MJS 013 Rebecca Turner

My JS Story Rebecca Turner

Welcome to the 13th My JS Story! Today, Charles Max Wood welcomes Rebecca Turner. Rebecca is a CLI programmer at npm, Inc. She has been in the show around two to three years ago in episode 174 and talked about npm 3. Tune in to My JS Story Rebecca Turner to learn more how she got into programming and what she is up to these days!

The Genesis of Programming Journey

Her journey to programming started when she was twelve. Her parents enrolled her in a typing class because she was very slow in writing to the extent that it affected her English classes. Her dad borrowed an Apple 2 and taught her with Apple basic book. That navigated her towards programming.

Initially, he did not see himself in the career as having a creative roadblock was daunting for him. When he reached high school, he got into an internship at a local software consulting company. That's where she officially began with programming as a career.

Early Programming Days

She didn't kick off with JavaScript. Her first job was writing DOS applications where she used Clipper as the language. It was based on D-base, a DOS database programming environment. She made information systems for chemical dependency clinics.

The company she worked for was eventually sold, and she was offered to move to Palm Desert but refused. She took some time off from work for a year and learned web programming things by herself. She studied how to do JavaScript, HTML, CGI, Pearl, and she soon got a job in ISP. That's how she first worked on actual web stuff.

Dealing with Front-end Developers

Years ago everyone was full-stack developers, and JavaScript was the only mode of development that time. At work, they had graphic designers that worked for them who had no idea about HTML because the only thing they knew was doing magazine layouts.

At the first ISP she worked for, the company hired front-end developers who were doing HTML but weren't comfortable using JavaScript yet. To help them, she did that part for those developers, putting environments together to build websites quickly that would integrate workflow.

To hear the rest of My JS Story Rebecca Turner, download and listen to the entire episode.

Establish Connections

Rebecca surely wants to hear from you! Connect with her on Twitter. Don’t forget to let Rebecca know you heard about her on Devchat.tv’s JavaScript Jabber My JS Story podcast!


Rebecca: rtf-html library, A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn, and Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen

Charles: iPad Pro

This episode is sponsored by

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MJS 013 Rebecca Turner


[0:00] Music.

[0:05] Hey everybody and welcome back to another meijs story this week we’re talking to Rebecca Turner from npm you want to say hi hi.

[0:15] Alright well I’m working I sent you the questions ahead of time so we’re just going to get rolling.

We had you on trying to remember it was like two or three years ago.

Years ago thank you acronym Tim three ways and I think.

[0:34] Yeah we also had a few other people from npm on a forest I think.

Episode 174 man my Google skills are just that fast.

Yeah we talked about him pm-3 lots of great stuff there and we’ll probably dig into that a little bit you know what’s it like working for in p.m. and what you working on these days but let’s start at the very beginning when did you get started programming.

So I got started programming when I was twelve and,

my handwriting was very slow and to the point where it was impacting my English classes I was essentially drawing my letters instead of actually writing them and.

My personal assistance so they enrolled me in a typing class and then.

The summer that I was learning to type they borrowed and apple too and my dad sat down with me with an apple basic book and went through it with me and that was that like it was kind of like,

fait accompli at that point I was at that point I was sold on programming and so.

Mananta PC basic in Pascal and similarity and I could stuff from the piano early days,

back in the early days I remember of the web there was thirteen or fourteen when I had a TI-85 calculator that I was at basic on it then.

[2:06] We did Pascal Honore math classes.

[2:09] But yeah I never took him seriously till I was much older so it’s kind of funny that you know all these people in there like I was 12 and I was kind of hooked ever since.

I mean I’ve spent my you know I was certain that there was no way I’d make it a career as I can’t imagine having be like.

Push to the racino on roadblocks and you know having a creative roadblock and like that sounds miserable I couldn’t do that I can do that as a job and clearly I’m going to do something else but ended up being the least resistance,

by the time I was in high school I managed to get an internship at a local chapter consulting company and so then that that’s what I really kick started my career.

[2:53] Gotcha hey there this is Charles Max one I just wanted to talk to you really briefly about freelancer.com.

