Fun rituals for the Coder at Work 🖥

Monday, February 12, 2018 :: Tagged under: culture engineering management personal. ⏰ 3 minutes.

🎵 The song for this post is Motownphilly, by Boyz II Men.

If you asked my Adobe and Google co-workers about Paul Meier, they'd probably tell you about a mousy kid who interviewed well, didn't ask for help enough, and largely avoided them at lunch. I nearly quit the industry after my Google year: I'd never really reckoned with the pain of my sister's medical emergency, and my depression hit the worst I'd ever known it. During my first two jobs, I shrank myself to be as small as I could.

A lot changed after moving East such that I started being more healthy, functional, and openly myself. It's still a process. Coworkers here know me more as Pablo, I don't avoid them, and they see a few things I do to make work/code a bit more fun. I invite you to steal these! Alternatively, create new ones, and/or share favorites in the comments!

Song of the PR

What to do: Add a song link to your PRs!

It could be for how you're feeling that day, how you feel about the bug you're fixing, that repo you're entering for the first time, or a song/genre you'd like to expose to your co-workers.

History: This one is popular enough I brought it to the blog, and I suspect it came from the "current song" fields in LiveJournal. The first one was Chamillionaire's _Ridin'_, while at Reonomy.2

README gifs

This is the README gif I used for ClassPass' "milestones" service.

What to do: Place a gif at the top of your repo's README.md.

Since every company I worked at moved to multiple services, this meant a proliferation of repositories and folks visiting them. Adding gifs generally gets a giggle from folks and make your code just a little more welcoming.

Printing banners

What to do: When your service/code starts, print a dope banner.

Example: When you start ScreamChess, a collaborative art project a few friends and I worked on last summer, it prints:

  ██████  ▄████▄   ██▀███  ▓█████ ▄▄▄       ███▄ ▄███▓
▒██    ▒ ▒██▀ ▀█  ▓██ ▒ ██▒▓█   ▀▒████▄    ▓██▒▀█▀ ██▒
░ ▓██▄   ▒▓█    ▄ ▓██ ░▄█ ▒▒███  ▒██  ▀█▄  ▓██    ▓██░
  ▒   ██▒▒▓▓▄ ▄██▒▒██▀▀█▄  ▒▓█  ▄░██▄▄▄▄██ ▒██    ▒██ 
▒██████▒▒▒ ▓███▀ ░░██▓ ▒██▒░▒████▒▓█   ▓██▒▒██▒   ░██▒
▒ ▒▓▒ ▒ ░░ ░▒ ▒  ░░ ▒▓ ░▒▓░░░ ▒░ ░▒▒   ▓▒█░░ ▒░   ░  ░
░ ░▒  ░ ░  ░  ▒     ░▒ ░ ▒░ ░ ░  ░ ▒   ▒▒ ░░  ░      ░
░  ░  ░  ░          ░░   ░    ░    ░   ▒   ░      ░   
      ░  ░ ░         ░        ░  ░     ░  ░       ░   
         ░                                            
       ▄████▄   ██░ ██ ▓█████   ██████   ██████
      ▒██▀ ▀█  ▓██░ ██▒▓█   ▀ ▒██    ▒ ▒██    ▒
      ▒▓█    ▄ ▒██▀▀██░▒███   ░ ▓██▄   ░ ▓██▄
      ▒▓▓▄ ▄██▒░▓█ ░██ ▒▓█  ▄   ▒   ██▒  ▒   ██▒
      ▒ ▓███▀ ░░▓█▒░██▓░▒████▒▒██████▒▒▒██████▒▒
      ░ ░▒ ▒  ░ ▒ ░░▒░▒░░ ▒░ ░▒ ▒▓▒ ▒ ░▒ ▒▓▒ ▒ ░
        ░  ▒    ▒ ░▒░ ░ ░ ░  ░░ ░▒  ░ ░░ ░▒  ░ ░
      ░         ░  ░░ ░   ░   ░  ░  ░  ░  ░  ░
      ░ ░       ░  ░  ░   ░  ░      ░        ░
      ░
                    by Stay Whimsical

similarly, when you start the Content Management API at ClassPass, you're greeted with:

 ██████╗ ██████╗ ███╗   ██╗████████╗███████╗███╗   ██╗████████╗
██╔════╝██╔═══██╗████╗  ██║╚══██╔══╝██╔════╝████╗  ██║╚══██╔══╝
██║     ██║   ██║██╔██╗ ██║   ██║   █████╗  ██╔██╗ ██║   ██║   
██║     ██║   ██║██║╚██╗██║   ██║   ██╔══╝  ██║╚██╗██║   ██║   
╚██████╗╚██████╔╝██║ ╚████║   ██║   ███████╗██║ ╚████║   ██║   
 ╚═════╝ ╚═════╝ ╚═╝  ╚═══╝   ╚═╝   ╚══════╝╚═╝  ╚═══╝   ╚═╝   
                                                               
