Monthly notes 18

Summer is finally approaching although the weather is still chilly here in Finland especially if you’ve spent your winter holiday in lovely Italy. Have to say that for mountain bikers Finale Ligure is a nice destination to start your season after long winter. April has also been quite busy with upcoming project deadline but here’s some monthly notes to keep you learning.

Monthly notes, issue 25.4.2017

iOS Development

Developers can finally respond to App Store reviews
Tooks some time to Apple to get this feature to App Store. Developers can now respond to reviews and this article includes just about everything you need to know. (from iOS Dev Weekly 294)

The Details That Matter
Small design changes can make a huge difference in apps’ UX. Nick Babich does a really nice job making design more approachable and explaining the merits of his suggestions. (from iOS Dev Weekly 294)

Save Yourself Some Xcode Time By Mastering These Tips
Every developer has to look for shortcuts. Shortcuts leave you more time to develop, rather than taking the long route (such as the mouse!) for many Xcode tasks. Seasoned Xcoders will know most of these tips, but I bet even they will have forgotten one or two. Learn these now and save yourself more time than you could imagine over your career. (from Indie iOS Focus Weekly 117)

Software development is hard

Tout est Terrible
Loose transcription of a talk Fred Hébert gave at the Web a Quebec conference. Everything is terrible, a spooky scary story of how we can have a simple application that looks reasonable and show a bunch of issues and potential bugs that can hide in it and surprise us in nasty ways. And that it’s hard to really feel safe about any code out there.

Competitive Programmer’s Handbook
Good resource for brushing up programming skills and theory knowledge. Books purpose is to give the reader a thorough introduction to competitive programming. It’s especially intended for students who want to learn algorithms and possibly participate in the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) or in the International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC).

Frontend development

JavaScript Patterns for 2017 [Video]
A 50 minute roundup of common, JavaScript-specific techniques like using modules, webpack, ES6 syntax, classes, async/await and more. (from JavaScript Weekly 331)

Facebook scraps React as we know it, welcomes successor React Fiber
React.js is dead. Long live React Fiber. Completely rewritten, backward compatible with minor breaking changes.

Why It’s So Important To Focus On The Bottom Nav Bar
Making our app easy to use can be anything but easy. One way to make it easier on yourself is by focusing as much navigation as you can on the bottom half of the screen. This post shows just how important it is along with some great tips and visual examples. (from Indie iOS Focus Weekly 117)

Tools

Webhook
Webhook is a lightweight configurable tool written in Go, that allows you to easily create HTTP endpoints (hooks) on your server, which you can use to execute configured commands. Hacker News comments. (from Hacker Newsletter 348)

Tips for monitoring Redis
Ways to get more info from Redis, such as on latency and slow commands. (from DB Weekly 151)

Simple Icons
Dan Leech built a great set of very simple SVG icons of popular brands. It’s available under a Creative Commons Zero license. (from WDRL 179)

How to install and use Headless Chrome on OSX
Google Chrome can now be run in headless mode, replacing PhantomJS or SlimerJS. Jim Cummins explains how to set it up on Mac OS. For Windows and Linux it should be similar using bash and a few adaptions to the local commands. (from WDRL 179)

Something different

4 Late-Night Protein Treats To Pair With Milk
I don’t know why these are called late-night treats but they look delicious. And done with protein powder and more “healthy” choices than normally.

Spruijt’s Ultimate Dilberts IT Collection
Who doesn’t like the entertaining, funny and always accurate Dilbert cartoons? This Ultimate Dilberts collection curates a selection of strips to watch for fun on a Friday afternoon or use occasionally in meetings and presentation.

Monthly Notes 17

Successful Software development is about good practices, agile methods and also ethics, interpersonal and leadership skills as the Fowler’s story from Über shows us. You can’t achieve great things without well working team, also on personal level. And what comes to actual development it’s good to remember that you shouldn’t over-engineer. On the other news, Spring is finally coming to Finland and the cycling season has started.

Montly notes, issue 29.3.2017

Software development

10 Modern software engineering mistakes
“Many articles say don’t over-engineer but don’t say why or how. Here are 10 clear examples.”. tl;dr; Prefer isolating actions than combining., Duplication is better than the wrong abstraction. Always take a step back and look at the macro picture. Reuse. Fork. Contribute. Reconsider. Refactoring is part of each and every story. No code is untouchable.

