Journal Entries

(Page 7 of 9)

Assorted journal / blog entries.


Fatigue and Mastery

👓 less than 1 minute

Tero Parviainen has a nice piece about Overcoming Javascript Framework Fatigue, but don’t let the title fool you - much of the advice can be applied those who work (and live) in most any rapidly-evolving field. Plus, it contains one of the best quotes from Rich Hickey (the creator of Clojure) about what skills a developer really needs to have (and those skills have nothing to do with preferred language or framework):

Programming mastery has little to do with languages, paradigms, platforms, building blocks, open source, conferences etc. These things change all the time and are not fundamental. Knowledge acquisition skills allow you to grok them as needed. I’d take a developer (or even non-developer!) with deep knowledge acquisition and problem solving skills over a programmer with a smorgasbord of shallow experiences any day.

Via JavaScript Weekly


RSS & Atom Making a Comeback?

👓 less than 1 minute

Baldur Bjarnason thinks he knows why RSS and Atom have come back into vogue, powering both Apple News and Facebook Instant Articles after years of disuse:

There’s one thing that’s very different this time around for RSS and Atom and it’s the reason why this time it might be different. Back then ‘just the HTML, no CSS, JS, or Flash’ meant nothing more than rich text with images.

Now, ‘just the HTML’ means rich text, video, audio, SVG, and more. While at the same time ‘HTML with CSS and JS’ has come to mean slow loading websites full of annoying ads and broken functionality (i.e. scroll-jacking).

It’s that last point (again) that’s the most important, IMHO, but it’s also the one that seems to be falling on deaf ears.


On William Gibson and Cyberspace

👓 2 minutes

I’ve been on vacation for the last couple of days, and have used some of the time to finish reading William Gibson’s excellent “Sprawl” series.

I actually read the first book in the series, Neuromancer, some 14 years ago, and always meant to get back to it, but just never did. Then, about 2 years ago, I re-read Neuromancer and dove straight into the second book, Count Zero, before again losing momentum and abandoning the series. While packing for our vacation, I happened across my copy of the third and final book in the series, Mona Lisa Overdrive, and I made the decision to use this vacation as an opportunity to finally finish reading the series, a feat that I accomplished just yesterday.

First, I have to say that I loved the book. You can tell that Gibson’s style got more focused as the series went on, making each book better than the last. Also, the series fits his style well – he has a habit of creating apparently unrelated strands of storytelling, featuring characters that don’t seem to have anything to do with each other, and bringing them together in the climax. In that way, Mona Lisa Overdrive serves as the climax of the series itself, bringing apparently unrelated characters and story elements from the first two books together (along with some new ones) into an explosive ending.

Much of what I like about the series are the background elements, like the way he describes the sprawl and the histories of his characters. But, most of all, I love the idea of cyberspace:

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts… A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding.

As a computer nerd whose been into networking information and virtual worlds since the days of BBSing (and through into MUDs, the web, and even OpenSimulator, for a little while), the notion of connecting to digital realms directly via ones own mind has always appealed to me. In fact, one of the most depressing things about the books, to me, is that in the nearly 30 years since they were published, very little of that technology has come to pass.


Smartphone Cryptogeddon

👓 2 minutes

After yesterday’s Senate committee hearing on encryption, wherein both FBI Director James Comey and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. made some pretty nasty comments about strong encryption on smartphones and the apocolyptic-problems it could bring, I thought it might be a good idea to remind everyone of what Representative Ted Lieu of California said back in April about why some users wanted smartphone encryption in the first place:

Why do you think Apple and Google are doing this? It’s because the public is demanding it. People like me: privacy advocates. A public does not want an out-of-control surveillance state. It is the public that is asking for this. Apple and Google didn’t do this because they thought they would make less money. This is a private sector response to government overreach.

[T]o me it’s very simple to draw a privacy balance when it comes to law enforcement and privacy: just follow the damn Constitution.

And because the NSA didn’t do that and other law enforcement agencies didn’t do that, you’re seeing a vast public reaction to this. Because the NSA, your colleagues, have essentially violated the Fourth Amendment rights of every American citizen for years by seizing all of our phone records, by collecting our Internet traffic, that is now spilling over to other aspects of law enforcement. And if you want to get this fixed, I suggest you write to NSA: the FBI should tell the NSA, stop violating our rights. And then maybe you might have much more of the public on the side of supporting what law enforcement is asking for.

Then let me just conclude by saying I do agree with law enforcement that we live in a dangerous world. And that’s why our founders put in the Constitution of the United States—that’s why they put in the Fourth Amendment. Because they understand that an Orwellian overreaching federal government is one of the most dangerous things that this world can have.

It might be worth point out that Rep. Lieu is one of four House members with computer science degrees, is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force Reserves, and served for four years as a member of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, making him (IMHO) someone knowledgeable in this area.

And it just so happens that fourteen of the world’s top computer security experts agree with him, but who’s counting.