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Taylor Blau GitHub Blog

Git 2.28 brings `init.defaultBranch`

Leading off the updates for Git 2.28 is the highly sought after ability to configure init.defaultBranch so folks can move from master to main as their default branch name.

From Taylor Blau on the GitHub blog:

When you initialize a new Git repository from scratch with git init, Git has always created an initial first branch with the name master. In Git 2.28, a new configuration option, init.defaultBranch is being introduced to replace the hard-coded term. (For more background on this change, this statement from the Software Freedom Conservancy is an excellent place to look).

Starting in Git 2.28, git init will instead look to the value of init.defaultBranch when creating the first branch in a new repository. If that value is unset, init.defaultBranch defaults to master

Also check out github/renaming to learn more about the complementary changes GitHub is making. GitLab and Bitbucket are making similar changes.

Git 2.28 brings `init.defaultBranch`

Career news.ncsu.edu

Tech sector job interviews assess anxiety, not software skills

A new study from North Carolina State University and Microsoft finds that the technical interviews currently used in hiring for many software engineering positions test whether a job candidate has performance anxiety rather than whether the candidate is competent at coding. The interviews may also be used to exclude groups or favor specific job candidates.

What’s more, the specific nature of the technical interview process means that many job candidates try to spend weeks or months training specifically for the technical interview, rather than for the actual job they’d be doing.

Be careful out there.

Brain Science Brain Science #25

The science behind caffeine

Today’s episode features our very first guest. We’re joined by Danielle Rath, a notable expert and product developer in the caffeine and energy drink industry. Danielle is the founder of GreenEyedGuide Research and Consulting where she shares science-based information about energy drinks and caffeine, and helps people and companies where fatigue and caffeine use are prevalent. In this lengthly episode, we talk through all aspects of the science behind caffeine — its chemical structure and half-life, where and how it’s being used, the good, bad, and the ugly, as well as practical advice for everyday consumption. If you consume caffeine of any sort, this is a must listen episode.

Culture daedtech.com

How developers stop learning: rise of the Expert Beginner

Erik Dietrich:

I believe that there is a unique group dynamic that forms and causes the rot of software groups in a way that can’t be explained by bad external decisions causing the talented developers to evaporate … In this post, I’m going to set the stage by describing how individuals opt into permanent mediocrity and reap rewards for doing so.

A must-read piece for anyone in danger of getting stuck in the “Expert Beginner” loop.

… during these years, the software developers are job-hopping and earning promotions, especially these days. As they breeze through rapid acquisition, so too do they breeze through titles like Software Engineer I and II and then maybe “Associate” and “Senior,” and perhaps eventually on up to “Lead” and “Architect” and “Principal.” So while in the throes of Dunning-Kruger and Advanced Beginnerism, they’re being given expert-sounding titles and told that they’re “rock stars” and “ninjas” and whatever by recruiters–especially in today’s economy. The only thing stopping them from taking the natural step into the Expert Beginner stage is a combination of peer review and interaction with the development community at large.

Matt Lacey mrlacey.com

But you only added two lines of code...

Ah, the classic mis-alignment of value to LOCs. How have you responded to this type of question or scenario?

Why did a fix that seems so simple when looking at the changes made take two days to complete?

Because I took the time to investigate the real cause of the issue, not just looking at the symptoms. If some code is throwing an error, you could just wrap it in a try..catch statement and suppress the error. No error, no problem. Right? Sorry, for me, making the problem invisible isn’t the same as fixing it. “Swallowing” an error can easily lead to other unexpected side-effects. I don’t want to have to deal with them at a point in the future.

Brain Science Brain Science #24

Cognitive distortions

How reflective are you with the thoughts you think? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through a few more cognitive distortions. These “distortions” are general tendencies or patterns of thinking that are false or inaccurate, which also have the potential to cause psychological damage. Generally speaking, people develop cognitive distortions as a way of coping with adverse life events. The more prolonged and severe those adverse events are, the more likely it is that one or more cognitive distortions will form. By recognizing these patterns in our thoughts and possibly how, when, or why we’re prone to use them, like many things, we create the opportunity to change them.

Tim O'Reilly O'Reilly Media

Welcome to the 21st century

This lengthly post from Tim O’Reilly is a must read in my opinion. His perspective is that the 21st hadn’t really begun until this year, 2020, “when the COVID19 pandemic took hold.”

