Five Short Links: 21 September 2018

  1. The obsession for efficiency is killing productivity: working on multiple projects at once involves context-switching which decreases productivity, all in the pursuit of some imaginary efficiency
  2. BBC’s Computer Literacy Archive: check out an archive of BASIC and BBC Microcomputer system info
  3. Testing your code, verifying method arguments: reduce the brittleness of your unit tests by testing for specific method arguments and leaving all others to be any value. I’ve encountered this a few times where the other parameters of a method didn’t need to be tested and resulted in finding/replacing in multiple files to fix tests due to the brittleness.
  4. Problems with Udemy? Udemy may have been a good platform at first, but according to this video, it’s full of low-cost and low-quality video courses. It would be nice to see Creative Commons-licensed video courses that people could donate/pay for.
  5. Startup Interviewing is Fucked according to Zach Holman (former GitHub engineer):

    Certainly there are some jobs where being extremely performant and algorithmically “correct” are legitimate to interview against. But look around: how many small, less-than-50-person startups are doing work like that? The dirty secret is most startups for the first few years are glorified CRUD apps, and finding well-rounded and diverse people who can have the biggest impact tend to be the ones who are comfortable wearing a lot of hats.

Bonus link! Digital Proudhonism:

The maker movement is one prominent translation of Digital Proudhonism into a challenge to the contemporary organization of production, with allegedly radical effects on politics and economics. With the advent of new production technologies, such as 3D printers and digital design tools, “makers” can take the democratizing promise of the digital commons into the physical world. Just as digital technology supposedly distributes the means of production of culture across a wider segment of the population, so too will it spread manufacturing blueprints, blowing apart the restrictions of patents the same way Napster tore copyright asunder.


Linus Torvalds is Taking a Break, Linux adopts Code Of Conduct

Last year we reported on troubles in the Node.js project with Code Of Conduct violations (alleged or otherwise). It looks like Linus Torvalds has decided a Code Of Conduct is a good idea for Linux kernel development and has seen the error of his abrasive way of managing the project:

This week people in our community confronted me about my lifetime of not understanding emotions. My flippant attacks in emails have been both unprofessional and uncalled for. Especially at times when I made it personal. In my quest for a better patch, this made sense to me. I know now this was not OK and I am truly sorry.

The above is basically a long-winded way to get to the somewhat painful personal admission that hey, I need to change some of my behavior, and I want to apologize to the people that my personal behavior hurt and possibly drove away from kernel development entirely.

I am going to take time off and get some assistance on how to understand people’s emotions and respond appropriately.

We shall see what this means in the future; hopefully we see more developers contributing to Linux kernel development as a result of these changes.

Five Short Links: 9 May 2018

  1. Firefox 60.0 their latest release is out! Quantum CSS is now rendering the browser UI, there’s support for the Web Authentication API and some more changes.
  2. Pomodoro Technique for focusing on work makes an appearance in this article from Rad Devon: “Build a Focus System For Better Work/Life Balance as a Web Developer”
  3. Reactions to Google’s new email artificial intelligence system which can go further than spell-check and give you suggestions for phrases (this has been available to some extent in LinkedIn with “Thanks”, “Hi” and simple 1- or 2-word phrases, Google is taking it to a different level):

    It’s important to note that there’s nothing inherently unethical about using auto suggestions, but it still takes “you” out of your communication.

    “I suspect that Google’s automatic writing will be banal but not unethical. ,” former New York Times Ethicist Randy Cohen told me. “Much email writing is already lackluster in both form and content.”

  4. Brad Frost talks about his struggle to learn React, it sounds like there’s a lot of room for intro/beginner tutorials to be created for React (and JavaScript) that fit with more people’s learning styles:

    I don’t think I’m alone in how I tend to think about & approach frontend development. I’d like to think I’m a good frontend designer, and I think I simply have a different perspective than someone with a JS/programmatic perspective. I have a hunch there are lots of people who are dedicated to writing great UI code but may feel intimidated swimming in JS-only waters.

  5. We’ve written about a few times on SourceContribute and here’s someone’s experience with using for 1 year:

    The Matrix protocol is also very extensible and can be used for much more than just IM. Each message starts with some basic fields like the sender, event ID and destination room but then there is a block for content and a content type. Many content types are defined in the spec including messages, join/quits, images and other kinds of events you would see in an IM client. But this content block can contain any valid JSON so you are free to build your own protocols on top of Matrix. An example being IoT device control by sending events over Matrix. This ensures the transmission of commands is secure and encrypted without having to implement anything yourself.

