136: Words, Do They Matter?
Words aren't just the tools that we use to describe the world around us - they are rich layers of abstraction that carry our cultural histories, our education, and our social norms on their shoulders. When we have a shared understanding of a what a word or turn-of-phrase means, our ability to communicate with each other is robust and unparalleled. But, when our differences our great, we end up talking past each other and going around in circles. Words aren't just effective, they're magical. Take, for example, a simple analogy: "It's the movie JAWS, but with cats!" — this will immediately conjure up entire worlds within the mind of the listener. So, do words matter? You bet your donkey they do!
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[00:00:00] Adam: So I came up with the name that my company currently uses, right?
[00:00:04] Adam: So we are AlumniQ, which is a portmanteau of the words alumni and the initialism IQ.
[00:00:10] Ben: it's a great name.
[00:00:11] Carol: Yeah, I love it.
[00:00:12] Adam: So did I until I started using it with with non tech people because I just about jump out of my skin every time somebody calls us alumni IQ.
[00:00:20] Adam: There's one eye, there's one eye
[00:00:44] Adam: Okay, here we go. It is show number 136 and on today's show, we are going to talk about words and whether or not they matter, but first as usual, we'll start with our triumphs and fails and we've got the whole crew here today,
[00:00:56] Carol: Hey, again! Woohoo!
[00:00:57] Adam: yeah, Carol, why don't we start with you?
[00:00:59] Carol's Failure
[00:00:59] Carol: Oh yeah, I'll definitely kick us off. I'm gonna go with a giant failure. We are selling our house, or in the process of selling it, which means I have decided to do everything outside. And if you guys don't follow, we live in Georgia. You know, kind of very South Georgia. So I have a very terrible sunburn right now from deciding I should pressure wash everything around my house.
[00:01:22] Carol: And I have given up showering to just swim in the pool to get all of the dirt from the pressure washing off of me. So, you know, my hair's always wet, which is fine. Through all of this, I have went back and listened to so many episodes of dark net diaries. And I forgot how much I really want to be a pen tester and how that just makes my heart so happy.
[00:01:47] Carol: And every story I hear makes me enthusiastic. So I kind of failed that I accepted a job that wasn't in a field that I have been craving to go into, but I also know that going into this field is going to set me up into an opportunity where I could go into this later. So it's not a total fail, but I'm gonna call it a fail because the sunburn hurts and I'm not liking wearing the shirt for this right now, you guys, just so you
[00:02:10] Adam: roundabout, a
[00:02:11] Tim: I know what you mean. Just, just the way the ink flows on the page, it's just to test that would be, yeah, that'd be very relaxing.
[00:02:19] Adam: pen tester.
[00:02:21] Carol: Get through your pen testing already. But yeah, like, could you imagine being the person having to, like, Figure out how the whole process of handling a pirate coming onto your boat is handled. Heck yeah, like, I would love to go through and work that whole process out and develop a scenario for the pirates on.
[00:02:41] Carol: Now what do you do? Heck yeah, like, that's the type of pen testing I want to do. I want to do, like, actual, like, physical security
[00:02:49] Tim: Okay. I thought you were talking cyber. Cyber?
[00:02:52] Carol: No, I mean, I would go Cyber 2 for some of it because you have to, I think, overlap at some point, right? But Physical is so freaking cool. And I should have known this a long time ago when I purchased two different lockpicks and realized how much I really enjoyed lockpicking.
[00:03:06] Carol: But, you know,
[00:03:08] Adam: got a kid who's been talking about lock picking
[00:03:11] Carol: it's so fun. I
[00:03:13] Adam: Well, I mean, you're, well, I guess you're not that close, but you like to travel. DEF CON is about to happen,
[00:03:17] Carol: I saw,
[00:03:18] Adam: go to DEF CON
[00:03:19] Carol: I was thinking, I was like, and we'll be in Arizona, right? Cause DEF CON's in August, I think, or September. It's a security CON's a month before, and then DEF CON's like the black hat's a month before, and then DEF CON's a month after. So if we're out on the West Coast and Vegas, we should definitely go hit it up and
[00:03:36] Adam: that would be pretty cool. Just don't bring your usual devices, you know, bring like
[00:03:40] Carol: Oh no. Burner. Burners. Yeah.
[00:03:43] Ben: Well, if you been sitting around thinking that, you know, you don't have enough Sylvester Stallone in your life, he's made several movies where he gets paid to go to prison and then bake, break out of prison.
[00:03:53] Carol: What?
[00:03:55] Tim: Has he? I've never even heard of these. These must have been...
[00:03:58] Ben: Yeah. I don't remember the names of the movies,
[00:04:02] Carol: Please find it
[00:04:02] Tim: They're that good. They're that good, huh?
[00:04:06] Adam: I am above the law.
[00:04:07] Tim: You can't keep me in here. Haven't built a prison yet. Mm hmm.
[00:04:11] Carol: Gollumfun did that, right? Like, he got caught and then got out. And then got caught, Gollumfun, like, one of the big yeah.
[00:04:21] Ben: It's called a scape plan.
[00:04:22] Carol: Escape plan.
[00:04:24] Adam: You can take notes when you listen later, Carol. Just listen back to the episode. You'll get it there.
[00:04:28] Adam: That's cool. Yeah. Security testing is, it seems like a very sort of, for lack of a better word, I'll just say sexy, like a corner of our industry,
[00:04:38] Carol: So sexy,
[00:04:39] Adam: just something so like, interesting and like, devious but in a good way, and I don't know,
[00:04:46] Carol: Yeah, I hope this, I hope this doesn't change our rating. But I really think it, like, I think very dirty about it. And then I'm happy I did it, you know, like. It's not a great thing, but it's fun to expose some of that and just find vulnerabilities and then teach people how to do it right. Like to me, that's, that's just great.
[00:05:06] Tim: It's like the thrill of being a criminal, but being the good guy.
[00:05:08] Carol: Yeah, I wouldn't be on the, I don't want to go to prison. I'm not built for prison, you guys. Let's be clear on that. Anyways, so that's me. What do you got, Tim?
[00:05:19] Tim's Meh
[00:05:19] Tim: I got, I got a meh.
[00:05:20] Carol: Meh.