I’m putting on a conference for people who want to go freelance or who are freelance and bringing in some of the experts from the freelancer show.

To you about how to find clients how to collect money how to build your business how to specialize and much much more.

If you’re thinking about going freelance or you’re already freelance and want to hear from the experts on how to go become a.

Grow your freelancing business then by all means come check us out a freelance remote comp.com that would actually kick started my career.

[3:34] So what was your career initially in JavaScript or did you come to come to that other channels.

When I got no no I got my first time my first job was in I was writing Das applications.

Clipper which nobody has heard of any more who’s based on something called be base which more people heard of database programming and you’re making.

Information systems for chemical dependency clinics that company was eventually sold the Betty Ford Center actually,

and then I said would you like to move to Palm Desert and I’m like no no I don’t want to move to Palm Desert,

I was living in Maine at the time so I was kind of a culture Clash their own Springs and,

Central Maine so.

[4:32] It was actually after that it was a figure off after after that drop and tell myself that programming things so JavaScript HTML CGI.

Prom and got a job in mice pee after that and so that’s when I first started doing actual lip stuff.

[4:52] Really interesting web and.

Was this back in the good old days before jQuery yeah this would have been like 97.

So you know we’re essentially having to like I mean transcript was the potential was there you know we had Netscape for which it didn’t produce layers it was like.

So close to being right in the no one else has implementing that you can actually things that form fields images but I’m.

[5:32] Yeah if they do stuff that was also super primitive.

So I was doing mostly Pro programming at that point or back-end for a website.

Remember doing when I got in cuz I got into web development full-time but 2004-2005 and so jQuery was kind of knew and we were going scriptaculous and.

Prototype and pain we wait we did a lot of pain KS didn’t hurt KS.

The atom a long way since then I really have I mean yeah and in the late nineties it seems they can run as writing their own templating libraries and to some degree that hasn’t really changed but it’s West Central.

Yep so see you kind of got into this web thing you were writing Pearl and then you had to do what,

I mean it I was on the front and just kinda I mean its course back then everyone was. His only motive element we had graphic designers work for us and they were used to doing the magazine layouts,

so they didn’t know anything about,

HTML or if they were like well here’s a Photoshop file and that’s the cutest wanted no further involvement at that point LOL and we’re just starting like,

at that I at the first ISP I work for we knew it was just starting to get that now we got we ended up actually hiring like.

[7:02] Front end developers there for the first time of like people who were like doing the HTML but work,

comfortable with JavaScript yet so we still had to let you know so I was like doing that part for them and like trying to put together environment said let us build websites quickly that.

You can integrate these work clothes and of course that’s a super awkward play standard of workflow.

Oh well I have to static page and I need you to make it do things by one appealed to come back and change the layout later and we know and you know CSS is pretty primitive.

[7:37] Yeah.

I do not I do not have Nostalgia for those time I do not blame you it’s it’s just interesting to to kind of dig into this and say at least two people who are coming in.

From a place where there new wish you know any any time within the last 10 years and have them realize you know what.

We would come a long way I mean all the things out and about now if it’s and it’s in a lot of ways it’s nothing compared to what we had to do before but I mean that’s the way of Technology right,

they have to pull the seeds out of a cotton that they picked by hand and then Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin and all of a sudden.

You know that became a lot easier and we were able to have people do more interesting more powerful stuff and the way things always go.

For sure I mean you do that occasionally see people trying to buy our eyes to pass that’s like well it was simpler then you can just it was easier to learn it’s like he really wasn’t cuz he had to do so much more,

just to do anything simple things took so much longer back then,

you know you look at like all the interactivity on a modern web app and you could do that in 2002 but.

Basically the only people doing it we’re Google,

yeah Gmail just launching sometime around there and it was like that so much but in Google Maps not and they were so much better than anything anyone else was doing and so it’s like that was promised but no one else was there.