Another day, another data breach: Careem data breach affects 14 million customers

TechCrunch has the story on this data breach affecting Careem’s customers, 14 million of them:

Hackers accessed the names, email addresses, phone numbers and trip data of anyone who signed up for Careem prior to January 14…

Careem said it became aware of the security incident back in January. Since then, Careem said it has conducted an investigation and strengthened its security systems.

The company waited until now to tell people because “we wanted to make sure we had the most accurate information before notifying people,”


Five Short Links: 20 April 2018

  1. RightsCon Toronto, the conference about digital privacy and human rights, is one month away. I’ll be attending a few panels and reporting on it.
  2. Apple released FoundationDB as a free/open source project. Good on Apple for creating more free/open source code!

    Apple has outlined a design document focused on transparency and a governance structure to help participants feel they have a voice in project decisions. There’s even a code of conduct as a check against the boorish bro behavior for which Silicon Valley has become infamous.

    FoundationDB has been released under the Apache 2.0 license. It takes a place among the more significant open source projects released by Apple, a group that also includes the Darwin Kernel, WebKit, and Swift.

  3. StackOverflow community moderators have been elected! Hopefully that means more cleanup and a better experience for question askers.
  4. Grayscale for your phone screen makes it less distracting. At least that was the hope of two Mozilla employees who spent 1 week living in grayscale mode on their phones:

    After going to grayscale my experience changed. On Instagram specifically, I found myself using the service less, and when I did use it, I noticed that I was more focused on the composition of images than I had been.

  5. Want more great software/web engineering blogs to read? Check out the engineering-blogs list from Kilim Choi.
  6. BONUS: a list of awesome science fiction to read over the weekend!


Five Short Links: 19 April 2018

  1. Python as a Philosophy: my talk at PyCon Canada 2017 was reposted by the Coding Tech channel on YouTube, 4600+ views and counting!
  2. Gamers are apparently very strong candidates for cybersecurity careers:

    Gamification, or the concept of applying elements of game-playing to non-game activities, is growing in importance as a tool to help drive a higher performing cybersecurity organization. Within organizations that hold gamification exercises, hackathons, capture-the-flag, red team-blue team or bug bounty programs are the most common, and almost all (96 percent) of those that use gamification in the workplace report seeing benefits.

  3. Don’t sabotage your career! is the message from the book The Right And Wrong Stuff: How Brilliant Careers Are Made And Unmade by Carter Cast:

    Cast: The most striking piece of research I found is that people who have an inaccurate self-assessment, who don’t have high self-awareness, derail. They get fired or demoted six times more frequently than people that have an accurate self-conception. It’s not about thinking that you’re great at everything. People who understand what they are good at can move around their weaknesses or the fact that they have a vulnerability. People who think they’re good at too many things or have a difficult time facing the music end up failing six times more frequently than those with accurate self-conception.

  4. How can you come up with great ideas? Think like an entrepreneur:

    Paying attention to how you compensate for missing functionality, or where you get frustrated using an item, will teach you to start focusing on problems that can be solved. As you hone in on these problems over time, you will start to see opportunities that could be turned into new products or even companies.

  5. 13 Life-Changing Habits To Try And Do Every Single Day (this is a bit of an outlier but developers, especially free/open source developers, need to get into the habit of thinking about more than just coding):

    Find True Quiet— Every single day you should find a way to disconnect and unplug, even for a few minutes. I try to swim as often as I can, not only for the exercise but because nothing can get to me there. I don’t have my phone. There’s no noise. Just calmness and peace. Ask yourself: How often am I unreachable? The answer is: Not often enough. Build some of this time into your daily practice. You’ll be better for it. And the world will not notice, I promise.

Zulip 1.8 is released, alternative to Slack and HipChat

Zulip, the free/open source team chat project has released their 1.8 version. We’ve talked about Zulip and other Slack alternatives on SourceContribute before. What makes Zulip special, aside from being free/open source, is that it has better threads and threading than Slack.

Threads are ways of creating a continuous discussion around a particular topic. In Slack, they’re very rarely used, everyone usually just @-replies. However, Zulip’s UX for threads makes them so useful that you’ll be using them far more often.

Not only that! Zulip also has video calls integrated with Jitsi Meet.

And a new feature I really like is being able to @-reply to a group of people; you can do things like @teamA or @marketing to make it easier and faster to notify the right group of people about something.


Zulip was posted on ProductHunt in December. Other free/open source projects should be posting their releases on ProductHunt too; there are far too many proprietary projects on that site.

Zulip has a new darker theme, keeping in tune with the hacker/coder idea of what makes a great desktop environment.

I have a feeling that Zulip is in the right spot, along with, to really give Slack a run for its money now. Just check out the number of integrations that Zulip has.