Even those who are unfamiliar with the complexities of astrology have probably heard of Mercury Retrograde — a roughly three to four-week period in which the planet Mercury appears to “slow down” and move backwards in an optical illusion. In astrology, Mercury is said to rule travel, communication, and…technology. As of today, October 13, 2020, we are entering Mercury Retrograde in the sign of Scorpio for the next three weeks. Mercury Retrogrades are a time when miscommunication runs rampant, glitches and bugs are more common, and you might want to keep that $3 cup of coffee away from your $1300 laptop. Since developers work in the field of technology, I have curated a tongue-in-cheek Mercury Retrograde essential survival guide for software developers.
(Disclaimer: This guide is meant for entertainment purposes.)
1. Take Extra Security Precautions
Technological errors and mishaps are more common during Mercury Retrograde, including security breaches. Make sure that you are not storing users’ passwords in plain text files. (Not that any major social networking platform would ever do this…) Additionally, if you are integrating data from an API into your program, make sure to hide your API key — otherwise someone could steal your API key from your GitHub and rack up a massive bill at your expense. This is also a great time to change your passwords on all important accounts.
2. Pair Programming
Verbal communication tends also to go awry during this time, so make sure that you are effectively communicating on any pair projects by using the Visual Studio Code Liveshare extension to avoid any mishaps, as you can see view each other coding in real time. Since we are currently in Mars Retrograde in Aries (God of War) as well, you might be feeling more frustrated or irritated if your code doesn’t work or when there is a miscommunication with your coworkers or coding partner. Take a step back, breathe, and try to work through the code piece by piece. Pseudo-coding — (writing down your plan of action before coding) together beforehand is always a great idea and even more so during this time to ensure that you and your team are on the same page.
3. Pay Attention to Detail
Forgetfulness and missing small details can become more common. Does your debugger session keep throwing a syntax error but not sure where you forgot to close a bracket or parentheses? Visual Studio Code has a great feature to find a bracket’s “sibling” by double clicking on the bracket — the matching bracket should light up — if it doesn’t, then there’s your problem. Having someone else scan your code for a missing semicolon or rogue parenthesis is also a great idea if you are at your wits’ end trying to figure out why your code won’t run.
4. Back Up Your Work
This is one of the most important pieces of advice during any Mercury retrograde — please, please back up your work. Make frequent commits to GitHub, back up any files, save frequently —enable autosave features on your code editors. Take extra precaution that you are running the correct commands in terminal as well so that you do not accidentally drop an entire database or overwrite anything important. Keeping software editor extensions up to date is also super important.
5. Avoid Making Commitments
And lastly, as a software developer, the only commitments you should be making during Mercury Retrograde is frequent commits to GitHub. Avoid commitment of any kind, including signing contracts for a new job — it may not last as long as you want, or the role you accepted may end up looking different than what you thought. Also especially important is waiting until after the retrograde period is over to buy a new laptop or equipment as technical equipment is more likely to break during this time frame. And if you absolutely must make a big purchase — make sure it comes with solid insurance plan or return policy.