Steven Black hosts files

StevenBlack/hosts repository:

Extending and consolidating hosts files from a variety of sources like adaway.org, mvps.org, malwaredomains.com, someonewhocares.org, yoyo.org, and potentially others. You can optionally invoke extensions to block additional sites by category.

Categories include: adware, malware, gambling, porn, and social networks.

How 37 Banks Became 4 In Just 2 Decades

bank chart

How 37 Banks Became 4 In Just 2 Decades“:

If you were wondering how banks got “too big to fail,” here’s a good place to start. This chart shows us how, over the last couple of decades, 37 banks have became just 4 mega-banks. These same 4 mega-banks have, thus far, been immune to the consequences of any and all of their terrible decisions that places the entire world economy in jeopardy.

Interesting!

Don’t use Slack for FOSS

Please don’t use Slack for FOSS projects” is a compelling case for why you shouldn’t use Slack for Free and Open Source Software projects.  Make sure to read the discussion in the comments as well.  (By the way, many of the arguments apply to HipChat too).

hipchat-slack

The suggested alternative is IRC, which I agree with.  My only minor disagreement in regards to IRC is using it for companies as well.  Companies are much more fragile and sensitive than Open Source community, so it doesn’t work all that well in some places.  I think Slack/HipChat work great for company communications, but if you want to have full control over your chat system, then try out Rocket.Chat, which I blogged about earlier this year.

Two years at Qobo

Today marks the completion of my second year at Qobo Ltd.  The first year was quite a ride.  But the second one was even wilder.  As always, it’s difficult (and lengthy) to mention everything that happened.  A lot of that stuff is under the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) terms too.  But here are a few generic highlights:

  • Vision and strategy – most of my first year has been spent in putting out fires, fixing things big and small, left, right, and center.  The technology boost was necessary across the board, so it didn’t leave much time for the vision and strategy.  I feel that we’ve made a huge progress in this area in the last 12 month.  We have a clear vision.  We have all the stakeholders agreeing on all key elements.  We have worked out a strategy on how to move forward.  And we’ve started implementing this strategy (hey, Qobrix!).  In terms of achievements, I think this was the most important area and I am pretty happy with how things are shaping up.
  • Team changes – much like in the first year, we had quite a few changes in the team.  Some of them were unfortunate, others not so much.  The team is still smaller than what we want and need, but I think we are making progress here.  If our World Domination plans will work out to even some degree, we’ll be in a much better place very soon.
  • Technology focus – we’ve continued with our goal of doing fewer things but doing them better.  Our expertise in WordPress, CakePHP and SugarCRM grew a lot.  We’ve signed and deployed a variety of projects, which resulted in more in-depth knowledge, more networking with people around each technology, more tools and practices that we can reuse in our future work.
  • Open Source Softwareour GitHub profile is growing, with more repositories, pull requests, releases, features, and bug fixes.  We’ve also contributed to a variety of Open Source projects.  Our involvement with Open Source Software will continue to grow – that’s one of those things that I am absolutely sure about.
  • Hosting, continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD), and quality assurance – again, the trend continued this year.  We are using (and understanding) more of the cloud infrastructure in general and Amazon AWS in particular.  We have a much better Zabbix setup.  And our love and appreciation of Ansible grows steeply. Let’s Encrypt is in use, but we’ll grow it to cover all our projects soon.  We are also experimenting with a variety of quality assurance tools.  We are using TravisCI for most of our Open Source work.  And we are on the brink of using recently announced BitBucket Pipelines for our private repositories (sorry Jenkins, we’ve tried you, but … not yet).  We’ve also jumped into ChatOps world with HipChat and its integrations, to the point that it’s difficult to imagine how could we have worked without it just a few month ago.  Codecov.io has also proved to be useful.
  • Projects, projects, projects – much like the previous year, we’ve completed a whole lot of projects (see some of our clients).  Some were simple and straightforward.  Others were complicated and challenging. And we have more of these in the pipelines.  Overall, we’ve learned how to do more with less.  Our productivity, technical expertise, and confidence grows day-to-day.  I hope we keep it up for years to come.
  • Website – one thing that we wanted to do for ages is to update our website.  Which we did, despite all the crazy things going on.  It’s not a complete redesign, but it’s a nice refreshment.  And we’ve also got our blog section, which I promised you last year.  All we need to do now is to use it more. ;)

There are a couple of major updates coming soon, but I am not at liberty to share them right now.  But they are very, very exciting – that’s all I can say today.  Keep an eye our blog – we’ll be definitely sharing.

