How NOT to Get Started With Ethereum Development

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tl;dr I tried to get started with geth this week and immediately got frustrated with out-of-date docs. Maybe I can save you some time. Relevant github issue.

For future readers, today is September 29th, 2017 CE. Due to the rapidly changing nature of technology, I cannot guarantee that anything I’m about to write will be even close to accurate or in any way relevant in your time period.

Current Version of geth: 1.7.0

My intent was to start a Howto series documenting my progress with Ethereum development, but I figured it would be better to start by issuing a warning about a couple of hazards for the weary traveler. Like any good (old?) developer learning a new technology, I set out to create a Hello World app. That brought me to the official Ethereum docs at https://ethereum.org/greeter. It turns out, though, that the Greeter tutorial was written for geth versions before 1.6. The current version of geth is 1.7.0! It took me a few days to figure out that these docs were at least two major versions behind the code.

Dude, don’t be hypercritical

I’m not! I certainly understand what it’s like to work on a project and have the code outpace the documentation. (Been there; done that.) This is not a referendum on the Ethereum community at all. Rather, it is my attempt to empathetically contribute back to said community. Documentation is tough. No one gets excited about documentation. This is me attempting to improve the developer experience around Ethereum.

So what do you recommend, Matt?

Give up! No, don’t do that. If you want to follow along, my next stop is at Ethereum smart contracts in a nutshell for hackers. Yes, it has the word “hackers” in the title, and yes, you should cringe at that. However, it does outline all our dependencies and how to create a Hello World contract. I’m going to take that info and turn into a more detailed guide, providing an up-to-date Greeter tutorial in an upcoming post.

 

Thimbleweed Park: Review

One of the first games I saw featured on the new iOS 11 App Store layout refresh was an adventure game called Thimbleweed Park. The description said something about “if you like Maniac Mansion,” and I bought it without reading any further. Normally I’m not very fond of the pixelated 8-bit-like apps, as I have never played one that was in any way entertaining whatsoever, and the blocky gimmick has never been enough to make me overlook the shortcomings of the games themselves. However, if you remember “Maniac Mansion,” you’re probably in my age range, and you probably will have the same immediate attachment to this 8-bit style game. The nostalgia of “Maniac Mansion” will come flooding back to you like the time some stupid freshman in the dorm next door thought it was wise to hang his high school letterman jacket from the sprinkler that so clearly stated “do not hang clothes on me.”

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The mechanics are just what you’d expect. Tap a verb; tap an object; see what happens. You’ll find yourself picking up cheese and not knowing why for a while, but hold onto it! (First rule of adventure games: pick up all the things!) Combine objects, use them together with a device in the scene, give certain things to certain people, and take notes. Hidden within the game creators’ sick sense of humor is often very valuable details that will help you later in the game. Also, if you don’t get some of the jokes or references, you are probably a millennial, so it’s your own damn fault. (And get off my lawn.)

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In Thimbleweed Park you play as multiple characters as the story progresses. I hate spoilers, so I’m not going to divulge anything about the storyline. (It’s far more fun to let it unfold gradually.) Also, I haven’t finished it yet, so please don’t spoil the ending for me if you know what happens. Rest assured, though, that there is plenty of plot to keep you interested in tapping verbs and objects to see what happens next. I know the premise sounds lame, but it’s not nearly as lame as tapping to make a bird flap. Seriously, if you are averse to brain activity, go check in on the Kardashians and skip this game. You’ll actually have to think and *gasp* REMEMBER THINGS when you tap in this one.

All in all, I highly recommend Thimbleweed Park for that classic adventure game feel. Unless you suck.