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Medium (via Scribe)

A place to read, write, and interact with stories from the web. Medium's reading experience has declined, so we link to Scribe instead.
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Tony Stubblebine Medium (via Scribe)

Medium embraces Mastodon

Medium CEO, Tony Stubblebine:

Today, Medium is launching a Mastodon instance at me.dm to help our authors, publications and readers find a home in the fediverse. Mastodon is an emerging force for good in social media and we are excited to join this community.

This strikes me as smart for Medium and a big vote of confidence for Mastodon and the entire concept of federated social networking. With Tumblr support (allegedly) coming as well, what’s next? Reddit?!

Rust Medium (via Scribe)

Using Rust at a startup: a cautionary tale

Matt Welsh:

I hesitated writing this post, because I don’t want to start, or get into, a holy war over programming languages. (Just to get the flame bait out of the way, Visual Basic is the best language ever!) But I’ve had a number of people ask me about my experience with Rust and whether they should pick up Rust for their projects. So, I’d like to share some of the pros and cons that I see of using Rust in a startup setting, where moving fast and scaling teams is really important.

The learning curve and hiring difficulties seem to be the major culprits, in Matt’s experience.

Jenni Nadler Medium (via Scribe)

When life gives you lemons, write better error messages

This is an excellent deep-dive on error message best practices by Jenni Nadler from Wix:

Error messages are part of our daily lives online. Every time a server is down or we don’t have internet, or we forget to add some info in a form, we get an error message. “Something went wrong” is the classic. But what went wrong? What happened? And, most importantly, how can I fix it?

When life gives you lemons, write better error messages

Amazon Web Services Medium (via Scribe)

We reduced our server costs 80% by moving away from AWS

Zsot Varga explains how Prerender saved $800k annually by removing their reliance on AWS and building in-house infrastructure to handle traffic and cached data. This was no minor migration, and it took months to pull off, but it’s a solid lesson in testing your assumptions.

The cloud (which is AWS in most cases) is the default for most businesses today. That’s a good starting place for many reasons, but once you get up and going you may find it’s not the best choice for your business, like the folks at Prerender learned.

Tooling Medium (via Scribe)

Fzf: a tool that will transform your CLI life

Suraj Pillai, singing fzf’s praises:

I’m a CLI junkie, addicted to Vim motions, and never miss an opportunity to bring those two in to any part of my workflow. Naturally, I love to geek out about command line utilities and am always on the lookout for the next tool that can improve my productivity or just make CLI more fun to use. I can confidently say that Fzf is one of the handful of tools I’ve discovered over the years that has done both and has,thus, significantly improved the quality of my command line life.

Max Howell Medium (via Scribe)

Something new is brewing

Max Howell, creator of Homebrew, has gone back to his notes on brew2 to apply web3 concepts to help “distribute value to open source.” He’s calling this new brew tea.

Tools like Homebrew lie beneath all development tools, assisting developers to actually get development done. We know the graph of all open source, which means we’re uniquely placed to innovate in interesting and exciting ways. This is exactly what tea will do. We’re taking our knowledge of how to make development more efficient and throwing innovations nobody has ever really considered before.

With plans to move the package registry on-chain, Max lays out the numerous benefits due to “inherent benefits of blockchain technology”:

  • Packages will be immutable (no more left-pad incidents)
  • Packages will always be available (we’ll use decentralized storage)
  • Releases will be signed by the maintainers themselves (rather than a middleman you are told you can trust)
  • Tools can be built to fundamentally verify the integrity of your app’s open source constitution
  • Token can flow through the graph

Max says “token flowing is where things get really interesting,” and goes on to say “with our system people who care about the health of the open source ecosystem buy some token and stake it.”

(Thanks to Omri Gabay for sharing this first in our community Slack)

Emma Hyde Medium (via Scribe)

Ruby is still a diamond

Emma Hyde:

I have seen a staggering amount of Ruby is Dead missives in the last few years, and a decline, or at least, an often discussed decline, of the language’s popularity and ranking. But what makes Ruby so much worse than other languages?

She goes on to discuss how Ruby 3.0 addresses two of the most criticized elements of Ruby: its ability to handle processes simultaneously and and its overall performance.

Career Medium (via Scribe)

An attempt to answer the question, “If software engineering is in demand, why is it so hard to get a software engineering job?”

I’ve often wondered this as well. My conclusion, after not thinking too deeply about the issue, was that it’s a combination of the difficulty in match making and poor tooling. (There are many startups trying to solve those problems, but it doesn’t seem like anybody has cracked the nut yet).