[00:05:21] Tim: It's a meh, it's not a triumph or a fail, you know, it's still super quiet. I get, so many people are on vacation, it's just like, I really got one major thing that's brewing and just, it's really just trying to get a contract signed for a service provider that, and just. Talking to lawyers every day has not been, not been my favorite thing, but on a positive note, so we did, you made me think of this, I didn't think about this before we were trying to decide what we're talking about, but security testing, we're finishing up our PCI audit.
[00:05:52] Tim: And one of it is they do a vulnerability scan. And so they tried, they do like the SQL injection attacks and all that sort of stuff on you. And so they found like one or two little things. One was a SQL injection attack. And honestly, I guess it's the way the test worked. They would just like, they would look at, you know, there's a form on the page.
[00:06:13] Tim: They look at the source code and go, okay, there's, there's these hidden fields in. Form in these form pages. So we're going to manipulate the query string on the URL. And guess their scanner expects. To either throw an error or to not show anything. This is a really, really old part of the system.
[00:06:33] Tim: If you didn't enter the right stuff, it would just redirect you to another page. It says, hey, we didn't find anything. So, in fact, one of the pages, there wasn't even a SQL statement anywhere on there. And they're like, oh, it's doing a SQL injection attack. And I'm asking our internal guy. I'm like, how can it inject SQL when there's NoSQL on the page to inject?
[00:06:53] Tim: And he told him, he's like, they're expecting an error. Or. Or a no return. I'm like, okay. So I kind of, I basically had to cheat it kludge it to like, basically throw a, throw basically a 404.
[00:07:06] Adam: My response would just be, your tool sucks, look at the result with human eyes and tell me.
[00:07:11] Carol: it says.
[00:07:11] Tim: Yeah, but then you have, then you have to do like an explanation compensating control on the audit and I don't really want any compensating controls. It's a, I mean, cause honestly with a PCI audit, if they say, Hey, this is a huge security hole and you're like, well, we don't want to fix it. Well, why not?
[00:07:26] Tim: It's a business decision. So they'll put that on the report, you know, there's this vulnerability, but due to business concerns, they don't do it. So you pass.
[00:07:35] Adam: right.
[00:07:37] Tim: not safe.
[00:07:39] Adam: I feel like there's a way that it could be handled more appropriately than that, but... I could see how it would end up that way.
[00:07:45] Tim: And actually one of them that said it was a injection. I'm like, there's really even no need for this page anymore.
[00:07:52] Carol: Just get rid of it.
[00:07:53] Tim: I just deleted the page.
[00:07:55] Carol: Hey, you're turning into Ben, Tim.
[00:07:57] Tim: There you go. Just delete the page. I'm like, I didn't even know these pages, these pages were there.
[00:08:01] Adam: We need a new sticker, like Ben as the Grim Reaper and like, you know, somehow the scythe
[00:08:06] Carol: Yeah, killing the
[00:08:06] Adam: through code.
[00:08:07] Carol: Code killer!
[00:08:08] Tim: Anyway, so that's me. How about you, Adam?
[00:08:11] Adam's Triumph
[00:08:11] Adam: I'm going to go with a triumph. I have been working on compliance stuff for what feels like half a year. I have definitely through the end of the calendar year ahead of me, just in terms of like looking at the projects that are ahead of me and And what our review period and stuff is going to be. So I will be on the compliance train for a very long time.
[00:08:29] Adam: Hopefully I can squeeze in some code between now and then, but I wanted to actually kind of give like a little bit of analogy, right? So I am a strong swimmer. I've done a mile swim before. And I, I love swimming but I have this like sort of phobia of being out in the deep ocean. Right? Like I've been on boats when you're out in like super deep water or like I went on a cruise on a, on a U.
[00:08:49] Adam: S. military carrier, on a Navy carrier, and then, you know, they take you out in the ocean and you look over the edge and you're like, that's some real deep water and we are way too far away from the shore for me to swim in. And so like my, you know, my, my anxiety kicks in. Even though I know I'm a really strong swimmer and they would send somebody in to get me out or whatever, but you know, or even just going to the beach, right, you go out a little too far and you're like, wait a minute, I haven't touched the bottom in a little while, I'm a little freaked out here.
[00:09:14] Adam: That was me early on in the SOC 2 process, like I'm looking at this ocean of requirements. And I'm just totally overwhelmed and my anxiety is kicking in and I'm like, I have to figure out how to do all of this stuff. And my triumph here is that it's starting to make sense. Like I've, I've gone through the list.
[00:09:29] Adam: Like it's just, I'm like Santa Claus. I'm making a list. I'm checking it 17 times. Right. Got to find out who's, who's,
[00:09:36] Adam: compliant and who's not. Yeah. But man, like, you know, you go through it and it's like, okay, I can, I've been through the list enough times that I can, can make categories of like, okay, these things are not applicable.
[00:09:46] Adam: These things are like projects we need to do. These things are low hanging fruit, right? Like, these things are on Steve, right? They're like HR things that I can't do. You know, start to break things down into smaller and smaller chunks, and I start to feel like I'm... Getting a handle of it and I can smell the light at the end of the tunnel.
[00:10:03] Adam: Can't see it yet, but it's there. So I'm, I'm feeling a little bit better about that. It's going to be a long road, but figure it out.
[00:10:11] Ben: it really has been going on forever
[00:10:13] Carol: Yeah,
[00:10:13] Carol: it seems like it's lasted a
[00:10:14] Adam: back and yeah, I should go back and figure out when it when it started.
[00:10:19] Carol: It's like, when did Adam's socks compliance start? It's like, oh, that's when COVID started.
[00:10:24] Adam: Oh my god Anyway, so that's me. I guess that just leaves you ben. What's going on, man?
[00:10:30] Ben's Triumph
[00:10:30] Ben: Yeah, I'm going to go with a triumph, which is that over the last couple of months, I think it's been, I've been laying down the foundations for Dig Deep Fitness, which is my ColdFusion based fitness tracker. And it was all foundational stuff. It wasn't really cohesive. I was writing the data models and the, and the SQL statements, and then I was sort of building on top of that to do validations against the data models and then some workflow stuff to sort of.
