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S1 E15: You have to be so sympathetic to the machine (Layla / @LaylaCodesIt)
Episode 1517th August 2022 • WebJoy • Eddie Hinkle
00:00:00 00:20:04

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Layla joins the show to talk about her origin story, how she started horse-riding as a young girl, eventually doing it professionally before shifting to being a pilates instructor turned software engineer.

We discuss the state of .NET in the world of programming, her 3D worlds she uses for Twitch streaming, and her exploration and joy in game development in Unity. We chat about the differences between web development and game development, and have a couple side-trails into hiding coats in cupboards and not falling off of horses. Finally we talk about the impact that she's having with the Women of .NET community.

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Transcripts

Eddie:

Welcome to episode 15 of the web joy podcast.

Eddie:

I'm your host Eddie.

Eddie:

In this podcast, we interview guests about their origin story and what

Eddie:

makes them excited and joyful to be part of the tech community.

Eddie:

I help you enjoy today's episode.

Eddie:

You have to be so sympathetic to the machine with Layla.

Eddie:

I'm excited to have Layla here joining us.

Eddie:

So Layla, you know, who are you, what do you do?

Eddie:

Where do you work?

Eddie:

just the, deets.

Layla:

Well, hi Eddie.

Layla:

Hi, everyone listening.

Layla:

As Eddie says, my name is Layla.

Layla:

I am a Developer Advocate at VMware and I'm pretty well

Layla:

ensconced in the .Net community.

Layla:

I'm a C# developer.

Layla:

I'm a Microsoft MVP, GitHub Star, I'm the founder of Women of .Net, and I

Layla:

speak internationally about .Net stuff

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

That's interesting.

Eddie:

You don't hear a whole lot about.net lately?

Eddie:

I guess at least in my circles, do you feel like .Net is still thriving?

Eddie:

What do you think about the .Net ecosystem?

Layla:

It's thriving Microsoft are really investing in it.

Layla:

We've had some great new frameworks coming out this past year.

Layla:

We have .Net Maui, which is a replacement for Zin, and that will enable you to do

Layla:

mobile development and things like that.

Layla:

We have the very exciting blazer that's been around for a few years

Layla:

now and there's tea flavors of that.

Layla:

And it's sea sharp in the browser, which.

Layla:

Awesome.

Layla:

If you're a C sharp developer and don't really like touching

Layla:

JavaScript, it's epic.

Layla:

It's wonderful.

Layla:

So that's pretty exciting, as well as new releases of the net

Layla:

framework and language, every November, which is pretty cool.

Eddie:

Wow.

Eddie:

Yeah.

Eddie:

So I guess C sharpen the browser.

Eddie:

Is that using.

Eddie:

WASM

Layla:

yeah.

Eddie:

Web assembly for those not as involved with browser development.

Eddie:

That's pretty cool.

Eddie:

I did not expect that

Layla:

Yeah, there's two versions.

Layla:

There's one where it uses an interpreter which will run

Layla:

the.net DLLs on web assembly.

Layla:

And that's the most common one.

Layla:

So there is a little bit of slowness.

Layla:

It's not native WAM but you can Compile to get your net application

Layla:

into native web assembly.

Layla:

It does make it a little bit bigger and things like that.

Layla:

But you can do that if speediness is the way you wanna go, but it's usually

Layla:

not necessary unless you're doing really intense computational stuff.

Eddie:

Wow.

Eddie:

That's really interesting.

Eddie:

I didn't know that I've already learned something today.

Layla:

Aha.

Layla:

Good.

Layla:

I'm pleased.

Eddie:

What was your journey like getting into tech?

Eddie:

Did you start in.net world?

Eddie:

Did you just find yourself there over time?

Eddie:

What's that kind of look like for you?

Layla:

The first bit of code I wrote was action script for flash way back when,

Layla:

and then I dabbled in a little bit of iPod development like 2010, I think the

Layla:

first iPhone was just coming out and.

Layla:

Then I got more into web development.

Layla:

I'd already been doing a little bit of CSS and HTML, but , I was a Pilates teacher

Layla:

and professional horse rider, and I needed to build my own website with help

Layla:

of my partner, who is a web developer.

