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Python's :=, email falsehoods, no more self-hosting & Leon

Changelog News for 2022-09-05

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Martin Heinz thinks you should be using Python’s walrus operator, you probably believe some falsehoods about email, Carlos Fenollosa threw in the towel after self-hosting his email for 23 years & Leon is an open source personal assistant that can live on your server.

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What up nerds, I’m Jerod and this is Changelog News for the week of Monday, September 5th 2022.

But it’s shipping out on a Tuesday because Labor Day.

This week we’re keeping it short and sweet. Like this intro. Which ends right now.

Martin Heinz thinks you should be using Python’s walrus operator, and he’s here to tell you why.

The walrus operator was added in Python 3.8, but Martin says it’s still somewhat controversial and many people have unfounded hate for it. If you’re not aware, the walrus operator is a colon followed by an equals sign, which looks like a sideways walrus, I guess. But it’s officially called the assignment expression operator. How’s it different from traditional assignment?

An assignment expression returns the value after assigning it. So you get two operations for the price of one. It’s syntax sugar, but Martin thinks it’s a really good addition to the language that “if you use it properly, then it can help you make your code more concise and readable.”

His post points out five different scenarios where the walrus operator shines and finishes up with some gotchas & limitations. A solid read if you’re not sure about the feature, or if you want to link slap a skeptical colleague.

You probably believe some falsehoods about email. If you don’t think so, check out this epic list of things programmers think about email which aren’t always true.

Maybe you think everyone has an email address, maybe you think email addresses don’t change, maybe you think an email can only have one “from” address, maybe you think that that regular expression which validates an email address that you copied off the internet and paste into every codebase since is fool-proof…

You’d be wrong about each of those, and I have a blog post about that regular expression, if you’re not convinced.

Speaking of email, Carlos Fenollosa self-hosted his email for 23 years, but recently threw in the towel. He says the oligopoly has won.

Carlos says, “I have been self-hosting my email since I got my first broadband connection at home in 1999. I absolutely loved having a personal web+email server at home, paid extra for a static IP and a real router so people could connect from the outside. I felt like a first-class citizen of the Internet and I learned so much.

Over time I realized that residential IP blocks were banned on most servers. I moved my email server to a VPS. No luck. I quickly understood that self-hosting email was a lost cause. Nevertheless, I have been fighting back out of pure spite, obstinacy, and activism. In other words, because it was the right thing to do.

But my emails are just not delivered anymore. I might as well not have an email server.”

That last bit is what made Carlos finally give up. Email deliverability is being nerfed by Big Tech. And Carlos thinks it’s deliberate. Check his post for the reasoning if you’re interested. He also provides a simple proposal where everybody wins.

With win-win-win, we all win.

Man, I love that sound byte. Fun fact: the first name I came up with for my recently-retired software consultancy was win-win-win. But my wife rolled her eyes at it. So, hey. The name’s up for grabs. And it’s pretty cool, if you ask me. Just don’t ask my wife.

Have you met Leon? No, not the professional.

This Leon is an open source personal assistant that can live on your server. He does stuff when you ask him to.

Created by Louis Grenard, Leon is a Node.js powered app that’s been in the works since 2016. It’s built on a modular architecture so you can create or use shared skills that fit your needs. And, of course, Leon uses all the latest in AI to pull it together: Natural language processing, plus text-to-speech and speech-to-text so you can talk to Leon, or text him stuff to do.

Think of Leon like a permissively licensed, open source Siri that you can self-host and has a public roadmap. Cooler than cool.

That is the news for now. Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly newsletter that includes these stories and more. Get in on it at changelog.com/weekly. Have a great week, and we’ll talk to you again real soon.

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