Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2009

How To Fail At Upload APIs

Youtube, what the hell is up with your upload APIs? Here we are, hacking along and being all "Hey, we got accounts syncing and thumbnails popping up and videos getting attached to blog posts and its nifty-pie, oh yeah." when we make the move to be even more web 2.0y and add full authentication with youtube accounts and integrate the full upload cycle into the media selection. We take some little video upload tests and we're happy about that. Oh, that was a nice milestone to hit in FogBugz, I tell you what.

The week passes and suddenly I'm asked why all the video uploads keep failing. All the usual things are checked, but the upload tokens validate and the headers are correct. All our tests are within the upload limits, too. These aren't friendly "Hey, I really hate to tell you this, but the video you just uploaded didn't go so well. Can you try it again in a bit? Thanks"-errors, either. These are "Fuck off. I just reset your HTTP connection, bit…

Review: FogBugz 7.0

While ignoring completely that I was promised access to the FogBugz OnDeman 7.0 Beta program and just forgotten somehow, I'm going to come say that one day with the official release and I'm more excited than ever to be a FogCreek customer. Yes, I am still a card carrying free software nut-bag. I'm absolutely sure certain individuals will get grated at me, again, for not using Trac like a good geek.

Call me a fanboy, but boy-oh-boy is this a sweet release. It is a shining example of knocking a release out of the park and impressing everyone (who could be impressed at all, and thus disregarding those who will never be impressed by a commercial, for-profit bug tracker, ever, no matter what, not in a million years).

The experience is absolutely slick. Faster, brighter, shinier. Packing new features, improved features, and bug fixing in a new package is a great way to make the functional improvements stand out. Even if we have a good design, any product should take a note from th…

How To Recurse Your Foundation

Or, the working title: How To Look Down At The Tower of Turtles

We're a recursive bunch. We're more repetitive than . There is no shortage of writing that its caches all the way down or that we're repeating the mainframe/dumb terminal era. I have an argument that our entire profession is hinged on repeating ourselves.
Repetition is in the DNA of what we do. Software is the ultimate commodity, approaching zero-cost production. Solve one problem and the solution is applied to a thousand problems. Generalize and solve a million. Everything we do is repeated and is about repeating things. At the core, we're just moving little bits around and we repeat that action over and over, with very slight alterations. We abstract the repetition, and then we repeat the abstraction so much we need to abstract that.
We could continue to make individual observations, like the mammoth stack of caches every bit goes through or the abstractions we build up over and over on top of our languages…

How To Teach Software Development: Why Good Developers Should Care - Part Two

How To Teach Software Development
IntroductionDevelopers
Quality Control
Motivation
Execution
Businesses
Students Schools

What's the Point?

Some opinions, while held, are held softly. I believe the understanding is the opinion changes nothing and you aren't doing anything about it, so giving a damn is pointless. You may call it apathy, but I call it misunderstanding the nature of information. Information spreads from those who have it to those who do not and those in agreement grease the wheels of that distribution.

Of course, there are good developers who don't care if there are bad developers. I'm not convinced they're still reading, at this point. If they are, then the reasons we can make a difference should help convince you to care about that difference in the first place.

The more widely held the beliefs that we can and should do something to improve the quality of this industry, the more likely anything will happen. You might not be lecturing in the classroom, but I…

How To Teach Software Development: Why Good Developers Should Care - Part One

How To Teach Software Development
IntroductionDevelopers
Quality Control
Motivation
Execution
Businesses
Students Schools

Doctors and lawyers in the United States have the American Medical Association and the American Bar Association, respectively, and surely have analog organizations in other countries. As representatives of their professions, they work collectively with their colleagues at a reasonable and useful goal: quality control. It is in the interest of doctors that their med students are not idiots. It is in the interest of lawyers that their opponents are not (more) unethical. There are other, perhaps less admirable uses of these controls (too many doctors would lower all their salaries).

There is no such quality control in our industry. We have individuals at the lowest end of the ability spectrum and at the highest peaks of skill, and, we have the teaches of many years of expensive higher educations on some of our shoulders and only the passion of self-teaching for others. Neit…

How To Click It Like You Mean It

Yes, this is a screenshot of a screenshot. Stick with me, but I really do has a point to this! I have to admit, publicly, that I clicked the button. The one in the screenshot. The one that isn't a button, just a PNG image. I should be glad it wasn't a pop-up!


I realized my mistake at the moment I was clicking on it, but it happened to fast to stop. I had to sit and think for a moment. Why did I do that? It drove me to write this pretty immediately and do a couple mock ups for solutions. I never want to let my users loose information or control over it. That is, we don't want them to OK a message away and neglect to actually read it and we don't want them to click "send" before they're really, really ready to confess their never ending love to Glenn Beck.

Those are two distinct safety nets. Information the user missing for being click-happy and actual actions within the application they might have wanted to avoid. Any reversible actions, like closing a dialo…

How To Care If BSD, MIT, or GPL Licenses Are Used

The two recent posts about some individuals' choice of GPL versus others' preference for BSD and MIT style licensing has caused a lot of debate and response. I've seen everything as an interesting combination of very important topics being taken far too seriously and far too personally. All involved need to take a few steps back.

For the uninitiated and as a clarifier for the initiated, we're dealing with (basically) three categories of licensing when someone releases software (and/or its code):
Closed Source. Easiest to explain, because you just get nothing.GPL. If you get the software, you get the source code, you get to change it, and anything you combine it with must be under the same terms.MIT and BSD. If you get the software, you might get the source code, you get to change it, and you have no obligations about anything else you combine it with.The situation gets stickier when we look at those combinations and the transitions between them.

