The eli4d Gazette – Issue 063: A Thanksgiving Feast of Developer Flash Cards, Black Friday Deals, and the YNAB Book

Flash Cards for Developers

Spaced repetition via flashcards is a great way to learn new information. I came across flashcardsfordevelopers.com while listening to a recent Syntax.fm podcast (one of my current favorites when it comes to tech podcasts).

There are tons of different flash card collections including:

It’s a neat resource for both learning and review.

Winter is Coming…wait no…Black Friday is coming

I’ve been lax in past years about Black Friday deals. However, this year, I’m going to try to be more proactive about having a list of items for Black Friday shopping. I’ve found the Wirecutter to be a great review site that helps me answer the “what are two best choices for xyz product?”.

The Wirecutter has an excellent article on how to prepare for all the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. I especially like the emergency preparation section.

Just Finished Reading

I just finished the “You Need A Budget” book. I had purchased it from Audible during a sale before Audible decided to send deals to only Audible subscribers (makes sense I suppose…but still annoying). This book is excellent. Jesse Mecham has the perfect voice for audio (this is extremely unusual for an author) and he comes across in a frank and personable way. While I haven’t yet tried the YNAB approach to budgeting, I certainly intend to give it a whirl. An important point about this book is it does not push the YNAB service/product. The only place any information shows up is in the appendix. Base on the title it’s easy to assume that the book exists to market the service (since so many other books do exactly that), but Jesse is sincere in conveying his belief that a budget is a way to freedom rather than restriction.

One other thing I need to mention is chapter 9. Chapter 9 describes his approach to giving allowance to his kids. It’s a very concrete action based approach based on the book “The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, and Smart About Money”. I’m definitely going to explore this approach.

I highly recommend this book in audio format!


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 062: Fun Data Sets and Falling for Fake News

Interesting Data Sets

With the upcoming elections, there are lots of articles spouting lots of data. These are some interesting data sets that can be used with something like Python’s Pandas library and various visualization libraries like Plotly and D3.

Falling for Fake News

I came across a really interesting Washington Post article about fake news. The article talks about our human tendency to fall for fake news. While the article traces the origin of a fake video on Facebook, the larger point is how easily we all can fall for fake news/photos/videos. The problem is that we are not very good at telling fake media from real media, while the technology to produce fake information has significantly increased in sophistication and ease of use. This particular paragraph from the article is quite telling:

Even after decades of Photoshop and CG films, most of us are still not very good about challenging the authenticity of images — or telling the real from the fake. That includes me: In an online test made by software maker Autodesk called Fake or Foto, I correctly identified the authenticity of just 22 percent of their images. (You can test yourself here.)

I took the Autodesk fake photo test, and I also got 22 percent of the images correct. I’m stunned by this – I got one out of every four pictures correctly. How does this apply to read articles and posts on the web (not just Facebook but all other sources of information on the web)?

I’ve been struggling to figure out how to deal with this. With the upcoming U.S. midterm elections on November 6th, I wonder about this even more. The only thing I can come up with is the Russian proverb “Trust but verify”. If I want to trust a particularly new story, then I am obligated to verify its authenticity by checking other news sources such as actual newspaper sites with differing viewpoints (right, left, and middle). The obligation is on me to put the effort and investigate a news item that on first glance seems super-compelling and utterly true. In fact, the truer a news item feels, the more suspicious I need to become and the more verification it requires.

Yellow journalism is nothing new, but the rapid application of technology to make the news seem authentic is the biggest difference from the past.

Currently Reading

“The Second Ship (The Rho Agenda Book 1)”: I got this Richard Phillips recommendation from Steve Gibson’s science fiction reading guide (see the top link on https://www.grc.com/linkfarm.htm). It initially felt a little bit too YA, but then it took off like a rocket. It’s fun well-written scifi. A fun sentence from the book:

Fresh snow was fun and could sometimes get you an extra day off. Old snow made you feel as gray and dirty as it was.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 061: The Best Password Generators in the Galaxy and Text Web Pages

Password Generators

For the weekly Zoom check-ins for my online Python class I’ve had to put passwords on the videos, and I found the best password generator in the universe (ok so I’m exaggerating):

https://www.dinopass.com/

Obviously, this is for lower security passwords, but they’re really fun. How can you go wrong with bluehen44, firstfork77, or sadland33? If you have kids, you might as well train them on some good password hygiene using this site.

The same site has stronger passwords if you click the “Another Strong password, please” button. But if you want a super strong random password, then you need to use GRC’s Perfect Passwords generator. Needless to say, you will need to use a password manager to remember these (1Password is my current favorite though DashLane is a close second).

Text Web Pages for People with Limited Bandwidth and Power

I came across an interesting article about how some news organization are providing text versions of their sites for people with limited bandwidth and power (like those folks in hurricanes). Removing JavaScript for this sort of use makes complete sense, and it also provides a good reminder about stepping back and thinking about the audience that is using your site.

