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Yejun Su Medium

Livebook-driven development

Yejun Su is using Numerical Elixir’s new Livebook project for more than just Numerical Things.

Before Livebook, I write code in IEx, which is a REPL. It has some helpers to ease the way to explore code, but in my opinion, Livebook exceeds in two factors:

Code history
In fact, IEx can enable code history by setting export ERL_AFLAGS="-kernel shell_history enabled" in the shell profile file. You can also search the IEx code history with Ctrl-r and apply it. But as Livebook is essentially a notebook, you can see all texts and evaluation results without the need to set anything.

Visualization
Livebook has a clean UI. You can write documents in Markdown and evaluate Elixir code blocks. It is more continuous, you can review every step of your thought by scrolling the page.

Medium Icon Medium

10 things I hate about PostgreSQL

Long-time readers/listeners know I’m a Postgres fan, but I sometimes wonder if I heap too much praise on my favorite database. Enter Rick Branson:

While much of this praise is certainly well-deserved, the lack of meaningful dissent left me a bit bothered. No software is perfect, so exactly what are PostgreSQL’s imperfections?

I’ve been hands-on with PostgreSQL in production since 2003 with deployments ranging from small (gigabytes) to modest to very large (~petabyte). My perspective is largely from building and running systems that are at least intended to be continuously available. Needless to say, I have gained first-hand experience with PostgreSQL’s particular idiosyncrasies through some painful production issues over the years.

Rick has worked with much larger PG installs than I have, so his insights on this subject are well-grounded.

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Death of an open source business model

Joe Morrison:

Until yesterday, I was still clinging to a few shreds of romantic optimism about open source software businesses. Mapbox is the protagonist of a story I’ve told myself and others countless times. It’s a seductive tale about the incredible, counterintuitive concept of the “open core” business model for software companies.

We’ve discussed the challenges with open core on many occasions (this episode of The Changelog on Nextcloud immediately comes to mind), but most of those conversations center around the tension of balancing commercial and open source interests. This Mapbox open core story, on the other hand, has a different villain:

Today, we’re gathered here on the internet to mourn the death of the open core business model. We’re here to tell stories of the before-times, to reminisce about how smart we thought we were. We went against consensus, and we were wrong. Because, open core is dead.

Cloud killed open core.

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OpenStreetMap is having a moment

Joe Morrison on how OpenStreetMap has quietly become a core piece of open source infrastructure:

OpenStreetMap is now at the center of an unholy alliance of the world’s largest and wealthiest technology companies. The most valuable companies in the world are treating OSM as critical infrastructure for some of the most-used software ever written.

What a success story. Do you think it can be repeated?

OpenStreetMap is having a moment

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. 💪

Max Braun Medium

PiSight brings back Apple iSight

Max Braun thinks today’s webcams are boring, so he brought back a classic. Max took an Apple iSight and retrofitted it with a $5 Raspberry Pi Zero, which “fits the iSight’s dimensions almost perfectly.”

The PiSight actually works like you’d expect it to. Just plug in the USB cable and the camera will show up in your video conferencing app of choice. The image quality is quite good, possibly better than the built-in camera of today’s MacBooks.

The best part is you can do this too because Max made all the plans available as open source.

Just in case you’re not completely taken aback by the absurdity of this project and are now considering building your very own PiSight, rest assured that I’m making everything available as open source.

The GitHub repo has a list of parts and where to get them, the 3D-print-ready model of the frame, and the source code. I’m thinking it should be possible to get the total cost down to under $150. I had to spend a bit more than that because I needed to experiment and opted for higher-end materials.

PiSight brings back Apple iSight

Medium Icon Medium

Unicorns are out, profits are in

This seems like a natural counter-weight to the go-big-or-go-home strategy of many venture capitalists:

Over five years, Indie.vc has backed 34 companies — half of which are women-led companies and 20% are Black. And while there haven’t been any big exits yet, the companies that receive Indie.vc funding seem to be much more robust than their peers, especially in a challenging economic climate. On average, they’re growing 100% in the first year, and 300% the second year, says Roberts. Plus, the fund’s mortality rate is 10% — compared to about 44% with traditional VC-backed companies.

Indie.vc’s next application window is “Fall 2020.”

Jaana Dogan Medium

Things I wished more developers knew about databases

Jaana Dogan started with a draft and this tweet and ended up laying down some serious knowledge on databases.

A large majority of computer systems have some state and are likely to depend on a storage system. My knowledge on databases accumulated over time, but along the way our design mistakes caused data loss and outages. In data-heavy systems, databases are at the core of system design goals and tradeoffs. Even though it is impossible to ignore how databases work, the problems that application developers foresee and experience will often be just the tip of the iceberg.

Thomas Smith Medium

Clearview AI has a profile on me and 'it freaked me out'

Have you ever posted an image on the public internet and thought, “What if someone used this for something?” Thomas Smith did and what he discovered about Clearview AI is disturbing…

Someone really has been monitoring nearly everything you post to the public internet. And they genuinely are doing “something” with it.

The someone is Clearview AI. And the something is this: building a detailed profile about you from the photos you post online, making it searchable using only your face, and then selling it to government agencies and police departments who use it to help track you, identify your face in a crowd, and investigate you — even if you’ve been accused of no crime.

I realize that this sounds like a bunch of conspiracy theory baloney. But it’s not. Clearview AI’s tech is very real, and it’s already in use.

How do I know? Because Clearview has a profile on me. And today I got my hands on it.