Layla:

And he built a all out for me.

Layla:

I did all the front end and this was an online booking system.

Layla:

And then I was like, well, I really want to be able to query what customers

Layla:

have been doing X, Y, and Z or.

Layla:

Whatever that query might be.

Layla:

And he's like, well, you better learn how to write them yourself.

Layla:

So I was like, oh, I okay then which was how I then started writing C

Layla:

sharp and learning how to do that.

Layla:

And then I loved it.

Layla:

And my plot business wasn't super successful.

Layla:

I couldn't scale it cuz people only wanted me to teach them.

Layla:

Which is a common thing I hear in the industry, people get very stuck with.

Layla:

Particular teacher.

Layla:

And so I thought, you know what, I'm gonna switch careers.

Layla:

, so in 2016, I got my very first full stack net web developer job agency.

Layla:

So my working career has always been in the.net ecosystem.

Eddie:

Wow.

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

I would.

Eddie:

You call back to, you said you were a professional horse rider.

Eddie:

Is that what you said?

Layla:

Yeah.

Layla:

Yeah.

Eddie:

There's a lot of people in their industry that have done like

Eddie:

career changes, particularly now with COVID and layoffs and everything

Eddie:

that happened in 2020, I've run into a lot of people who are.

Eddie:

I've been a teacher.

Eddie:

I've been, this I've been that, you know, now I wanna get into tech.

Eddie:

You are the first person that I've met.

Eddie:

That was a professional horse rider that has career transitioned

Eddie:

how'd you get involved in that?

Eddie:

That sounds awesome.

Layla:

Since I was little I used to go to pony shows and jump

Layla:

and bounce and fall off horses.

Layla:

And then I stopped when I went to college and then after college, I was

Layla:

lucky enough to live somewhere where I could, ride, my mom had horses then.

Layla:

So she just said, why don't you come and ride this old horse?

Layla:

So I did, I started back up again and I was doing dressage, which

Layla:

I hadn't really done as a kid.

Layla:

But I was much happier doing that, cuz it was much safer as an adult.

Layla:

I did a whole load of dress and started competing.

Layla:

I can be quite competitive, which is when I started to really push for it.

Layla:

And then I had the opportunity to give up work and ride full time.

Layla:

So I seized that opportunity and moved to MECA the island and the Mediterranean

Layla:

and road horses full time there competing them at quite a high level.

Layla:

And then moved back to the UK and was coaching people on bear

Layla:

horses and still competing.

Layla:

And that's how I got into Pilates because I wanted to help

Layla:

people on and off the horse.

Eddie:

Wow.

Eddie:

That's a fun journey.

Eddie:

You know what I mean?

Eddie:

You've done a lot of really different things, which is really cool.

Eddie:

One thing about our industry is it can be really myopic, right?

Eddie:

You can have a lot of people with a lot of the same experiences thinking

Eddie:

and doing all the same stuff.

Eddie:

And one thing I love is when you get into areas or companies or groups,

Eddie:

open source or whatever, where you have people that have all these

Eddie:

different life experiences and it just gives such a different perspective.

Eddie:

So I love that.

Layla:

Completely

Eddie:

When I was young I grew up in the Midwest of the us.

Eddie:

And so there was definitely plenty of land and animals and stuff.

Eddie:

So I joined something called pony club where, we could go

Eddie:

and they taught us how to ride.

Eddie:

I didn't do it very long.

Eddie:

My sister did it much longer than me.

Eddie:

I did it for like a year or something.

Eddie:

And then I was like, all right, that was fun.

Eddie:

But I don't.

Eddie:

Get the horse going fast enough that I can fall off.

Eddie:

And so I was like, I'll end my horse career here.

Layla:

Wise decision because falling off can be very painful.

Eddie:

I imagine so.

Eddie:

Well, cool.

Eddie:

one of the main things we try to talk about in web joy is what

Eddie:

brings us joy, what we've been into.

Eddie:

What's something you'd like to talk about today?

Layla:

So I'm a big fan of systems.

Layla:

I moved further into backend web development as opposed to the front end.

