bsquared

a blog about programming and startups by Brian Brunner

Be The Deciding Vote On What Hits the Front Page of Hacker News

18 Oct 2016
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I built a Chrome extension that puts the newest posts on Hacker News at the top of the front page. If you want to skip the reading and just get the extension, you can download it here.

I’m an avid reader of Hacker News and an occasional poster. A while back, I got enough karma to be able to downvote comments. For those not in the know, Hacker News opens up moderation features as you gain karma in an effort to self-regulate the site.

I’m not a very active commenter, but I do like the idea of contributing back to discussions by voting, so it was an exciting moment. This got me thinking about how I could further contribute back to HN. In my experience, the single most important thing you can do on HN is upvote new posts.

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How I Fucked Up My iPhone Preorder and Programmed My Way Out Of It

20 Sep 2016
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For the second time in 3 years, I fucked up my iPhone preorder. The first time was due to Apple accepting a credit card and the payment inexplicably getting declined. So not really my fault. This time, however, was entirely due to my inability to read directions.

I used the Apple Store app to reserve my preorder. I would then be able to finish my preorder at a later date. Essentially, a preorder for a preorder. Whatever. If it gets me my damn marginally upgraded iDevice I’m fine with it.

During the process, I selected the wrong payment plan option. After a quick call to Apple, I was told that customer service didn’t care enough to fix the problem. Or that they couldn’t. Or something.

Anyway, I’m not one to wait. So I decided to over-engineer my way out of the problem.

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Exciting company is looking for Full Stack mutants!

18 Aug 2014
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I have heard many buzzwords for recruiting talented developers that tried to sex up the position. Ninja. Rockstar. Superstar. You get the idea. Even the term “full stack,” which seems more technical than all the others, has started to take on some sort of edginess. For some reason unbeknownest to me, recruiters feel it is necessary to act like programming is equivalent to playing to a packed house at Coachella or being an assasin.

Don’t get me wrong. I love software engineering and, at times, it can be very exciting. But, when it comes down to it, I spend roughly 8 hours a day hunched over a desk staring at a monitor, trying to figure out just the right thing to type to make the box in front of me do what I want.

Last year, however, I received what may be my absolute favorite recruiting email. It’s subject line was “Exciting company is looking for Full Stack mutants!”

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Post It Notes > Software Project Organization

03 Apr 2014
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I have a really hard time using most task management and organization software. Jira is too complex for me. Trello requires you to put in a ton of work to develop a system to use it. Asana might be great for managing business-oriented work, but it just doesn’t seem to be that good for managing software development.

Maybe I just don’t get it or I’m out of touch, but I’ve yet to find anything that works better for me than post it notes.

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Zookeeper For Distributed Coordination

02 Apr 2014
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Building distributed systems is hard work. Consensus algorithms like [Paxos](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paxos_(computer_science) or the new hotness raft can be tricky to understand and even trickier to implement. Distributed locking mechanisms can be shoehorned into Redis (see the “Locking” section in the SETNX command docs) or memcached, but these solutions are hacks and not fault tolerant, making them less than ideal.

But there is a prebaked solution: Apache Zookeeper. If you’ve never directly used Zookeeper, there’s still a good chance that you have used it indirectly. It is integrated with systems like Hadoop, Akka, Kafka and many others.

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