…when we look back, we will understand that the 21st century truly began this year, when the COVID19 pandemic took hold. We are entering the century of being blindsided by things that we have been warned about for decades but never took seriously enough to prepare for, the century of lurching from crisis to crisis until, at last, we shake ourselves from the illusion that our world will go back to the comfortable way it was and begin the process of rebuilding our society from the ground up.

Tim goes on to ask and answer questions like: “What might be gone, never to return? What might come, now completely unexpected?” He also shares insight as “news from the future” regarding the direction of trend lines.

…to understand whether a trend like work-from-home is becoming the start of a new normal, sometimes the trend just hits you in the face. First Twitter, then Facebook announcing a commitment to new work from home policies even after the crisis is an obvious sign.

Paul Orlando unintendedconsequenc.es

On unintended consequences

Paul Orlando’s writings on second-order effects:

To understand the world you should think about systems, complexity, and causes of unintended consequences. We don’t do that enough.

I focus my writing on the study of these topics, frameworks to evaluate decisions, and bringing together people with these interests. Subscribe and read it via email since I include other content there.

I subscribed. This has been a recurring theme in a couple of our recent conversations on The Changelog. Here’s a clip of Jessica Kerr and myself riffing on the subject.

The Changelog The Changelog #399

Shipping work that matters

We’re revisiting Shape Up and product development thoughts with Ryan Singer, Head of Product Strategy at Basecamp. Last August we talked with Ryan when he first launched his book Shape Up and now we’re back to see how Shape Up is shaping up — “How are teams using the wisdom in this book to actually ship work that matters? How does Shape Up work in new versus existing products?” We also talk about the concept of longitudinal thinking and the way it’s impacting Ryan’s designs, plus a grab bag of topics in the last segment.

Nikita Prokopov tonsky.me

Time to upgrade your monitor

According to my research among programmers, 43% are still using monitors with pixel per inch density less than 150…

Why is this a problem? Because the only way to get good letters is by spending more pixels per letter. That simple. In the past, the displays’ pixel count was small, so we learned to live with that and even invented some very clever tricks to make our lives better.

Nikita goes on to share more details of how text looks on a low-resolution display vs a retina display. I’d love to see a follow up poll of the 43% using 150 PPI or less monitors on “why” they haven’t made the move to retina yet.

Nikola Đuza pragmaticpineapple.com

Don't follow JavaScript trends

How’s the saying go? Choose well-understood, “boring technologies”…we often reach for the new and shiny just for the joy of tinkering with something.

Psst, I have invented the time machine (don’t tell anyone)! Let us quickly travel back in time to 2016. SWOOSH! We are there. JavaScript landscape looks like this:

If you are using a JavaScript framework or want to use a framework, Angular.js is probably something you would choose. But, the news about Angular 2 that will make you rewrite almost everything is just around the corner. Also, this new kid on the block - React.js is coming up and getting ripe. Of course, Vanilla JS and no-framework-folks are there. Not using a framework is still a popular opinion in 2016, but is slowly fading.

Knowing all this, what would you do? Which path would you choose and why?

Brain Science Brain Science #22

The Neuroscience of touch

How much do you focus on your sense of touch? Have you ever considered how or why this sense is so critical to our lives and how we manage ourselves? In this episode, Mireille and Adam discuss the neurophysiological underpinnings of our sense of touch and how our brains process these sensory experiences. According to David Linden, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, “The sense of touch is intrinsically emotional.”

Not only is touch relevant to our emotional experience, but it is a foundational aspect of the development of our nervous system and it impacts how we manage stress and respond to pain. It isn’t surprising then to consider that touch is also extremely relevant to our relationships as we are apt to feel more connected to those with whom we engage in touch.

Kev Quirk kevq.uk

Is dark mode such a good idea?

Kev Quirk shares his thoughts on dark mode and links to various research on the science behind it.

I’ve decided to stop using dark mode across all of my devices, because research suggests that going to the dark side ain’t all that. … But after doing some research on dark vs light, I’ve made the decision to stop using dark mode everywhere. Here’s why…

Is dark mode such a good idea?

Jeff Benson decrypt.co

Lawsuits threaten to bankrupt The Internet Archive

Activists are rallying to save The Internet Archive from bankruptcy…

In March, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to the shutdown of public libraries, the Internet Archive created the National Emergency Library and temporarily suspended book waitlists—the kind that make you cool your jets for 12 weeks to download “A Game of Thrones” onto your Kindle—through the end of June. In doing so, it essentially allowed for a single copy of a book to be downloaded an infinite number of times.

Book publishers weren’t happy. Last Monday, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, and Wiley—four publishing behemoths—sued the organization.