Alberto Marchetti Medium

Get notified when your k8s cron jobs fail

Alberto Marchetti:

What do you do when you have CronJobs running in your Kubernetes cluster and want to know when a job fails? Do you manually check the execution status? Painful. Or do you perhaps rely on roundabout Prometheus queries, adding unnecessary overhead? Not ideal… But worry not! Instead, let me suggest a way to immediately receive notifications when jobs fail to execute, using two nifty tools…

Gokul Rajaram Medium

The overlooked but essential paradigm underlying great software companies

Truly great software companies are self-serve first. Let’s dig into this assertion and why it makes sense.

“Self-serve” is a term I hadn’t heard before being recommended this excellent piece by Gokul Rajaram, but once I heard it, it immediately resonated with me.

A self-serve product is one where a customer can go through the full product experience — from signing up to first use to activating new features to managing their account to upgrading and/or cancellation — all without ever needing to interact with another person… Self-serve first is when the entire company is built around self-serve, when self-serve is the core foundation of the company.

Gokul explains four reasons why he thinks self-serve first is the way to go.

Rich Archbold Medium

My engineering standards

In this post, Rich Archbold touches on something we discussed on a recent episode of The Changelog. Specifically, in the episode, we talked about contentment being the enemy of progress and how that might effect our industry psychologically — at-large. But when is what we’re working on ever good enough?

Rich has this to say…

Software can never be perfect, it can only ever be “good enough”…beyond a certain size and rate of change — it’s always going to contain bugs and experience outages. So how do you know if your software is good enough? … My opinion and approach is to codify your beliefs around what constitutes software that is “good enough” into a small set of engineering principles and build a culture, organization, and set of processes that reinforce them.

Ellen Chisa Medium

Unveiling Dark (a new language for deployless backends)

Ellen Chisa (CEO) and Paul Biggar (CTO) are out of stealth mode with Dark and they’re moving into private beta.

Starting today, Dark is in private beta. During the private beta, we’ll be opening Dark in waves to many more people. If you have a project that is well scoped and you’re ready to get started, we can let you into the beta quickly (even immediately!).

Check out the language’s FAQs to learn more about their plans, pricing, etc. Right now, it’s not super clear what the full mission of Dark (the language and the company) is just yet, but you can read this on their about page:

Dark’s mission is to democratize coding by making it 100x easier to build software, so the next billion people can code

Andrew Zaleski Medium

Slow mornings could be your secret weapon

It’s hard to imagine life before the iPhone changed everything about being mobile. We weren’t as connected as we are now, but we also didn’t have as many distraction opportunities in our lives or a device to become addicted to. From the very moment we wake up, a large majority of you reading this will admit to checking your phone as one of the first things you do when you wake up. So how do we take back our mornings and attention to ease into the day without the potential jolt of stress kicking us into high gear?

“When I wake up, I am stretching instead of scrolling,” says Hancock, 35. “While I’m not up at the crack of dawn, I do consciously plan my mornings to avoid the chaos of the digital world for at least the first 30 to 45 minutes.”

The slow morning movement is one strategy used among people exhausted by their tech-heavy lives to establish a sense of focus for the rest of the day. Some people exercise, while others enjoy some time alone. The point is to create a lack of technological distraction. A slow morning is supposed to be an antidote to the frenetic pace of 24/7 digital alerts.

You should subscribe to Brain Science — we’ll be covering this topic in a future episode.

Yaron Wittenstein Medium

The importance of unlearning

Yaron Wittenstein:

The world of software is constantly changing at a very fast pace. Yesterday’s axioms might be tomorrow’s anti-patterns.

Newborn technologies rise to popularity only to become obsolete sooner than expected and hardware advancements make things that were considered science-fiction a few years ago possible.

The only certainty is that we don’t know what the future will bring us.

One mantra in this industry is always-be-learning. A message we don’t communicate well enough, however, is how you also have to be willing to let go of once-useful-but-now-limiting knowledge.

Joel Marcey Medium

Hello, I am a Developer Advocate

Joel Marcey shares his story and some background on what a developer advocate is and how to be success as a developer advocate.

I am a believer in the pop-culture version of Occam’s razor, or the law of simplicity, where the simplest explanation is usually the right one. A developer advocate is exactly what its title implies — an advocate for developers.

A successful developer advocate can go both deep and broad. They can own a technology stack but also run programs that span an entire open source program office…

A successful developer advocate is able to quickly ramp up on new technologies, sometimes with no background in the space previously, and be able to understand how those technologies may fit into the overall open source ecosystem.

Marianne Bellotti Medium

All the best engineering advice I stole from non-technical people

Marianne Bellotti shares five pieces of advice she’s taken from folks in other walks of life (NSA agents, therapists, etc) and how she’s applied that in the software world. My favorite one is “Thinking is also work”. On this topic, Marianne notes:

On a personal level it gave me permission to take time when I needed time. Why should I feel guilty about leaving the office to go on a walk? Thinking is also work.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for us to get away from our computers a few times a day. Many of my best decisions and moments of inspiration have come while on a walk, a bike ride, or yes, while taking a shower! 🚿

Kitze Medium

GitHub stars won’t pay your rent

Kitze shared this somewhat controversial story of Sizzy — from struggling open source project to successful product launch and charging money. It’s important to hear more stories like this because not all of the roads of open source are paved with gold.

Honestly, it felt kind of shitty to delete the repository and unpin the project from my profile. I hated the feeling but I had to shrug it off. I had to convince myself that I’m not doing anything wrong. The app was serving a lot of people for 2.5 years, and I rarely got any contributions. It was time to get real and think about what matters.

Oh, here we go… I’m gonna mention the M word and lose a ton of readers at this point. Money. Money matters.

Kitze also made an appearance on JS Party #72: LIVE from React Amsterdam.

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