My (Continuing) Descent Into Madness

9 December 2023 4 Minutes History

It started simply enough, when I asked myself if I should try an IDE other than Visual Studio. Mere months later, I'm now using a tiling window manager. This is the story of my (continuing) descent into madness.


It wasn't that long ago that I tasked myself with updating a few microservice codebases to be able to work on VS Code along with Visual Studio. I really don't like the stock VS Code, so I spent a few hours customizing the colors and moving the explorer to the right. Then I added some custom keybindings so that I could navigate around the IDE efficiently.

Being clear, VS Code is not the perfect IDE. In fact, there's many things for which VS is better. VS Code is an Electron app, and you can tell even just while typing in it - VS is faster at typing. However, a combination of the customizability and several quality of life features, I became a bit envious of my colleagues who were using VS Code full-time.

So I decided to try using VS Code full-time.

Oh, how I should not have started to tweak my environment. Once I opened the first door I've ended up opening them all, tweaking every aspect of my digital life.

At this point I've completely riced my VS Code. I have custom CSS (via Custom CSS and JS Loader) to tweak each little nitpick I have. I've remapped almost all of the keybindings and added plenty of my own. When I use stock VS Code I feel dirty and disgusted, and when my colleagues use my VS Code they feel dirty and disgusted.

But this wasn't enough for me, I'd found a zeal for getting the most out of my environment, for having every command at my fingertips, for elminating visual clutter from my screen.

I found myself increasingly, then exclusively, relying on ALT+TAB to navigate windows. I'd keep my IDE maximized (side note: I should write a script to hit F11 when it starts up), then I started keeping my browser maximized, then everything else. The Windows task bar was just getting in the way now - I took all the pinned applications off it and made Windows hide it from me.

I don't keep too many windows open at any given time, but ALT+TAB takes its toll. Wouldn't it be faster if I could map ALT+<Number> to a window, or an environment?

The envy I once had for my VS Code colleagues has been replaced by an envy for my Linux colleagues who can use i3 or Qtile. I needed a tiling window manager, but on Windows? In fact, yes you can, yes I did, and yes I riced the hell out of it.

Not only could I have separate workspaces one ALT+<Number> away, windows are maximized by default! If you've been using a tiling window manager for some time you know this is routine, but I was new to this world and it only fueled the fire I'd found myself in. My coworkers now joke when I'll switch to Linux. They think it's funny, I fear it might be inevitable.

I would need icons for my workspaces of course, and Glaze recommends using Nerd Fonts for this. I'd resisted installing one of these for so many years. What's wrong with good old Consolas? Am I going to become one of those dweebs with all the glyphs in their code?

Yes, yes I did. And I have pretty icons for my workspaces. And once you give an engineer a nerd font I suppose it's only a matter of time (hours, in my case) that Oh My Posh sneaks its way in. My Powershell is now gorgeous.

Like a frog in boiling water, this has all happened to me gradually and I barely registered this transformation. I would come across an extension like Background for VS Code and install it, not thinking twice that now all of my code has pretty space images behind it. But I need to acknowledge it now, lest you too might fall into this trap.

I've gone mad and I see no end in sight. Will I start using Arch? Will I switch to Neovim? Will I take a job writing Haskell whitepapers? I do not know.

Hi, I'm Ian

I'm a software engineer, architect, and team leader in Minneapolis. My career has largely focused on .NET and web technologies, spread across several industries. Currently I'm working for Crate & Barrel on their ecommerce solutions. You can find me on this blog, contributing to open source repositories, and at conferences around the Midwest.

If you'd like to keep up with me, please subscribe to my book club or RSS feed. If you'd like to help me out with server costs, I would be forever grateful if you bought me a coffee!

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