Why engineers should focus on writing, LazyVim, CSS in 2023, bad issue tracker behaviors, the future of AlmaLinux, unconference toolbox & more

Changelog News

A bug-for-bug compatible & freely available alternative

Jerod here! 👋

Adam and I interviewed Steve Yegge on Friday and it was so much fun! He’s chock full of great stories and even shared a couple previously-untold Bezos tales. Can’t wait for y’all to hear it. Soon!

Ok, here’s this week’s top stories. (Audio Edition)

🐢 Magical shell history

Our Efficient Linux at the CLI episode revealed my recently-closed ⌃r knowledge gap (I know, right?!), which prompted Matt Lehrer to point me towards Atuin by Ellie Huxtable.

Atuin is a command-line tool that enables you to make better use of your shell, by giving ctrl-r superpowers.

Every line you write is stored - ready to be queried and run again at any point, from any machine you wish. Never forget again!

Sync your history between all of your machines, and search it from anywhere

How does Atuin do it? By replacing your existing shell history with a SQLite db, recording additional context for your commands, and syncing that db (fully end-to-end encrypted) via a server Ellie hosts or your own setup. Shut up and take my money praise!

✍️ Why engineers should focus on writing

Dmitry Kudryavtsev:

…today writing is so underrated, that most people want to avoid it. But the truth is–you will have to write. Comments, documentation, design documents, presentations. Whether you like it or not. So why not become better at it?

He goes on to outline three reasons engineers should write more:

  1. Writing is a way to organize your brain
  2. Writing is a way to learn something
  3. Writing helps you identify mistakes

And finishes up with how to write more, including this #unpopularopinion: abolish the copy-paste

💤 A Neovim setup powered by lazy.nvim

LazyVim promises to transform your Neovim setup into a full-fleged IDE with dozens of hand-picked plugins pre-installed, easy customization with lazy.nvim & sane defaults settings for options, autocmds, and keymaps.

LazyVim screenshot

🔐 It’s time for a new password manager

Thanks to passbolt for sponsoring this week’s Changelog News 💰

Shelby Lee Neubeck:

passbolt is a bit of an anomaly when it comes to password managers. It offers a unique architecture that’s tailored for secure collaboration and built on top of open standards. Does this mean there’s no risk? Of course not. But it does mean that the way we analyse and address risk is different.

100% asymmetric end-to-end security, backed by OpenPGP, and packed with features for businesses and teams in mind.

🖼️ Writing CSS in 2023

CSS is evolving faster than ever. Don’t take my word for it, take Chris Coyier’s. Or, take Chris’ old CSS-Tricks collaborator Geoff Graham’s excellent write-up for Smashing Mag all about modern CSS and the features he uses in his current approach to the declarative language so many devs love to hate:

I, for one, am stoked beyond all heck about how CSS is evolving. Many of the latest features are ones we have craved for many, many years. And indeed, there are several of them finding their way into my CSS. Again, not drastically, but enough that I’m enjoying writing CSS more now than ever.

Let me count the ways.

Container queries, layered styles, :is() & :where(), the new color function syntax, user preferences & more get detailed treatments followed by a list of features Geoff is not using.

😤 Bad public issue tracker behaviors

Brad Fitzpatrick has been involved in FOSS communities (memcached, OpenID, Go, etc.) for over 25 years, so he’s seen his share of bad behavior on public issue trackers. The linked repo is a collection of those behaviors that we should all read, because:

  1. misery loves company
  2. if you do any of these things… stop

The duper, the negger, the template ignorer, the cookie licker, the…

🔆 The Future of AlmaLinux is Bright

Despite our best efforts, at least one part of last Friday’s Friends episode about Red Hat drama got stale between recording and shipping: AlmaLinux’s response. Here’s the latest form the Alma team:

After much discussion, the AlmaLinux OS Foundation board today has decided to drop the aim to be 1:1 with RHEL. AlmaLinux OS will instead aim to be Application Binary Interface (ABI) compatible*.