There’s lots of wisdom in this post by Curt Corginia:

A wise, mature person would treat the software engineer interview process as a pure learning experience. He, or she, would enjoy learning about companies out there for the sake of research, interacting with key players, and mastering the art of whiteboarding. It would just be like a fun game.

I don’t think of it like that, but a mature person would. Do what I say, not what I do.

Shruti Kapoor Medium (via Scribe)

The story of PayPal's adoption of GraphQL

From Shruti Kapoor on PayPal’s technology blog:

We started our GraphQL adoption journey by building our checkout experience. We saw tremendous benefits in adopting GraphQL when our checkout app built with GraphQL became our guiding light.We built more apps, provided infrastructure support, launched a public GraphQL API, and provided trainings and learning materials across the company. We also set up a standards body, provided a GraphQL tools fanny pack, and built sample apps to help teams get started.

Today, GraphQL is being used by several production apps across PayPal. It is now a default pattern to use GraphQL for building new UI apps. Many existing apps are in the process of migrating to GraphQL.

Practices Medium (via Scribe)

How to review code as a junior developer

Emma Catlin writing for Pinterest Engineering:

… at some point in my first year, I realized something critical: I needed to help the entire team, not just myself, in order to grow to the next engineering level. To start, one of my teammates recommended I review code.

The advice was simple enough — use code reviews as a way to learn more about a piece of code and expand my knowledge of our overall system. It turned out code reviews were the perfect way for me to continue my learning journey.

She got better at it over time (of course) and shares some of those learnings in this excellent post.

Kathy Korevec Medium (via Scribe)

Maybe it’s time we re-think docs

Kathy Korevec has been putting a lot of thought into documentation as part of her work at GitHub:

Wouldn’t it be great if the docs knew that you were writing a Python app on a Windows machine and that you preferred watching videos instead of reading through text? I want you to find the answer to your questions in the docs, easily and efficiently. When you’re stuck on a problem and you turn to the docs, there’s a moment of magic as you find the solution, try it out and it works. In that moment you become unblocked, you learn something new and you can move on to keep building your application.

In this post, she outlines 10 guiding principles she developed after speaking with hundreds of developers about their struggles with documentation. She then shares how she’s putting those principles into action in/around GitHub. Good stuff.

Yejun Medium (via Scribe)

Livebook-driven development

Yejun Su is using Numerical Elixir’s new Livebook project for more than just Numerical Things.

Before Livebook, I write code in IEx, which is a REPL. It has some helpers to ease the way to explore code, but in my opinion, Livebook exceeds in two factors:

Code history
In fact, IEx can enable code history by setting export ERL_AFLAGS="-kernel shell_history enabled" in the shell profile file. You can also search the IEx code history with Ctrl-r and apply it. But as Livebook is essentially a notebook, you can see all texts and evaluation results without the need to set anything.

Visualization
Livebook has a clean UI. You can write documents in Markdown and evaluate Elixir code blocks. It is more continuous, you can review every step of your thought by scrolling the page.

Career Medium (via Scribe)

An incomplete list of skills senior engineers need, beyond coding

A quick list of 23 skills for varying levels of seniority, from senior, to staff, and beyond. My favorites from the list are How to listen to other engineers’ ideas without feeling threatened (#10) and How to pick your battles (#18) .

Everyone else’s favorite, according to the top highlight, is How to get someone promoted (#19).

PostgreSQL Medium (via Scribe)

10 things I hate about PostgreSQL

Long-time readers/listeners know I’m a Postgres fan, but I sometimes wonder if I heap too much praise on my favorite database. Enter Rick Branson:

While much of this praise is certainly well-deserved, the lack of meaningful dissent left me a bit bothered. No software is perfect, so exactly what are PostgreSQL’s imperfections?

I’ve been hands-on with PostgreSQL in production since 2003 with deployments ranging from small (gigabytes) to modest to very large (~petabyte). My perspective is largely from building and running systems that are at least intended to be continuously available. Needless to say, I have gained first-hand experience with PostgreSQL’s particular idiosyncrasies through some painful production issues over the years.

Rick has worked with much larger PG installs than I have, so his insights on this subject are well-grounded.

Open Source Medium (via Scribe)

Death of an open source business model

Joe Morrison:

Until yesterday, I was still clinging to a few shreds of romantic optimism about open source software businesses. Mapbox is the protagonist of a story I’ve told myself and others countless times. It’s a seductive tale about the incredible, counterintuitive concept of the “open core” business model for software companies.

