Radicale – Free and Open-Source CalDAV and CardDAV Server

Radicale is a free and Open Source CalDAV and CardDAV server.  Here are some of the features:

  • Shares calendars through CalDAV, WebDAV and HTTP.
  • Shares contacts through CardDAV, WebDAV and HTTP.
  • Supports events, todos, journal entries and business cards.
  • Works out-of-the-box, no installation nor configuration required.
  • Can warn users on concurrent editing.
  • Can limit access by authentication.
  • Can secure connections.
  • Works with many CalDAV and CardDAV clients.

Here is a blog post that provides some instructions on how to set it up and synchronize contacts and calendars between multiple services and applications.

Atlassian Stride

Stride is a new product from Atlassian.  It is a re-branded and, hopefully, improved HipChat.  I haven’t tried it yet, but our team account will be upgraded soon enough.

To be honest, I’m not that excited about this move, but I’ll give it a benefit of a doubt.  I know there was a lot of hype about Slack recently, but I was really happy with HipChat.   I tried Slack for three days, and ran away.  But HipChat I can’t leave without.  It’s a much simpler and cleaner user interface, and it just works – completely out of your way.

Judging by the screenshots, Stride is a user interface upgrade to HipChat.  Atlassian has been moving to the new design recently with BitBucket and possibly other tools, so this part makes sense from at least their perspective.  Stride also brings free video calls, voice calls, and screen sharing.  HipChat had this option for the premium accounts (2$/month/user).  We tried it for a month and reverted, as the quality of calls and video was horrible.  And there were constant crashes and disconnections. Hopefully, Atlassian has put some work into these issues for the Stride release.

The most annoying thing about the upgrade from HipChat to Stride will be all the integrations.  Atlassian is promising to migrate all the data – history, files, custom smileys, etc.  But the best part about HipChat are the integrations.  We have a whole lot of them – GitHub, BitBucket, TravisCI, Twitter, WordPress,  Zabbix, and even our own custom ones, that we use for project deployments.  All these will have to be reconfigured and setup for Stride separately.  That’ll take a few hours here and there to get things back to where they were.

As far as the new features go, I don’t see too much yet.  Apart from the already mentioned voice calls, video calls, and screen sharing, there are just a couple.  Focus Mode is not really a big feature.  HipChat, much like any other messaging application, already had the status (Online, Away, Do Not Disturb, etc).  So Focus Mode is pretty much the same thing, with an extra time setting, so that you don’t forget to change you status back after a couple of hours.

Actions and Decisions is a nice addition.  You’ll be able to mark any message as an action or decision so that its easier to find and follow up on later.  But for us that’s not going to do much as we are already using Redmine for the project management.  Actions go into Redmine as tickets, and can later be referenced in commit messages, linked to each other, etc.  Having actions in Stride will probably work for very small teams with very few projects.  For us, we have a separate room for every project, every team, every office, and then some.  So searching for actions in a hundred-something rooms is far from perfect.  But maybe Stride’s search will be more powerful than that one of HipChat.  We’ll see.

Oh, and I’m guessing all the users will have to downloading and install new apps – for mobile, desktop, etc.  That’s yet another thing to do.

As I said, I haven’t tried Stride yet, and I hope it’ll be a huge improvement over HipChat, even though I HipChat worked great for me.  As I see it now, I think re-branding and the new design could have happened on the HipChat infrastructure.  Moving people to the new application altogether has to be justified by some major improvements.  And I’m not seeing anything major just yet.

Grakn and Graql – a database for AI

From the grakn.ai website:

Grakn is a distributed hyper-relational database for knowledge-oriented systems. Grakn enables machines to manage complex data that serves as a knowledge base for cognitive/AI systems.

Graql is Grakn’s reasoning (through OLTP) and analytics (through OLAP) query language. Graql is a much higher level abstraction over traditional query language – SQL, NoSQL, or Graphs.

Plugins spring cleaning

I’ve done a little spring cleaning of some plugins installed and activated on this site.  You shouldn’t notice much of a difference, except, maybe, fewer quirks and issues.  Here are some of the plugins that were removed:

  • Smart YouTube Pro – it was only used in a couple of posts for easier embedding of YouTube playlists.  Since I installed and used this plugin, WordPress got much better at embedding videos, so I don’t need it anymore.
  • Smart 404 – I think I used it with one of the previous themes on this site, but I can’t even remember last time I saw it working.  The 404 page of the current theme features a search form, which I think is good enough.
  • PayPal Donations – this was an experiment I tried ages and ages ago.  No need for this at all for quite some time now.
  • Related Posts By Tags – I used this with one of the previous themes, but it’s been ages since, and I think even the plugin is discontinued now.
  • Social – the plugin has been discontinued and the functionality was moved to JetPack.  I had this one disabled for quite some time now.
  • WP-Polls – this was yet another experiment I tried years ago.  There were a few polls with a few votes, which prevented me from removing this plugin.  But today I thought I’d do a compromise.  I replaced all polls with the screenshot of voting results for the purposes of data preservation. :)  Now I don’t need the plugin anymore and it’s gone.

That’s 6 plugins fewer – not bad.  Especially considering that some of them were quite heavy on the rendering side of things, and they were inserting useless CSS and JavaScript assets into every page of this site.  I think I should do it more often.

How we designed our Kubernetes infrastructure on AWS

How we designed our Kubernetes infrastructure on AWS” is a case study of how Atlassian (the kind people behind BitBucket, HipChat, Jira, and a few other popular tools) setup their infrastructure on Amazon AWS.

With all the popularity of the cloud in general and AWS in particular, there is still not enough articles like this one.

Botwiki – an open catalog of friendly, useful, artistic online bots

Botwiki is an impressive collection of bots for a variety of social networks and collaboration tools – Twitter, Slack, Tubmlr, Facebook and Messenger, YouTube, Reddit, Telegram, Snapchat, and more.  You can browse all these by network or by category.

Here’s a random Twitter bot for you:

@holidaybot4000 is a Twitter bot that tweets holidays around the world for the given day, typically together with an image of the country’s flag.

50 Things You [Probably] Forgot To Design

50 Things You [Probably] Forgot To Design” is a collection of all those tiny (and not so tiny) details that are often left out during the design process for a website, web application, or mobile app.  It covers a variety of bits from favicons to login forms, splash screens, pagination, and welcome emails.

If you only it was available now as a checklist …

AWS Adds Descriptions to Security Group Rules

AWS Blog lets us know that Amazon has finally implemented one of the most useful features ever – descriptions on Security Groups rules.  Previously, one could provide a description to the Security Group only, for example: “Proxy Server Access”.  Which wasn’t very useful, as it was almost obvious.  But now one can add a description to every rule inside the Security Group.  So when you have a Security Group with a bunch of IP address ranges, you can now describe each one of them.  For example: “HQ Office”, “UK Office”, “Boss At Home”, etc.

The coolest tech CV ever

This TravisCI blog post welcomes AJ to the team.  In it, there is a bit that caught my attention (except, of course, the one about bra burning):

If you’re so inclined, you can follow her on Twitter or run curl cv.soulshake.net.

Wait a second … A what? curl for the CV?  I had to try it out.  Here’s an even better way, for reading all the slides:

p=1; while [ $p -lt 9 ]; do curl -N cv.soulshake.net/$((p++)); read; done

Oh. My. God. Lo and behold, this is the coolest tech CV I’ve ever seen. Ever. Period.  TravisCI is so lucky to have her!

P.S.: If you are interested in how this was done, here a couple of blog posts – one and two.