The Changelog The Changelog #397

Creating GitLab’s remote playbook

We’re talking about all things all-remote with Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab. Darren is tasked with putting intentional thought and action into place to lead the largest all-remote company in the world. Yes, GitLab is 100% all-remote, as in, no offices…and they employee more than 1,200 people across 67 countries. They’ve been iterating and documenting how to work remotely for years. We cover Darren’s personal story on remote work while he served as managing editor at Engadget, his thoughts on how “work” is evolving and ways to reframe and rethink about when you work, this idea of work life harmony, and the backstory and details of the playbook GitLab released free of charge to the world.

C github.com

tic-tac-toe in a single call to printf

This was written for The International Obfuscated C Code Contest 2020 and I have zero idea how it works, but the entirety of the program consists of one call to printf

int main() {
    while(*d) printf(fmt, arg);
}

While its primary purpose is to serve as The One True Debugger, printf also happens to be Turing complete. (See “Control-Flow Bending: On the Effectiveness of Control-Flow Integrity” where we introduced this in an actual, published, academic paper. The things you can get away with sometimes.)

We ab^H^Huse this fact to implement a the logic of tic-tac-toe entirely within this one printf call (and a call to scanf() to read user input).

The code is beautifully formatted, too.

Brain Science Brain Science #21

The power of story

Researchers have examined the power of story and discovered the way in which stories provide a framework that has the capacity to transcend language for universal understanding. According to Joe Lazauskas, “Stories illuminate the city of our mind…stories make us remember and they make us care.” In this episode we dive deep into the power of story to explore the ways in which stories play a role in our emotions and in our relationships with others.

Lea Verou lea.verou.me

Today’s JavaScript, from an outsider’s perspective

Lea Verou shared this story of using Javascript for the first time…

Today I tried to help a friend who is a great computer scientist, but not a JS person use a JS module he found on Github. Since for the past 6 years my day job is doing usability research & teaching at MIT, I couldn’t help but cringe at the slog that this was. Lo and behold, a pile of unnecessary error conditions, cryptic errors, and lack of proper feedback. And I don’t feel I did a good job communicating the frustration he went through in the one hour or so until he gave up.

It went a bit like this…

Tobias Lütke Twitter

"Office centricity is over."

This thread from Tobias Lütke (CEO of Shopify) on Twitter…talks about digital by default, a unified work experience, WFH setup, empathy, company culture, change, and silver linings.

As of today, Shopify is a digital by default company. We will keep our offices closed until 2021 so that we can rework them for this new reality. And after that, most will permanently work remotely. Office centricity is over.

Until recently, work happened in the office. We’ve always had some people remote, but they used the internet as a bridge to the office. This will reverse now. The future of the office is to act as an on-ramp to the same digital workplace that you can access from your #WFH setup.

He goes on to say…

We haven’t figured this whole thing out. There is a lot of change ahead, but that is what we’re good at. “Thrive on change” is written on our (now digital) walls for a reason.

Saagar Jha saagarjha.com

Why we at $FAMOUS_COMPANY Switched to $HYPED_TECHNOLOGY

The best satire hits close to $HOME:

As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, the $FAMOUS_COMPANY backend has historically been developed in $UNREMARKABLE_LANGUAGE and architected on top of $PRACTICAL_OPEN_SOURCE_FRAMEWORK. To suit our unique needs, we designed and open-sourced $AN_ENGINEER_TOOK_A_MYTHOLOGY_CLASS, a highly-available, just-in-time compiler for $UNREMARKABLE_LANGUAGE.

Pairs nicely with this tweet of ours from a few months back.

Brain Science Brain Science #20

Navigating perfectionism

High expectations for performance in both life and work are common, but what do you do when you get stuck and you’re not able to achieve the results you desire? In this episode, Mireille and Adam talk through the different aspects of perfectionism and ways in which is can be adaptive and helpful and other ways in which it poses additional challenges. What happens when we avoid the possibility of failure as opposed to simply having high standards for our performance? How can we begin to focus on healthy striving as opposed to reaching for perfection?

Opensource.com Icon Opensource.com

How to find new maintainers for your open source project

A smooth hand-off of your open source project is no easy feat. To help others succeed in this arena, Paul Götze build Adoptoposs.org:

I found that, on GitHub alone, there were more than 36,000 issues asking “Is this project abandoned?”, I thought about how to tackle this problem. More than 15,000 of these were open issues. So, lots of projects need help with their maintenance.

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