Go Home and Grind

Posted on January 22, 2017 · 2 mins read

It’s a well-known fact that I’m a workaholic. This doesn’t necessarily instill a sense of pride or regret. When I left Kyruus, I was so committed to maintaining a “perfect” work-life balance that I neither brought my work laptop home nor cloned edX repositories on my personal laptop. I think that lasted for two months, maybe.

The truth is: I love my work. I enjoy digging into annoying bugs to find the root cause. I enjoy solving hard problems. I enjoy learning new technologies. More importantly, I enjoy knowing that the small amount of time I sacrifice pays dividends in the form of helping improve the efficiency of our engineering team and, indirectly, improving education for millions around the world.

Recently, I’ve been working on improving our local development stack by replacing a Vagrant VM with Docker containers. Yesterday afternoon I encountered an issue preventing nodeenv from installing pre-built versions of Node.js. Installing a pre-built version saves about 15 minutes of Docker image build time versus compiling from source. That’s over 50% of the build time, so it is pretty important to me to fix this issue and decrease my turnaround time as I experiment with Ansible.

I tried numerous fixes, even going so far as to downgrade the image from Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu 12.04 (which does work, by the way). It wasn’t until this morning, that I found an open issue that lead to a solution—use overlay2 instead of aufs for your storage driver.

Some might say I wasted my evening and part of my Sunday morning. They would be wrong because my only plan for the evening was to finish the first season of Billions, which I did. I think it was time well-spent gaining a deeper understanding of Ansible, Docker, and Docker for Mac.

I am reminded of something I heard yesterday morning, pre-Docker debacle, while volunteering with CodeSquad.org and Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts, helping a few folks learn HTML. One of the leaders, William Watkins, was straightforward with the attendees. He told them that the class, and related bootcamp, will not be easy. The students will need to show up, but also “go home and grind” to be competitive in the industry.

“Go home and grind.”

That’s what I do.