[00:10:56] Ben: Pull various data models together to make sure that security was being checked and all that kind of jazz. And as of this week, I have recorded two of my own workouts using the Dig Deep Fitness app. It is, it's coming together. It looks like. Hot garbage, which is fine because there's been no attempt to rub any CSS on it in any way whatsoever.
[00:11:20] Ben: It's, it's literally just all
[00:11:22] Adam: That is not true. There are like I can see three different shades of gray here
[00:11:28] Ben: It's all you know, P tags and form tags and,
[00:11:31] Adam: There's a there. Hey, come on. This table has a position sticky on it
[00:11:34] Ben: Oh, okay. So that's the public site. That was just a list. That's a static list of, the system. But uh,
[00:11:41] Ben: I, I don't know, I'm just, I'm, I, so it's, it's been very incremental. And if I may, I'm sure I've read this quote, this is, this is John Gall's law and I'm pretty sure I've read it, but I think it bears reading again in, in the context of this discussion, which is, so this is John Gall's law on building complex system.
[00:12:00] Ben: A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true. A complex system designed from scratch. Never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over beginning with a simple system. And that gives me a lot of confidence because I am starting with the bare bones and doing at each turn, just enough to remove just a little bit of friction to make the next experience of the app a little bit better and.
[00:12:33] Ben: I think that I feel like by following John Gall's law here, by, by working iteratively and incrementally, I think I will build something that I think will actually have quite a bit of value, if for no one else but myself, but uh,
[00:12:45] Carol: do you use it?
[00:12:46] Ben: I'm, I'm pretty excited about it.
[00:12:49] Carol: be your plus one.
[00:12:50] Ben: Heck yeah. It's uh, anyone, anyone can sign up.
[00:12:54] Carol: So,
[00:12:56] Carol: by chance, it's not the DigDeepFitnessLLC. com, right? Because that doesn't look like
[00:13:02] Ben: No, no, it's just digdeepfitness. com. No LLC.
[00:13:07] Carol: Man, LLC,
[00:13:08] Adam: dude is pretty
[00:13:09] Carol: he's got, he's got muscles. Maybe you should model it after him.
[00:13:13] Ben: It's very purple.
[00:13:15] Carol: It's very
[00:13:16] Ben: A lot of purple going on,
[00:13:17] Carol: It looks like it's meant for someone coming straight out of New Orleans with the LSU fan color.
[00:13:25] Adam: Should we pay? Should we say pay? Should we say non sponsored?
[00:13:29] Carol: Not sponsored.
[00:13:31] Ben: so I'm, I don't know, I'm having a, I'm having a lot of fun with it. I, I, you know, full disclosure between this and some other stuff, I've been very distracted. So I'm actually pretty unprepared for this podcast in general. I am behind on our book club reading. I'm up through like chapter 20, I think, and I think we're up to like chapter 24,
[00:13:50] Carol: I went through 25. Am I bad?
[00:13:52] Adam: No, you're good.
[00:13:53] Carol: 25. Okay, good, good, good.
[00:13:54] Ben: So I've just had a lot of. A lot of irons in the fire and it doesn't, it turns out that it does not take a lot to throw me off my game. I am, I'm a highly functional person in a very narrow confine of constraints and the moment that boat gets rocked in any way whatsoever, I'm, I'm just like a mess and I can't organize my time and I can't get stuff done.
[00:14:17] Ben: So
[00:14:18] Carol: Yeah, I feel like you and I are a lot, a lot similar in the way that we're like creatures of habit. And our routine matters to us. And the minute my routine is off, I'm looking at my day going... What am I supposed to do now? Because my routine is gone. So what the heck is going to happen? And everything just gets all screwed up.
[00:14:37] Ben: you know, that is me to the T,
[00:14:39] Carol: Yup.
[00:14:40] Ben: but triumph.
[00:14:42] Carol: Yay.
[00:14:43] Book Club Update
[00:14:43] Adam: Well, you mentioned a book club. That's a good transition. Maybe we swap over there. So, book club has continued to go. It's still a thing. It hasn't, I know that we had a couple of weeks of questionable appearances or something like that. It did or did not happen a couple of times. But we're back on track.
[00:14:58] Adam: We met a couple of days ago to discuss Upthrew Chapter 25. And that whole section I felt like kind of came together, like 20 through 25 was kind of all like on one theme, right? So, John the security guy has been carrying around this big black binder of all the stuff that is wrong with the company that he's trying to get them to fix or whatever.
[00:15:19] Adam: And like they have their audit and he finds out that like the business is fine even without doing all the things that he's been screaming for years that they need to do. And he's like, it kind
[00:15:31] Carol: It hurts,
[00:15:32] Adam: in. Oh
[00:15:33] Carol: It cuts him.
[00:15:34] Adam: Yeah. Into this like deep, deep depression. And he'd be like, he just like kind of walks out and
[00:15:40] Adam: like he
[00:15:40] Carol: leaves his binder. Leaves his binder there.
[00:15:44] Adam: it's, he slides it off the table. So it lands on the floor and he just walks out and he doesn't come to work the next day. And he just like goes missing. Come to find out like he's on this like Bender drinking like crazy talking about leaving town to the point where the main character was like, is this dude going to commit suicide or
[00:16:02] Carol: Kind of worried, right?
[00:16:03] Adam: yeah, for sure.
[00:16:04] Adam: but then he kind of turns it around, like, so by the end of chapter 25, I don't remember the exact sequence of what was when, but like, he kind of. He comes back to work and the, the impression that I got was like, very like a, a hippie, like new age, touchy feely, you know, he's wearing like a hemp clothing, you know, like in touch with his sensitive side sort of thing.
[00:16:24] Adam: And like, he, he schedules this meeting with the main character of the book, the like head of the like one of the guys on the board, like former CEO, the main guy from the board and they start the meeting and go, so what do you do here? Exactly. And it's like a
[00:16:42] Carol: Yeah. Let's be clear. The head of I. T., not the head of the security guy, asked the main guy, like, who says this? He's like, we know you're on the board, but like, what do you do here? And that's when it all changed. He's like,
[00:16:57] Carol: well, you know, I handle these things. And that's when Bill is the main character, correct?
