Nobody likes ads, obviously. But what came as a painful surprise for me is that they don't just annoy people who see them – but also those who try to monetise their projects. It's not just a matter of putting a few tags on your page and waiting for a big fat wire transfer.
The process is exhausting and I feel the need to rant about it, as well as maybe warn people who might be embarking on a similar journey… so here we go.
A user suggested adding a timezone field to Pronouns.page. This website lets people, among other things, create a card with info about how they want to be referred – their pronouns, names, etc. But it also has some generic fields, like age or links, so the team was onboard with the idea of adding some more basic info: not just timezone, but while we're at it, why not also a location?
Well, adding a location is not as easy as it seems…
When it comes to DevOps, I'm just the “dev”. I write code, but I'd rather have someone else worry about making sure it keeps running as intended. I manage my personal VPS, I manage some servers at work, but I wouldn't call myself an expert in that area at all. So I'm super proud of myself and how well it went when I migrated a big project to a new machine The downtime was just 15 minutes! Here's the story, if you're interested.
Among people who create websites or apps there's an understanding that UX, user experience, is massively important. We know that most users either don't have the technical knowledge to use software that isn't intuitive, or they simply don't have time to be bothered to get to know an app that isn't easy to use (and they have many alternatives to switch to).
So I'd think that ease of use of one's products is a common concern among companies of all industries, right? Well, I then moved to a new place and had to assemble a lot of furniture… What an absulute UX nightmare it was!
I strive to optimise this blog's performance as well as I can. But chasing a goal of a lightweight website while keeping it pretty prevented me from realising the obvious truth that the most performant assets are… no assets.
I've seen some begginer programmers asking themselves: why do I even need constants? Variables I get, they're super important, but why have an extra thing that's like a variable, but worse? It can't even change! And if I know that const NUMBER_OF_COLUMNS = 3, why can't I just write 3?
My new blog, despite being simple and freshly rewritten, loads way too much crap... So I took a few moments to optimise it a bit – and I ended up with almost 50% reduction in resources size in just two steps!
For quite a while my VPS was misconfigured – any HTTP requests it got but couldn’t assign to a vhost, it redirected to the main website, avris.it. I didn’t think it would be a big deal, until I recently found out that my post Ungoogling is indexed by Google under https://askara.avris.it/blog/ungoogling
This subdomain hadn’t existed for a long time already, my server doesn’t serve a certificate for it anymore, but it requires HSTS, so browsers end up showing users a scary error message.
Platforma Obywatelska obiecała, że wprowadzą głosowanie elektroniczne. Ta partia nie jest znana z realizowania obietnic, więc nie boję się zbytnio, że ten okropny, okropny pomysł wejdzie dzięki nim w życie. Ale temat mnie poruszył, bo widzę, jak bardzo ludzie są zafascynowani taką opcją i jak bezkrytycznie ją popierają, myśląc, że skoro wszystko inne jest lepsze dzięki komputerom, to głosowanie też musi.
Depending on one company with all of your data is pretty risky. Even if we ignore the obvious privacy concerns of when some corporation knows everything about you... Just imagine what would happen to you personally, if one day that corporation would just... disappear for whatever reason. Say, Google gets a huge fine from the European Commission for one of their monopolistic practices or shitting on their users’ privacy, and turns out they don’t recover from that. How screwed are you?
One day you lose your emails, photos, passwords, documents, notes, calendar, what else?
So, recently I decided to diversify my technical dependencies. Not to boycott Google completely, but to at least use it less.
The PHP ecosystem is full of frameworks: Symfony, Laravel, Yii, Zend, Phalcon, and so many, many, many more... All of them built by professionals and supported by big communities. So why on earth would a junior developer, who has just started his first job, try his hand in building yet another one?
I’ve lived in three countries so far, and I got some official documents from all of them (Germans definitely spam way more than the others). I think it’s interesting to compare, how different approaches they have to the design of those documents.
There is a website I’ve created many years ago, Stosłowia (Polish only), which collects stories of up to a hundred words. It never got any users, but I didn’t really care to promote it in any way either.
Last week I’ve decided to rewrite it from scratch, because so many things were wrong about it – from an ancient backend in plain PHP with hardcoded credentials and no separation of concerns, to login with Facebook (and only Facebook) that stopped working... Now it’s a fresh Symfony 4.1 with Encore with some new features (like automatic screenshot generation, seen for instance on Twitter).
