit at a time, you know? So starting from that fresh, the fresh, like the fresh slate, you know, add things step by step, you know, and, and you, you very like, you know how you want it to work. So maybe the route will be a little bit more straight forward this way. Right? Cause you have like a plan in your head. But it'll help you sort of isolate the problem too. And that's good advice. The spaghetti on the wall method, right?

Bekah:

My favorite method. Um, so one of the things that we talk a lot about advertorial coffee is questions, and I think that this kind of goes along with. The conversation about, you know, how do you ask questions? How do you ask for help? Like, what is the right approach to doing that? And it can be in your code base. It could be when you're interviewing for a job, but what do you think is a good approach to asking questions or asking for support or help finding it?

Roger:

Uh, so it kind of, kind of depends on the problem, right? If you're talking about, you know, you're sitting on an interview and you want to know if they do X, Y, or Z, right. You just ask and like, it seems scary at first, but every company that I've been in the first interview with, and I've been like, so what kind of like hardware stack are we dealing with? They are always like, wait, why do you care? Like you're interviewing for this role. And it's like, well, no, I genuinely want to make sure it's something that I'm gonna be interested in dealing with before. Like I get excited and we waste everybody's time and then I get to the job and it's not exciting. Like. Each time that I've asked like weird difficult questions or just something that I was just curious about, it's always needed a good result in the interview. Like, uh, I remember in one where I asked the, uh, founder of the company where he sees himself in the in five years, and that was a, that was a fun question to see the last on all of the other managers where they're just like, But the answer that he gave me was more about the vision of the company and where they wanted to take it, which was really exciting. And so you. Take that same approach when you're dealing with code, right? If you have a problem, you look at your message. And I just start by taking your message copying and pasting to the search engine and then say, stack overflow, give me the great answers to my problem and combining that with whatever language you're writing it in and what you're trying to do, typically nets somebody else on the internet who has the same problem. And there's probably an XKCD that's relevant to that exact topic because I've linked to it many times and it's just, it's kind of that, like, you know, it? doesn't matter what the problem you're dealing with. There, there's an answer out there somewhere. Somebody knows that answer to the problem you're dealing with it's just, how do we get there? And sometimes the answer is you need to call the vendor or email the person that wrote it and. It seems terrifying the first dozen times that you email somebody that wrote some piece of code, it's something that I've learned about and people that work in technology is an opportunity to talk about something nerdy. We're going to waste as much time as we possibly can, because it's so rare that we get somebody who's like excited about the same thing that we're doing. And then it's a slight. Okay. Yeah. that took so much effort to write that email. But now, like I know this guy and we're going to totally meet for drinks when he's at this conference, because like that's the connection we made. And it's just about asking the questions and just finding right person and. Everybody's got an email address on their code, or you can message them and Twitter, which is still a weird experience just to be to message random company being like, Hey, I have this would you be interested? And next thing you on a meeting to, you know, meet the person that posted that tweet. That's kind of the whole power that we have today where we didn't have. like when I got technology, there was no Facebook, there was no MySpace. It seems like a weird time because I'm not that old, but the, in the age of you know, you, it moves at such a rapid pace that you are, get dated very quickly if you're not paying attention. And at that time period, like finding information was a lot harder, but now it's just. And

Bekah:

Yeah.

Roger:

it depends on how you are how bad you want that thing. Or in that answer, if you really, really want the answer to the question, you'll find it. It just might take some time.

Bekah:

Sorry. I was, I was thinking I was deep in thought.

Dan:

I was just reminiscing back when there was no stack overflow.

Bekah:

My kids like to refer to that as the olden days, we watched the S the amazing Spider-Man the one with Andrew Garfield this weekend, and they're like, oh, we didn't know that you had movies with this good CGI back in the olden days. It's not even that old!

Dan:

Kids.

