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Culture

Beliefs, behavioral patterns, thoughts, and institutions of the developer community.
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Culture kirby.kevinson.org

ISO 8601: the better date format

It’s time for Americans to abandon mm/dd/yyyy and for Europeans to abandon dd.mm.yyyy and for everyone to adopt the truly better format: yyyy-mm-dd

Yup, that’s about it. You write the year, the month, the day, and then the time exactly like it’s done in other date formats. There’s nothing extraordinary, so you can learn it in 2 minutes.

If you don’t think this format is better, open your mind and read the author’s case.

Tudor Girba blog.feenk.com

Developers spend most of their time figuring the system out

Tudor Girba unpacks the statement “developers spend most of their time figuring the system out.”

…reading is just the means through which information is gathered from data. It also happens to be the most manual possible way to do that, so this lends itself to an important opportunity for optimization.

Before you can do something significant about anything, you have to name it. Otherwise it’s like with Voldemort. Many winters ago, I called the effort of “figuring the system out to know what to do next” assessment. And I claimed we should optimize development around it. For a whole decade my colleagues and I explored this idea. And it led us to what we now call moldable development.

Tom Critchlow tomcritchlow.com

Why can't I write code inside my browser?

What would happen if browsers came pre-installed with Node.js, an IDE, and a simple runtime environment?

…there’s been a kind of revolution around coding. “Javascript everywhere” (i.e. node.js) has really become the default web-development paradigm. Javascript is alluring - partly because every computer has a javascript GUI and runtime - the browser! You can code in javascript on your computer using a text editor and a browser - without ever touching the command line!

But, what if a full-fledged dev environment for JavaScript was just as ubiquitous as the runtime in the browser?

Sahil Lavingia sahillavingia.com

No meetings, no deadlines, no full-time employees

Once again, Sahil Lavingia shared proof that we can think differently about the future of work. Sure, not every company should operate the way Gumroad is operating, but there are plenty of insights to be drawn from their experience.

Recently, I pitched the whole company about going full-time, because it felt wrong to grow any larger without full-time staff.

Nobody accepted.

I realized then that I was trying to copy the status quo–to try and fix something that wasn’t broken–so that I could feel better about doing things the “normal” way. But the deal we already had in place was better for what our people prioritize: freedom over growth, sustainability over speed, life over work.

I recently spoke with Sahil on Founders Talk #66 about failing to build a billion-dollar company. I highly recommend that episode.

Kubernetes github.com

Making k8s do what it was always meant to do... order pizza! 🍕

It may be Monday, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of fun, does it? If fun to you is ordering pizza by writing some YAML… step right up and place your order:

$ kubectl get pizzastore store-123 -o yaml
kind: PizzaStore
metadata:
  name: store-123
spec:
  address: |
    51 Niagara St
    Toronto, ON M5V1C3
  id: "10391"
  phone: 416-364-3939
  products:
    - description: Unique Lymon (lemon-lime) flavor, clear, clean and crisp with no caffeine.
      id: 2LSPRITE
      name: Sprite
      size: 2 Litre

Ben McCormick benmccormick.org

Are you headed towards burnout?

How do you know if you’re on your way to burning out? Ben McCormick has one question he uses when he’s concerned that himself or one of his teammates is headed down a path to burnout:

If you take the pace & quality of the last 2 months of your life and repeated it again and again, how long would you be able to sustain it?

As we begin the process of closing out the year, and what a year it has been, and start planning for what might be in 2021 — consider how this question impacts you now and how you can shape your future with this question in mind.

Ina Fried axios.com

Making sense of the $28 billion Salesforce-Slack deal

If you missed the news…Salesforce is buying Slack for $28 billion. To be clear, the deal is $27.7 billion in cold hard cash plus Salesforce stock. But who cares about money, amirite? Why does this deal even make sense?

Ina Fried for Axios:

[Salesforce] CEO Marc Benioff characterized the move as a bet that the pandemic-driven shift to remote work isn’t a temporary blip but rather a permanent transformation.

Slack has the lead in its still-nascent space, but was facing a challenge of its own — namely that Microsoft’s rival Teams was bundled into Office subscriptions. As a standalone company, Slack couldn’t easily manage such a move, nor could it afford to get into a price war.