[9:11] Yeah well the other thing is is that it really in a lot of ways comes down to it we understand,

you know is we push into the future and we get new technologies that new do different things do new things expose new ideas and expose new,

ways of measuring and looking you know we have the Privacy to Bates these days and stuff and I it’s it’s not because we don’t understand the issues.

I’m in a lot of ways it’s just that the technology is so new that we don’t understand all the implications what we’re doing and so.

Yeah you know it was it a simpler time when we some ways because if we had moved ahead from there we would have understood very well what we had,

the fact of the matter is as we’re moving ahead so quickly now that it’s it’s very hard to understand what all the impacts are until we’ve longed move past something.

Yeah I mean I gave a talk at open source and feelings last year which was essentially.

Specifically on the whole thing of like through some old technology and and Fitbit,

the NBA came out of having heard someone talk about the whole thing of it used to be better and I’m like I mean on the one hand,

I just did that there’s a lot of older technology that’s now look down on that was really solving problems for us back then right and I wouldn’t use it today necessarily but that doesn’t mean to have its place in history,

enter the talk into the being basically about what were the what were the use cases that things that are no longer.

[10:46] No longer have that cash a what were those use cases back when they were new why we’re excited when those came out in a white why was my it why is MySQL the most common,

database used in webdav like when clearly postgres is a better database.

There is some good reasons for that right.

Yeah most of those have to do with how it was being distributed when it first came out versus how postgres was distributed postgres was a pain in the ass to set up.

The kind of is but it’s not easy enough now that you don’t really have that excuse anymore absolutely and open source and feelings I have never actually been but carolers a friend of mine.

It just seems like a great conference so.

So the things we had you on for was talked about in p.m. do you still work for 10 p.m.

I do I do you want to talk a little bit about what that’s like because and then I had I’ll just preface this by saying that I had Isaac leader on earlier we talked about kind of the journey through npm.

I don’t know if people really understand like what it’s like to be part of this company the,

works on something that so cord to a community and in particular you know Isaacs kind of,

Houston the CEO but he’s also kind of the face of the project fail but the rest of you all really contribute a lot to what we use so I’m curious like what what is it like to be in there and how did you get involved in the way that you are.

[12:20] I mean yeah Isaac primary contribution at this point as happened in my sea and still mostly packed as far as that’s concerned what you mean by that okay.

And I didn’t plan implements speed test anywhere protocol which is the testing framework that Pearl originally developed.

Answer that’s why I like Alvin PM’s tester and then I woke so he that’s like his hobby project at this point,

I’m alive code anymore just cuz turns out being a CEO isn’t the job no way I know it turns out they have to do stuff you’re not just like sitting in their office and counting money,

organize a startup counting bills.

[13:11] To some degree work and income is like working any other company right it’s it we’re just the company but other level like as far as the actual work that we do.

Particularly because I work on the command line tool which is directly it’s like.

We work on the website it’s a lot like working on any very popular website that a lot of people are going to be impacted by working on the command line tool,

is on the shipping package software and that’s a weird place to be in in 2017 and,

it’s stupid we spent.

Substantial amount of our time on interacting with the community so we have one of the most active issue trackers on github.

And it came in at number 5 when they released the stats so well for this kind of terrifying but also.

Validating cuz it felt like it was that busy you are well-loved we’ll just a lot of people are using it and so there a lot of and that’s where we tell everyone to go for support that’s the biggest reason that we get so much traffic there,

we have a support team now but people are still told go to the issue tracker final issue so we got a lot of things like.

You know Cox issues and proxy issues are the single most common problem no relapse just because,

they’re you know they just tried it and it didn’t work from their perspective.

[14:46] And we look at it go yeah that’s because you’re behind some weird corporate proxy and we don’t Auto configure from like your windows config really nice to do that kind of thing but.

There a lot of Philly detail Sarah and no one to ever like sat down and worked that out you have them are in the registry.

That’s me back anyway so how did you get started in p.m.

Welcome us are two years ago and they had a job at which was he knows we need a kind of a leper,

and basically everything about the position was,

it’s not exactly the sort of thing that I like to do you know writing software to support other soccer pillow Paris.

Paid open source work and they had to.

