Simple Made Easy


Rich Hickey emphasizes simplicity’s virtues over easiness’, showing that while many choose easiness they may end up with complexity, and the better way is to choose simple first, then easy, if it is also simple.

This shows the classic problem with valuing writing code fast, with no regard to the 80% of the time that will be needed to maintain the code. Ignoring this leads to legacy code, periodic full rewrites of a codebase, and continually rewriting and debugging the same algorithms. This is a good version of his talk.

Included here is a YouTube version of his talk. This one isn’t as good, because the slides are small. I also think the other version (above) was a better presentation.

Clean Code

I’ve been learning Google Apps Script, which is basically JavaScript. I’ve also been learning Test Driven Development. Sure, let’s learn three new things at the same time!

I was motivated to try TDD by this video:

In this video, he demonstrates a TDD Kata for creating a function that will find prime factors of numbers. I want to write code like that!

My google drive was getting cluttered with files that were named by others, who had a (bad) habit of using spaces and lots of other special characters. (Usually, this is because people try to encode too much information into a file name. But that is another topic.) I would download, version, and process some files, then upload them. Spaces and special characters in the file names messed up my ability to write “simple” bash scripts. So how about a renaming tool to normalize the file names? I.e. convert all the non-alphanumeric characters to ‘_’ (also allow ‘.’ and ‘-‘).

For the tests, I needed to create and recreate folder/file structures in Google Drive. It was really tedious to do manually. So let’s automate it. I wrote a routine that would parse a nested array structure that represented the folders and files.

This was the object that I created. (This is the first version. I now have a version where you can optionally pass the array as a parameter.)

Continue reading Clean Code

The Great Software Stagnation

The Great Software Stagnation
Open source is stifling progress

My comment:

Open Source and “free” software can be really confusing. For example see Richard Stallman’s points at: Open source misses the point

I think the analogy to music and movie is getting closer to the real issue: copyrights. When and what can be copied? When $ gets involved, the time gets extended to a very long time. In the U.S.A. 70 years after the author’s death. What about copyrights owned by corporations? When do they “die”?

Software has another subtly: the source code vs the compiled executable code. Here an automobile analogy is often used. Only selling or sharing the executable, but not the source code, is equivalent to selling a car with the hood locked so that a mechanic cannot repair it. If a mechanic were to completely copy the engine under the hood, then sure, they would be in violation of “copyright” or “patent” laws. But replacing broken components with the same or better components–that is OK. Repairing a defect in software should also be possible, without the permission of the manufacturer. Unfortunately, code is very easy to copy vs copying a physical device.

I think the solution to the “source code” issue is something related to the intent of copyright and patent laws: they exist to create a “temporary” (short-term) monopoly for the creators (not there heirs) so that they will be rewarded for releasing their works into the public domain. Otherwise, software or recipes for how things are made could be lost.

‘Not My Problem’: A Big Problem for DevOps Teams

Reposted from: ‘Not My Problem’: A Big Problem for DevOps Teams –

Not my problem (NMP) — (n)

1. a statement, or position, of apathy expressed by those who perceive they are external and unaffected by a negative predicament. While sometimes warranted, it is typically uttered by those who perceive themselves as powerless; can’t be bothered; are too lazy, or are selfish non-contributing leeches. See also “complete cop out.”

2. an attitude that will stymie attempts to implement DevOps in your organization and will thwart success

3. (archaic) Actually not your problem

While perhaps it’s become more frequent in our culture of relative indifference, some of our oldest stories bear witness to how timeless the phenomenon “not my problem” is. For example, in the biblical story of Cain murdering Abel, God asks Cain afterward, “Hey Cain, I can’t find Able. Do you know where he is?” Cain responds famously, “Am I my brother’s keeper? (NMP)” It crosses country borders and language barriers, too: A transliteration of the same sentiment in Polish is, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

Continue reading ‘Not My Problem’: A Big Problem for DevOps Teams

A comment left on Slashdot. – Development Chaos Theory

(Reblogged from A comment left on Slashdot. – Development Chaos Theory)

The problem is that our industry, unlike every other single industry except acting and modeling (and note neither are known for “intelligence”) worship at the altar of youth. I don’t know the number of people I’ve encountered who tell me that by being older, my experience is worthless since all the stuff I’ve learned has become obsolete.

This, despite the fact that the dominant operating systems used in most systems is based on an operating system that is nearly 50 years old, the “new” features being added to many “modern” languages are really concepts from languages that are between 50 and 60 years old or older, and most of the concepts we bandy about as cutting edge were developed from 20 to 50 years ago.

It also doesn’t help that the youth whose accomplishments we worship usually get concepts wrong. I don’t know the number of times I’ve seen someone claim code was refactored along some new-fangled “improvement” over an “outdated” design pattern who wrote objects that bare no resemblance to the pattern they claim to be following. (In the case above, the classes they used included “modules” and “models”, neither which are part of the VIPER backronym.) And when I indicate that the “massive view controller” problem often represents a misunderstanding as to what constitutes a model and what constitutes a view, I’m told that I have no idea what I’m talking about–despite having more experience than the critic has been alive, and despite graduating from Caltech–meaning I’m probably not a complete idiot.)