I liked what Aaron Levie (Co-founder and CEO of Box) said about this deal and the future of work:

What’s amazing is that even though the current wave of enterprise software to power the future of work has been going strong for 10+ years, we’re still in the very earliest of stages in this market. The last decade has been about building the tools that power new ways to work from anywhere, collaborate with anyone, and automate workflows and business processes in the cloud. The next decade will be the era when organizations adopt these technologies en masse and transform their enterprises. While many of us in Silicon Valley and similar ecosystems have been using tools like Slack for years now (and even Microsoft Teams, more recently), 90%+ of the world’s digital workers are still not leveraging these modern platforms for the majority of their work. While it’s hard to imagine, we’re still in the early innings of this market.

Linux lists.busybox.net

Understanding bin, sbin, usr/bin, usr/sbin

This post to the BusyBox mailing list from back in 2010 was a fun read to get the backstory on bin, sbin, usr/bin, and usr/sbin.

You know how Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie created Unix on a PDP-7 in 1969?
Well around 1971 they upgraded to a PDP-11 with a pair of RK05 disk packs (1.5
megabytes each) for storage.

When the operating system grew too big to fit on the first RK05 disk pack (their
root filesystem) they let it leak into the second one
, which is where all the
user home directories lived (which is why the mount was called /usr). They
replicated all the OS directories under there (/bin, /sbin, /lib, /tmp…) and
wrote files to those new directories because their original disk was out of
space. When they got a third disk, they mounted it on /home and relocated all
the user directories to there so the OS could consume all the space on both
disks and grow to THREE WHOLE MEGABYTES (ooooh!).

Jaana Dogan Medium

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. 💪

Matt Klein changelog.com/posts

My secret to building Envoy's community

Envoy’s open source community is amazing. I looked the other day, and at least on GitHub, just from a code contribution perspective, we’re almost at 600 contributors. Which for a fairly low-level C++ project… that is freakin’ incredible. It just blows my mind. And then you look at all of the vertical products and all these other things that are built on top…

There are many factors that contributed to this success, but one thing I did early on stands out as the most important thing I could’ve done. In this post I share my secret with you.

The New Stack Icon The New Stack

An open source leader is gone, a remembrance of Dan Kohn

Thanks to Alex Williams over at The New Stack for doing a great write up remembering Dan Kohn and the tremendous mark he has left on open source and Cloud Native. Of course Dan had help along the way, but by-and-large the CNCF and “cloud native” as we know it are the direct result of Dan’s vision and leadership.

Thank you Dan. You will be missed.

We knew little in 2016 about what Dan was up to but we soon got a hint. The CNCF was already established but what it represented was still a bit unclear. If anything, Dan was a businessman and a computer scientist. He knew the economic importance of at-scale computing and the technical complexity that made it so fascinating.

The technical community was ready for someone like Dan — they needed help. Open source cloud native projects were growing but the resources were essential to keep progress moving. He was there to make sure the work got done that technologists should not have to do: Building awareness, supporting the publicity of new projects and perhaps most of all, smoothly running the conferences.

We’ve had Dan on The Changelog a few times. Go back and listen to episode #276 and episode #314 to hear from Dan himself about the journey of the CNCF and Cloud Native.

An open source leader is gone, a remembrance of Dan Kohn

Gergely Orosz blog.pragmaticengineer.com

Developer advice to self

Gergely Orosz shared advice that he’d give to himself 10 years ago. It’s interesting how hindsight is always 20/20…it’s easier to connect the dots looking back vs looking forward.

As I look back to over a decade ago, there are a few things I wish I’d started doing sooner. Habits that could have helped made me grow faster and in a more focused way. This is the advice I’d give my younger self, who has just landed their first professional software engineering job.