    ███████╗ ██████╗ ██████╗     ████████╗██╗  ██╗███████╗         
    ██╔════╝██╔═══██╗██╔══██╗    ╚══██╔══╝██║  ██║██╔════╝         
    █████╗  ██║   ██║██████╔╝       ██║   ███████║█████╗           
    ██╔══╝  ██║   ██║██╔══██╗       ██║   ██╔══██║██╔══╝           
    ██║     ╚██████╔╝██║  ██║       ██║   ██║  ██║███████╗         
    ╚═╝      ╚═════╝ ╚═╝  ╚═╝       ╚═╝   ╚═╝  ╚═╝╚══════╝         
                                                               
 ██████╗ ██████╗ ███╗   ██╗████████╗███████╗███╗   ██╗████████╗
██╔════╝██╔═══██╗████╗  ██║╚══██╔══╝██╔════╝████╗  ██║╚══██╔══╝
██║     ██║   ██║██╔██╗ ██║   ██║   █████╗  ██╔██╗ ██║   ██║   
██║     ██║   ██║██║╚██╗██║   ██║   ██╔══╝  ██║╚██╗██║   ██║   
╚██████╗╚██████╔╝██║ ╚████║   ██║   ███████╗██║ ╚████║   ██║   
 ╚═════╝ ╚═════╝ ╚═╝  ╚═══╝   ╚═╝   ╚══════╝╚═╝  ╚═══╝   ╚═╝   
                                                               
             ██████╗  ██████╗ ██████╗ ███████╗                             
            ██╔════╝ ██╔═══██╗██╔══██╗██╔════╝                             
            ██║  ███╗██║   ██║██║  ██║███████╗                             
            ██║   ██║██║   ██║██║  ██║╚════██║                             
            ╚██████╔╝╚██████╔╝██████╔╝███████║                             
             ╚═════╝  ╚═════╝ ╚═════╝ ╚══════╝ 

History: Really, this has always been fun, but I started doing it more insistently and universally after using Dropwizard at companies, which explicitly lists this as a feature.

You should probably have a --quiet option to suppress this, since even printing a joke to standard error apparently introduces bugs.

Easter eggs

What to do: If your company is small enough, spend an afternoon adding an Easter Egg somewhere in your code.

Example: Open your web console (directions for Firefox, Chrome) on this page!

History: This started at Sup, where I'd built and maintained the Android app entirely on my own. I was ahead of schedule on our next release, and on my birthday decided to treat myself. Since we had controllable directions as part of the product ("left", "right", "down", etc) I programmed the Konami Code into the app, which if you did, printed "ZERG RUSH" and a bunch of little Pablo heads invaded the app. Here's me testing it:

"Comrades!"

What to do: Call people your comrades! Or, really, something fun. And gender-neutral!

History: This started in college: the CS course websites are built and run by undergrad TA's and usually themed for fun. Here's the course that taught me programming, here's the one that taught me systems. Go to the staff pages and hover over the images!

So when I was a UTA for Databases, I skinned our site to be Revolutionary. I photoshopped the TAs and professors to be Marx, Lenin, Stalin, and Mao. I emailed our students with "Comrades!"

Sadly that one is lost to the ethers of the Internet. I later re-skinned it more to my professor's liking: bluegrass music:

My professor and I bonded over bluegrass 😊

Fun job title ("Flossing Enthusiast")

What to do: Give yourself an obscure hobby or interest and parade it. Mine is usually related to flossing. It's been on my Twitter bio and header image for years, and for a while was on my GitHub profile.

History: Oddly, I really can't remember how this one started. I used to use say variations of "I breed prizewinning clams" from this very old joke essay, and think this came out of that line of humor.

The best thing to come out of this was a recruiter email I got:

Hey Pablo,

Since you love flossing so much, would you be interested in [COMPANY] if we offered you a whole box of dental floss?

All said, titles are meaningless but they also heavily impact your career. Have a bit of fun with them if you have to deal with them.


1. ^ My coworker, Memo Sanchez, got a great laugh out of it, and I credit that reaction for its continuing to be a thing.

Thanks for the read! Disagreed? Violent agreement!? Feel free to drop me a line at , or leave a comment below! I'd love to hear from you 😄