Monthly notes 27

For cold winter evenings here’s something to read. Monthly notes for February are about relearning and thinking.

Issue 27: 23.2.2018


Computer Science and why it’s necessary even for web developers
“Computer Science and why it’s necessary even for web developers I know that in some countries a degree in CS is expensive or unattainable, and that some companies do unnecessary algorithm interviews. This thread is not about degrees or interviews, it’s about CS itself.”

Free Intro to Web Development slides (with demos)
Slides of the Web Dev Intro labs for the “6.813 User Interface Design and Implementation” at MIT
(from Twitter)

The Four Rules of Simple Design (in order of importance)

  • Passes the tests
  • Reveals intention
  • No duplication
  • Fewest elements

And, yes, “fewest elements” is last, which means you only minimize classes and methods if everything else satisfied


When openssh port forwarding doesn’t cut it, use sshuttle: “Transparent proxy meets VPN meets ssh.”


The Death of Microservice Madness in 2018
There are many cases where great efforts have been made to adopt microservice patterns without necessarily understanding how the costs and benefits will apply to the specifics of the problem at hand. The post describes in detail what microservices are, why the pattern is so appealing, and also some of the key challenges that they present.

Should that be a Microservice? Keep These Six Factors in Mind
These days, you can’t swing a dry erase marker without hitting someone talking about microservices but few have spent any appreciable time asking if a given application should be a microservice. tl;dr; “1. Multiple Rates of Change; 2. Independent Life Cycles; 3. Independent Scalability; 4. Isolated Failure; 5. Simplify Interactions with External Dependencies; 6. The Freedom to Choose the Right Tech for the Job”.


A Guide to Web Performance Optimization with Webpack
This guide walks through how to effectively optimize site resources using webpack. This can help users load and interact with your sites more quickly. (from JavaScript Weekly 373)


face-verify.js: Monitoring who is physically looking at a website for additional security
Demo project showing how Machine Box tech can be integrated into JavaScript applications. Facebox takes an image and tells you how many faces it sees, as well as who those faces belong to provided you have shown it a single example previously. You can use this capability to build additional security into web apps so you can see how many people are watching the screen and who they are. Using the webcam with some JavaScript and Facebox, you can periodically check to ensure only authorised people can see the information that users consider sensitive.

Mac Privacy: Sandboxed Mac apps can record your screen at any time without you knowing
TL;DR Any Mac app can take screenshots of your Mac silently, and use basic OCR software to read all text on the screen. (from Weekend Reading)

To think about

Nick Stenning on Twitter
“Flat organisational structures do not exist. There are only organisations with visible structure and organisations with invisible structure”. (from Weekend Reading)

Developers On Call
Quite self-explanatory ideas for how to manage on-call rotations without burn out but maybe it’s not always that way. The linked Twitter thread is worth reading. (from Weekend Reading)

Something different

2017: The Year in Charts
These are the charts and themes that tell the story of 2017. I. The Year Volatility Died; II. Records Are Made to Be Broken; III. The World is Flattening; IV. Still Easy After All These Years; V. A Good Old-Fashioned Mania; VI. King Dollar Dethroned; VII. Wrapping Up: 1991-99 Redux?

Extracting JSON value from command line with jq and Python

Developing modern web applications you often come to around checking REST API responses and parsing JSON values. You can do it with a combination of Unix tools like sed, cut and awk but if you’re allowed to install extra tools or use Python then things get easier. This post shows you couple of options for extracting JSON values with Unix tools.

There are a number of tools specifically designed for the purpose of manipulating JSON from the command line, and will be a lot easier and more reliable than doing it with awk. One of those tools is jq as shown Stack Overflow. You can install it in macOS from Homebrew: brew install jq.

$ curl -s '' | jq -r '.name'

If you’re limited to tools that are likely installed on your system such as Python, using the json module gives you the benefit of a proper JSON parser and avoiding any extra dependencies.


$ curl -s '' | \
    python -c "import sys, json; print(json.load(sys.stdin)['name'])"

Stack Overflow answers to the question of “Parsing JSON with Unix tools” shows you other options with standard tools like sed, cut and Awk and more exotic options with Perl, Node.js and PHP.