[00:17:03] Carol: Is that to have my name's right? So Bill's like. Oh man, like I'm about to my pants because this guy just asked someone like four steps ahead of me, like, what do you do for this company? And then all of a sudden this guy's like, Oh, it seems a little humbled, right? He's humbled by this question in a way that he's like, okay, well, here's what I do for this company and then they go into it.
[00:17:26] Adam: Yeah. I mean, it was. It could have gone really bad,
[00:17:29] Carol: Oh yeah. I was scared for him, you know?
[00:17:32] Adam: but at the end of the, the day, what you see is that he was, I got the sense that he was trying to like, go back to first principles and like, derive what his job should be based on the goals of the company and the goals of the board and the objectives of their department and stuff.
[00:17:48] Carol: Yeah, and they walked, they walked away with a list of people that now show who's responsible for what and how this plays into the new IT goals and to what they're trying to achieve. And then it sets up this whole new dialogue between all the people in charge of stuff. Yeah,
[00:18:06] Adam: we're definitely at an inflection point for the book.
[00:18:07] Carol: yeah, yeah. It's a good, good spot to jump in if you're not there yet, for
[00:18:12] Adam: Yeah, for sure. I think this this podcast will probably air publicly after we have the meeting where we will discuss the next set of chapters. I do want to point out, it's never a bad time to join, right? We had, I think,
[00:18:23] Carol: it's great
[00:18:23] Adam: new faces at this, at this last meeting. And, and it was great to, to hang out with everybody.
[00:18:29] Adam: And like, there's people that are behind in the book, there's people that are ahead, it's, you know. Everyone's welcome. We're just chatting about what it's like to be in the industry and how this book kind of interweaves with that. Come join us, join our Discord at workingcode.dev/discord. And you join us
[00:18:44] Carol: Everyone's welcome.
[00:18:46] Adam: always.
[00:18:46] Adam: Okay, cool. So, that's kind of where we're at with book club.
[00:18:49] Do Words Matter?
[00:18:49] Adam: So that brings us to today's topic. Which was, do words matter? And I guess that was kind of my thing, right? So I, occasionally you might hear me on the show say something stupid like, words are hard, right? If I, if I flub my line or, or whatever.
[00:19:03] Adam: And that's, in part that's because having a microphone stuck in your face and feeling the, the responsibility to keep the conversation going can make it, like, you, you make logical mistakes or you say the wrong word or whatever. But like, also the. The other part about of that that I also believe that that isn't as apparent I think is that language is a tool and and like, it's easy to, I don't know, there's a whole thing, right?
[00:19:33] Adam: So,
[00:19:33] Carol: I
[00:19:33] Adam: yeah, let me just say words are hard.
[00:19:35] Carol: because you're
[00:19:36] Tim: your words,
[00:19:36] Tim: Adam,
[00:19:37] Carol: Come on. Come
[00:19:37] Tim: your words.
[00:19:38] Carol: Let's get this fair.
[00:19:40] Adam: okay, so our profession attracts a lot of people that I would say are particular, right? Type A personality that like things their way.
[00:19:47] Carol: Sure.
[00:19:49] Adam: That's not to say that everybody is, but it's, I think it's a common thread that we've probably most of us have run into
[00:19:54] Carol: Or might be that type of person at times. Sure.
[00:19:57] Adam: And. For a long time I can remember in my career, I have been the type of person to be like, you said this, what we actually call it is this because of X, Y, Z reasons.
[00:20:10] Adam: And if you would just like, not, I wouldn't say it lay it all out there like this, but this is what's going through my mind. If you would just like get on board with using the right word, then we would all know, we would all know what you're talking about. And there, we wouldn't have to go through this like translation step every time we have a conversation.
[00:20:25] Tim: Is this a customer you're talking to or like a coworker?
[00:20:28] Adam: A customer, yeah,
[00:20:29] Tim: Oh, wow.
[00:20:31] Adam: and I mean, our customers are organizations. Hey, like I said, I'm not, I'm not saying that to them, but it was, you know, it was in my, it was going through my head. It's like, you know, you try to like subtly correct them. They say the system and you say the application, right? That sort of thing.
[00:20:44] Adam: Or, or I don't know. I'm, I'm struggling to come up with, with examples right now. But you, you kind of, I hope get the gist of what I'm talking about.
[00:20:51] Tim: Yeah, I'll give you an example. One that kind of annoyed me for a while. So when, when we were doing insurance software you know, we called everything a policy, right? You, you, yeah, everything's a policy, but
[00:21:04] Carol: Your PID, right?
[00:21:06] Tim: So, but certain people would, I mean, we talked to like customers that maybe didn't deal with the software team a lot.
[00:21:11] Tim: They'd talk about my file is broken.
[00:21:14] Carol: Mm hmm.
[00:21:15] Tim: They'd call it a file because back in the old days, a policy was, it was something that was in a file folder and you put it in a drawer, right. You physically would go grab their file. And so, yeah, this person's file isn't correct. And, you know. Developers thinking file and I'm thinking, so what, are you like running some sort of export?
[00:21:34] Tim: You know, is there an
[00:21:35] Carol: Is there a report? Are you uploading something? What's
[00:21:39] Tim: I'm like, what the heck's the file? And then after like 10, 15 minutes, they're like, you know, you know, you know, the effective date of the file and the expiration, like, oh, do you mean policy? She's like, no, we call it a file. I'm like, no, we call it a policy.
[00:21:54] Adam: yeah, yes. That is a great example. And I thought of another one while you were saying that. So we have a ticketing system built into our application and it has only happened maybe like once or twice, but sometimes we'll get a ticket and the ticket just says the website is down and I'm looking at this going.
[00:22:10] Adam: Well, definitely it's not because you're able to put this ticket in. So clearly there's a communication gap here. What exactly is the problem? How, what, what makes you think that the website is on? You talk them back and forth like four times or whatever. And finally you find out that like, you know, they're getting an error when they try to view some report or something.
[00:22:28] Adam: Like, come on. Words matter, damn it.
[00:22:32] Carol: An error page versus the system down is not the same thing. Okay.
[00:22:36] Adam: Yeah.