Bekah:

Yeah, well, okay. And so I think that making those connections is so important and then like asking, asking informed questions too, right. Because when you're DM-ing someone or emailing someone, you let them know what you've been working on or how you've been approaching that thing. Or, you know, one of the things that I like about, um, our Virtual Coffee repository is we have issue templates. We have PR templates. Or is that what they're called? Templates forms, issue forms,

Dan:

Well,

Bekah:

templates. How am I saying it wrong? I wasn't asking

Dan:

I don't think that's, I don't think, I don't think that's a wrong

Bekah:

if there are called templates.

Dan:

Wrong situation, but. I think that's more of a local dialect situation.

Bekah:

It's not what I was asking.

Dan:

Uh,

Bekah:

issue.

Dan:

issue forms. That's what they're called. They started as templates and other forms. That's it? Yeah.

Bekah:

one of them is a form, Right,

Dan:

right. right. No, that's what I mean. That the issue ones. Yeah, they used to be, we used to have issue templates and now we converted them to issue forms.

Roger:

And now he just has an issues everywhere.

Dan:

Now there's just issues. Lots of issues.

Bekah:

Um, but it breaks, it kind of like breaks down how to ask questions. And because we work with so many developers at all stages of the journey, nice to kind of create a methodical process for question asking, um, or helping people to go through this process of, is what I see. This is what I've done. This is what I want to see done, you know, and providing some evidence for that, because sometimes you have a random question it feels exhausting or overwhelming to try and answer a question. If there's no context there, right. If you already have a full slate of work on your desk and somebody asks you, Hey, have you, I don't, I don't know. I can't think of a good example right now, but like, Did I use this thing, right. Okay. Well walk me through your coat. Right? And I think that that's one of those things that kind of, it's a skill that takes time to develop that question, asking ability. And another reason why I love the coworking room too, because you have the time to have those conversations. And Roger, I know that you've spent some time in the coworking room as well.

Roger:

Yeah. I, always love just kind of hanging out in there cause you never know what kind of conversations are going to have. And it definitely feels like. You're at work and these are your coworkers because, you know, there's, there's a sense of, of community to it. But at the same time, you know, like the conversations, aren't going to take a weird turn. They're going to typically stay around a centralized set of topics. And it's comforting to be able to be just around other people who are programmers and nerds, and just generally interested in pretty much the same thing as you are. And just being like, Hey, I'm working on this like weird code. Is there anybody that wants to jump in and like, give me some advice on what I'm doing wrong or how I can make it better. And, you know, it's kind of exciting just to see the problem solving that other people go through. And sometimes just the patients that some people have mentoring people, it's really amazing and kind of, you know, uh, lead by example in some places where you see these things happen and you're just like, wow, I want to, I want to improve how I instruct people based off of like what I just kind of saw. And it's just. Kind of a cool place just to meet people from kind of all around the world who just are hanging out, just wanting to just chill for a few minutes and just talk about whatever, whatever you're talking about, jumping into the conversation and jump out. It's really like, uh, been a great sense of community since, uh, you know, honestly I found Virtual Coffee when the pandemic kind of was going on and like I dived into there and I became kind of. A lot of the close friendships that I had, because it was just always open and you meet a lot of really cool, interesting people. And actually my current, my current job, um, I was actually interviewed, uh, originally in the coworking room, which led me to being interviewed by the company, accepting the role with there. So I always think that's a, that's a fun little story with, uh, Virtual Coffee, because, you know, there's so many of these people that joined looking for a job and. Or hoping to find something, but sometimes you end up finding something in the same room, but you're just hanging out. And then for fun sharing, just some project that you had an idea about or passionate about. So.

Bekah:

I love that. That's such a fun story. Um, okay. So. navigating through like enjoying that that aspect of coding. So what is the, um, maybe strangest or most complicated that you've had navigate?

