Welcome to this week's edition of The Catch Block!

The side of a building, showing a large set of identical square windows.
Blocks! Blocks EVERYWHERE! Photo by Benjamin Bousquet / Unsplash

In this edition: F#, eye rolls, board games, fish sticks, SQL, markdown gone wrong, habits, and unit tests.

Working From Home and Kids

Last week, my company made the decision to have our entire IT department work from home full-time for at least two weeks. In my state (Arizona), the Governor has ordered all schools closed until (at time of writing) April 10th, so I'd be willing to bet we'll all be working from home for longer than our current April 1st return-to-the-office deadline.

So, I've had to learn how to work from home when my three kids (B, A, and K, ages 10, 10, and 7 respectively) are also home all the time. I've learned quite a lot about working from home with kids.

(That tremendous eye roll you just heard is my beautiful and very understanding wife K.C., who is home all the time and is thoroughly not impressed with the cool stuff I've learned about doing everything remotely, because it's what she's been doing the last 10+ years).

A man in a camouflage Nike shirt stares at the camera with a disapproving or unimpressed look.
See? Thoroughly not impressed. Photo by Oliver Ragfelt / Unsplash

So, here's a few reminders about working from home with kids:

  • It's OK if you're not a teacher. Neither K.C. nor myself are. Yes, our kids are going to miss a lot of school that they wouldn't otherwise, but not everyone has the capacity or patience to be a good teacher. Just make sure they get some educational exposure, whether that's fun math games, extra reading time, or just going outside and describing what they see.
  • Screens are useful! All my kids got Amazon Fire tables for Christmas, so we've been making sure that at least some of the content they see is educational, from cool science YouTube videos to kid-friendly history lessons. Yes, there's also some Roblox or Minecraft, but we try to limit those.
  • Board games are saving our sanity right now. K, the 7-year-old, would much rather play a board game than any other game. Games like Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Time's Up, Karma, Skyjo, Think 'N Sync and more have helped us keep our cool during these stressful times. K is not very good at them, but she doesn't mind. Except Skyjo, where she regularly kicks our collective butts. (Links are Amazon affiliate links.)
  • The goal right now isn't to have them pass some test, the goal is to keep them alive and hopefully have them learn a few things. As another writer said so eloquently, toss them some fish sticks and they'll be fine.

Just keep cool. We're all in this together, and we'll make it out okay.

Cool Reads

  • The Staging Phase of Deployment (William Brewer) - In my job, I am some combination of a developer, DevOps manager, and researcher. Part of my job is to get our development environments working when we deploy to them, and stories like this one remind me why this is so important. This is a long read, but well worth it to remind us why we should remember that our enviroments, and the separation between them, are important to maintain.
  • Unexpected Benefits of Asynchronous Remote Work (Victoria Drake) - Look, I get it, we're all a little weary of "here's how to work from home" posts in a time when many of us are mandated to do so. But, we're most likely going to be doing this for a while, so we might as well pick up some tips. In this article, Victoria tells us about benefits of working asynchronously, including the workers' ability to decide when to work (most likely when they're at their best, which might be early in the morning or late at night or somewhere in between) and the forming of new "conscientious" habits. For those of you who just got hit with the quarantine or stay-home orders, there might be something useful for you in this article.
  • Coding With Ari, For Kids At Home (Troy Hunt) - Speaking of quarantines, those of us with kids might be looking for something to do with them while we all can't leave our homes. Troy provides us with a nice diversion from the scariness of home-bound life as he teaches his son Ari how to code. It looks like they'll be doing several videos, so check back often!
  • EF Core 5.0: Using ToQueryString() method to translate LINQ query to SQL (Gunnar Peipman) - This might just be news to me, but I have been waiting FOREVER to get a simple way to see the SQL that Entity Framework generates, and it looks like I'm going to get my wish in .NET 5.0.

New Tools, Releases, and Previews

  • Announcing F# 5 Preview 1 (Philip Carter) - I haven't quite jumped on to the functional programming bandwagon yet, but F# isn't waiting for me to get on board. The .NET 5.0 release is still coming (as we discussed last week), so check out these changes if F# is of interest to you!

Other Neat Reads

Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next week!