[00:22:36] Tim: Yeah, and then in our world, we would say, Hey so and so says their systems down and they would go look at fusion reactor or, you know, they're, they're, they're monitoring tools and goes, Nope, looks like it's running. It's processing requests. It's, it's fine. And you're like, no, it's not down. It's like, yes, it is.
[00:22:54] Tim: What do you mean? Use your words.
[00:22:57] Adam: Yeah.
[00:22:57] Carol: So I, I know you're talking about like client interaction, but what about when you reference it in code? So like for the example, you know, Tim was saying, you know, we call this our policy ID for how you handle the ID associated to this policy. Well, what if someone referenced that as a file ID? Well, now every time you talk to your client, you have to say policy ID, but then you need to make sure your devs understand that in the code it's called like this file ID, that's what drove me nuts is, you know, we would be on calls and they're like, Oh, there's this state report that we call, you know, Tim's going to love this name, Tico. I'm like, what is
[00:23:37] Carol: TECO?
[00:23:37] Tim: of my life.
[00:23:39] Carol: Texas State Reporting. I'm like, well, what about Georgia's? Oh, it's pretty much the same as Texas, but there's just a few changes. Like. Why not just call it state reporting and that's the core of it, is state reporting and then the little nuances for each individual state get handled separately with a separate call.
[00:23:56] Carol: Instead, you know, we code around every state and every file has a state for it, so you're like in the code looking for state reporting and all you find is Tico. What the hell's Tico? So.
[00:24:08] Adam: Who is it like t e c o,
[00:24:10] Tim: No, it's
[00:24:10] Tim: Texas
[00:24:11] Carol: C O.
[00:24:12] Tim: Yeah, it's Texas Insurance Commission Office.
[00:24:15] Adam: okay,
[00:24:17] Carol: But yeah, like, I feel like what you reference it in your day to day operation is what your client should know it's called so when they have a problem with it, they know how to correctly tell you there's a problem with it and your engineering team knows how to correctly find the problem. Instead of, you know, like Tim said, like, are you running a report?
[00:24:39] Carol: Are you uploading a file? Are you downloading something? Like, what are you looking at? Whatever you're calling it is what it should be referenced in the code as well. It's not just client naming.
[00:24:49] When do Words Matter?
[00:24:49] Tim: I feel it kind of, so do, do they matter? Let's, let's address that. I think, kind of got an idea of what we're talking about. And I think it depends, like most things in life. It kind of depends. You know, if this is a person I know I'm not going to talk to more than once or twice a year, I'll just... I'll spend the time to figure out what they're talking about.
[00:25:08] Tim: Right. And hopefully next time I won't forget, you know, what they mean when they say X. But this is a person that, or our team of people that you're going to be talking to on a regular basis, you know, weekly, monthly, eventually you kind of learn their language and you teach them yours. And a lot of times what matters the most is, you know, what makes the communication most effective.
[00:25:32] Adam: for sure. That's
[00:25:33] Tim: And I'll, I'll explain, you know, when you guys say this, here's what I hear. And it's going to take me, you know, an extra couple hours to, to understand what you mean. But if you, if I say here, let me give you a shortcut code, you know, let me, let me give, let me give you a cheat code on this. If you use this word, we'll know exactly what you're talking about and it will save us both times.
[00:25:56] Adam: Make them feel powerful. Yeah, it's a good idea.
[00:25:58] Tim: rather than, like, berating them, you use the wrong word, be like, you know what, I get what you're saying now, but let me give you, let me give you a cheat code, you say this, and we'll know exactly what you mean, you'll get your problem solved quicker,
[00:26:10] Ben: That's basically what a design pattern is programming standpoint, right? We all agree on, you know, instead of describing something like. The repository pattern or the facade pattern or the visitor pattern or the, you know, template pattern. Like if you have the background on what all those things mean, and I say words, but I don't necessarily know what any of the things I just said mean, but you can talk to someone else who's knowledgeable about those design patterns and you'd now get implicitly all of the the learning that you all have done independently on
[00:26:43] Adam: a layer of abstraction.
[00:26:44] Ben: yeah,
[00:26:45] Tim: rather than trying to describe what an MVC is. System is right. Model view controller. You just say MVC and they're like, okay, I know what you're talking about. You
[00:26:57] Carol: yeah. I can't tell you how many times I've said on calls. Like muted with another, like Chrome browser open, just Googling initials or acronyms to thing. I'm like software engineering. Like what could these three letters mean? And most of the time they mean nothing for software engineering. It's just what the customer has come up with, like their acronym for something.
[00:27:16] Carol: And this is how they're going to reference it now. And I'm stuck with using it because they've already sold it to everyone who is using it in their system,
[00:27:24] Adam: Mm hmm.
[00:27:27] Tim: just saved an hour of a key sniff test to do. If someone's using a whole lot of, I've been in calls with customers and they all know, you know, they have their team. We have our team, we're doing discovery on, you know, maybe this is a new client or something, and they start throwing out a bunch of acronyms.
[00:27:41] Tim: I have no problem stopping going. So you just said, you know. The XPP, what does that mean? What does
[00:27:48] Carol: the EFT, the ATM.
[00:27:49] Tim: Yeah. Right. Right. Right. And I try to, and I try to be cognizant of when I use an acronym, you know, like to me, EFT, I know what that is. Right. That's, that's
[00:27:59] Carol: Electronic funds transfer,
[00:28:01] Tim: Exactly. Right. So EFT, you know, that's when you, it's a banking transaction, you know,
[00:28:06] Carol: But man, ATM has a lot of meanings, apparently, if you Google it. So, let's just be clear. Like,
[00:28:13] Carol: you, you, should say what the letters mean because it helps everyone involved.
[00:28:18] Ben: Well, now I have
[00:28:19] Ben: to
[00:28:19] Ben: Google
[00:28:20] Carol: Oh, poor Ben. Poor
[00:28:21] Tim: keep it clean. Let's keep it clean.
[00:28:23] Adam: You safe search Ben
[00:28:25] Carol: Yeah.
[00:28:26] Ben: Oh, okay. Yeah, I know what you're talking about now.
[00:28:29] Carol: Yep, yep.