Roger:

So I think this goes back to the days winning. I was working in a support role at a managed service provider, which means we ran their whole help desk. And this is one of my favorite stories to tell because it's just so weird. So the customer I was supporting is a company that does. That paints boats. When I'm talking about boats, I'm talking about big ships that are, you know, the ships that they have at Disneyland type size. And they have an oven that is the size of a literal warehouse, where they put these boats. To have the paint cure and all of this data from all of these temperature sensors from all around that warehouse get fed into one computer. And what happened is that aging desktop, which was running probably windows 98 or something similar, and some version of. Xcel it died and suddenly their whole business wasn't able to operate because the computer that ran the sensors that gave them the data to certify all of their work wasn't working. And I remember trying everything that I could to build a virtual machine that had that operating system to fund this thing and just constant problems. And eventually I solved that problem by getting it stood up with a new version of windows and everything working inside it. And, and a version of Excel that I found on an abandoned ware website that was like a release candidate that they didn't put any product activations in. And it was the least to the clear version of Excel that I could find to. macro that business relied on to capture this data from the sensor. It was, it was a lot. We had adapters to serial cables pulling in this data into a macro unexcited Excel. eventually this all got ran, ran into a windows 10 bucks eventually and virtualized and indefinitely, but it was just the, the amount of sheer is going on and how are we going to fix? Like to get over the finish line was just astronomical. And like, I look back and I think to myself, like, you know, could fix a boat up and none of these other problems seem that hard, little figure it out. Like it's the same thing about being in a network closet. Like. You just like all of these problems have solutions you're going to get there. Eventually. It's just a matter of what ridiculous thing you're going to need to get it across the finish line in the moment. And I, I feel like when programming, it's a lot of. More, a lot more critical thinking and sometimes you just need more information and just like, dealing with the problem with databases, you can't really figure out what the heck you're doing. Stop. And like go look at some databases. And then you're like, oh, that's what I was doing at Gronk. And suddenly things click into place. And you know, I just remember so many times as a technician where there wasn't documentation or somebody to ask it was figure it out too. The that you can because they're a vendor that built this, uh, system went out of business before you were born. And that's, and that's a fun, that's a fun exist. But the thing that I've learned the most about programming and programming languages specifically once you learn the basics, they all start to kind of merge together. And if you know, how an if loop and a while loop works well, you can pretty much program like 90% of the crap you need to get the job done. And that's really what it takes. Like a few, a few if statements and you've got most of the programs that are running, some of the largest systems are just simple things. And when you can look at a coding written in something that some random developer came up with and you're just able to read through it and understand it because not because you understand the language. But because you understand that a loop's going to keep going back through these things and eventually it's going to do this. So now I'm looking for this problem. can pretty much go down any rabbit hole and find what you're looking for. Just as long as you're just willing to keep It's same thing with the boat of it. I just kept looking and I found eventually found a way to fix it.

Dan:

Yeah, I love that. And I, and I think that, and I feel like I've said this probably before, but that's like one of the biggest things that separates somebody that has more experience from somebody who is more starting out is not necessarily the knowledge accrued, but more the sort of confidence. You can do the thing you like that, like you can probably solve pretty much anything given enough time, I suppose. But you know, like, like you said, like that, if you, if you have less experience, you just have less black practice, uh, reading code and being used to loops and if statements and stuff, um, Jumping trying to read some other code in a different language that you're not used to is going to seem probably a lot more daunting, you know, but having done it for a long time, it's is a sector. That's a practice, you know, the practice of just like, I mean, it's just, like you said, you know, like I have solved this huge bug in the past, so I just kind of know that any other bug that comes up, I'm going to be fine. Right.

Roger:

Or on the, on the other side of it is like, I know I've taken down production once. So if I do it again, I know what to expect. It's sort of like, I've been chewed out. Let's just get chewed out again.

Bekah:

You don't feel like terrifying experience to me?

Dan:

Have you done it live on a Twitch stream though.

Roger:

There's still time. There's still time.

Bekah:

No. you.

Dan:

Uh, yeah, that was not my best moment, but eh, I got through it right.

Bekah:

You, you did you? I think I would just, I want to crawl under the bed and stay there.

Roger:

I think this is a good point to mention how important backups and version control are. And don't be afraid to commit that code, even if you're not quite ready for it. Just having something in there that you can go back and look at and be like, that's what I did four and a half hours ago.