Continue reading A comment left on Slashdot. – Development Chaos Theory

Last In – First Out: Ad-Hoc Verses Structured System Management

This is a repost. This is an excellent list of all the operation areas that need to be well managed. The theme is: with automation, templates, and monitoring. Not with manual fiddling until it works. See below, for the link to the full post.

Structured system management is a concept that covers the fundamentals of building, securing, deploying, monitoring, logging, alerting, and documenting networks, servers and applications. Structured system management implies that you have those fundamentals in place, you execute them consistently, and you know all cases where you are inconsistent. The converse of structured system management is what I call ad hoc system management, where every system has it own plan, undocumented and inconsistent, and you don’t know how inconsistent they are, because you’ve never looked.

You know you have structured system management when:

Continue reading Last In – First Out: Ad-Hoc Verses Structured System Management

VPro Intel Chips Contain Back-Door Processor


New Intel-Based PC’s Permanently Hackable

So you think no one can access your data because your computer is turned off. Heck it’s more than turned off, you even took the main hard drive out, and only the backup disk is inside. There is no operating system installed at all. So you KNOW you are safe.

Frank from across the street is an alternative operating systems hobbyist, and he has tons of computers. He has Free BSD on a couple, his own compilation of Linux on another, a Mac for the wife, and even has Solaris on yet another. Frank knows systems security, so he cannot be hacked… or so he thinks.

The government does not like Frank much, because they LOVE to look at everything. Privacy is a crime don’t you know, and it looks like Frank’s luck with privacy is about to run out.

The new Intel Core vPro processors contain a new remote access feature which allows 100 percent remote access to a PC 100 percent of the time, even if the computer is turned off. Core vPro processors contain a second physical processor embedded within the main processor which has it’s own operating system embedded on the chip itself. As long as the power supply is available and in working condition, it can be woken up by the Core vPro processor, which runs on the system’s phantom power and is able to quietly turn individual hardware components on and access anything on them.

Intel’s new Anti Theft 3.0, which put 3g connectivity into every Intel CPU after the Sandy Bridge version of the I3/5/7 processors. Users do not get to know about that 3g connection, but it IS there.

To read more: New Intel Chips Contain Back-Door Processor, Hackable Even When Computer is Turned Off | PopularResistance.Org

No, you are not doing DevOps (…and nor am I)

Good rant and insights.

A subset of #2, keep the operators and sysadmins, but make them subordinate to developers, who will define new production architectures that can be changed just as fast as their continuous development environments. They get to play around in production, ignoring many years of experience in managing large scale infrastructures. Oh they will eventually get things stable, and working well, with a custom mix of tools and patches. However the next batch of developers will wonder “what it going on?” and they will start rewriting things until they understand it. Of course business will not mind unstable web sites, down time, and lots of engineers working to continuously reinvent things.

A sysadmin's logbook

A word of caution

This post is addressed to all those people who think they know what DevOps means, but they don’t. If you don’t recognize yourself in this post, then maybe it’s not for you. If you recognize yourself, then beware: you’re going to be insulted: read at your own risk and don’t bother asking for apologies.

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Your Call Water Series – Feedback

waterfall into pond
Subject: Your Call Water Series - Feedback

This is in response to: “Your Call Water Series” [webcitation] radio program on KALW, 91.7 in San Francisco.

I’ve listened to a few of your programs on water. There have been mentions about learning from other communities and countries. Most of the focus seems to be on “big solutions,” but water cycles happen at global, regional, and local levels. We need solutions that address the problems at all these different levels.

Of course, there is a need for large water projects, to move water to large cities. But the large projects will not solve the water problem if the “small water cycles” are not addressed. Those cycles need to be addressed at more local levels. For example, water-retention landscaping methods can revitalize areas where the water and land have been abused.

Continue reading Your Call Water Series – Feedback

Planned Obsolescence in Software


“Fast, Cheap, Good – pick two!”

In any software project (or probably any project where you are creating something), you cannot lock down all three of these dimensions–i.e., you cannot define what you want for all of them. If you are very experienced, realistic, and have control of all external factors, you might get close. For most projects to succeed, one of these dimensions needs to be more relaxed than the others.

Fast and Good

The usual expectation is that “fast and good” won’t be cheap. Lots of people or money will be needed. But lots of people does not mean it will be done fast (see the book “The Mythical Man-Month”). So part of the solution is usually bought instead of created. That gets it done fast. But will it really be good? Maybe if you spend a lot of money, to buy something really good–essentially, you’re paying for the time that others spent on it at another company. This also assumes the part you buy will be exactly what you want.

Good and Cheap

The expectation is that a “good and cheap” solution will take a long time–that one person working on a project for a long time will be cheaper than lots of people. But will it really be good? Usually, it takes more than one person to make things good. For example reviews, proofreading, and brainstorming requires at least two people. So a few people over a long time could make a good product, but that doesn’t sound like it will be all that cheap (unless the people work for free).

Fast and Cheap

“Fast and cheap” is not likely to be good. And that is the usual way projects are started. The project gets accepted by most companies when those paying for it are convinced that it can be done fast and cheap. The assumption is that it will need to be just good enough for customers to want to buy it.

Cost, Features, Quality

But let’s break the discussion across slightly different dimensions, because “fast-cheap-good” may be a fun quip, but most product and project discussions revolve around Cost, Features, and Quality.

Continue reading Planned Obsolescence in Software