Every Trudeau area Stewart is a friend of mine and we’re actually working together in Boston they had previously tried to recruit her and she was like well I just took a job at PayPal.

But you should talk to my friend Rebecca.

She’s she would be totally up for this but I actually just applied through the end of the website in the normal way and.

I’m going to Slater we like it then maybe it was two to three weeks later they did their interviews and that was it was it was.

[16:20] In many ways very much like applying for any other job except the npm doesn’t do text screen so that was definitely.

I feel very differently don’t do touch screens no we don’t do text screen for my interview so.

Diana and the basis that in our experience.

Extremes don’t really tell us anything okay in that like.

We have all done text me and some people and then had them turn out to not do well and yes we’ve also of course and you don’t have the the opposite,

answer of Lake somebody who didn’t do well on the text screen you probably didn’t hire but they might have done fine and we decided we just weren’t learning anything from,

from doing that so the interviews I mean the fact that I had a bunch of published open source made it I think a lot easier,

because I can go hey look at all this code that I row I had that point I had a German implementation that your man is head message server message plus.

What’s a protocol it was set up by the Journal people back when 5 turn on the thing.

And hasn’t woman tations in a dozen languages,

until I wrote implementation client and server and actually the server implementation and then that was like my my example of luck I can do well.

[17:52] That’s cool.

So what what are they looking for then if they don’t do a text screen are they just looking for personality and culture fit or yeah so one of the advantages npm has of course is that,

Indian has a embarrassment of riches whenever we put up a job at.

We never have a problem finding qualified people of mine really is different when you’re on the other end of that where it’s like everyone applying you know half the people applying haven’t even used you note your,

primarily up a JavaScript shop and have the people I haven’t used JavaScript and we can teach it to you and I totally think that we could do it really rather not.

Yeah I could tell stories about that I’m hiring a new executive assistant.

I did phone screenings and I screen. About two-thirds of the people I talk to.

Yeah yeah we do a lot of filtering at the phone screen level I’m so that when it comes time to do interviews people and we’re interviewing for.

Culture fit over very clear we try to be very clear on what we mean by that and what were what are the criteria that we’re looking for for a particular position so like when we hired for the actually since I was there.

And that’s when we hired at Marshawn okay but we are very clear that.

[19:22] Skill that we thought that was going to be hardest to find with somebody who would be able to interact with the community well so all of her interview questions were centered around that and like being able to remain calm when people are mad at you,

to be able to be constructive in the face of you know,

because when things aren’t working people are unsurprisingly frustrated and not showing their best face right and.

We can’t you can’t wrap that up that mean if you wrap that up we’ve all seen if your tracker is your people to the back.

Is out a pretty and it’s just people being human at each other but.

Jabba the best case scenario is if I’m frustrated well I’m frustrated too in the worst case scenario is that you have some major issue online.

[20:12] So that’s what we were trying to interview for and we’re trying to assess when you’re talking to her,

candidates and we told them all this at the start of our interviews that like we’re not going to be asking you to know tricky Tech questions are going to be asking you questions about how you interact with communities.

[20:32] And I also like the idea of and this is what I’ve done with executive assistant role as well when I was looking for somebody that I felt like I could work with,

but I specified that into a personality traits and skills because otherwise,

I wind up hiring somebody to like me and I’m not actually what I need and so if I can nail it down to you know they need to be,

self-driven an autonomous because I don’t to babysit them you know when they have these particular skills are they seem to be able to pick up how to use WordPress and you know the handful of tools that I need then that’s what I’m looking for,

you know the detail oriented just stuff like that rather than go off of well I just need the system,

I just need yeah I mean culture if it gets thrown around alot and if you don’t specify and then it just becomes whatever you’re unconscious biases are.

If you specify it is actually a really important criteria but the other thing is is you know putting biases aside.

If you know what you need then you’re gay or what you need instead of instead of the default whatever.

Set a tooth pushing you toward so personal makeup is pushing you toward so so what is it like day today working on them p.m. I mean I’m I’m assuming people have this grandiose idea and then when I think about it there probably coating just like me.