Dan:

Yes.

Roger:

It's so helpful.

Dan:

Yes.

Bekah:

Even like that project that I was just talking about, I was talking through it with Kirk one day. Um, was like, well, you know, have you committed recently? don't have any commitments, but just like, you know, I, wasn't going to be a big project. I thought that I could it really quickly and get it done. And then it was like, oh,

Dan:

Yeah.

Bekah:

a mistake. Yeah. That would have been that for sure would have been useful.

Dan:

Yeah, no, that's very good advice. See, it's like at the times that I've done it, it's been, it's been super helpful and it helps with that. Um, and it gives you more confidence with that. Um, the approach of just kind of trying stuff out, right. Throwing stuff at the problem, because, you know, That. I mean, it's easy. It's easy to go back. Right? It's easy to throw things out. It's easy to go and look at your history. Um, and you can always by that the commits or the like, It's kind of quashed them right into, like once you finally solve it into one commit, you know? Uh, I, I mean, I'll have commits that are just like, well, let's try this, try this, try this, that didn't work, try this, try this, you know? And that's like, that's not what you want to push up. Uh, ultimately, it's perfectly fine when you're in your, when you're like, you know, trying to work your way through, through a problem. Uh, at least at least I think it's, I don't know. Other people might disagree with me, but.

Roger:

I am definitely afraid to commit until like the code is perfect, just because I feel like so many people are going to be judging me, based off of what they're saying. Um, but. at the same time, that causes me to forget, to commit my changes. And I have a habit of doing that frequently. The best part about being a developer is you can always automate solutions to your problems. Uh, of mine has been, uh, every 15 minutes. Take a get commit, and just go ahead and just save that with the timestamp. I've written that as a bash script, because that was the easiest, lowest hanging fruit that I could Do And it works marvelously. And I've used that for a number of other projects where I wrote a whole, a whole set of scripts that took and used them as a note, taking application with an auto-save and sync functionality by getting bashed. That just was a few hours. together because I was annoyed that I forgot to save something important into the thing that I was using as a notepad. So I'm like, I'm never going to do this again. And it, you solve a problem and you just use the tools that were available and

Bekah:

Do you have a blog post or a tutorial on the things that you've done? Cause that would be super quarter eight.

Roger:

I definitely should write this one up because I think I had intended to, but then I, again, got distracted and forgot to complete it, which I, I, I could say that a lot about a lot of the domains that I purchased is about being like, Hey, this is an idea. Ooh, the domains available. Oh, I should build this. And then I get the renewal notice a year later.

Bekah:

You have a domain with an emoji in it, right.

Roger:

So I am actually the proud owner of the email emoji.fm. And I have been trying to figure out the best way to create an emoji base, social networking, email platform around that. That is just purely nothing but emojis, but, uh, amazingly. It is a surprisingly difficult to get emails delivered that contain emojis. So I have been trying to overcome a lot of, um, fun technical problems getting that service spun up. But, uh, yeah, that's, that's a lot of entertainment in itself is just, uh, Hey, go check out this, uh, emoji email and or domain. And you're just like, I didn't even know emojis could be domains. Hmm. It causes a lot of things that you shouldn't be buying two interior, a credit card bill.

Bekah:

I love that. I always hearing stories. You tell stories about the things that you're doing, cause like, They're super entertaining, but then also you come out with stuff like that. Like I've bought an emoji domain that never would have crossed my mind to even try doing.

Roger:

I don't just have one. I have a specific one that been putting together for an authentication service that is themed about a wizard. And the link is literally the link emoji with the magic wand because there they're magic links. And so the whole idea is making a, a single sign-on magic link service that uses emojis is the links just because like in the right audience, it's, it's really entertaining. It's also a lot harder to, to forge those because you know, how many people are going to be using emojis and their thing.

Bekah:

Well, Once you, you get, going to be using it. It's going to be the next big thing. It won't be something of the olden days. It will be of the new end days.

