Software That Lasts

The Cloud Problem When your data only exists in software that you don’t host yourself it is no longer yours. It can disappear at any moment. Its future is dependent upon a company’s continued profits and interests. Imagine you’ve been building up a knowledge base for two years, but you fall on “hard times”. Maybe you can’t afford it. Maybe something happened and you’re literally unable to (accidents, medical issues, legal restrictions).

A personal journey through programming languages

A little while ago there was a post about Programmer Migration Patterns through programming languages. I didn’t agree with it, but it got me thinking, about my 30+ years of programming, the languages I’ve been through, and when I can take away from that. When I was a wee thing my mother brought home a used Texas Instruments TI99/4A that had been velcroed into a suitcase. I had a lot of fun with that computer.

How SSH Keys let you into servers - a metaphor

SSH Keys can be a little confusing to new developers. Here’s a quick little metaphor to help you think about how they work. tldr; Your public key is your business card. You can give it to people so that they can add it to the list of people authorized to access a machine or service. Your private key is a tool that proves that you’re the person associated with that business card.

Go will never belong to the community until they decide its future

There was a recent post* about how Go is Google’s language, not ours. It was an opinionated post, but it provided some evidence to back up its claims. Russ Cox (a Tech Lead for the Go language) posted a reasoned response to this which, I think basically tried to say that it wasn’t true, and they had regular meetings to discuss community proposals. But for me, the telling bit of it was this:

oho's Backstory

I’m going tell you the tale of oho, a program which is arguably the world’s greatest ANSI text to HTML converter, and how it solved a real business problem. I’m sharing this because, as a geek, it’s important to remember that you can frequently solve work needs, while having fun creating open source tools that interest you. Side note: ANSI escape sequences are the things that cause text to be colored, bolded, etc when displayed in a terimnal.

Quality Is Rarely Job 1

In 1981 Robert Cox came up with a slogan for Ford; “Quality is Job 1”. It has always stuck with me. In the software industry there are few slogans could be further from the truth. C-level’s and other customer facing types frequently proclaim the “quality” of their products, but they aren’t the ones making the product. They’re frequently not even the ones using the product. In software there are two viable ways to release quality software.

Your Own God(s)

I’ve had an idea buzzbuling around my head for a while, that I’d like to share with you. If you’re a devout follower of any religion, I ask that you set aside what your preconceptions for a few minutes, and listen openly to this somewhat heretical thought. Premise All, or at least most, gods are created by people. Maybe I’m wrong, and there is one true deity, but logically if one is true, then all the conflicting gods must be the creation of human minds.

Basic Readiness

Basic readiness is a problem for most people. We assume that we’ll always have power, water, and food. We ignore the fact that this stuff goes away regularly, because it usually happens to someone else. There was a snow storm here in Vermont (USA) last week. This was not a blizzard. As far as weather goes, this wasn’t particularly dramatic. There was just a lot of heavy snow and some high winds.

Libraries, Fameworks, and DSLs

One of my coworkers was trying to understand the differences between libraries, frameworks, and DSLs and asked me …how do I know what i’m using when all these things are interacting and being used within each other, etc To some degree, you don’t, and it doesn’t matter, but that’s not a very helpful answer. So let me step back and talk about what each of these are.┬áLibraries Libraries are the simplest.

Converting HTML to PDF on the command line

I recently needed to convert some HTML to PDF on the command line and went hunting down the options. There numerous posts saying “X is great” “Y works great for me” but no-one gives examples that show you anything. I’ve tried WeasyPrint, wkhtmltopdf, Pandoc and Google Chrome (yes via the command line). The test was simple. Take a simple color chart, made from pre-formatted text and render it as a pdf.