Bureau of Programming

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The Bureau of Programming

The Bureau of Programming is a virtual truck stop—a dirty, brash place where like-minded individuals can gather to discuss everything from the relevant to the irreverent.

If life is a highway, it can be a pretty lonely and boring one, especially if you’re a real truck driver logging miles hour after hour. The same is true of programming. Programmers like myself spend many their working hours doing mundane, well-paid clerical tasks. But this gives us the luxury of having the time to think and imagine new possibilities, just like on an open road.

Real truck stops feature items of convenience and utility: washrooms, showers, diners, etc. The Bureau will too. We’ll publish thoughtful pieces on programming. But we’ll also explore and specialize in more tangential subjects—economics, philosophy, current events. A diner doesn’t just serve sustenance but also a moment’s respite from the journey that lies ahead. It comes in the form of a thoughtful moment and good conversation.

Our guiding philosophy is to maintain a genuine voice. We want to present things just as they are (i.e., WYSIWYG). Sample: We don’t care about venture capital or food delivery start-ups or smartphone rumors.

If you’ve been looking for a programmer blog that’s taken an off-ramp, driven on well past sunset, and doesn’t have a particular destination in mind, you’ve come to the right place. Welcome to the Bureau of Programming.

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The Cost of Technology Holdouts

Larry Downes, reporting for The Washington Post:

The accelerating pace of disruption means more and more products are facing an early retirement. But even as computers, electronics and health products move quickly from must-haves to museum artifacts, a small but loyal following often carries a torch for the old stuff, sometimes out of nostalgia, sometimes from sheer stubbornness. For them, familiar and functioning technologies are good enough.

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Atom vs. RSS

Chris Wellons, developer of Elfeed, an Emacs newsreader, writes on his blog:

At this point I’m quite confident in saying that Atom is by far the better specification and I really wish RSS didn’t exist.

When creating feeds, RSS 2.0 is often the default, but switching can be easy. For example, in Django, to provide an existing newsfeed (MyFeed) as Atom v1.0, you simply set the appropriate feed_type attribute:

from django.utils.feedgenerator import Atom1Feed

class MyFeed(Feed):
    feed_type = Atom1Feed
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Mozilla Acquires Pocket

Mozilla has acquired Pocket, the read-it-later service. Chris Beard, Mozilla CEO, writes:

We believe that the discovery and accessibility of high quality web content is key to keeping the internet healthy by fighting against the rising tide of centralization and walled gardens.

This is good news for web users. Its primary competitor Instapaper was acquired by Pinterest in August 2016 and suffered a multi-day outage earlier this month. After shutting down its $30/year premium service, Instapaper no longer has an obvious revenue stream, which leaves its future in doubt. This doubt is compounded by its outdated FAQ:

Does Instapaper make money?
Yes. Instapaper is run by a small team. It earns income to cover its costs. If you’d like to support Instapaper, the best way to do it is to purchase Instapaper Premium.

Fingers crossed, Mozilla will be a better steward of Pocket.

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But Can You Code?

Adrianne Jeffries, writing for The Outline, on the whiteboard interview:

People spend weeks preparing for this process, afraid that the interviewer will quiz them on the one obscure algorithm they haven’t studied.

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