Yeah pretty much it’s really not you know it’s.

[22:05] So we have a two-week release cycle and that impacts at these days and that that impacts are or how our work goes okay we have.


Indian in an Ideal World we would just work on stuff and whatever was ready when they released a game that’s what goes out in it right that’s what we’re probably said we wanted but in practice you go I’m planning to have this and the release and then you really put in the really is.

So an instant release the release weekly is spent with much more of a focus on that so there’s like picking out existing pull request there ready to land making sure those get land and.

That’s actually surprisingly time-consuming in part because like anything that’s not ready to land you have to build efficient feedback to people that they can go do it right.

And checking back on all the old ones we have the boat.

60 or 70 ours that just outstanding any given time most of which are missing tests or documentation or some other.

Teepees and it’s like well like I said about that new ones come in and old ones go out.

I said it surprises me just how high that is but the same time it’s it’s not been going up so I’m pretty okay with that.

I mean if the rest of the time it’s it’s either you’re working on a feature that is that we’ve decided as a team is a priority for the community or Hannah Peter the priority for the business.

[23:45] Were fixing bugs and that’s,

entirely based on like a judgement call how important is this is important enough to block the future work that we’re working on.

[23:58] So I’m wondering is is there a feature or problem that you saw that you’re especially proud of me textea a really,

esoteric Eno an issue on a couple of middle like a month ago,

and I brought that up and then I’m like and what was the details on that I don’t remember to look that up like that one where it was,

I was standing for S4.

[24:29] Can I add months.

To this this was specifically about sometimes people would get with the cash this match one that was really on my mind the problem was this.

[24:51] Uses for occasionally getting shot some errors.

When downloading car balls from the registry which absolutely should not be possible we get we download through a.

Something called great stream Atomic which.

[25:07] Pushes everything out to a temporary file name and only when it’s absolutely done with the download then it renames it over, CLE to replace the existing file.

And I hope there’s no way that I should be able to be incomplete and this ended up being a problem in.

[25:30] Indian registry client which in bring up the patch here I guess so.

[25:41] To their give me Shots American what was it and what we finally noticed was that the only happened three people get a failure and that will go to a retry and on the retry they would get their shots on there,

Mikasa Mirror Lake never be writing a partial Powerball care cash and yet somehow it was.


What it turned out was happening was the way the air handlers were set up in npm registry and this was not a new thing this is been set up this way for like 4 years.

But just for whatever reason timing issues people were getting time out sometimes on their initial term of fat and.

So and most people never see those but if you’re like behind but proxy or a slow internet connection then you see the more likely to see it a lot and then we tell them 2.0 CNP MN,

they’re fine he said that’s a registry mirror that exists behind the firewall when I didn’t read.

Yeah that we don’t run it’s right by it.

Some organization in China but they maintain their own registry mirror behind the firewall and Singapore.

[27:01] Cool and just because the firewall makes requesting stuff from the registry so slow.

But this is just a matter of a callback being called more than once.

And so the first time it will call it everything will be fine it called a second time and so the to get them yeah that should never happen it was terrible as soon as stepping on each other and.

At the tracking this down it was just like there was like there was a side comment and chat or something it’s like I wonder if this is being caused by something like I think that’s enough I can.

It was really hard because we didn’t have any way to reproduce it,

until we saw that it was on it like it was it was really noticing that they were always failing once and that was to retry it was given such awesome error once we had that then we could actually track the damn thing down patches,

get out a couple of lines.

Streams inevitably are the source of the things that I find the error of the errors that I found trickiest and most interesting to solve.

Right so I’m.

The so weak we talked about how you got started programming and he got into JavaScript and we talked a bit about mpm I’m curious are there other things that you contribute to outside of npm.

I have a bunch of like modules that I do when I’m working on my own things I don’t contribute to like.

[28:37] Any other major public open source projects as it but I have a ton of my jewels on on it npmjs.

Okay I will have to put a link to that.

[28:49] I’ll have a shot at one of them sound is one of your favorite most recently I’ve been working on an RTF Purser.

