2 of 3.

How has the COVID-19 affected me working? Well, my previous post was about the negatives. This one is about the positives, and how it relates to open-source.

All the online meeting tools.

Look, like most people when faced with change, it never feels good at first, there’s usually a slew of complaints, this time would be no different, and although I partake in this, I’m grateful to be put into a position where I am learning these new programs. This includes

  • Big Blue Button
  • Webex
  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Blackboard Online

What this has taught me, is that features are slightly different from one another, that this is a very crowded market, and to never design one of these programs, because frankly it’s overcrowded as it is. The good news is, I’m prepared for any of them taking majority market control!

Working Together

Growing up, I was heavily involved with the e-sports community, I dealt with individuals all around the world, when I was 16 I met my first two versus two partner at the ROM downtown Toronto as he was visiting from New York City. I didn’t tell my parents “Hey I’m going to meet someone from online, I told them I was going out for the day.” We had been friends for a long time, despite never meeting in person. My next big move was getting sponsored by a team in Singapore, even though we never met in person, we had to collaborate a lot on sponsorship, applications, countries laws, and I was only 17 at the time, so this was a lot, and took a lot of constant communication between us. This really helped me understand the complexity of working online with someone, and at that age, made me really pick apart what people were saying. It was a source of learning, however it’s very different then the academic approach which I was never good at, till I decided to go back to school. What’s really cool with the way my open-source course is right now, is that it’s this beautiful in-between, it’s real work, real problems, being able to have constant communication with team members, and it really tests someone’s ability to communicate. I myself have ‘slacked’ in communication since being at home, but as more and more people get involved, I find myself wanting to get more and more involved. This is a really cool thing, and I’m glad more people are getting exposure to it now, as I do think there will be more and more of this in the future.

Friendships Built

I think one thing that I appreciate with online collaboration, is people’s ability to be themselves behind there computer screen, I’ve seen more and more borderline messages, the fear of saying something is gone when you can type it out. This can definitely be a negative thing in the work place, resulting in some people being fired, but for me, seeing people bring there eccentric, or ridiculous side out, I realize there all human and that it’s incredibly hard to express things.

I’ve spent a lot of time on zoom calls. In open-source this is what we used to communicate, a zoom-call lasts 40 minutes before you have to create another one, unless you get the professional version. As a student, that is not in the budget. I think our record for one night is 6 zoom calls. thats 240 minutes. In class, I’ve talked to some of these individuals directly for 10-15 minutes over the course of 2 months prior to covid-19, people that I work with and build this project with, I see them present, I take in what they are saying, they take in what I’m saying, or in some cases, I just get a chance to read there posts, a good example is Ray. He’s one of the individuals whose been able to jump on, share screen, and help me with issues, we can talk about star wars while working, and one major difference is here, we don’t need to make eye contact, and it’s nice to start to put a personality to the one person who constantly adds to telescope despite not being in the course.

Manenkenpix has also, I’ve probably done the most collaborating with him, it’s neat watching him work with share screen, as well as noticing what he does differently then me. It’s also nice knowing when I have an issue, I have someone willing to help me debug my problems, this is key. As a windows users, I have problems, A LOT of them. Testing his pull request which is here, he wrote a beautiful write-up, which had a minor problem with the wget command for windows users, I ended up having to use Curl and a -O, and given my experience was low with both those, I had to lean on his knowledge, and got to learn a couple new commands. All really cool stuff, that I don’t think would have happened if this was in a class room. To be honest, I might have looked into his stuff, ran into that problem, and let someone else try this out who might not have been on a windows machine. (Given his work doesn’t affect mine a whole lot its easy to not appreciate it.)

These two individuals have made great allies in dealing with covid-19’s problems, and definitely brought a little bit of friendship along the way.

More Support

There’s actually more time for one on one support I find now, it’s usually much more efficient to reply to an email then it is to talk to someone in person, provided you can communicate well. This goes with messages too, I’ve noticed more and more people getting involved on Slack, now if I’m gone for 20 minutes off slack, I’m missing 100+ messages, that I have to go and read, with a high chance something they are doing is related to what I am doing. I’m noticing it more and more that going off in private messages, need to happen less, especially near the end of the project when we are all on a fine line of overlapping each others work. All this supports more and more what I am doing, and its awesome to see.

Collaborating

Okay, so let’s see how collaborating helped me.
Let’s look at https://github.com/Seneca-CDOT/telescope/pull/905
and https://github.com/Seneca-CDOT/telescope/pull/898

Okay, we were working on 898, and it was going great, a PR came in and it caused me to have to re-base. Instead of taking my time to learn the proper way, I did it a similar way to how I had done on my capstone project, crap. Immediately I was dinged and with the steps to fix it…well, that back fired as well, because I had some slight changes and had to re-submit it, and some how I merged it to master, and I entered panic mode, this was on a zoom call, it was a good laugh, or at least a panic-induced laugh, luckily I was on a zoom call at the time, and going over the PR, at this time, I go back to look at the conversation on the github and about 30 minutes prior, @humphd actually had wrote how I should have tackled this problem he could foresee coming up. Alright, too late, what are my next options. Boom – telescope collaborators to the rescue, just gotta cherry-pick, and reset things. Done. Whew, thank god this would have been way worse if I wasn’t on a call. I’d probably have tried closing the issue, going to bed to hopefully wake up to it fixed. (NOT THE BEST APPROACH.)

Closing Thoughts


This is the REALLY cool parts of all the communicating online, the ability to solve problems very quickly. There’s only so many weeks left of school, and it will be interesting to see it ramp up very quickly I think, and I’m excited about that.

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