ABI compat in this case means apps built to run on RHEL can run without issue on AlmaLinux. (via Jonathan Wright)

🪦 Why an era of enthusiast programmers is coming to an end

I prefer the subtitle 👆 of this Justin Searls essay over the title “The looming demise of the 10x developer” for two reasons:

  1. The bulk of what Justin has to say deals with eras/generations of developers, not 10xers per se
  2. He admitted (although I’ve lost the link somewhere in the fediverse) that 10x was mostly bait

That being said, the essay is 100% worth a read and we plan on having Justin on Friends soon for a deep conversation on the topic. Here’s a teaser:

Squint and everything I just said about myself could have described a character from The Big Bang Theory or Silicon Valley. I’m at peace with the fact that on my best days, I’m an overplayed, abrasive character trope come to life. For decades, we’ve associated a slew of mostly-negative traits like these with programmers as if the linkage is inherent and inevitable. I’ve always thought that stereotype was arbitrary—anybody can learn programming and be great at it—but now I’m starting to think it’s a product of our times as well.

That is to say, I’ve come to believe the era typified by the enthusiast programmer—autodidactic, obsessive, and antisocial—is drawing to a close.

🧰 The unconference toolbox

Jason Benn & Devon Zuegel:

So, you’ve been invited to an unconference! Maybe you’re not entirely sure what that means (did the organizers misspell “conference”?), or maybe you’ve been to dozens of these before and you’re looking for some ideas for how to run an awesome session.

This blog post will be a quick primer on what an unconference is, and then we’ll share some tips on how to make a session excellent, both as the host and as a participant.

Unconferences are often the best conferences out there. If you’re attending (or unorganizing) one anytime soon, bookmark this page and revisit it while preparing for maximum impact.

💼 In brief: more things worth linking up

  • Immich is a high performance self-hosted photo and video backup solution that’s under heavy development
  • GitHub rolled out passkeys as a public beta. Optionally replace your password and 2FA method
  • Li-Fi is around the corner and it’s supposed to be up to 100x faster than Wi-Fi (and more secure)
  • Sean Ferguson writes about the testing pyramid and why you shouldn’t use it (see also 🦀)
  • Paul Hebert codes up randomized patterns like the ones in Tears of the Kingdom (which is so, so good)
  • Paolo Mainardi thinks we’ve reached “a point of no return” on managing dependencies, but maybe that’s not all bad?
  • Lenz Weber-Tronic gives his take on the current React & Server Components controversy (he’s frustrated)

🎧 ICYMI: Recent good pods from us

Types will win in the end – we’re talking about type checking with Jake Zimmerman, one of the leads at Stripe working on Sorbet — an open source project that does Type checking in Ruby and runs over Stripe’s entire Ruby codebase. Jake shares tons of wisdom and more importantly he tells us why he thinks types will win in the end.

Dear Red Hat… – Red Hat’s decision to lock down RHEL sources behind a subscription paywall was met with much ire and opened opportunity for Oracle to get a smack in and SUSE to announce a fork with $10 million behind it. Few RHEL community members have been as publicly irate as Jeff Geerling, so we invited him on the show to discuss.

A developer’s toolkit for SOTA AI – Chris Benson sits down with the leadership at Codeium to discuss how to streamline and enable modern development in generative AI and large language models. Codeium is a free AI-powered toolkit for developers, with in-house models and infrastructure - not another API wrapper.

Fundamentals all the way down – Austin Gil returns to JS Party, bringing a fresh perspective on the fundamentals of file uploads. Brace for an insightful session as we navigate the complexities of this key JavaScript topic together, much like a dedicated coach drilling the fundamentals into his team!

Gophers Say! GopherCon EU 2023 – Our award winning worthy survey game show is back, this time Mat Ryer hosts it live on stage at GopherCon Europe 2023! Elena Grahovac joins forces with Björn Rabenstein to battle it out with Alice Merrick & Mohammed S. Al Sahaf. Let’s see who can better guess what the GopherCon Europe gophers had to say!

💬 Quote of the week

Zawinsky’s Law states:

Every program attempts to expand until it can read mail. Those programs which cannot so expand are replaced by ones which can.

And Zawinsky’s interpretation of Zawinsky’s Law states:

My point was not about copycats, it was about platformization. Apps that you “live in” all day have pressure to become everything and do everything. An app for editing text becomes an IDE, then an OS. An app for displaying hypertext documents becomes a mail reader, then an OS.

That is the news for now!

Stay tuned for that Steve Yegge show to drop on Wednesday. On Friday, we’re hanging out with Bryan Cantrill and Steve Tuck from Oxide Computer, who recently shipped out their first rack!

Have a great week, share this with your friends who might dig it, and I’ll talk to you again real soon.