Roger:

Well, the thing that I love about emojis is. Especially like in Virtual Coffee is a good example. We have an international community of developers that come together. But the thing that is most universal is the wave emoji. Like everybody knows what that means. Everybody can react and like emojis in themself, almost a universal language. Doesn't matter which one you speak or read the emojis pretty much being the same thing.

Bekah:

Okay. So, so you have, I was going to ask, one of my like, what is the coolest problem that you want to solve? And you're, you're talking about some cool things. So I don't know if you've already mentioned it, or if you've got another big idea that you want to share.

Roger:

I think, I think the one that when I talk about the, the eyes light up of behind everybody being like, why I didn't even know that that was like something that people were thinking And it's kind one of the things that I found, like the first love of communities and its surrounds, uh, zombies actually, which is kind of like what makes everybody laugh and. And I am building a whole platform that does essentially a distributed network of servers that cash basically a copy of like the internet archive, the public domain knowledge stores them, of a way that makes it accessible. The idea behind it is this, uh, this whole nonprofit in self-sufficiency and being resourceful with just what you have. And part of it comes from desire just to want to host what I call zombie con and where you got a junk pile of computers and a challenge. And you throw a bunch of nerds that say, okay, rebuild the internet. And here's what you get to use for it, because I think when you're building out of necessity, problems become so much different than when you have the luxury of both time and resources. And I feel like something special will come out of that, that I don't even realize. I just, uh, every time that I kind of talk about that particular side of things, like it gets people excited because, you know, there's a sense in all of us that I feel like you want that dopamine effect of being like, I did it's solving a problem with your code, it's fixing a server. Or if it's like just something simple as patching that drywall and looking back and be like, you can't even tell. It's that sense of pride and accomplishment that you get out of like the work that you do that drives all of us. And the thing that I've really wanted to build is the, just the way that we can share that and like make these things being like, this is how you patch a drywall and open sourcing those and them available as many people that are interested in it. And just trying to figure out ways to make it accessible and last through the apocalypse, because I feel like that's the hardest challenge you could ever possibly think about. And. Thinking about ways to solve that, to just make your, I don't know, it just keeps me up at night.

Bekah:

Yeah. that's really interesting.

Roger:

Like our most valuable resources, our knowledge. And if we have to start over losing our knowledge base as a humanity would be the most detrimental thing. And so the more that we work to figure out a way to not only maintain that, but also use that data and, and part of what drives the fun on this is like you can download the entirety of stack overflow as SQL database. To your computer. And now you have the entirety of all of the question and answers that you've needed to fix your programming at your fingertips. It's only up to you to figure out how to query that data, to find the answers you need. And I think like doing that offline, where you don't have connection to the internet, like makes you more resourceful and like you, you solve the problems in a different way. And I feel like. I feel so excited when I do it on my own. So I just like trying to build the platforms and giving the people the encouragement and the support to know that like all of this stuff's possible here. Here's the way to get started.

Dan:

That's awesome.

Roger:

Like I said it causes cause everybody to just go down that rabbit hole and you start thinking about these things and you're just like, man, I don't even know how to store, you know, flour for longer than a couple of days. Like, how am I in a store for years? And there are different problems you have to try to solve.

Dan:

yeah.

Bekah:

Yeah, I've I really liked that idea about things get done differently. If it's out of necessity, there's a very different approach. And a lot of, I don't know, I don't know if I want to say like innovation that comes out of it, but you know, when you have to do something, you're going to think about it in a different way. And you are going to change things to make sure that it gets accomplished. Uh, that I feel mind, building like a scientific on what that looks like, you know, like let's make these people do it out of necessity and then these people can brainstorm. How that turn out?

