Pushing the Button and Rolling With the Punches

I’m sat at my desk, an old dining table crammed into the corner of what will become my office.

It’s still light outside. I can hear the birds chirping away. Going about their business. Free to fly around like it’s any other Wednesday.

I guess it is.

It’s 10 past 5 and I should’ve started streaming already. But right now I’m fumbling with settings trying to anticipate what the fuck’s gonna go wrong this time.

You shoulda started streaming already. Not that anyone cares. I mean, why even bother at this point?

The voice inside my head is right of course. As those tiny but mighty voices often are.

I push the “Stream” button and hope for the best. 'Cause that's all we can ever really do.

Alright, what’s up everyone?! Welcome to another HelpDocs Live Session.

I deliver my intro to the no-one that showed up and open up a bunch more Chrome tabs to make sure everything is working properly.

It’s not. Of course it’s not. Failure’s been a running theme of my live streams. I'd been inspired to start streaming by live stream and video pros like Brian Fanzo, Amy Landino, Demian Ross, and Chris Strub. And as a result, I've spent week after week fumbling into the lens of a webcam and wrestling with microphones.

This shit used to phase me. But 5 months in, I guess I’m used to it. 🤷🏻‍♂️

Not in a confident way. More like when a boxer gets punched in the face so much they don’t really feel it anymore.

I’m numb to it.

But I’m still bleeding. And crying inside. 😢

This time it’s a Vimeo fail I manage to rectify after turning it off and on again.

Will the wonders of modern technology never cease. 🤯

Nevertheless, I bumble on. Hopeful that would be the only hiccup in my weekly humiliation ritual.

It wouldn’t be. Sod’s law 🙄

You Should’ve Prepared for This

I’m half-way into the second act of my dismal portrayal of something akin to Mr. Bean Teaches Tech when I realize my preparation had been less than adequate.

Perhaps I’d been too distracted in the lead up to the session. I only had a little time to really make sure what I wanted to demo would work in the painful reality of social live streaming.

But distraction isn’t really a good enough excuse when the zero people you’re streaming to are champing at the bit for some high-quality comedy-laced tutelage.

Why the shit isn’t this working?
Cause you’re a moron, moron! You should’ve checked it worked.

My internal dialogue never helps things much. Turns out it’s super abusive too!

Who knew! 🙈

Thing is this time it was wrong. I did check.

Then I double checked.

Then I double checked my double check. Which I guess is a triple check. Despite being a complete reenactment of the first two checks.

With each check, I’d expected to find something wrong but found nothing.

What is it they say about insanity and repetition? 😳

Fucking live streaming.

I check the code that I—as a un self-taught hobbyist (at best)—brazenly ripped from W3Schools extensive archives.

Side note: For real, between W3Schools and Stack Overflow you can do some serious damage posing as a real developer. And by damage, I really do mean damage. 😬

Had I really screwed up a copy and paste job?

I wouldn’t put it past myself. I’ve screwed up some pretty simple things before.

Myself included. Ha! Self-burn. Got there first. Doesn’t count if you said it. 🖕

I spend what feels like an eternity flitting through my browser. From tab to tab and dashboard section to dashboard section. Copying and pasting over and over again.

Demo account. Personal account. Settings. Code.

I don’t know what I’m looking for, which is probably half the problem.

Scripts. Paste. CSS. Paste. Clips. Paste. Check-No change

The code is right. It must be. Someone smarter than me else would’ve found it by now if it were that bad.

Demo account. Code. W3School. Scripts. Paste. CSS. Paste. Check-No change. Clips. Paste. Check-No change.

Here’s the insanity again!

W3School. Clips. Paste. CSS. Paste. Code. Paste. Check-No change.

No, the issue must be me.


Shock. It boils down to user error!

The issue is you’re an absolute tool

I try to ignore the asshole that plagues my every day but when it right so often it makes things really difficult.

I am a tool. Because I totally forgot to paste in the one place I needed to.