Layla:

And I really enjoyed that, but I did miss the front Endy bit of it, that creative

Layla:

design, and then recently, I started with a little bit of game development in unity,

Layla:

and that kind of does the backend systems for me, loads and loads of system stuff.

Layla:

And I get to do fun creative stuff in the front end that doesn't

Layla:

involve CSS and JavaScript win, win.

Eddie:

Nice.

Eddie:

That is really awesome.

Eddie:

Back before I ever started programming professionally, I

Eddie:

had a friend who was working on.

Eddie:

It was a.net game.

Eddie:

That had a little SS graphics and was like a massive multiplayer online thing.

Eddie:

So they built this little client that connected to the server and

Eddie:

allowed everyone to move their little SSEs people around the screen.

Eddie:

I didn't get to do a whole lot with that, but got to do a little bit with that.

Eddie:

That was fun.

Eddie:

So game development is actually close to my heart, even though

Eddie:

I've not done a whole lot of it.

Eddie:

So what kind of got you interested in exploring game development?

Eddie:

Is kind of a little bit outside the realm of website, building, application

Eddie:

development, that kind of thing.

Layla:

So I stream a lot on Twitch and my partner was dabbling in game dev.

Layla:

He was burnt out with web dev.

Layla:

And he built these virtual studios for me, which are really

Layla:

awesome on my Twitch stream.

Layla:

And I get embedded into them and they're completely 3d.

Layla:

I have graveyard, I have a penthouse, I have a snowy winter Wonderland.

Layla:

So they're really cool.

Layla:

And, I guess I was a bit nosy and he's doing all this cool stuff and

Layla:

I'm like, Oh, here I am doing yet.

Layla:

Another crud system.

Layla:

I think I'd quite like to go and have a little dabble and a play with this

Layla:

game, dev malarkey and being a Net developer, the obvious choice is unity,

Layla:

because it's all written in C And it's a pretty awesome game engine.

Layla:

A lot of big games are built in it.

Layla:

So yeah, I downloaded it.

Layla:

I did some tutorials, I enjoyed it.

Layla:

I work on some of the stuff that he does.

Layla:

I tweak my rooms and it's like the hobby for me.

Layla:

It's like creative thing that I don't have to get paints out and get messy or

Layla:

get clay, which I like doing as well.

Layla:

I can quickly sit down and do something creative without

Layla:

making a whole load of mess.

Layla:

I do make a mess in the code, but you know, physical mess, shall we say?

Eddie:

That makes sense.

Eddie:

Well, I mean, Hey.

Eddie:

Behind every game or web is some horrendous, messy code

Eddie:

that no one wants to see.

Layla:

Yeah.

Layla:

Yeah, no one wants to see that.

Eddie:

it's like your closet.

Eddie:

When people are about to come over, you just grab all the junk

Eddie:

and you shove it in the closet.

Eddie:

You shut the door and as long as no one opens the door, everything's okay.

Layla:

I like that analogy.

Layla:

That's so true as well.

Layla:

I throw all of the shoes into the downstairs cupboard.

Layla:

I like this door will shut and all the coats are bolting out.

Layla:

Yep.

Layla:

Yep.

Layla:

That's a pretty good analogy for what some of my code looks like.

Eddie:

Nice.

Eddie:

Well, you've done a lot of different like development, right?

Eddie:

We might build software as a service where it's more of a crud

Eddie:

application, you've got game dev.

Eddie:

What are some of the differences there from your experiences?

Layla:

So web development, you can be so lazy.

Layla:

You can have such expensive code.

Layla:

You can really, really just throw caution to the wind and do expensive

Layla:

computations and be like, yeah, it's fine.

Layla:

Not to worry.

Layla:

Gaming.

Layla:

Oh, wow.

Layla:

Oh, wow.

Layla:

It's like, how can I do this without doing another loop or iteration?

Layla:

Oh, that's gonna make everything grind to a halt.

Layla:

You have to be so sympathetic to the machine that your game is gonna run on.

Layla:

And that's both.

Layla:

Like a confinement, but it's liberating because you have to really think about

Layla:

how you're going to structure your code.

Layla:

What patterns are you going to use?

Layla:

Why I like it is it makes me delve into stuff in the C language that I don't

Layla:

generally have to use because I'm a web developer and I can go in and go, oh, wow.

