Node 8 and npm 5

Node 8 and npm 5 were released last week.

Updating Node.js is probably a safe bet, but I wouldn’t rush it unless you’re really excited for its improved support for promises. It gets long term support (LTS) status in October.

I’ve been using yarn for several months and have a hard time seeing myself switching back to npm any time soon, although the latest release did add a new lockfile feature which likely came as result of the competition from yarn.

Ansible Playbook for WordPress on Nginx

Ansible is a tool to automate repetitive tasks like setting up and configuring servers or deploying updates.

It can automate tasks on multiple hosts, and has made my life simpler. When I tell other developers about it, I sometimes get the response that “Well I could just write a shell script for that” — and while yes you could, it’s much more flexible and is configured using YAML which is just a bit more readable. In addition to it being human readable it’s also cross platform and secure (it relies on open ssh and doesn’t depend on agents).

This is a small playbook to install WordPress running on Nginx for creating new local development environments and test servers: https://github.com/tucsonlabs/ansible-playbook-wordpress-nginx

Node LTS and Stable

Node.js v5 is an intermediate feature release line that is best suited for users who have an easier time upgrading their Node.js installations, such as developers using the technology for front-end toolchains. This version will be supported for a maximum of only eight months and will be continually updated with new features and better performance; it is not supported under our LTS plan.

They’re calling the odd numbered version releases “stable”. Which is model similar to Ubuntu. I’m interested to see how well this plan plays out in the long run.

https://nodejs.org/en/blog/community/node-v5

New logo for REI is more like a throwback

This will likely be unnoticed by most REI customers, but they’ve decided to redesign their logo taking visual cues from an older (possibly original) version. Even though REI may technically be a coop, I think many recognize it as a large, national brand — and with 140 stores in 33 states, it’s really lost the feeling of a co-op. Maybe this is a move to get back to their original co-op roots?

In related news the Capitol Hill Value Village is closing. This was once home to REI’s flagship store which I have fond memories of visiting as a child in the 1980s when it definitely felt like a co-op.

New REI Logo

LET A 1,000 FLOWERS BLOOM. THEN RIP 999 OF THEM OUT BY THE ROOTS.

Peter Seibel:

How to think about engineering effectiveness

I think a big part of the problem is that we—as an industry—are not very good about thinking about how to make engineers effective. For our software, especially back-end software, we can measure its goodness by the number queries per second it can handle, the number of incidents we experience, and the amount of hardware we have to buy to run it. Those things are easy to measure and even fairly easy to tie to financial implications for the business.
Engineers’ effectiveness, on the other hand, is hard to measure. We don’t even really know what makes people productive; thus we talk about 10x engineers as though that’s a thing when even the studies that lead to the notion of a 10x engineer pointed more strongly to the notion of a 10x office.

But we’d all agree, I think, that it is possible to affect engineers’ productivity. At the very least it is possible to harm it.

The Twitter EE motto is: “Quality, Speed, Joy”. Those are the three things we are trying to affect across all of Twitter engineering. Unlike that other famous triple, Fast, Cheap, Good, we believe you don’t have to pick just two. In fact they feed into each other: Building things right will let you go faster. Building faster will give you more time to experiment and find your way to the right thing. And everybody enjoys building good stuff and a lot of it.

This is an interesting way to look at developer productivity. Generally in my experience, when there’s an emphasis on speed in the sense to ship something on a tight deadline, the quality of the project might suffer. However, this isn’t speed in the sense of tight deadlines. It’s speed in the sense of writing code quickly which as Mr. Seibel points out, frees time to experiment and explore better ways of problem solving.

LET A 1,000 FLOWERS BLOOM. THEN RIP 999 OF THEM OUT BY THE ROOTS.

Ashley Madison hack

Dave Kennedy for Ars:

Researchers are still poring over the unusually large dump, but already they say it includes user names, first and last names, and hashed passwords for 33 million accounts, partial credit card data, street names, and phone numbers for huge numbers of users, records documenting 9.6 million transactions, and 36 million e-mail addresses. While much of the data is sure to correspond to anonymous burner accounts, it’s a likely bet many of them belong to real people who visited the site for clandestine encounters. For what it’s worth, more than 15,000 of the e-mail addresses are hosted by US government and military servers using the .gov and .mil top-level domains.

There are some incredibly smart people working in the federal government—and then there are these people.

The Ashley Madison Hack

Motivating the ‘Amabots’

Company veterans often say the genius of Amazon is the way it drives them to drive themselves. “If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot,” said one employee, using a term that means you have become at one with the system.

In Amazon warehouses, employees are monitored by sophisticated electronic systems to ensure they are packing enough boxes every hour. (Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. After an investigation by the local newspaper, the company installed air-conditioning.)

For some reason “genius” doesn’t seem like the right word.

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace

Web Design: The First 100 Years

Maciej Cegłowski:

Our industry is in complete denial that the exponential sleigh ride is over. Please, we’ll do anything! Optical computing, quantum computers, whatever it takes. We’ll switch from silicon to whatever you want. Just don’t take our toys away.

But all this exponential growth has given us terrible habits. One of them is to discount the present.

When things are doubling, the only sane place to be is at the cutting edge. By definition, exponential growth means the thing that comes next will be equal in importance to everything that came before. So if you’re not working on the next big thing, you’re nothing.

I’ve been trapped here myself and only recently (within the past 2 years) was able to notice it. Realizing it is one thing. Breaking the habit is another.

Web Design: The First 100 Years

Apple Music is a nightmare

Jim Dalrymple:

As if all of that wasn’t enough, Apple Music gave me one more kick in the head. Over the weekend, I turned off Apple Music and it took large chunks of my purchased music with it. Sadly, many of the songs were added from CDs years ago that I no longer have access to. Looking at my old iTunes Match library, before Apple Music, I’m missing about 4,700 songs. At this point, I just don’t care anymore, I just want Apple Music off my devices.

I trusted my data to Apple and they failed. I also failed by not backing up my library before installing Apple Music. I will not make either of those mistakes again.

Early adopters generally pay a price in being the first to encounter undocumented bugs—but loosing your data is a steep price to pay. I haven’t tried Apple music yet because I don’t have much interest in playlists in general, but I’ve also been bitten by adopting software too early which generally causes lost time and frustration all for a very small endorphin boost of trying something new. Apple Music will add little if any value to my life so there’s really no rush for me.

At any rate my mind is blown that he doesn’t have any backups. Back up your data kids! It’s not one of those lessons you will want to learn the hard way.

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Automattic Aquires Woo Commerce

WordPress currently powers about 23% of the web. As we work our way toward 51%, WooCommerce joining Automattic is a big step opening WordPress up to an entirely new audience. I can’t wait to see how much more we can build together.

Seems like a good fit and something that can help Automattic grow in the commerce market—which is a big part of the Internet.

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