But what I’d like to show you, is how a couple of pretty small design changes have made the whole website way nicer visually (IMHO).
I had to learn Git as a programmer. If you want to easily collaborate on a codebase, you really need either Git or something similar. But as a non-programmer, you’ve probably never even heard that name, have you? Then why would you ever need it?
The story I described in here finally has a bittersweet ending – I finally got my computer back! After over two months, after lots of stress and fighting, and after having paid them 130€ (only 25% of what they first requested, but still 100% more than I should have paid)...
Meinen Rechner hab ich von mySN.de / Schenker Technologies gekauft. Es scheinte eine gute Idee zu sein. Was es aber gar nicht. Ich fühle micht von mySN betrogen und we Müll behandelt. Ihre Kundenservice ist voll unprofessionel, ihre Hardware ist Scheiße und sie scheinen sogar nicht zu wissen, was sie im Lager haben und wie viel ihre Teile kosten. Im Ernsts!
I’ve bought my laptop from mySN.de / Schenker Technologies. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But it definitely was not. I feel scammed by them, I feel treated like trash by them. Their customer service is unprofessional, their hardware is crap and they don’t even seem to know what they have in storage and how much do their parts cost. Seriously!
Keeping your classes immutable and stateless makes your code way less prone to bugs. Yet somehow this clean code rule isn’t as popular and as often invoked as SRP, YAGNI, DRY, KISS and others... Maybe it’s because of the lack of a catchy acronym?
Anyways, I’d like to take a look at two examples of when sticking to this rule could save your ass (or at least save you some time debugging).
Having 100% of LOC covered by unit tests certainly feels like a great achievement. But beware – that doesn’t necessarily mean your code is perfectly covered. Lines of code coverage is a really nice indicator of your app’s stability, but is can also hide some risks.
Programming isn’t that hard. Really. With enough time and determination, almost everybody could write some useful code. The Internet is full of tutorials that teach you programming from scratch, full of people who faced the same problems you do, full of people who solved those problems and shared their solutions for you to use, and finally full of free libraries that you can just use. All you need to do is learn some tools, google your problems and put together pieces of code that you find.
But if it’s not a black magic, not a secret knowledge, then why are software developers so well paid?
When I first heard the term “Autowiring”, I thought it sounds exciting. But when I learned more or less what is it about, I got pretty sceptical of the idea. Too much magic, too much implied information... However, when I finally used it for the first time... Gosh I wish I could never define services manually again!
Putting emojis in your database should be a piece of cake, right? You’ve had enough trouble with encodings in your lifetime, and now that we have the blessing of UTF-8, you’re always so careful to use it everywhere, so you’d expect all the characters to just finally work out of the box, right?
Well, I did expect that. But I’ve recently realised I can only put some emojis (like “️”) in by blog posts. Most of them were just lost or replaced with “?” by MySQL... Oh, those damn encodings again!
I used to run a couple of Facebook fanpages. One of them was shut down three times, apparently for being homophobic. It was quite the opposite, actually. The name could be confusing, because it was a word play on the Polish word for “faggot” and a name of a Polish gossip portal. But the content was specifically anti-homophobic! It was a rainbow meme aggregator, basically a gay version of 9gag.
But the thing is, I can only assume why did people report my fanpage and why did moderators remove it. Did someone just assume it’s homophobic without actually checking it out? Or quite the opposite: did someone consider homosexuality an abomination and just reported everything that’s even remotely gay? I’ll never know. The only thing Facebook bothered to tell me is that “I’ve abused the Community Standards”. I’ve read them thoroughly and there was no abuse of them from my side.
Finally. I got to work and rewrote the code of my sweet blog. Brand new design, new framework, Micrus, better support for language versions, a couple of new features in the admin panel, ditching custom comments for the awesomeness of Disqus, ditching TinyMCE for the beauty and simplicity of Markdown. It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it!
Wreszcie. Wziąłem się do roboty i przepisałem od zera kod mojego blogaska. Zupełnie nowy design, nowy framework, Micrus, lepsze wsparcie dla wersji językowych, parę nowych ficzerów w panelu administracyjnym, rzucenie własnego systemu komentarzy na rzecz zajebistości Disqusa, rzucenie TinyMCE dla piękna i prostoty Markdownu. Zajęło to sporo pracy, ale zdecydowanie było warto!