Write that unpopular post

I encounter the typical struggles when building things on the web. Some things are challenging to learn, some things are hard to remember, and some things break sporadically. In order to get a task done, I need to search for an answer to overcome one of these hurdles.

In some cases, when I am looking for an answer, there is not a good answer online. I have to work it out myself. I’m a decent problem-solver, which means I rarely turn to posting on forums seeking help. The usual outcome is that I fix the thing and move on.

In the last year or so, I have been trying to change this habit. Other people may benefit from my struggles. So now, when I fix something or have an aha moment, I make a note of it. If I think it is worthy of a blog post, I write it up. If it is a bug in some software, I report it (my usual M.O. anyway).

The thing is, sometimes when I am deciding to write the blog post, I have an inner dialouge. A contrarian voice says, “this will be noise in your web feed”, “this won’t be popular”, things of that nature. It’s the wrong kind of self talk.

I have to remind myself that I should not have filters. It is better to have a simple rule – if something is of value, I should consider sharing it. Popularity is not something you can anticipate, and has questionable utility. Instead I want to focus on writing the post that I wished that I had found when I was learning a particular topic or when I had a particular problem. The rest will hold you back.

I find that I am more productive when I put things into the ether. I don’t use analytics. I don’t use social media. The process is the reward. By sharing, I am sharpening my knowledge and hopefully helping someone. It is an act of faith.

I wrote a post last month about fixing a task automation issue in VS Code. I almost did not publish it, the contrarian voice was nagging at me and it was sitting in my drafts folder for some time. I am glad that I ignored the voice.

VS Code - Fix a task automation issue 'The terminal process failed to launch (exit code: 127)'

I like to run a web server automatically whenever I open a web project in VS Code. I use VS Code tasks to do this. Suddenly, this has stopped working!

Last week, I recieved an email from someone expressing their gratitude that the post helped them to fix the same issue. With the vagaries of the internet you never truly know if things are discovered and prove to be useful to people. So it is helpful to be reminded from time to time!

This was the response I got:

Thank you for the helpful suggestion in your article: https://www.roboleary.net/vscode/2023/12/31/automated-task-fix-vscode.html.

VSCode is full of all sorts of unknown goodies. I’d been working around this issue by manually opening a shell and typing commands (ie eschewing automation). […]

I will continue to write unpopular, helpful posts because it is only the helpful bit that I can forecast with a modicum of accuracy. I am grateful when something I share moves someone to express their gratitude in some form. Thanks for reading. 🫶