[00:28:30] Adam: Anyway, moving on past that So I I liked the cheat code thing, but Tim, sorry, we're very flustered still. I like the cheat code thing Tim The uh, the, well, so, and, and, okay, there's two things I want to talk about. First, I'll do the easy one first. So I came up with the name that my currently, that my company currently uses, right?
[00:28:52] Adam: So we are AlumniQ, which is a portmanteau of the words alumni and the initialism IQ.
[00:28:59] Tim: Like an intelligent quotient.
[00:29:00] Adam: yes. Yeah. So it's supposed to, you know, we, we work on alumni stuff and it's a smart. system for
[00:29:06] Ben: it's a great name.
[00:29:07] Carol: Yeah, I love it.
[00:29:08] Adam: So did I until I started using it with with non tech people or apparently people who just don't understand portmanteaus because I just about jump out of my skin every time somebody calls us alumni IQ.
[00:29:23] Adam: There's one eye, there's one eye, even if it was just like alumni. Like if, if for some reason you thought it was that way, even though the I is capitalized and the Q is capitalized and you know, like, anyway, so I feel like I, I'm, I'm, I'm just constantly noticing these things because I'm always on edge about that.
[00:29:44] Adam: So I guess that's why I'm maybe more sensitive than the average person to this coming up. The other thing, so, we've kind of talked through the first side of it. For me, there's a second side to this coin, right? Which is I'm a dad, I have two kids, they're starting, I have one that's a teenager and one that will be a teenager very soon.
[00:30:03] Adam: And... Thanks. And so they, and they're both boys, so they argue with us and they argue with each other almost constantly, except when they're like super happy to be around us and each other. It's one or the other. Anyway and so since they need things to argue about, often if somebody mispronounces a word or, you know, if you say, if you're trying to say the word from F R O M, but you pronounce it frun by accident because your brain was doing something weird in that moment, which is a thing that people do, then my children will just pounce on that and like, try to ridicule you.
[00:30:35] Adam: I'm like, wait a minute. Language is a tool for communication. Did you understand what your brother was trying to say? If you did, Who cares, right? Like, Mission Accomplished, he was trying to flap his wings at you and make noise that you would understand and understand, like, what he's trying to communicate to you.
[00:30:55] Adam: Did it work? Great! Then Mission Accomplished language worked, right? Like, why do we have to care about pronunciation and that sort
[00:31:02] Foreign Languages
[00:31:02] Ben: You know, that's, I always wonder about gendered languages like that have masculine and feminine words.
[00:31:08] Carol: Like French.
[00:31:09] Ben: Yeah. Like French uh, Spanish. If you say a word and you give it a wrong gender, I assume
[00:31:17] Adam: You go to woke jail.
[00:31:18] Carol: Yeah.
[00:31:20] Ben: I assume people more or less understand what you're saying.
[00:31:24] Carol: they could figure it out,
[00:31:25] Adam: probably laugh at you, yeah, but,
[00:31:26] Ben: Yeah. But like.
[00:31:28] Carol: Foreigners.
[00:31:29] Ben: But I, I have to imagine it doesn't actually affect communication.
[00:31:34] Adam: Yeah,
[00:31:34] Adam: like if you asked where the La Banya is, I don't know, that might be another word, right, like that's the risk, is, you know, because you're actually changing the letters, if El Banyo, the bathroom, but maybe La Banya is actually some other thing, like maybe that's like where the sex shop is or whatever, like,
[00:31:51] Ben: Hashtag
[00:31:51] Adam: don't know, I'm just guessing, but.
[00:31:53] Tim: Yeah, let me give you a worse one about it for slightly digressing, but this is funny. So tonal languages some reason I've seen a bunch of recent like tick tock or, or they're instant reels or whatever they call that. So they'll say Hey, Google, how do you pronounce? This word in, in, in Chinese, shuh, how you pronounce this word, shuh.
[00:32:14] Tim: How about this word, shuh, but this word shuh. So they build this sentence and it's shuh, shuh, shuh. And it sounds to the Western ear, it sounds exactly
[00:32:25] Tim: the same, right? But it, they all mean completely different words. And it's, so I was like doing research on that. And basically like some Reddit thread, a woman who spoke Chinese or.
[00:32:37] Tim: I guess Mandarin, she said uh, she says, guys, don't stress about tone languages. Like we, we figure out a lot from context. So if you come into you know, a store and you say, you'd like to you know, sell your sister, that's what you actually say. But you, but you, what you really said was you wanted to buy a magazine and you're standing there, buy a magazine.
[00:32:57] Tim: We're not going to accept your sister's payment. We figured we'll figure out what you're talking about.
[00:33:03] Carol: It's
[00:33:03] Ben: used to have this product manager, Jonas, and he was, I think he was Lithuanian and we all called him Jonas, but his actual name was like Jonas
[00:33:12] Tim: Yeah.
[00:33:12] Ben: and, and he,
[00:33:13] Tim: you said?
[00:33:14] Ben: I think he was Lithuanian and we would say, or he would say Jonas and we'd say, Jonas, he'd go, no, no,
[00:33:26] Ben: I feel like I'm saying exactly what you're saying
[00:33:31] Corporate Speak
[00:33:31] Tim: And then talk about, so talk about words matter. Let me expand a little bit. One thing I hate is, is corporate speak.
[00:33:38] Carol: Thumbs
[00:33:39] Tim: And I think, you know, you're in a business meeting and I mean, basically you say, you know, we made more money because we bought stuff at a lower price and sold it for a higher price, but that's too easy to say.
[00:33:52] Tim: And so everyone wants to talk about, you know, synergies and holistic, holistic approaches and just all this jargon that just really means. adds nothing, adds nothing to the conversation. I get more annoyed with that than just accidental misuse of, of a word when you just didn't know any better. But when you're just trying to use a bunch of words to make yourself sound smarter than, you know, or just you're like, well, I can't just say it really simply.
[00:34:19] Tim: I got to make it sound important by using 20 words when like, yeah, profits are up. That would have sufficed. Gotcha. Understood it.
[00:34:27] Carol: Thank you. We love this answer.
[00:34:29] Tim: Could have been an email.