Use GPL code with Closed S…

How To Use the Youtube Data API: Authentication

After a couple days trouble with the Youtube Data API and the provided Python wrappers around it, I thought it would be good to collect my findings on what works and doesn't and to fill in the gaps that I see in the docs. I really hope this series will be useful to some others in my position.
Some Doors Are Locked and Some Doors Are AjarA lot of the APIs use requires no authentication, not even a developer key. This makes a lot of the most common, read-only integrations a snap. However, I think this makes it more difficult to adjust when the need to authenticate for other integration comes along. This did some damage to my schedule, so I'm going to help others avoid the problem.

Public operations are simple. Youtube gives us resources in the form of feeds and images and other things at API locations, like http://i.ytimg.com/vi/FedVhnHYn-Y/0.jpg to get the first thumbnail of a video. Just plug in your video ID and go.

When you get into the realm of authenticated requests, you'…

How To Overcompensate For Something

In the spirit of the old name of this blog, Ranting Techno Rave, this is a rant about a personal experience. This happened in the line of duty, so it is on topic. Has anyone else dealt with this kind of thing? Tell me about it.

This title is purposefully "provoking" and if you're the one I'm talking about, you know who you are. This might even apply to you if you're someone else with the same kind of behavior. Maybe you know or have to work with someone that exhibits the particular personality traits I've had to deal with. In whatever way this applies to you now or in the future, beware as much if you are this type of coder as if you have to deal with one of them.
The lone ranger was a terrible cowboy.
Assertive personalities are important. They point out mistakes, instead of allowing problems through inaction. There is an issue of tact, as a line one needs to watch as they walk the road of the assertive. Code review requires assertion as you tell someone, "…

How To Teach Software Development

How To Teach Software Development
IntroductionDevelopers
Quality Control
Motivation
Execution
Businesses
Students Schools

Education is broken. Education about software development is even more broken. It is a sad observation of the industry from my eyes. I come to see good developers from what should be great educations as survivors, more than anything. Do they get a headstart from their education or do they overcome it?

This is the first part in a series on software education. I want to open a discussion here. Please comment if you have thoughts. Blog about it, yourself. Write about how you disagree with me. Write more if you don't. We have a troubled industry. We care enough to do something about it. We hark on the bad developers the way people used to point at freak shows, butwe only hurt ourselves but not improving the situation. We have to deal with their bad code. We are the twenty percent and we can't talk to the eighty percent, by definition, so we need to improve the ratio…

How To Work a Sigmoid - Part Two

Software Development in Really Big Steps
How To Work a SigmoidHow To Work a Sigmoid - Part Two

The last time I wrote about the curvature of project estimations, I was just speculating. Since then, I've discovered that FogBugz does track estimation over time, with a daily estimation record, and offers a graph of the 0, 50, and 100 percent estimates over time. I've been watching this develop for a small time, working more with tracked estimates, and I think some expansion on my thoughts is ready.

You can see my own estimation graph here and it demonstrates exactly what I predicted. I suspect a more complex plotting of points would emerge with the length of the project, but I have a few curiosities about how this would expand over time. The basic prediction of a generally unchanging estimation from the start, an increase in the estimation's growth in the middle, and ending with a calming and final flattening on the systems best guesses, as you slow down how many cases you file f…

How To Recognize "Software Development" Is Step One

We're all "making software," but what's that mean? There is no shortage of resources on writing code. Debates rage on about this library and that, emacs versus vi, or nix versus windows versus osx. How much of it matters? We're arguing what car dealership gives us the best deal, automatic versus manual transmissions, and shades of colors to promote the best feelings when you see that shiny new car. Great, you've got the nice car (we all do), now you've got to drive the damn thing and keep it maintained for its lifetime. Who is paying attention here?

We spend thousands of hours discussion how to write software and millions of dollars helping us do it, but most of us have no clue how to keep that code around and get it in the hands of users. I won't make this a post about "The Cloud", but I will say its largely successful, because it solves a problem most developers either ignore or are never properly exposed to.

I won't blame PHP, but it fi…

How To Respond to Google Chrome OS

UPDATE: Fixed 'Response' to 'Respond' in title. Sorry about that.

We all have to do it, so I might as well take my turn.

First impression: no surprise here.

There are expectations in two forms here. We can expect certain things to come of this and we can expect certain things to disappoint us about this. There is a third, external expectation that techies will divide into a camp of people who think its Rilly, Rilly Important and a camp who thinks you're all wasting your time. I mean, gosh, its almost like this is exactly like any other topic we split down some arbitrary middle about. Get over it.

I Expect To Like:
Cheaper netbooksInstalling Chrome OS on old hardwareI Expect To Dislike:
Feeling like I have an OS that won't let me install anything but a browserNot being able to install Android AppsNot being able to run real Chrome on AndroidHaving no way to persist the state of a Javascript VM, so that I can close applications or save memory on long running ones and re…

How To Like What You See on the Frontpage

Some suggestions to improve a content voting system sparked some thoughts about the idea and I wanted to write them down to record my thoughts. The initial move was to remove down voting. No one uses it and negatives are, well, negative. So we'll drop "vote down" and replace "vote up" with "like", because what is more friendly than liking something? You know, its like you're in first grade and the article is that cute girl eating paste.

At the same time we were discussing sorting. Everything is chronological, but people might want to see popular things. Is it popular because people vote up on it or because lots of people read it? Of course, lots of places weight these today (like Reddit), so that was discussed.

Third, given the relatively higher traffic we're seeing on video content (duh, Youtube generation), adding a second row of video thumbs to the front page makes sense. I also rolled the idea in my head of adding a little randomness into th…