Dan:

I yeah, but I mean, I think that's a, it's a really interesting point. And it's one of the, like, sort of through lines of the way you've been talking, you know, especially about your career and, you know, the choice you made, right. Is, is that, is that doing by necessity? And it's a much different, um, Learning path than school, like a normal, like a sort of traditional school or even a bootcamp, right. Where you're learning, because somebody told you to learn this thing. Uh, so maybe somebody that comes out of, if there was some, I don't know if there is these days, they're not a front end development, like actual degree, these who knows, but you know, like, uh, somebody who graduated school with that sort of thing will. Have a, sort of a, maybe a different knowledge set than somebody who was working for four years, right. In, in that field. And there's going to be that they do know that the other person doesn't and vice versa, you know? Um, but that necessity, uh, driving is, is, uh, I don't know, it's an important, interesting, interesting thing.

Roger:

You know. Absolutely. And, and I started, I started in my whole career before I feel like boot camps were a thing. I tried going to school to learn it. But by that point I understood more than they were trying to teach me. And I couldn't, it was, it was, it was a difficult time. when I realized that can just sort of get the job with. Needing anything more than being it. Like that just caused me just to, oh, I'm going to this. Okay. Yeah, I can do that. And it just, for me, it's, self-propelled because I always had the tools to figure it out because that's how I started. I started, know, not having the luxury of being able to search the internet for something. Cause I didn't have the internet to search. I had HTML and CSS for dummies. had to find It in that book and you use that resource. And so going from that to, to now, And having to be able to figure things out, out of necessity, because there are people that couldn't work because their technology wasn't working and you're responsible to fix it, being like, okay, now we have these massive sets of problems. How can we resolve all of them with automation or how can we solve an unknown problem or build new problems with And that's, that's kind of exciting because like, for me, I never learned the fundamentals like you would in school. And I there's great benefit to going through because like people learn different ways. And I feel like I had an understanding from what I learned on how. How all the programming language kind of overlapped, but when you're in school or you go through bootcamp, you learn those same things. You get that same sense of encouragement that, you know, I had to go through and overcome kind of in the life, life field, there were real consequences. If things didn't work out. But going through a traditional or going through a school or a bootcamp, you know, you get kind of, battle-tested early on because they're shifting you through all of these ideas and concepts and you learn fundamentally how all these things work, which gives you enough confidence to sort of jumpstart where you need to be, because go from having no idea how any of this technology works to being like, I know how magic works and I will figure out how to cast a spell dagnabbit. And, and that in itself has power.

Dan:

It is power. It's awesome. It's such a good feeling, whether it doesn't matter how you, I learn like that, that feeling of, of knowing how to do the thing, knowing how to catch the magic spell. I love it.

Bekah:

That's great. Well, Roger, just about out of time. So I want to thank you for being here. Is there any last bits of advice or things you want our listeners to hear?

Roger:

I I never, I didn't think about this. I should have come prepared. I just think like, if you're looking at something and you feel out of place or you feel like you can't do it, or you're not good enough, or what have you, like feel discouraged because at some point everybody been that. And has looked through and has gotten over it. And it's just matter of you getting to it. just have to do it. And then once you've done it, it's easy. And I try to avoid saying things are easy because it wasn't easy for me when I started. once I did it, it became easy. so just remembering, like getting over that first hurdle and having the confidence of doing the thing, matter what that thing is. Eventually you're going to do it doesn't matter how long you wait to do it. You'll get over that hurdle and it's going to get easier from there because once you do it, you figured it out. You can't figure it out. It only goes one direction. It's a one-way street. Once you start walking, it that's it. You're just going to keep figuring things out. And when you start, when you start out, I feel like everything is overwhelming. You know, there's just a lot of information coming in. And when you first sit down and you're falling all of these, you know, tutorials like, Hey, it works. But then when you try to do it on your own, it doesn't, frustrating. Cause you're like, I should be able to have this thing, do the thing. And it's not that you're ever wrong. It's just that you have to take a little bit more time to figure out which step that you missed in the process because it's somewhere and when you do it once you can do it again. A dozen times suddenly they're calling you a senior developer that's just how it goes. It just takes time and persistence. And eventually you'll overcome everything.

Bekah:

Love that as a great way to end. Thanks so much Roger for being here with us.

Roger:

Thanks for having me.

Bekah:

Bye.

Dan:

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 the 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.