[00:34:31] Tim: EBITDA
[00:34:31] Ben: Well, I, I, one of the things that frustrates me a lot is business. Business presentations, I feel like 20 minutes of description could have been a really clear line graph and a caption. And the problem is I, they, there's so much jargony stuff and talk about using acronyms. I feel like business people are the worst when it comes to and, and Maru and like all the, like the different things for users and, and revenue and.
[00:35:03] Carol: KPS.
[00:35:05] Ben: OKRs and, and just give me a graph. I just want a line graph that
[00:35:09] Carol: Just show me the
[00:35:10] Ben: where we are and where we'd like to be. Like, show me those two lines. And I get that. Like, I can
[00:35:15] Ben: understand that.
[00:35:16] Tim: have to do quarterly when they call it a QBR, which is a quarterly business review.
[00:35:22] Carol: You're so fancy,
[00:35:24] Tim: I know, right? So, you know, finance helps me build these pretty charts because I don't do, I don't do that stuff. And so they build these pretty charts for me. And, you know, I'm like, I don't understand why I have to talk to these points because, you know, typically I'll have some bullet points.
[00:35:37] Tim: I'll say, you know, if, if stuff's going good, you can pretty much get away with, you know, things are going good and you don't have a whole lot of, but when things are down and people want to know why, and rightly, rightly so. It's like, there's only so much you can say about that. And so I think people. abhor a vacuum of silence.
[00:35:55] Tim: So they'll just start throwing out words to like, say the same thing over and over again, just with different words. But I'm not good at that. I'm just like, okay, well, as you can see here, you know, our attrition is up. We had a customer leave us. Here's the reason why that's all I got. It's like for scum.
[00:36:13] Tim: And that's all I got to say about that. So.
[00:36:16] Carol: But there's something to be said about honesty, right? Like, I would much rather sit in front of someone who's explaining something and them just give me the honest facts. It's like A, B, C, D. Don't give me the fluff. Don't give me the B. S. Just tell me what it is and we're good to go. Like, I don't need all the extra words that I have to go look up later because I don't really know what they mean anyways.
[00:36:36] Carol: So, just say what it is and let's move on.
[00:36:39] Tim: Hey, I agree with you. Here's the downside to that, Carol, at least in my experience, the downside to that is like, so whoever you're explaining to, they're going to want to have to repeat back to you what you just said, but use all those words that you avoided using because you hate that
[00:36:53] Carol: I'm like, hold on, let me open my Chrome window.
[00:36:57] Tim: Yeah, exactly. Like, I don't really have anything that what they're really saying is I don't really have anything to add to that, but let me repeat what I heard you say with a whole bunch of corporate nonsense.
[00:37:06] Carol: So it sounds like we all think like words matter, right? And we like for things to align with what they mean and acronyms or BS, but how about times when you really need to fluff what you're saying to get it through to your customer because they freaking don't listen. I mean, that
[00:37:26] Adam: I have no experience with that. My customers, customers always read my documentation cover to cover and fully crock it and, and never ask me questions about things that,
[00:37:34] Carol: Absolutely. They know, right? They
[00:37:36] Carol: understand.
[00:37:37] Ben: let me, let me flip it on you for a second. I dunno, I'm, I'm sure some of you have heard of the phrase domain driven design, DDD,
[00:37:45] Ben: I am in no way, any kind of expert is to say an overstatement. I don't even really know what domain driven design is, but I believe that one of the tenants is. You, you pick a language that in terms of how you talk about stuff, you pick a language that the client understands.
[00:38:01] Ben: So when they talk about getting a file from the filing cabinet. You refer to it as a file in the system and you don't refer to it as a policy because that's what the customer is used to hearing.
[00:38:12] Carol: what they know. Classy.
[00:38:13] Ben: I don't have a lot of experience with this. A lot of the domains that we work with or that I've worked with personally have not been all that complicated.
[00:38:22] Ben: So it hasn't been a lot of this kind of negotiation stuff, but I mean, I, I assume in the financial and the industry world, you're dealing with a lot of. Industry standard terms, like you must have to adhere to what the customers are used to using.
[00:38:37] Tim: Yeah, I mean, there's some things that are standard, right? You talk about, you know, you know, I, you know, return on revenue, EBITDA, which is earnings before interest taxes. And I forget what the A
[00:38:49] Ben: Classic EBITDA.
[00:38:52] Tim: I think. What I found when trying to explain to people, like if it's a customer particularly, and they're not really understanding, is using an analogy that everyone can use to like help them make that jump. I mean, kind of like I did earlier
[00:39:06] Tim: where I
[00:39:06] Carol: to know. Yeah,
[00:39:07] Tim: called it a cheat code. I mean, immediately understand that analogy, right?
[00:39:11] Tim: In the context that I was using it. So if you're using it and a customer is like really just not understanding something or, you know, why it's just, you know, explain to me why this broke, right? You know, we had an AWS outage, you know, and they don't really understand. Well, well, how come your site went down and kind of explaining plum, a lot of plumbing in the Internet, a lot of plumbing metaphors in the Internet.
[00:39:31] Adam: One too many alligators got flushed.
[00:39:33] Tim: Yeah, exactly.
[00:39:35] Carol: well, like one of the things I had thought about when you talked about this, Adam, was that, you know, like I said in my, you know, scraps and failures is I've been listening to a ton of darknet diaries. And one of the episodes that I listened to was, you know, a pen tester who was testing a kid's toy. So
[00:39:52] Adam: Oh, yeah.
[00:39:53] Carol: the manufacturer and he's like, Hey, there is a problem with this repeat on the relay.
[00:39:58] Carol: So like, anytime you relay the message, it can just be repeated over and over again, and they're like, we don't care if this doll says, Google Gaga 15 times. We're shipping this as Christmas time. And they're like, okay, well, maybe we need to put this into a term that makes sense for you guys. Like, so then they go through and do the testing and like, okay, well, if we repeat this message, like.
[00:40:20] Carol: As fast as we can, as often as we can, then the CPU hits and then this doll now becomes a scalding object that a child can be burnt with. And when we put in our report that The relay can be captured and repeated and the child can't be scalded because this is happening. Suddenly, you guys listen. But if we just say there's an issue with the like the relay being able or the repeat being able to be the relay being able to be repeated, then you don't care.