Why Software Development Time Estimation Doesn’t Work and Alternative Approaches
Alex Castrounis shares why estimating software development tasks by time and time tracking don’t work and how you can still get pretty accurate estimations to calculate the progress and a deadline for a project.

Lean Inception
How to work out what should be in MVP and start Agile project as quickly as possible?

Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber
Depressing story of Uber’s toxic organization culture and how not to handle issues. Also corporation process of reviews/transfers is awful.

Software Developer Interview: Your part.
If you’re looking for new challenges in software development career and go to a job interview you should carefully and thoroughly find out if the company is the right for you. Good list of interesting and important questions will help you on your way.

What .NET Developers ought to know to start in 2017
Have to remember to read this when I start using dotNet.

Front-end has always new frameworks

Vue.js 2.0 has gained popularity among React and Angular and it looks good alternative for front-end development. Vue.js in less than 30 minutes for beginners and Vue.js 2.0 In 60 Minutes will show you what’s it about and get you started.

Tools

GraphQL Part 1 and Part 2
Loren Sands-Ramshaw wrote a two-step guide on GraphQL, a relatively new query language that has better performance and is easier to handle as REST. (from Web Development reading list 175

EICAR Standard Anti-Virus Test File
You can use EICAR standard anti-virus test file for testing what happens when virus is found. It’s just text.

Pipeline as code with a Spring Boot application
I just recently clicked through Jenkins UI to setup pipelines. Boring. Next time I’ll try to define it with ‘pipeline as code’ concept.

User interface

Toggle button
Sometimes a user interface requires a clear “On”/”Off” switch. It’s usually a great idea when you want to show optional settings but indicate more as a checkbox does by default and in a simpler way as two radio options could provide it. Heydon Pickering now shares the technical approach to building semantic, accessible and easy-to-use toggle buttons. (from Web Development reading list 175

Something different

How to ride long Poles. The bike.
Good tips of how to ride mountain bike. Stand tall and keep your head up; Turn your body towards the direction you want your bike to go; Counter steer before the corner; Push the bike with your legs in turns; Bend knees.

Nebula Tech Thursday – Beer & DevOps 2.3.2017

Agile software development to the cloud can be nowadays seen more as a rule than exception and that’s also what this year’s first Nebula Tech Thursday’s topics were about. The event was held 2.3.2017 at Woolshed Bar & Kitchen alongside good food and beer.

The event consisted of talks about “Building a Full Devops Pipeline with Open Source Tools” by Oleg Mironov from Eficode and “Cloud Analytics – Providing Insight on Application Health and Performance” by Markus Vuorinen & Jarkko Stråhle from Nebula. The presentations were a bit high level and directed more to the business level people than developers but there was some new information how different tools were used in practice.

Overall it was nice event to hear how things can be done and to talk with people. Here’s my short notes from the event.

Nebula Tech Day

Cloud Analytics – Providing Insight on Application Health and Performance

Markus Vuorinen & Jarkko Stråhle from Nebula talked about how to gather data to Elasticsearch, make it accessible and visualize it with Kibana and make actions based on that. The ELK-stack (Elasticsearch – Logstash – Kibana) is commonly used and the presentation showed nicely how to utilize it with cloud.

Technical setup
Technical setup
Data flow to Elastic
Data flow to Elastic
To visualization and alerts
To visualization and alerts
Kibana main view
Kibana main view
Kibana and response times
Kibana and response times

Building a Full Devops Pipeline with Open Source Tools

Oleg Mironov from Eficode showed the building blocks of how to build a Devops pipeline with Open Source Tools and demoed it. Nothing really special if you don’t count Rancher and Cattle. Just put your code to Git, use Ansible, run Jenkins jobs, build docker images, use RobotFramework for testing, push artifacts to Artifactory and deploy with Rancher.

Rancher overview
Rancher overview
DevOps Pipeline
DevOps Pipeline

Monthly notes 16

February in monthly notes looks into what you should think about when using Facebook, suggests you to read “Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)” by George Orwell and tells you 13 things you should give up if you want to be successful. Also it’s worth checking out Vue.js, use Git standup for daily Scrums and enhance your application accessibility.

