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Beliefs, behavioral patterns, thoughts, and institutions of the developer community.
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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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Culture danielmiessler.com

It's time to get back into RSS

Some of us never left, but for those who did… it is most definitely time to return to the good ole’ days. Why is it more important now than ever? Disintermediation, that’s why.

It was a direct connection between creators and consumers. By adding someone’s feed to your RSS reader you were saying, “Yes, I’d like to subscribe to your interpretation of reality.”

By curating the feeds in your reader, you were curating your view of the world. And that was made up of hundreds or thousands of individual voices.

Sid Sijbrandij changelog.com/posts

Family and friends first, work second

Behind the scenes we heard about Sid’s idea of “family and friends first,” so we asked him to share the idea with our audience and how it’s being embraced at GitLab. Stay tuned for an upcoming episode of Founders Talk with Sid. I’m sure we’ll touch on this idea and more._

Even at GitLab, we’ve seen increased productivity as the number of merge requests for both March and April exceeded February’s numbers. But as company leader, I don’t see this as something to tout. This new normal is anything but normal, and we shouldn’t treat it as such. Even though GitLab has always been remote and experienced less of a transition than most other companies, our team members are not immune to the stressors of quarantine. Overworking or maintaining the status quo during a crisis is not a badge of honor. In fact, I would be prouder if more employees were taking time off to reset and refresh or spend time adjusting to this “new normal” with their families.

Maarten Claes mcls.io

Encouraging a culture of written communication

Are you striving to create a culture of written comms? Maarten Claes writes…

More and more people are being exposed to working remotely. One of the key factors for success in a remote workplace is a culture of written communication. It’s not always obvious how to create such a culture, and it takes at least some level of discipline from the people involved to make it a habit.

I’ve worked with mostly remote teams over the past three years. Here are a few of my observations on what helped cultivate such a culture.

WFH taskade.com

How to foster remote workplace camaraderie

This article argues that workplace camaraderie is possible when teams:

  • 🛶 Paddle in the same direction
  • 🎯 Share similar goals and values
  • 🤔 Have meaningful, focused conversations

But what does ‘camaraderie’ even mean in the workplace context?

Workplace camaraderie means loyalty towards your employer and colleagues. It’s a sense of belonging and commitment that binds a seemingly unrelated bunch of people. It’s the glue that keeps businesses and organizations together.

There are challenges to generating and sustaining camaraderie when people are in the same physical space. It’s even harder when they are not. The linked article has some good advice in that regard, as well.

Dan Luu danluu.com

How (some) good corporate engineering blogs are written

For those out there that lead or contribute to a corporate engineering blog, Dan Luu interviewed folks at Cloudflare, Heap, and Segment, as well as folks at three different companies with “lame corporate engineering blogs” to get a sense of what makes them interesting or lame.

I’ve been comparing notes with people who run corporate engineering blogs and one thing that I think is curious is that it’s pretty common for my personal blog to get more traffic than the entire corp eng blog for a company with a nine to ten figure valuation and it’s not uncommon for my blog to get an order of magnitude more traffic.

In order to have a boring blog, the corporation has to actively stop engineers from putting interesting content out there. Unfortunately, it appears that the natural state of large corporations tends towards risk aversion and blocking people from writing, just in case it causes a legal or PR or other problem.

Todd Kulesza blog.golang.org

Go developer survey 2019 results

Good news! For 2019 there were 10,975 responses to the survey — that’s almost twice as many as last year. Here are few major findings from the results, but of course, you should dig in because they make it really easy to scan and grok the details.

  • The demographics of our respondents are similar to Stack Overflow’s survey respondents, which increases our confidence that these results are representative of the larger Go developer audience.
  • A majority of respondents use Go every day, and this number has been trending up each year.
  • Respondents are using Go to solve similar problems, particularly building API/RPC services and CLIs, regardless of the size of organization they work at.
  • Most teams try to update to the latest Go release quickly; when third-party providers are late to support the current Go release, this creates an adoption blocker for developers.
  • Almost everyone in the Go ecosystem is now using modules, but some confusion around package management remains.
  • VS Code and GoLand have continued to see increased use; they’re now preferred by 3 out of 4 respondents.

Drew Devault drewdevault.com

How to store data forever

It’s certainly interesting to ponder how to store data for as long as you possibly can, which Drew highlights very well. But I really enjoyed the questions at the end on “actually storing data forever”…

Let’s say you’ve managed to keep your data around. But will you still know how to interpret that data in the future? Is it in a file format which requires specialized software to use? Will that software still be relevant in the future? Is that software open-source, so you can update it yourself? Will it still compile and run correctly on newer operating systems and hardware? Will the storage medium still be compatible with new computers?

Eduards Sizovs sizovs.net

Developers don't need ping-pong tables

Some of the particulars in this article don’t feel relevant during the coronavirus-lockdown phase of history, but the overarching message is solid:

Companies waste millions on building the environment they think makes developers happy, without understanding what actually makes developers tick.

What does make developers tick? What motivates us? The answers aren’t always the same, but they often aren’t all that different either. Eduards argues that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are at the heart of it.

JavaScript dutzi.party

Userscripts are fun and are still very much relevant

I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment! Customizing your web experience is what the web is all about. Who remember Greasemonkey?! ✋

Here’s the quick how to for today:

Creating a simple Userscript is pretty simple, you simply install ViolentMonkey (on Chrome, use TamperMonkey for other browsers), hit the Create Userscript button and you will be preseneted with a pretty decent code editor showing a userscript template.

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