[28:59] Nrtf to HTML converter interesting Lee there are some of that already on the on the registry but like the one I’ve been using.

I ran into a problem that’s fine I’ll go patch it might go into it and it’s bundling a binary and then is running the binary LOL and I like.

[29:22] Nice so nrtf it turns out is.

I mean any of fermentation is going to be incomplete because it’s essentially to write a complete version of RTF you have to fully simulate Microsoft Word and in memory always at all.

Yeah that’s all I mean it’s really easy to take a bunch of editor commands it says a string of editor commands that you issued to Microsoft Word and then that gives you a document when it’s done.

Feel like it there are commands that take arguments that where the argument is the code from the windows header file.

Really Microsoft you put that into aspect that you published are you embarrassed.

But this was you know the nineties said no no they were not embarrassed of me.

Yeah I’ve been spending a lot of time with the new Microsoft these days.

Alright well yeah they are they’re doing some really interesting stuff they keep inviting us the JavaScript jabber Bunch but they keep inviting us out to their comfort to the so.

We got to go get stuck to go people and it’s been a lot of fun alright well as the last part of the show.

Are you trying to figure out how to stay current with Ruby and rails I’m putting on a two-day online conference called Ruby Road, you could check it out at Ruby remote.com.

Like I said it’s a two-day conference where you can come and listen to the speakers and experts from all around the world talk to you about issues pertaining to Ruby and web development.

[31:01] We have an online slot Channel a Roundtable discussion on zoom and all of the talks are given over Google Hangouts and all the talks will be string to live.

Country Cuts out at Ruby remote comp.com you get to go get to talk to cool people and it’s been a lot of fun.

[31:21] Alright well as the last part of the show and I kind of need to get there because I have another call here in about 10 minutes is the pics so you’ve been on the show you know what pics are but just remind our listeners picks are essentially.

Stuff you want to shout out of that could be towed related or not cold related just whatever is kind of making your life happy these days.

What do you have for us so the first one was that a RTF to HTML library that I’ve written.

I’m pretty happy with where it ended up.

I’m full including Lincoln Mission out some sure yet rather than trying to like read that out it’s a namespace so it’s at your and uh Slash RTF Dayton OH.

Next one would be it so I had a recent put her discussion came out with some.

Did more obscure and depressing parts of American history and then that they are on his way if they are there at Super widely known and so I was like you know,

people need to read about this stuff so my other two are a people’s History of the United States which is a classic.

You know revisiting of American History by Howard Zinn.

Instead of talking about like the history of the United States has a government at talks about the history of the United States as a people and we’re everyday people throughout the history of the US.

[32:52] And the other related book is lies my teacher told me everything your American history textbook got wrong.

[33:02] And that’s exactly what it says on there 15 the title all right.

[33:13] Well I’m going to go ahead and do a couple of pics myself the first one is this is something I’ve had for a while but I really really enjoy using it and that’s my iPad Pro.

I’m going to put a Lincoln for that I also like the apple pencil that doesn’t come with it you have to buy it but.

It’s really nice and then the keyboard cover that comes with it when I’m on an airplane I found them my laptop which is a 15 inch MacBook Pro it’s just a little bit too big to sit on the seat back.

But my iPad is just the right size so when I’m traveling it’s nice to have it also has terrific speakers on that so yeah when I’m in a hotel room or something I just.

Let it blast out whatever I’m watching and it’s terrific so I’m going to shut out about all of those things and I’ll put least those that you’re not as well.

Rebecca if people want to follow you on Twitter or see what you’re up to what are the best places to do that show on Twitter I’m Rebecca orgy.

[34:14] And that’s that’s the best place to fill a me.

Well thank you for coming on the show and talking to it kind of fun to see the inner workings of both you and and p.m.

All right we’ll we’ll go ahead and wrap this one up and.

I think we’re talking to Valeri karpov next week on the next episode so keep an eye out for that.

Thank you been with for this segment is provided by Cash live the world’s fastest ET and deliver your content fast with Gaslight visit cache fly.com learn more.

[34:55] Music.