Goodbye Foursquare and Swarm

It is the end of an era for me, and for once it’s me ending it and not yet another web service or social network disappearing.  Today I’m saying goodbye to Foursquare and Swarm.

I have been one of the early adopters of Foursquare and an active user for a few long years.  I loved it from the moment I heard about it.  The idea was brilliant and the implementation was good too.

For me, Foursquare was a very elegant idea of a social network.  The combination of the city guide with crowd sourcing and a gaming component was cool.   It provided an easy way to find new places, get recommendations, reviews, and tips, and wrapped it all in a points system that made sense.

I thought that it was also useful for the business owners – knowing who checks in at your bar or restaurant, where else they go, how often they come, and what they think is great.  Being able to offer promotions and special offers based on the check-in history of a user, I thought, was genius as well.

But for some reason, Foursquare never really took off.  Sure, I loved it and recommended it to every person with the mobile phone.  But it never quite got as mainstream as, say, Facebook.  Pity.

But then things got worse.  Foursquare has split the mobile app into two – Foursquare as a city guide, and Swarm as a game.   Swarm is still feeding Foursquare with content, but now there is no particular reason to install Swarm and use it.  I don’t think there was a single new user or anyone who just uses Swarm, without Foursquare.  I might be wrong, of course.  But from what I’ve seen, even fewer people were now checking in and contributing.  Those who did were mostly doing so out of habit from the good old days.  As did I.

A few days ago, something else happened, which, for me, was the last drop.  My Swarm app kicked me out and asked to re-authenticate.  This was weird.  But I did it anyway.  And then, for some reason, all my history was gone.  I still had those few friends in, and my settings were all good.  But the history began anew.  What?  No!  Sure, I can dig into it and figure out if I did something wrong.  Or I can contact support and let them fix it.  But what’s the point anyway?

There is no benefit to using Swarm anymore.  It’s points for the sake of points.  So I’m over and out.

Goodbye Foursquare and Swarm.  It was fun while it lasted.

Carbon – beautiful screenshots of your source code

Carbon – is a very simple, but very useful web tool for creating beautiful screenshots of the source code.  And yes, before you start correcting me, I know that source code is always more useful as a listing, which can be copy-pasted, searched, and so on, rather than an image.  But there are still plenty of scenarios when you just need it fixed and frozen.

Carbon provides plenty of flexibility in a very friendly user interface – code highlighting for a variety of programming languages and configuration files, editor themes, window controls, fonts, and more.   There’s also a very simple way to tweet the screenshot directly from Carbon, if that’s what you want to do.

How to Analyze Tweet Sentiments with PHP Machine Learning

Machine learning is rarely mentioned in the same sentence (or article, for that matter) with PHP, so each time this happens, I’m all ears.  Here’s one that I came across recently – How to Analyze Tweet Sentiments with PHP Machine Learning.

Unlike many other “hello world” kind of examples, this article examines a real and quite common problem, which can be easily adopted to other similar problems – SPAM filtering, marketing segmentation, fraud detection, etc.

Zeal + Vim = offline CakePHP (and other) documentation

As any long time Vim user, I’m constantly looking for ways to tweak and improve my text editor configuration, and make me even more efficient.  Today, I came across a very handy addition – Zeal – an offline documentation browser for developers. (Thanks to this blog post, which also mentions Dash as an alternative for those of you on the MacOS.)

With Zeal, you can download a whole lot of documentation sets for pretty much any web development technology out there – programming languages, frameworks, libraries, tools, and more.  And then you can easily integrate Zeal with whatever text editor or IDE you are using.

For Vim, there are, as always, several options.  Some of them are listed here. I personally opted for the Zeavim plugin.  The installation is straight forward and everything works out of the box.  After giving a quick try, I decided to adjust my .vimrc file to use CakePHP framework documentation together with the PHP programming language documentation whenever I’m working with any PHP file.  Here’s what I had to add:

" Zeal offline documentation
let g:zv_file_types = {
       \ 'php': 'cakephp,php',
       \ }

Now, whenever I edit a PHP file and hit “,z” (I use comma as a leader, by the way), Zeal window pops up with the relevant documentation search.

It’s super fast. It works offline, and it’s awesome!

Slimming down Docker images

It’s been a while since I posted anything about Docker.  That’s mostly because I still don’t really use it for anything – playing around locally, testing and learning doesn’t count yet.

But just to keep the ball rolling, here are a couple of handy links for the ideas on how to improve your Docker images, so that Docker uses much less space, benefits more from caching, and brings up the containers faster:

Both articles are around the same theme – choose your  base image carefully, try to minimize the layers, use only what you need, and don’t forget to clean up the disk space with “docker system prune“.

This is why you shouldn’t interrupt a programmer

Yup.  This is exactly why you shouldn’t interrupt a programmer.  It takes him at least a few minutes to get back to where he was, irrelevant how brief and unimportant the interruption was.  And that’s why we invented managers (interrupt them all you want!), asynchronous communication (emails, ticketing systems, etc), and other tools and processes.

Happy 20th birthday, LWN!

Linux Weekly News (aka LWN) is celebrating its 20th birthday.  Wow, that’s quite impressive! Not many web sites can say that.  But even fewer can do so while covering technology news related to Linux and other Open Source Software.

I’ve been a reader of LWN since their early days.  I’ve been subscribed to it also at different times during the years (see 2002, and then 2004).  And I’m glad that they are still around.  I still catch up with the RSS feed on a weekly basis.

Happy birthday, LWN!  And thanks for all the hard work and excellent content.