Rodney Mullen on Hackers and Open Source

Rodney Mullen on Hackers and Open Source

I was at a party several days ago and found myself talking to a bunch of other developers about skateboarding. We realized we had all been really passionate skateboarders through some part of our youth. Later that same night, surfing youtube, I found this TED talk by Rodney Mullen, one of the most important figures in the whole history of the sport. I couldn’t believe it when he turned to the subject of hackers and open source software. So unexpected — and yet so relevant, it turned out, to the broader subjects of the talk.

Pattern Vision Redux

A couple years ago I read an article DHH had posted to 37Signals’ “Signal vs. Noise” blog called Pattern Vision. I love that article not because it is at all profound. It isn’t. Kind of the opposite. I love it because I could have written it. The ways of thinking described in it are overwhelmingly common in the work I come across and live with day to day. Every new codebase I encounter seems to carry some new dubiously-applied patterns, some new collection of less-than-idiomatic directories, modules and classes for me to discover nested within “/app”.

Joseph Mitchell, Calypso, and the History of Battle Rap

Joseph Mitchell, Calypso, and the History of Battle Rap

I’ve been reading Joseph Mitchell’s Up In the Old Hotel, a fascinating collection of writings from the first half of the 20th century about New York street characters by one of the New Yorker Magazine’s most famous and eccentric contributors. If you haven’t read it, and you have a deep interest in the history of New York City, I highly recommend it.

In Praise of the Humble Website

The other day I had an informal talk with a friend about a project we had been offered. I can’t divulge much about the project but I can say that it has, structurally, a lot in common with an ecommerce app. Users shop a class of product and check out. Work has already been done on this app. The “MVP” that has been built has a wholly decoupled “thick client” browser-based UI built in AngularJS. I have a decent amount of experience with AngularJS as well as the other, similarly popular (possibly moreso) javascript MVC framework Ember.js.

I have seen a trend firsthand in the last several projects I have been offered – and a couple that I have taken on – toward the use of these javascript frameworks and decoupled, thick client architectures. Stunningly, in every one of these cases, the architecture is unambiguously more burden than benefit (much more, in fact) in respect of both development load and user experience.

Coolest Sidewalk Encounter!

Coolest Sidewalk Encounter!

I was walking down to my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, Porto Rico, this lazy Sunday afternoon to get a coffee when I passed by Tom Preston-Werner of Github and Gravatar fame having coffee at another neighborhood spot with his wife, Theresa. I did not wish to intrude but also felt I couldn’t let the moment pass without just making a momentary show of gratitude. To my shock he ended up asking all about my own work and we talked for several minutes about Github, Jekyll and many other things.

Insanity

Insanity

I wanted to watch Zero Dark Thirty last week. It was only available on DVD through Netflix, so I put it in my Queue and 2 days later I was watching it. Then I thought about what I had done.

Russian Doll Caching in Rails 4

Russian Doll Caching in Rails 4

Rails 4 nudges developers toward more pervasive use of fragment caching (and the so-called “russian doll caching” strategy of deeply nesting fragment caches) with the introduction of ActionView::Digestor and on-by-default appending of template digests to fragment cache keys. Though actually pretty simple in its implementation, this feature (paired with correct use of ActiveRecord’s “touch” relation option) solves most of the formerly enormous headaches you’d encounter (and still do today with pretty much every other framework) trying to implement an advanced caching strategy with largely dynamic content. I’ve been working with this technique for more than half a year now (initially using the Rails 3 “cache_digests” gem , which implemented the same functionality now available through ActionView::Digestor in Rails 4).

Back to The Future: Encrypt Emails the Old Fashioned Way – With PGP!

Back to The Future: Encrypt Emails the Old Fashioned Way – With PGP!

Since we now know that we can’t reasonably expect the emails we exchange with friends and colleagues to not be warehoused and read without our knowledge (and without a subpoena, warrant, or similar from the reading party), I want to shine a spotlight on one of the still-effective techniques available for restoring some privacy (with caveats) to personal email. This strategy is not new. In fact, it’s quite old. I’m talking about GnuGP(GPG), a FOSS implementation of the OpenPGP encryption standard, and GPGMail, an awesome plugin for the native Mac Mail client.