The damn article! 🤦‍♂️

The code won’t update. Because I haven’t updated the code. So of course the frontend won’t change.

The utter lemon that I am, I paste in the code and curse under my breath as the snippet finally kicks in.

Browbeaten celebration washes over me as I try to peel my palm from my face.

What a dumbass!

Yeah! Sounds about right.

Don’t get Cocky

I brush off the mistake. It happens. It was an oversight and one I can look back on later in good humor. I’m sure my teammates will enjoy berating me on this one. All I can do is hope beyond all hope they haven’t been watching.

Luckily they’re in Bangkok. So I doubt they've stayed up beyond 11pm just to catch my live streaming screw ups.

And I can delete the replay anyway!

Maybe I could make up some bullshit and say it just didn’t record. 🤔

No. That’s not HelpDocs.

I soldier on but by now I’m feeling cocky. I felt this before. In last week’s stream. It was probably the only stream that went without too much of an issue. And the only one in five months that I’m happy to share around.

It is my Mona Lisa. My David. My Sistine chapel. 👨‍🎨

At least it is when judged against all my monstrosities.

I’m riding on a tiny wave of celebration. Desperate to keep my balance and not crash into the humiliating rocky underbelly I quickly think of the next great thing I could show off.

How about we try to add something a little more complex like a collapsible accordion type thing?

My rhetorical question to the crowd of one needs no reply. Though my internal monologue delivers one anyway.

Oh yeah, what a fantastic idea. Since you messed up the simple thing you tested I’m sure the complex thing you just thought up will go off without a hitch. 👍

I ignore it. Because that’s what great people do. And I’m a great person. And I know what I’m doing. It’s copy and paste. What could go wrong?

Everything. That’s what.

I dive back into W3Schools and find the article on collapsibles. A few lines of CSS. A JavaScript snippet. A couple lines of HTML. Sweet.

I copy the clicked and dragged highlight into my digital clipboard and head back to my HelpDocs Dashboard.

Clips. New clip. Edit. Paste. Save.

A big check on the ol’ HTML. This is a doddle.

I repeat the procedure grabbing first the CSS and then the script snippet and paste them into their respective containers.

Double. Check. Everything.

I check. And I check again, desperate to avoid the inevitable. The syntax should be right. The code should be fine. It’s a copy and paste job. What could go wrong!

With a couple of clicks, a new article is birthed. A couple more and the reusable clip of HTML I’m demonstrating muddies the. article’s fresh white canvas.

Save. And the moment of truth.

After hitting preview I’m transported to the frontend. The draft article’s clean white space framed by the template’s uplifting pink header.

An unfamiliar grey box with the word “Collapsible” in a clean white font sits alone.


The plus icon taunts me from the right-hand side.

I can feel it.

I’m nervous to click. My face is still sodden with egg from my last foray into the world that is super-simple-copy & paste-code tasks.

A moment passes and I muster the confidence.






By this point, you get the idea.

I’d screwed it up again.

And I was pretty sure I was going certifiably insane.

Saved by my Lane

What’s the purpose of Clips?

The question pops up in my Vimeo chat window just at the right time. I wouldn’t even know where to start debugging.

This is my way out of the humiliating spiral that’s sure to follow. At last, something I know I can do and that won’t go wrong.

This is my lifeline.

Staring down the lens and deliver my response and in doing so flow into my final remarks.

I make a joke and clarify my credentials as a non-developer. Humour is my lighthearted body armor protecting me from feeling too much shame when things go tits up.

After saying my goodbyes I shut down the stream.

Well that’s what you get for trying to be clever.

A poignant observation from my patronizing parasite. The voice of shame intent on caging me in my comfort zone.

Poignant but wrong.

Sure, screwing things up in public is humiliating. But it forces me to be better. It helps me challenge my imposter syndrome. To overcome my insecurity by shining a massive spotlight on it.

Now I can roll with the punches. I can dodge a few here and there and sometimes punch back. I mean, shit! With enough practice, I might even get good at this thing. 🤷🏻‍♂️