Layla:

I didn't know.

Layla:

I could do that.

Layla:

Oh, oh, that's cool.

Layla:

Oh yeah.

Layla:

I do remember that.

Layla:

And that's why, and I can see the use for it.

Layla:

And so that's been fascinating and I've gone off into little explorations of

Layla:

code little, like, passing references around and just seeing how that happens

Layla:

cause that's really a big deal in game development, but you don't really

Layla:

think about it in web development.

Layla:

You're like, yeah, I'll just new, a new object, whatever.

Layla:

And yeah, you just don't think about that.

Layla:

So that's one of the big differences that you can be super lazy in web development.

Eddie:

That makes complete sense.

Eddie:

It's so funny because it seems in the react world, much more standard that

Eddie:

you do a bunch of JavaScript, object creation and deletion, because it's so

Eddie:

much easier for the developer experience, but it's gotta be somewhat computational.

Eddie:

You'll be like, all right, object equals.

Eddie:

And then I'm gonna explode this into different variables and then you

Eddie:

create a new object using some of those variables and there's all this

Eddie:

object creation and destruction.

Eddie:

It's interesting.

Eddie:

I'm mostly JavaScript.

Eddie:

And I never came across or knew that there was like sets as opposed to arrays.

Eddie:

an array basically did everything I needed.

Eddie:

The thing about a.

Eddie:

In JavaScript is it's more performant.

Eddie:

And so it was actually, like you said, we can be so lazy.

Eddie:

One of the most similar times I've had to your game development experience is

Eddie:

we were building a network visualizer, at a cybersecurity, software as

Eddie:

a service that I was working for.

Eddie:

And this thing was intense.

Eddie:

Like we were talking about dealing with like 1500 nodes.

Eddie:

And we were building out a visual graph.

Eddie:

And it was so slow.

Eddie:

We ended up having to put the data onto the graphics card to calculate it really

Eddie:

fast using like RGB stuff and then pull that data back in to display it.

Eddie:

And so for the first time, in my entire career, we actually had to care about the

Eddie:

performance like you're talking about.

Eddie:

So I started looking into set and how many times you were doing loops and everything

Eddie:

you were talking about with game development, and since then I've thought,

Eddie:

should I use set, like in this and most of the time, I'm like, no, that's okay.

Eddie:

Even though it's more performant, it's like most of the time it's like,

Eddie:

ah, that's more of a hassle than it's worth if I don't need the performance.

Eddie:

So I love that differentiation.

Eddie:

That's really interesting.

Layla:

Yeah, everything in unity is into dictionaries.

Layla:

Dictionaries are super deeper du quick, and I'm like, I never use a dictionary.

Layla:

I create like complex objects and you know, all of that and collections,

Layla:

oh, I love a good collection.

Layla:

Those differences, that are so interesting.

Layla:

Um, and anytime you need to go onto the graphics card, as you discovered,

Layla:

that's a whole different world.

Layla:

And I haven't really gone into that, but I hear my partner getting very

Layla:

annoyed about doing stuff on the graphics cards and shades and things like that.

Layla:

And I'm like, hi, I'm just gonna do my, my, my very easy bit of game development.

Eddie:

Yeah, I would stick to that.

Eddie:

I didn't understand half of what I was doing.

Eddie:

Really.

Eddie:

I was just going on stack overflowing, copying pasting, open source algorithms.

Eddie:

and it worked.

Layla:

It worked in the in quote marks that

Eddie:

Yeah, it worked in that.

Eddie:

It was faster than when I didn't use the graphics card

Layla:

win, win.

Eddie:

exactly.

Eddie:

Who knows what people would've thought.

Eddie:

If they actually were used to using the graphics card, they looked at my code

Layla:

Horrified, but they, again, it's that downstairs closet that

Layla:

you've shoved everything in.

Layla:

So no one will know.

Eddie:

That's right.

Eddie:

As we wrap up today, one of the big things we really like to focus on

Eddie:

is as a community, how do we support each other and so I'm just curious.

Eddie:

Do you have anything that you're involved in or that you've worked

Eddie:

on that you'd like to share with the community that maybe would be helpful?

