How to completely replace git branch code with another branch’s code

photo of a branch of leaves
Photo by Leo Rivas-Micoud on Unsplash

At work recently, our CTO noticed that our main repository’s staging branch had over 80 less commits than master. That shouldn’t be the case, because our deployment pipeline has always been to go from feature -> staging -> master. Code that exist on master must therefore already exist in staging, right?

No, turns out nothing was really wrong. It’s just that whenever we close a pull request (PR) on GitHub, our team protocol is to hit the “Merge” button, which merges all the commits from the PR into master, but not without adding one extra commit at the top called the “merge commit”. Each PR created one extra commit on master. That was the reason for the commit count mismatch.

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How to squash git commits

In this short post, I’ll demystify the process to squash git commits from the command line. This process is simple if you’re using a remote like GitHub, which can be done with the click of a few buttons in the Pull Request UI. This post focuses on squashing commits on the command line.

Note before proceeding: I use Terminal on a Mac and the commands below are based on that.

shirtless boy hugging a ball trying to squash it
Photo by Vance Osterhout on Unsplash

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Blogging the old way

The idea of blogging has changed. In the past when people first started to use Blogger to publicly share stories about their lives, blogs were like a sort of public log – you know, like a b-log. I think that’s actually the etymology of the word. Now, most of us have blogs because they aid us in our careers, and I’m starting to miss blogging the old way.

desktop filled with laptop and coffee mugs from working from home
My work desk when I’d just finished a day of working from home

If I were honest with myself, I know that publicity is a part of why I keep a blog. It sounds weird to admit it, but I often write posts because I think it makes me look like I have a life and that I actually think. My reasoning goes something like this:

  • We get to know people increasingly through the internet, even with friends
  • Without a presence on the internet, I have less of a presence overall in society
  • Thoughts buzz in my head constantly and I have meaningful conversations and I work on semi-interesting projects, but only those that have a presence on the internet have a chance of being known
  • Therefore, for the sake of being somebody, I must write (since I know I’m too camera-shy to vlog for now)

Not sure how much of that you can relate to, but the fear of not being able to be heard, to not have at least the chance of being known for my thoughts and work is a key driving force to my blogging. If you can call it blogging, anyway.

The traditional format of blogging

This makes me want to go back to what would now be, I guess, the traditional format of blogging. Words and pictures about my (the blogger’s) life.

I have a friend who vehemently disagrees with “stream of consciousness” writing, and just declaring my support for it conjures up his face with a condescending look on it. This is a friend who writes professionally on the side for a news site, an affable person in general whom I respect. He has a point. Stream of consciousness writing can easily delve into insufferable “it’s all about me” territory, and bloggers must fight hard to stay in line.

Besides, blogging is not just about bleeding your mind on the page.

It’s about reflecting on the day or week that just passed. Reflection often drives me to try to make tomorrow’s story better.

It also gives me space to play with my Fujifilm camera, to shoot and curate an image that creates the context of a blog post. Photos that I’ve taken and included in blog posts never fail to suck me back to the day when they were first captured. Paired with thoughtful writing, it is the closest thing I have to a time machine.

I also like that blogging is like the camera-shy friendly version of vlogging. Casey Neistat’s vlogs provide us a glimpse into his personal life. When he was vlogging daily for more than a year, it affected the way he thought about each day, and from what he’s said on some of his episodes (I’m not going through 400 plus videos to find which ones), vlogging made him a better person.

Lastly, what I miss about blogging-blogging is the luxury to mash up different pieces of information and happenings into a single post. In a blog post, I’m not quietly forced to think and write only about a specific topic in each post. Patches are weaved into unique, colourful cloths.

While I wax on about the pros of blogging The Old Way, concerns are pacing around me like a pack of hyenas preparing to hunt.

For one, blogging your life story makes for an overall less formal website. Less formal also means less professional. In a “first impression counts (too much)” society, this might be a bane on the career front.

Even more practical is a concern about search engine optimisation. Posts that cover many disparate subjects rank poorer for key words, if there is even any to rank for. SEO will most likely have to take a back seat.

Writing is better than not

I could try to supplement both sides of the argument more exhaustively and come to a logical conclusion, but there is one last point to drive the nail in the coffin on this one for me.

You see, I’ve noticed myself posting less in recent months. And I put the blame solely on the stress I’d been experiencing that stemmed from wanting to write a “worthy” post. This notion that one should not publish an unpolished post is making me write a lot less, and making it feel more of a chore than a treat.

That brings me to my conclusion. Whichever approach compels you to think more, photograph more, and ultimately write more is the right approach.

If a blog post feels like crap by the time you’re done writing, just don’t publish it. Even authors like Stephen King have written novels that are so bad they don’t bother editing and trying to get it published. At least they have done the thinking and have a draft to hold in their hands. The deed would at least be done.

Silly useful things on my Repl.it

screenshot of a repl.it document

I love using repl.it, and I use it so often I can go up to a some else’s laptop and type the fully formed URL in the browser: https://repl.it/languages/python. You saw me type that, right?

Digressions aside, repl.it has really been quite helpful in my short career as a developer.

For the uninitiated, Repl (the service) is a simple web-based compiler, named after the concept of REPL (read – evaluate – print loop). It’s basically a place to write code on the left pane, which gets evaluated on command and the results (or errors) are output on the right pane. A simple but powerful tool.

Here’s an example of how I used it today to understand what happens when someone writes 2 chained assignment operators in a single line in JavaScript.

Seeing this line of code embedded deep in our code base, I found myself a bit lost.

It was the first time I’ve seen someone write two = assignment operators in the same line. Although I suspected off the cuff that this was evaluating right to left, and assigning values that way, I couldn’t be sure, so I recreated it in Repl and started fiddling with it.

Both logged ‘jquery v1’ to the web-based simulated console. In the amount of time it usually takes to get a water bottle refill, I’d figured out how a foreign-looking piece of code works.

In my opinion, this is one of those tools that need no publicity and will grow in use organically simply because it brings developers delight. Clean UI, fast loading speed, and the feature to save code for future reference (my example lives here). It’s a sweet product, and even sweeter because it’s free.

I have many more examples of Repl.it coming to save my day at work, but I don’t always save them to my account. I’ll write a separate post when I come across another insightful REPL!

Macbook slow after upgrading to macOS Sierra

mac os sierra banner

Find your Macbook slow after upgrading to macOS Sierra? I recently did too. As a developer, it was painfully obvious that something needed to be done – there is no way I can develop with my Macbook Air (mid-2013) going on overdrive when only Chrome was open. In the end, I solved the problem by finding the process that took up a lot of RAM (syncing of Internet Accounts) and removed it.

I hope this short post will help you resolve your slow and overheating Macbook woes.

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