week 13, 2020

You’re not writing code, you’re solving problems

We’re programmers, so writing code is what we do, is it not ? As the title suggests, our job is a bit more complicated than stroking keys on a keyboard in front of a screen all day. If you go beyond programming languages, and frameworks and processes, beyond test suites and sprints and Jira tickets, you will always find a problem that needs to be solved.

I would say that we, as programmers, are, first and foremost, problem solvers. We take a problem that someone else has and, using all the tools at our disposal, produce a solution.

Source: You’re not writing code, you’re solving problems.

Brachypelma smithi eating

After 6PM I gave a mealworm, Tenebrio molitor, to my Brachypelma smithi. This was the first time it accepted food since I bought it. It molted recently, which might have been the reason it didn't accept food on earlier occasions as it was in pre-molt.

Brachypelma smithi eating a mealworm
Brachypelma smithi eating a mealworm, Tenebrio molitor.

In the above photo you can see a few grains of sand on its carapace which ended up there after the tarantula's struggle with the mealworm.

Python Is Not Java

I was recently looking at the source of a wxPython-based GUI application, about 45.5KLOC in size, not counting the libraries used (e.g. Twisted). The code was written by Java developers who are relatively new to Python, and it suffers from some performance issues (like a 30-second startup time). In examining the code, I found that they had done lots of things that make sense in Java, but which suck terribly in Python. Not because “Python is slower than Java”, but because there are easier ways to accomplish the same goals in Python, that wouldn’t even be possible in Java.

So, the sad thing is that these poor folks worked much, much harder than they needed to, in order to produce much more code than they needed to write, that then performs much more slowly than the equivalent idiomatic Python would.

Source: Python Is Not Java, an article by PJ Eby.

The Usefulness of Python’s Permutations and Combinations Functions

I’ve been writing a lot of Python recently. As a relative newcomer to the language, it continues to impress me with its versatility and “quality of life” features. I’m not surprised that it’s been gaining so much popularity among developers as of late.

Two such features I’ve discovered recently are the permutations and combinations functions of Python’s itertools module. The module is basically a set of convenience functions to produce iterators to suit various needs.

Source: The Usefulness of Python’s Permutations and Combinations Functions, an article by Kevin Dawe.

How long did it take you to learn Python?

Beginners seem to ask this question when they are feeling daunted by the challenge before them. Maybe they are hoping for a helpful answer, but it seems like most answers will just be a jumping off point for feeling bad about their own progress.

Everyone learns differently. They learn from different sources, at different paces. Suppose you ask this question and someone answers “one month”? Will you feel bad about yourself because you’ve been at it for six weeks? Suppose they say, “ten years”? Now what do you think?

Source: How long did it take you to learn Python?, an article by Ned Batchelder.

One year of Plurrrr

On this day last year I wrote the first blog post for Plurrrr. And from that day on I managed to write a post every single day. It hasn't been easy always, but most of the time it was rewarding to compose a post. Especially the ones with photos.

The software to create a blog like this named tumblelog is available als open source. Just clone the GitHub repository and read the instructions in the If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Happy blogging!

Why You Need To Start Using A Decision Journal

But, this concept is actually a pretty straightforward journaling exercise. In your decision journal (it can be anything from a Google Document to a cheap notebook to even a Trello board), you simply chronicle your bigger decisions and record how you felt when you made them.

As an article for Farnam Street recommends, when you’re faced with a large decision, use your journal to document the following:

  • The choice you’ve made
  • What you expect to happen as a result of that choice
  • Why you expect things to pan out that way
  • How you feel about your decision

Source: Why You Need To Start Using A Decision Journal an article by Kat Boogaard.

Who’s Behind the ‘Web Listings’ Mail Scam?

In December 2018, KrebsOnSecurity looked at how dozens of U.S. political campaigns, cities and towns had paid a shady company called Web Listings Inc. after receiving what looked like a bill for search engine optimization (SEO) service rendered on behalf of their domain names. The story concluded that this dubious service had been scamming people and companies for more than a decade, and promised a Part II to explore who was behind Web Listings. What follows are some clues that point to a very convincing answer to that question.

Source: Who’s Behind the ‘Web Listings’ Mail Scam?, an article by Brian Krebs.

Setting Up Git Identities

Working on many projects across multiple identities can be difficult to manage. This is a procedure for leveraging git aliases to set an identity at the project level for any project with support for GPG-based commit signing.

Source: Setting Up Git Identities, an article by Micah Henning.

Two Years With Rust

There are a lot of good programming languages in the world. There are even multiple that fit Rust's broad description, and place in the ecosystem. This is a very good place, with real problems to solve. I'm not convinced that Rust is necessarily technically superior to its nearest neighbors, but there are some things it seems to do particularly well.

Source: Two Years With Rust, an article by Marc Brooker.