1. Take the time to read two books per year on software engineering … Every time I took the time to slowly and thoroughly read a recommended book on software engineering, I leveled up. By properly reading, I mean taking notes, talking chapters through with others, doodle diagrams, trying out, going back, and re-reading…

Salvatore Sanfilippo antirez.com

The open source paradox

Antirez on the strange relationship between money, open source, and the code we write on the job:

Open source is different, it’s an artifact, it’s a transposition in code of what you really want to do, of what you feel software should be, or just of all your fun and joy, or even anger you are feeling while coding… It’s not about money. You can ignore bugs if you want, and ignore their complains, you can do that since you don’t have a contract to do otherwise, but they are helping you, they care about the same thing you care: your software quality, grandiosity, perfection.

Anna Shipman annashipman.co.uk

Meeting everyone on a new team

I enjoyed reading what Anna had to say about the advice she had been given and the process she created for doing introduction one-to-one meetings with her new team.

When I joined the Financial Times as Technical Director for FT.com, I inherited a team of around 50 engineers. One of the first things I did was meet each of them for a one-to-one. I was initially resistant, but it was extremely valuable, I’m glad I did it, and I would definitely do it again in a future role. I ran each meeting in the same way. Firstly I ran through everything I planned to cover, and then stepped through it…

Savannah Peterson changelog.com/posts

Poor communication is the primary reason systems and relationships fail

It has become even more clear to me during the era of COVID-19 that poor communication is the reason systems and relationships fail. Every time I’ve failed to get what myself, my team, or a community wanted out of an engineering team was because I neglected to communicate why and how it would be impactful to them in a digestible way.

In this post, I share a few lessons learned as a non-technical launching hardware and software products over the last decade. We’ll explore tactics and skills teams can use to communicate more effectively.

Ned Batchelder nedbatchelder.com

How to be helpful online

Ned Batchelder:

Helping people online is difficult. We expect technical questions and discussions, but everyone involved are just people, so it doesn’t always go smoothly. There’s no way to guarantee a good outcome, but there are things we as helpers can do to improve the interactions.

Ned shares a dozen ways we can work to be more helpful online. Excellent stuff. 👌

Kottke Icon Kottke

Reprogramming a game by playing it (an unbelievable Super Mario 3 speedrun)

Here’s a fun rabbit hole to go down if you have some free time to spend.

After a fellow named Zikubi beat the speedrun record for Super Mario Bros 3 by about 8 minutes with a time of just over three minutes, speedrun analyst Bismuth made the video above to explain how he did it…by changing the game with the gameplay itself.

The first couple minutes go exactly as you’d expect, but the speedrun takes a weird turn when, instead of using the second warp whistle to go to level 8, he uses it to go to level 7. And once in level 7, Mario races around randomly, letting opportunity slip away like a blindfolded birthday boy unwittingly steering himself away from the piñata. It’s only later, during the explanation of how he got from level 7 to the final screen so quickly, that you realize Mario’s panicky idiot behavior is actually the player actively reprogramming the game to open up a wormhole to the ending.

Daniel Moch danielmoch.com

Regarding semantic versioning

Daniel Moch shared his thoughts on semantic versioning and how he treats external libraries that violate its inherent contract with developers.

So as not to bury the lede, I’ll get to my point: Semantic Versioning is a meta-API, and maintainers who are cavalier about violating it can’t be trusted to created stable contracts. I’ve lost patience for breaking changes making their way to my code bases without the maintainers incrementing the major version of their projects, especially in language ecosystems where Semantic Versioning is expected, and in such cases I’m going to begin exploring alternative options so I can ban such libraries from my projects—personal and professional—altogether.

If you work in a language ecosystem where Semantic Versioning is the de facto norm, where violating it can wreak havoc downstream, then please play nice and follow its dictates. Instead of viewing it as a straight jacket, try to see it as an algorithm to determine what your next release number should be. We should all like algorithms!

Jared Mauch YouTube

How I started a telco to get fiber to my town

Jared Mauch was tired of waiting for high speed internet access to his very rural house in the outskirts of Ann Arbor, MI so he started a telco to get fiber to his town.

Development was happening in and around Ann Arbor putting new subdivisions nearby. I expected broadband would reach my new home eventually (Cable, DSL, FTTx), but…nothing came. I know…start a telco! – source slides

Jared covers everything in this video – the research, planning, finances, pre-builds, getting customers, internet access, construction, contractors, and running all the fiber.

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