[00:40:50] Carol: So I feel like there are times that you have to take it from what you know to what makes them go, OK, I'll listen now.
[00:40:58] Adam: Yeah. That's like a straight up Dave Ramsey technique. Something from like how to win friends and influence people. You, you figure out what motivates them and, and put it in those
[00:41:06] Carol: that's where you push. Yeah.
[00:41:07] Adam: Yeah.
[00:41:08] Tim: Mm
[00:41:08] Ben: So you pivot as a company and you move from selling dolls to selling transformers that turn into Easy Bake Ovens. Yo, it's
[00:41:17] Carol: Yes. Perfect.
[00:41:19] Adam: So I have to say that this episode has not helped me once, one little bit, and I'm really mad at you guys for it. Uh, I, you know, I came to you with a problem and all I'm getting back is yes you know, both sides are accurate and true and you just have to make it work. So you guys suck. Thanks.
[00:41:34] Carol: Make it work. I just
[00:41:36] Tim: Suck it up, buddy.
[00:41:37] Carol: your code should match what you call it. That's my, that's, that's my stamp.
[00:41:41] Find and Replace
[00:41:41] Adam: When when you were talking about that earlier, it made me think and I just didn't find a good moment to squeeze it into the conversation but it made me think about when you're like writing a feature and you're You know two weeks into the development of this feature and then you have this like epiphany about oh We should call it this instead and you're like, oh god.
[00:41:58] Adam: I have so many variables. I have You know, database tables, columns,
[00:42:04] Adam: the ORM, everything, just everywhere. There's this name and we either have to accept it as technical debt and just be like, okay, so sometimes it's a, sometimes it's B. Or I have to go change all of that. And, and, I mean, I think if I discovered it before it was released, then I'd be more likely to go change it all.
[00:42:21] Adam: But to be honest, after it's released, I'm like, Ehh.
[00:42:25] Carol: It's kind of locked at that point.
[00:42:27] Adam: yeah, I mean, it's like, it's working, right? Like, don't, don't burn time on something that's not going to have any effect for the customer.
[00:42:35] Carol: Yeah. Yeah. I'm like, find and replace, find and replace. And I don't know about you guys, but like, I've never worked in an environment where I had a great release pattern for how you release database changes. So everything has kind of always been manually tracked so that I would go back and look through my list of like, I created this table.
[00:42:54] Carol: I created this column on this other table to now reference this new table. And I'd be like, all right, there's only like four places. I'm about to drop everything in a development environment, recreate it. And we're starting back with the name I want, because this makes sense.
[00:43:08] Ben: You literally cannot deploy the database changes and the code changes at the same time. It's a, at the, you know, at the best case scenario, it's a speed of light physics problem. And that's, you know, that's not even the common case, but that's, that's a tough one.
[00:43:30] Carol: another topic another day, Ben.
[00:43:34] Adam: Note
[00:43:34] Ben: I love, I love databases.
[00:43:36] Carol: Me too.
[00:43:37] Carol: I'm not great at them, but I love them.
[00:43:39] Ben: as, as someone who often, often suffers from imposter syndrome, which I'm, I'm sure we've talked about several times on the podcast. I sometimes use words to feel better about myself, and I don't mean that I purposefully use large words to intimidate people, but I do notice when I'm having a conversation with other people and I throw out a term like, Oh yeah, we have to design it with pure functions.
[00:44:07] Ben: And someone says, what's a pure function? I'm like, Oh, I am not as dumb as I think I am sometimes. Like there are people who don't know some things that I know. And I mean, maybe that's a very petty way to, to consume that information, but it does make me feel better about
[00:44:23] Adam: I mean, as always, there's a relevant XKCD, right? You're one of today's lucky 10,000. Get to share that information with them.
[00:44:31] Ben: that's
[00:44:32] Adam: You're just gonna have to go look it up and I'm not
[00:44:33] Ben: I know. I know. I don't know that when you're talking about.
[00:44:37] Adam: XKCD, today's lucky 10,000. There you go. Your search terms.
[00:44:42] Ben: say X.
[00:44:43] Adam: anyway.
[00:44:45] Adam: So, I guess this is a good spot to say that this episode of Working Code was brought to you by Dig Deep Fitness, Ben's fitness app that's guaranteed not to scald your
[00:44:51] Ben: no, shooties.
[00:44:54] Adam: unless you refresh the page a thousand times in a minute. Don't do that. And listeners like you, if you're enjoying the show and you want to make sure that we can keep putting more of whatever this is out into the universe, then you should consider supporting us on Patreon. Our patrons cover our recording and editing costs, and we couldn't do this every week without them.
[00:45:10] Adam: Special thanks. To our top patrons, Monte and Giancarlo, you guys rock.
[00:45:15] Thanks For Listening!
[00:45:15] Adam: We are going to go record our after show and when we do that, basically it just means that after the outro credits roll, we keep the microphones going and we chat about whatever is top of mind, could be work related, could be not.
[00:45:27] Adam: Sometimes we talk about TV, whatever. Whatever's interesting to us. I, we don't have anything in the notes about what we're going to talk about tonight. Anybody want to tease anything that we're going to talk about in the after show?
[00:45:35] Carol: miss my kids, you guys.
[00:45:38] Adam: Ha ha ha. Well, I guess we'll find out what happened to Carol's kids. But before we go I need to let you know, or I want to say you can go to patreon.com/WorkingCodePod if you want to help us out. We do have a new patron to welcome aboard this week, Spiffy Tech, whoever you are.
[00:45:51] Adam: Ha ha.
[00:45:51] Adam: Welcome. And thank you. For your support if you would like to join us just to hang out to join our book club to Hang out with our awesome community of like minded developers. You can go to workingcode.dev/discord guaranteed to be elon musk free, Or your money back.
[00:46:08] Tim: Well, he won't show up. We guarantee that. We might, we might talk about him
[00:46:11] Adam: Oh, yeah. Yeah there. Yeah, there's always that but it's usually dunking on him.
[00:46:15] Adam: So it's okay Anyway that's gonna do it for us this week. We'll catch you next week and until then
[00:46:21] Tim: Remember, your heart matters and your words matter.
[00:46:24] Carol: Aww.
[00:46:25] Adam: done nicely done.
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