Layla:

Yeah.

Layla:

So there is the women of net initiative that I created last July, 2020, and,

Layla:

I just left the board of directors for the.net foundation, because I thought

Layla:

I could do more for women in the community, outside of the foundation.

Layla:

So I didn't run again and I created the initiative.

Layla:

It started off.

Layla:

As a profile site for women speakers, because I was always getting DMed

Layla:

on Twitter, like Layla, do you know of any women speakers who could

Layla:

speak at my meetup on this day?

Layla:

And I was like, I am not the social secretary of all women.net speakers.

Layla:

I'm not.

Layla:

So I created the.

Layla:

And I could point people to that and say, yeah, go have a look and see who's talking

Layla:

about interesting stuff for your group.

Layla:

Then I wanted to do more about nurturing women coming into.net.net.

Layla:

Is an older communities.

Layla:

You are asking if it's thriving.

Layla:

It is, but it's aging.

Layla:

So we don't have the new blood coming in.

Layla:

They all wanna do cool stuff like JavaScript,

Eddie:

Yes,

Layla:

But with things like blazer and minimal APIs now, which look

Layla:

really like a node express app it's so much easier for people to come.

Layla:

And try C sharp and.net, and it is super quick, super, super, super quick.

Layla:

So it's highly performant.

Layla:

It's strongly types.

Layla:

It's really easy to learn.

Layla:

It's very readable.

Layla:

And so I wanted to create ways that communities could encourage women and

Layla:

girls to come and try code and learn.

Layla:

So at the moment I'm working with some of the women at Microsoft

Layla:

creating workshops in a box.

Layla:

So we can run a workshop day, a little bit like Jengo girls does where

Layla:

you get all the source materials.

Layla:

That you need and how to run the workshop.

Layla:

And a user group can just put one on and they don't have

Layla:

to really struggle to do it.

Layla:

They just provide the venue, advertise it, and we provide it.

Layla:

So we're working on that at the moment and we have a discord

Layla:

community that we're trying to grow where women can come in and chat.

Layla:

We're very ally friendly.

Layla:

I don't think a subset of a community successful without the support of allies.

Layla:

So we strongly encourage all allies.

Layla:

So that's non women identifying people coming into the group and

Layla:

supporting us, chatting with us being mentors or being mentored by women.

Eddie:

Awesome.

Eddie:

I love that.

Eddie:

And I think one huge thing there is oftentimes as we're trying to shift

Eddie:

the overrepresentation of CIS men.

Eddie:

Oftentimes it can be like, oh, now all the men are going to, you know,

Eddie:

mentor the women because they're overrepresented and underrepresented.

Eddie:

I love the flip of that, of like, Hey, someone who doesn't identify

Eddie:

as a woman can come and join this community and be mentored by a woman.

Eddie:

And like that helps flip a lot of the kind of incorrect paradigms of tech.

Eddie:

So I love that.

Eddie:

Well, cool.

Eddie:

How can someone get involved?

Layla:

I just pushed the redesign of the website.

Layla:

So it's looking a little bit snazzier, I've been fighting a lot with JavaScripts,

Layla:

so JavaScript in my art, even less friendly with each other than normal.

Layla:

But it's fine.

Layla:

And that is women of dot.net.

Layla:

People can always reach out to me.

Layla:

My DMS are always open I'm on Twitter

Layla:

. Eddie: Thank you so much for coming

Layla:

thoughts and your experience.

Layla:

Layla.

Layla:

Oh, thank you, Eddie.

Layla:

It's been a joy.

Eddie:

Thank you for joining us for episode 15, you have to be so

Eddie:

sympathetic to the machine with Layla, you can find out more about

Eddie:

Layla on her Twitter at Layla codes.

Eddie:

It, you can find links to everything we talked about in this episode, as well as a

Eddie:

link to Layla's Twitter in the show notes.

Eddie:

If you enjoyed this episode, help others discover it as well

Eddie:

by rating and reviewing it in your favorite podcast directory.

Eddie:

And don't forget to follow us on Twitter at web joy.

Eddie:

FM.

Eddie:

Thank you for listening and have a great day.