Issue 16, 13.2.2017

JavaScript

Introduction to Vue.js
Vue.js is gaining traction more and more each week. If you need an introduction this post by Sarah Dranser is tops. (css-tricks.com) (from https://web-design-weekly.com/)

A Guide to Webpack 2 and Module Bundling
This article is aimed at those who are new to webpack and will cover initial setup and configuration, modules, loaders, plugins, code splitting and hot module replacement. (from Web Design Weekly)

Tools

Git standup
What did I code yesterday? git standup looks crafty tool to remember what you’ve done and works with multiple repos.

Using tmux properly
You may know terminal multiplexers like Screen which was released 1987 but there’s also newer options like tmux (2007). It’s similar to Screen, but has some additional features and is easier to configure. The article tells you how to use tmux properly.

Introducing Docker Secrets Management
The latest Docker release offers a great solution to store your secrets securely in containers. The Docker Secrets Management is a solid approach to do so. (from WDRL #169)

Software development

Five Keys to Boost your Speed and Quality in Software Teams
“Software quality and the speed of the team is a commitment issue”. Focus, communication, conventions, confidence, isolation. Well said.

The Outrageous Cost of Skipping TDD & Code Reviews
Writing tests is one of the crucial parts of software development and the benefits of Test Driven Development has proven itself to be very useful to increase the quality of software. The article shows some numbers why you should do TDD and shares advice about how to implement a more productive quality process.

ARIA Examples
Some practical ARIA examples to enhance your application accessibility. And accessibility isn’t as easy as you thought like Soueidan explains with Accessible tooltips https://sarasoueidan.com/blog/accessible-tooltips/

GitLab’s postmortem of database outage of January 31
On January 31st 2017 GitLab experienced a major service outage for their online service GitLab.com. The outage was caused by an accidental removal of data from our primary database server. They also lost some production data that they were eventually unable to recover. The postmortem of the issue is good to read. GitLab also had live Google Doc while resolving the issue. Hacker News comments also has some good points.

Security

What should you think about when using Facebook?
Facebook collects data about you in hundreds of ways, across numerous channels. It’s very hard to opt out, but reading this article by Vicki Boykis on what they collect, you’ll learn to better understand the risks of the platform so you can choose to be more restrictive with your Facebook usage. (from WDRL #169)

Something different

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful
Intuitively obvious things but harder to follow.

Sketchcase
Whiteboard Sticker simply turns any laptop lid into a portable whiteboard.

George Orwell: 1984, pdf and audio
If you haven’t read “Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984)” by George Orwell yet, here’s your chance: The entire book is available for free as PDF and Audio versions. I personally recommend it to everyone who is only slightly interested in just one of these topics: social change, politics, technology. (from WDRL #169)

Monthly notes 15

This time in monthly notes we cover design trends for interfaces, Apple steps up to iOS user interface templates game, learn Flexbox and Redux, something about microservices with Docker and see what GitHub has learned about CSP.

Issue 15, 28.1.2017

User Interfaces

Review of Popular Design Trends for Interfaces in 2016
What should apps look like in 2017? Let’s start with looking at what happened in 2016 with Marina Yalanska. (from iOS Dev Weekly Issue 284)

Apple iOS UI templates
Apple joined the party of iOS UI templates with their own comprehensive set. Would be nice if they would expand this to tvOS, watchOS and macOS. (from iOS Dev Weekly Issue 284)

Crash Course: UI Design
A pretty epic article by Jeff Wang that revisits the design process he took on a recent project from the UI angle. (from Web Design Weekly)

Microservices

Containers and microservices and Node.js! Oh, my!
Learn microservices, Node.js, and containers by example using the provided application. This post walks through an example application that is split out into Node.js microservices running in Docker containers. (from Microservice Weekly 64)

Building Efficient Dockerfiles – Node.js
Old but good to know. Many Dockerfiles are written inefficiently, especially if you’re using npm. You should use caching to improve the performance of your Docker container. tl;dr; add package.json to tmp before running npm install in there. (from WDRL 166)

Making microservices more resilient with circuit breaking
‘Circuit breaking’ is the idea of shutting off traffic to an instance if requests to it fail too frequently. Good article of how linkerd can help you with it. (from Web Operations Weekly 99)

On the front end

Understanding Flexbox: Everything you need to know
A very thorough attempt to cover all the fundamental concepts you need to get comfortable with the CSS Flexbox model. (from Front-end focus 273)

React or Vue: Which Javascript UI Library Should You Be Using?
If you’re not sure which to pick, start here. (from Weekend Reading)

Thinking in Redux (when all you’ve known is MVC)
Good explanation of Redux with React although the article uses it with React Native. Redux is quite simple in concept but you’ve to think differently how things work. Another option to Redux would be to use Mobx.