We’ve discussed the challenges with open core on many occasions (this episode of The Changelog on Nextcloud immediately comes to mind), but most of those conversations center around the tension of balancing commercial and open source interests. This Mapbox open core story, on the other hand, has a different villain:

Today, we’re gathered here on the internet to mourn the death of the open core business model. We’re here to tell stories of the before-times, to reminisce about how smart we thought we were. We went against consensus, and we were wrong. Because, open core is dead.

Cloud killed open core.

Open Source Medium (via Scribe)

OpenStreetMap is having a moment

Joe Morrison on how OpenStreetMap has quietly become a core piece of open source infrastructure:

OpenStreetMap is now at the center of an unholy alliance of the world’s largest and wealthiest technology companies. The most valuable companies in the world are treating OSM as critical infrastructure for some of the most-used software ever written.

What a success story. Do you think it can be repeated?

OpenStreetMap is having a moment

Jaana Dogan Medium (via Scribe)

What did I forget by working for the same company?

Jaana Dogan, now working at AWS, reflects on her (long) time at Google:

My time was up for one exact reason. I no longer had no clue what the life outside Google felt like. My actual superpower was gone. I remember sitting in meetings only bringing insights from what I hear from customers without truly understanding how things worked outside of our bubble end-to-end.

Thoughtful reflection is a powerful tool in your life. Sharing that reflection with others, like Jaana does here, can be a powerful tool in other people’s lives. 💪

Max Braun Medium (via Scribe)

PiSight brings back Apple iSight

Max Braun thinks today’s webcams are boring, so he brought back a classic. Max took an Apple iSight and retrofitted it with a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, which “fits the iSight’s dimensions almost perfectly.”

The PiSight actually works like you’d expect it to. Just plug in the USB cable and the camera will show up in your video conferencing app of choice. The image quality is quite good, possibly better than the built-in camera of today’s MacBooks.

The best part is you can do this too because Max made all the plans available as open source.

Just in case you’re not completely taken aback by the absurdity of this project and are now considering building your very own PiSight, rest assured that I’m making everything available as open source.

The GitHub repo has a list of parts and where to get them, the 3D-print-ready model of the frame, and the source code. I’m thinking it should be possible to get the total cost down to under $150. I had to spend a bit more than that because I needed to experiment and opted for higher-end materials.

PiSight brings back Apple iSight

Startups Medium (via Scribe)

Unicorns are out, profits are in

This seems like a natural counter-weight to the go-big-or-go-home strategy of many venture capitalists:

Over five years, Indie.vc has backed 34 companies — half of which are women-led companies and 20% are Black. And while there haven’t been any big exits yet, the companies that receive Indie.vc funding seem to be much more robust than their peers, especially in a challenging economic climate. On average, they’re growing 100% in the first year, and 300% the second year, says Roberts. Plus, the fund’s mortality rate is 10% — compared to about 44% with traditional VC-backed companies.

Indie.vc’s next application window is “Fall 2020.”

Jaana Dogan Medium (via Scribe)

Things I wished more developers knew about databases

Jaana Dogan started with a draft and this tweet and ended up laying down some serious knowledge on databases.

A large majority of computer systems have some state and are likely to depend on a storage system. My knowledge on databases accumulated over time, but along the way our design mistakes caused data loss and outages. In data-heavy systems, databases are at the core of system design goals and tradeoffs. Even though it is impossible to ignore how databases work, the problems that application developers foresee and experience will often be just the tip of the iceberg.

Thomas Smith Medium (via Scribe)

Clearview AI has a profile on me and 'it freaked me out'

Have you ever posted an image on the public internet and thought, “What if someone used this for something?” Thomas Smith did and what he discovered about Clearview AI is disturbing…

Someone really has been monitoring nearly everything you post to the public internet. And they genuinely are doing “something” with it.

The someone is Clearview AI. And the something is this: building a detailed profile about you from the photos you post online, making it searchable using only your face, and then selling it to government agencies and police departments who use it to help track you, identify your face in a crowd, and investigate you — even if you’ve been accused of no crime.

I realize that this sounds like a bunch of conspiracy theory baloney. But it’s not. Clearview AI’s tech is very real, and it’s already in use.

How do I know? Because Clearview has a profile on me. And today I got my hands on it.

Startups Medium (via Scribe)

What 15 years of Y Combinator investments can teach us about startups

YC touches so many companies that it is in effect an index on the entire early stage venture capital industry, like the Dow Jones Industrial Average for public stocks.

Lots to ponder in this post. Developer tools, AI, education, and health care are all trending right now in YC investment while hardware and fintech sectors are slowing.

What 15 years of Y Combinator investments can teach us about startups
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