Yesterday, we had some internal issues at work, where our production (i.e. live) site was experiencing outages. Since I do mostly front-end work, I wasn’t a part of the team working to fix it, but I still felt the palpable mood change in the room. It’s how it always goes: someone comes in and reports an issue, immediately conversations disperse as people go to their machines and start typing away frantically. It’s quiet but the nervous energy is rampant for a moment, until the issue is fixed, and life carries on.

So yesterday, after the tidal wave had passed, one of the developers shook his head as he walked by my desk: “Everything is crumbling,” he muttered, laughing.

Software developers are a dramatic bunch. Whoever thinks we aren’t creative has never been in a room of us, discussing our progress for the day.

The server isn’t down, it’s smoking like a bonfire. Progress isn’t slow in coming, it’s inching forward…by millimeter. We aren’t working through code, we’re up to our neck in quicksand. We’re not going to debug, we’re going to poke it with a stick and see if it explodes. (Update: this morning someone literally said “dragging the dead horse to its grave” to refer to a project that was taking longer that expected. I can’t make this up, y’all).

I asked one of my coworkers about it and she said maybe so, but also maybe we just have to insert some kind of excitement into typing at a computer all day. To which I say maybe. If that’s the case, sometimes a little drama is warranted.

Take this romper for example (flawless transition say whaaat).

It’s 110% something I wouldn’t normally wear: it’s a loud pattern, it’s a statement piece, it’s held in place by ties, and rompers are (or they used to be? Are they still?) trendy. So yeah, a little more drama than I usually go for in a look. But it was so much fun!

If Tuesday’s post was a case for vintage fashion, let today’s moral of the story be to not be afraid of the audacious. Embrace something different, and do it in a new and unexpected way. Don’t be surprised when people take notice; expect them to. Take your cue from developers: a little hyperbole never hurt anyone.

5xx server error


Okay so I’m sure at some point in your life, you’ve typed a url into a web browser, the little circle has started turning, and then the screen stops and an error message pops up. No amount of refreshing the page or checking for typos can make it go away. Whether it’s for a job application or directions to Panera, we all get those pesky messages. And if not, then believe you me, it happens to the best of us.

Embarrassingly enough, I didn’t know until a little bit ago (we’re talking months, people), that there’s a whole lexicon of http status codes, and that each hundred is indicative of what the browser is going through. Even cooler (okay, fine, it’s not cool), is the fact that just because you don’t get an error message doesn’t mean a status wasn’t sent—yet only get your stereotypical error message if something is so wrong that the browser can’t resolve itself. Like, all 2xx codes mean that the browser did what it was supposed to do. And and and, servers aren’t even allowed to send 1xx codes to end users!

Why do I think this is so amazing.

(I  totally know why; it’s my ESTJ self being very very happy that order exists and systems prevail…I digress).

Okay, so what does a 5xx error mean. It’s a problem with the server: the user request was totally fine and great and something malfunctioned that was out of their control. And, for whatever reason, their request is denied. Generally, the server gets that there’s a problem, and the 5xx is its way of saying “dude I’m sorry, but I’ve got nothing for ya”. Whether it’s an issue of legality or permissions, it’s something that neither the user nor the machine can fix, and things just don’t work out.

It’s kinda the worst when life throws you a 5xx error.

When you didn’t do anything wrong (per se), and no one else did something wrong to you  (again, per se), but bad things still happen. Sometimes, it’s not anyone’s fault when things go wrong. But go wrong they do, and you just kind of have to deal with it.

That’s a bit of what this week was like for me. I tried and it wasn’t enough; I worked and came up short. So what do you do.

You take outfit pictures in downtown. Sure,  1/7 pictures has to be scrapped because it’s too bright with the fog. Sure, you get a lot of strange looks from people who walk past you on their way to breakfast. Sure, your smile feels fake and sure you don’t feel as festive as the garlands around you. But you do it anyways.

You fix the things you can, and walk away from what you can’t. You help others with their own fixes, and focus on them so they can deal with their things. Someone has to wash the painter’s brushes, or hold the lug wrench. You recognize something you’d forgotten, in the brokenness of what once was. You create something out of the wreckage, or swipe it aside for a clean slate.

All this to say, don’t get to worked up when things don’t go according to plan. Have a good cry, watch a horrible feel-good movie, call a friend you know won’t mind that you’re whining. Order a London Fog when you really should use that $5 for gas. Take care of you, of the things that you can control, and let the 5xx’s go. They’ll work themselves out.

(Disclaimer: yes, there’s a lot more to http errors than this; of that I am fully aware, I promise. I’m just more aware of the fact that most of my readers don’t come to my blog in pursuit of response status codes).

the vernam cipher

white oxford, dark jeans, flatsdark jeans, white oxford, flatsdark jeans, flats, white oxfordwhite oxford, jeans flatswhite oxfords, jeanswhite oxford, dark jeansoxford, dark jeansoxford, jeans, flatsHere’s where I geek out for a second: Have you ever heard of the Vernam cipher? It’s the only known encryption method that is completely and perfectly secure. It was invented by an American (cue national anthem playing dramatically) during World War I and even now, months shy of a century later, it’s the only unbreakable encryption. Long story short, it terribly simplistic, especially relatively, just involving two duplicate copies of a one-time-use-only, randomly generated keys. (For more information, check out this site, but if that’s not your cup of tea, I’ll cut the nerdiness here).

I hope someone else can get excited about that. Because I first heard of it last week, during a quiz I didn’t know I had, and it lowkey made my day. Gilbert Vernam (to be fair, plus or minus a few colleagues) created this encryption in 1917, and here we are, in April of 2016, still unable to come up with something better. For all of our technological advances, for all the companies dedicated to information security, for all the countries whose integrity stands to be damaged, there’s yet to be created a better way.

I guess you really can’t beat a classic.

Lame transition, I know, but here we are anyways. Dark wash jeans, a crisp white oxford, some neutral flats and a pearl. Assuming school uniforms don’t count (they don’t), I got my first Oxford shirt when I was probably 12, and weird though it is to think about it, I’ll be wearing white collars this way when I’m 72. Sometimes, there’s really nothing better than sticking with what you know.