1. Using the double-splat operator in Ruby

    The double-splat operator is one of my favorite additions in Ruby 2.0. For some reason, the two little asterisks together make me happier than an optional Hash parameter in a method. Even so, outside of method definitions, I didn’t realize there was a use for the double-splat operator until I dug into a bug in Hashie. I liked the result enough that I wanted to take a quick minute and share what I found.

  2. Talking to yourself for self-teaching

    A microphone on a stand.

    Do you ever talk to yourself? How about publicly? We, as a society, often make fun of our friends for talking to themselves. But self-talk can be a powerful technique for self-teaching something. As an exercise, I tried using a tweet storm to share how I was approaching relearning a numerical methods technique. This post is a recounting of why I did it and what I learned. I’ll also share whether I think I will do it again.

  3. Senior developers: Can you recommend your path?

    Five dice arranged to spell T-E-A-C-H.

    One of the duties I have at work is to mentor some of the Rails developers on our team. I enjoy this immensely, yet struggle with at the same time. In a previous life, I wanted to be a professor and help people learn computer science and programming. I became jaded with academia, so left it and have been working in the software industry ever since. However, I still have that urge to teach, which is why I enjoy mentoring so much. My struggles with mentoring come from my long background in software development. I have been programming in some form since I was nine years old and have been paid for programming since I was eighteen. As such, I have somewhere between 13-22 years of experience across myriad different computer-related backgrounds. I spent the majority of my waking hours from the age of fourteen to the present building my skillset. Can I really ask more junior developers to do the same? How on Earth do I reconcile that when suggesting ways to improve to my colleagues?

  4. Does Phoenix make database CRUD too easy?

    The Phoenix framework logo, an orange firebird.

    In 2014, the Phoenix framework emerged onto the web development scene as a fast, productive, and concurrent solution for the modern web. Its focus was on massive concurrency, thanks to the power of the Elixir language and Erlang’s BEAM virtual machine. The original branding stressed the productive aspect, positioning the framework against the venerable king of productivity, Ruby on Rails. Those who are familiar with Rails will see a lot of inspiration from Rails. The way Phoenix auto-reloads code in development mode makes it just as easy to use as Rails. The router grammar requires a good squint to see the difference between the two. This inspiration certainly makes for a quick learning experience for Rails developers. But I wonder: at what cost? Does Phoenix make it too easy to structure your application like a Rails application? Is this convenience to the detriment of using the full power and expressivity of Elixir?

  5. Finding Rails migrations

    Scrabble pieces arranged to spell S-E-A-R-C-H signifying the search for Rails migrations across branches.

    Sometimes, I find myself working across several branches helping different teammates with their stories. Often, these branches use Rails migrations to easily manage the database changes that need to be made to support the work. This means that I end up running migrations from many different branches. Because I am human, I often forget to roll those migrations back before switching branches. When a destructive migration has to happen as part of a branch, it leaves me in a situation where I have several migrations that I need to roll back at any given time. In addition, they might be interleaved with migrations that exist on the master branch if it’s a longer-running branch.

  6. Four things to consider when using Redis in production

    Ruby programmers rely on Redis as a high-performance key-value store for many different jobs. Redis is suitable for many different tasks, including caching, acting as the transport medium for a message bus, and service analytics. Redis is often one of the first external dependencies you reach for as a Ruby programmer because it forms the backbone of the Resque and Sidekiq asynchronous job systems.

    When you’re starting a new project, it is tempting to set up the bare minimum configuration for Redis because it works well out of the box. However, once you’ve started to put some load on the system, there are several concerns that you should be aware of when using Redis. In this post, I’ll talk about some of these concerns and some high-level ways of addressing them.

    The four main concerns I will discuss in this post are monitoring, security, high availability and redundancy, and horizontal scalability. This is the first in a series of posts where I will cover these intermediate-to-advanced topics in depth.

  7. Creating a subset font

    Using custom font faces on a web page introduces several potential issues. Most commonly, these issues manifest in one of two types of problem: the dreaded “flash of unstyled text” (FOUT) or “flash of invisible text” (FOIT); or poor initial render time due to font faces specified in blocking calls to outside services. By placing only a subset font in the critical render path, you can reduce the amount of FOUT/FOIT and speed up the initial render performance.

    However, the creation of the a subset font is not described anywhere that I found. This post discusses how I went about creating a subset font, the tools I used, and some thoughts on what exactly you should subset in your font.