Accessibility testing with Intern
Covering unit tests and functional tests, The Intern is a nice testing tool for JavaScript. But you can also use it for accessibility testing. (from WDRL 163)

Security

GitHub’s post-CSP journey
Previously Github shared their learnings from using the Content Security Policy at github.com. Now they share more learnings in and the focus lies on i.a. img-src, form nonces, same-site cookies. (from WDRL 166)

Something different

Finnish mountain biking expertise was awarded a couple of Design and Innovation Awards this year: Pole Evolink 140 and Huck Norris. The super long and slack Pole Evolink 140 bike throws up questions about geometry standards. And although not a new innovation with protecting your rims and tyres, the Huck Norris anti-pinch-flat insert is a plastic foam ring effectively protects your rims from dents and reduces the risk of burping. You can ride tubeless with an even lower tire pressure or even a lighter carcass, plus glean more grip.

2016 Retrospective

A year has again come to its end and it’s time to look back what I’ve managed to write about and do some planning for the new year of 2017. In 2016 my writing schedule was as leisurely as usual and I managed to put together of 20 articles which nine of them are about weekly notes. On average I managed to keep my pace of at least one post per month. Yay but it should be better. Things have gone quite well, I’ve learned new things and got things done :)

Keeping up with Weekly/Monthly notes

Last year I started writing Weekly notes series about interesting articles I come across from several software development related newsletters and while reading Twitter, Reddit and Hacker News. I planned to write them weekly but as practice showed it turned out to be monthly.

Learning from others at meetups

One way of learning new things is to hear how others do things and get do ideas how to make things better. I’ve found that attending meetups and conferences are nice way to both freshen your thinking and get to know people working in the same field.

Some of the meetups I went was about container orchestration with CoreOS which provided introduction, nice lessons learned and Kontena, CoreOS war stories.

More interesting meetup in DevOps field was DevOps Finland Meetup goes Mobile where we heard how continuous delivery works for mobile applications at Zalando, learned mobile testing with Appium and what’s Qvik’s efficient mobile development cycle.

Software development as usual

At work I’m developing web applications mainly with React and Java but looking for better tools is always good. Modern Java is nice but using Kotlin is better although I didn’t get the opportunity to push it into production. Kotlin felt nice and somewhat similar to Swift.

Doing microservices has last year gained more momentum and one good way to keep your docker containers small is to build them with Alpine Linux. Using minimal base image for you container is efficient both on size and having smaller footprint thus making the attack surface smaller. Alpine doesn’t use glibc but musl libc which may limit it use cases but e.g. Java and Node.js applications are running fine on top of it.

In software field I deployed Piwik web analytics as we couldn’t use Google Analytics. Piwik seems to be nice and open source alternative for analytics and has this far worked nicely.

HTTPS has become more affordable and even free with Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates. Setting up Lets Encrypt is relatively easy but using them needs also some automation with simple scripts.

One thing I didn’t have time to write was about JavaScript development with React and TypeScript which certainly would be worth writing. Can’t say I like using TypeScript where plain ES6 would work better. Although TypeScript has become better with version 2.

Other things

As much as I love software development I like mountain biking and last year some interesting technology was presented to protect your tires and rims: Huck Norris and Procore. Whereas Huck Norris is lightweight solution to puncture prevention Procore provides better protection and they both have their use cases.

Schwalbe Procore parts

Huck Norris

I’ve used Irssi for communicating with friends in IRC but I also tried to switch to using Weechat. Didn’t quite make the cut and nowadays IRC has almost lost to Telegram and Slack.

New year, interesting things ahead

What the year 2017 brings can’t be predicted but at least my personal goals will be learning React Native and doing some development also for Android. Mountain biking will have a big part in the Summer when the Enduro racing season starts and there’s couple of trips already planned.

So, stay tuned by subscribing to the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter. Check also my other blog in Finnish.