Note: I think that NPR’s URL is great because it is easy to remember. It is another way that NPR makes it easy to not rely on other services to go to NPR’s text version of their site.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 060: LinkedIn’s Site Reliability Engineering Group’s approach to Python CLI based Utilities through PEX and Shiv

I recently came across a neat article in LinkedIn’s blog. It was written by their Site Reliability Engineering group (SRE) which covered some interesting Command Line Interface (i.e., CLI) utility libraries related to Python.

I can see how the power of Python would be fantastic for CLI utilities. The problem is Python’s dependency management. The dependency issue is even more compounded for CLI utilities since a devops engineer would need to be able to bring over a utility to any server (assuming a consistent version of the operating system) without worrying about the utility’s dependencies. Such an issue would prevent a system admin from doing the needed work (whether emergency or planned). In SRE’s article they explain this eloquently:

At LinkedIn, we ship hundreds of command-line utilities to every machine in our data centers and to all of our employees’ workstations. The vast majority of these utilities are written in Python.

In addition to developing these command-line utilities, we have hundreds of supporting libraries that are constantly being iterated on, with new versions published daily. Because of the inherent problems present when dealing with such a huge and ever-changing dependency graph, we need to package the executables individually to avoid dependency conflicts. Initially, we took advantage of the great open source tool PEX. PEX elegantly solved the isolated packaging requirement we had by including all of a tool’s dependencies inside a single binary file that we could then distribute.

PEX was not sufficient for SRE’s usage, so they created their own dependency packager called shiv. It’s an interesting name choice. I initially thought it was a prison-made knife, but apparently the name was based on the word “shiver” although the documentation has a knife emoji. In their words:

Why shiv?

>The tool freezes a Python environment, so you can think of shiv as a shorter way of saying “shiver.”

PEX and Shiv are interesting utilities that bring the power of Python to the command line through one executable utility.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 059: An Excellent Collection of Great Speeches & Neat Interview Question Site

An Excellent Collection of Great Speeches

I’ve been following James Clear‘s newsletter for a while. He has a ton of great content about habits, decisions, and living. In one of his emails, he mentioned that he’s been collecting some great speeches and having them transcribed.

These are really great speeches and may be worth your time: https://jamesclear.com/great-speeches

30 Seconds of Interview (Questions and Answers)

I came across this neat interview questions site through a Syntax episode. It currently covers HTML, CSS, and JavaScript but it can easily be expanded.

You can find the actual site here: https://30secondsofinterviews.org/

Here is the source repository for the site: https://github.com/fejes713/30-seconds-of-interviews

Let me know if you have some interview question prep sites that you like.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 058: Git Flow Branching Model and Fatherhood & Side Projects

The Git Flow Branching Model

I’ve been working on a side project where I’m close to placing it in “production” (though it feels like it’s taking forever). I’ve been using Git and Bitbucket to save different project phases (I found a great explanation of Git and Github at https://blog.red-badger.com/blog/2016/11/29/gitgithub-in-plain-english).

I wanted to follow a decent Git branching strategy, so I carefully reread Vincent Driessen‘s original 2010 article about it.

There have been many different implementations of the”Git Flow” approach. I prefer to use Git directly than using an abstraction layer on top of Git so that I can better understand what’s going on. I looked around, and Driessen’s article still stands as the most unambiguous step-by-step approach.

Fatherhood and Side Projects

I came across an interesting Hacker News thread that discusses the issues around programmatic side projects and fatherhood. Note that the actual project that is the origin for this post is not as important as the back and forth questions and responses.

My progress on a programmatic side project has been glacial (as mentioned above). For me, it’s more about accepting this and letting go of the “I should have been done with it six months ago” and being mindful of the present.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter


The eli4d Gazette – Issue 057: Cool HTML/CSS/JS Tiny Editor and a Tiny Bite of Fan Fiction

Holy Cow – A 400 Byte Tiny HTML/CSS/JS Editor Demo

I came across this on a Hacker News thread. It’s an amazingly tiny HTML/CSS/JS editor. You can find the code on GitHub, but here’s the whole code that you can place in the browser URL (per usual disclaimer – don’t put this in your browser if you’re not comfortable with the code):

data:text/html,<body oninput="i.srcdoc=h.value+'<style>'+c.value+'</style>'+j.value+''"><style>textarea,iframe{width:100%;height:50%}body{margin:0}textarea{width:33.33%;font-size:18}</style><textarea placeholder=HTML id=h></textarea><textarea placeholder=CSS id=c></textarea><textarea placeholder=JS id=j></textarea><iframe id=i>

Fan Fiction

I never realized that there was a huge sub-culture around Fan Fiction. Episode 98 of the Imaginary Worlds podcast dives deeply into this world with Francesca Coppa.

The conversation around the evolution of fanfic in conjunction with the creation of https://archiveofourown.org/ is fascinating.


Thoughts? Feedback? Let me know: @eli4d on Twitter