As I said, it was quite an intense year, with lots of things going on everywhere.  There were tough times, and there were easy times.  There were challenges and there were accomplishments.  There were successes, and there were mistakes and failures.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way!

After two years, I am still excited about this company and about my job here.  (Which, looking at my career so far, is not something that happens often.)  I hope the next year will continue the adventure and by the end of it I’ll be able to proudly show you a few more things.

 

Web Developer Tools from Browserling

browserling-effortless-cross-browser-testing

Browserling – an awesome cross-browser testing service, has a collection of Web Developer Tools, which are as simple to use as possible.  There are now more than 80 (!!!) tools, according to this Peteris Krumins blog post, that provide immediate help with things like converting dates and times, formats like CSV, JSON, Markdown, HTML, XML, etc, generating passwords, minimizing or prettifying HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and more.

On Google+ success from 5 years ago

One of the benefits of having your own blog is all the archives that are accumulated over time.  Web services, platforms, and social networks come and go, and so does your content when you choose to use them.  But with your own piece of the Internet, you get to keep it all.

It’s always interesting to see what I was into and what I was thinking like years ago.  Especially when it comes to predictions and forecasting.  Especially with the technology, which moves so fast.

Here is, for example, something that I shared 5 years ago (to the day):  On how Google+ will succeed.  Now that never happened.  In fact, almost the opposite is happening:

Horowitz made a point to emphasize, once again, that Google+ isn’t going away. Instead, he reiterated that the company will be offering “a more focused Google+ experience.”

In other words, Google+ has a core set of users that really do enjoy using the service. “Google+ is quickly becoming a place where people engage around their shared interests, with the content and people who inspire them,” Horowitz said.

More specifically, Google plans to continue to offer new features in Google+ and move “features that aren’t essential to an interest-based social experience” into existing products.

This just tells you how “trustworthy” is my opinion on things…

“AWS Week in Review” goes open

I’ve been a big fan of Amazon AWS for over two years now.  One thing that absolutely blows me away is how much activity there is in Amazon AWS development.  Every day there is an announcement of a new services or updates to the existing ones.  In order to help people keep up with all the updates, Jeff Barr of Amazon was blogging “AWS Week in Review” for a few years.

First "Week in Review"

Now, imagine this – there is so much new stuff going on that it takes hours to prepare each of those blog posts:

Unfortunately, finding, saving, and filtering links, and then generating these posts grew to take a substantial amount of time. I reluctantly stopped writing new posts early this year after spending about 4 hours on the post for the week of April 25th.

This is insane!  So he almost gave up on the idea, as it is too time consuming.  But people want it.  What’s the solution?  Go Open Source!

The AWS Week in Review is now a GitHub project (https://github.com/aws/aws-week-in-review). I am inviting contributors (AWS fans, users, bloggers, and partners) to contribute.

Every Monday morning I will review and accept pull requests for the previous week, aiming to publish the Week in Review by 10 AM PT. In order to keep the posts focused and highly valuable, I will approve pull requests only if they meet our guidelines for style and content.

At that time I will also create a file for the week to come, so that you can populate it as you discover new and relevant content.

I think that’s a brilliant move.  Those weekly review posts are super useful for anyone involved with Amazon AWS.  They should keep coming.  But the time cost involved is understandable.  So crowd-sourcing this is a smart way to go about it.

I hope this will not only continue the blog post series, but also take it to the new level, with more section, content, and insight.

Well done!

How the Internet works

cable

Ars Technica runs a nice overview article “How the Internet works: Submarine fiber, brains in jars, and coaxial cables“.  It features plenty of cool images, statistics, and details of the Internet wiring from under the sea to the last mile to the last 100 meters.  It’s mostly focused on UK, but it provides a good understanding of what’s involved in the modern day connectivity.

P.S.: On a less serious note, here’s The IT Crowd take on how the Internet works.  Thanks to Maxym Balabaev for a reminder.

10k Apart – Inspiring the Web with Just 10k

10k apart

From this article, I’ve learned about an excellent (for our times) 10k Apart competition:

With so much of an emphasis on front-end frameworks and JavaScript runtimes, it’s time to get back to basics—back to optimizing every little byte like your life depends on it and ensuring your site can work, no matter what. The Challenge? Build a compelling web experience that can be delivered in 10kB and works without JavaScript.

Think you’ve got what it takes? You have until September 30th.

I can’t wait to see the submissions and all the ways to squeeze the awesomeness of the modern web into just 10 kilobytes.  This reminds me of the Perl Golf posts over at PerlMonks and Assembly PC 64K Intro from my childhood early days (here are some examples).