#delete campaigns: social solidarity vs privacy

Uber: Travel ban

January 2017, we witnessed #deleteuber social media campaign. The movement erupted after Trump’s ban on travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, when NYC taxi drivers went on strike. At the very same moment Uber announced “surged pricing on JFK airport” being turned off.

February 2017 benchmarks shown 200,000 accounts being deleted as an act of solidarity against US President decision.

Cambridge Analytica: Elections

March 2018, Christopher Wylie, whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica (has nothing to do with famous university), gives an interview to Guardian on how the company was collecting Facebook user profiles and presumably helped targeting elections campaign for Republican Party to win the elections.

The whole social media just went nuts on the subject. A chance of your social profile being harvested for micro-targeting to form your opinion on any sociopolitical matter, launched yet another delete campaign – #deletefacebook. Today, it’s been reported on 87m profiles may’ve been leaked to Cambridge Analytica, which is said to be a part of SCL Group.

Some details on who these folks are:

SCL’s involvement in the political world has been primarily in the developing world where it has been used by the military and politicians to study and manipulate public opinion and political will. It uses what have been called “psy ops” to provide insight into the thinking of the target audience. According to its website, SCL has influenced elections in Italy, Latvia, Ukraine, Albania, Romania, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, India, Indonesia, The Philippines…(c) Wikipedia

What’s quiet interesting about this whole story, that it’s emphasised the privacy leak at first place. Next week it twisted into yet-another-Trump fault, and all the hell broke loose in social networks.

Frankly speaking, this Trump for/against campaign is not my thing, I’m not  a US citizen. I didn’t vote. Thus, I don’t care. American elections is solely the matter of US people.

Technically speaking, as a person who reads and does some IT things, it breaks down to the subject of privacy, and the medium that we use in day-to-day routines.

If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product

Whenever you use any social medium, you share your private information. Those crazy useless quizzes, asking for your locations, ads rotation, bounce rates. It was just the matter of time, when some company will appear on the horizon and start crunching your data for its own purposes. Marketing tools in combination with psychology and IT, might give you a proper railgun in social science and opinion forming.

It’s your decision to support or ignore #deletefacebook movement. Edward Snowden gave an interview on the matter, that has some insights on your data privacy and the state control. He might be right, that it’s us – our generation – that will impose the control of our personal data, or it’s too late.

What’s after senior developer by Christian Heilmann

It is painful to see how clumsy companies are in trying to keep their techies happy. We do team building exercises, we offer share options. We pay free lunches and try to do everything to keep people in the office. We print team T-shirts and stickers and pretend that the company is a big, happy family. We pay our technical staff a lot and wonder why people are grumpy and leave.

What gets us going is a feeling of recognition and respect. And only peers who’ve been in the same place can give that. There is no way to give a sincere compliment when you can’t even understand what the person does.

Great article from Christian Heilmann about the career ladders and what comes after senior developer.

WordPress Gutenberg: it’s not about Text Editor

I wasn’t paying much attention after the announcement of Gutenberg projects from WordPress guys back in 2010’s.

I never had any dramatic impacts by CKEditor embedded in the WordPress admin panel. I still think it’s one of the best examples of UI/UX text editors on the Web. The whole development process caught my attention due to React licensing issue that got the Internet buzzing about for couple of months, until Facebook changed it.

And then I checked this video on the future of WYSIWYG editor and Gutenberg’s impact on the WordPress ecosystem.

This is huge! The whole ecosystem will change its standards of writing plugins/themes. The concept of expanding viewports going beyond the classical monitor resolution, including wearables and other portable devices. Block architecture. Enough with spoilers – just watch the video.

Fairwell 2017. New Year – new challenges

The end of this crazy year is almost around the corner, and I guess it’s the time to summarise it.

Traveling

We finally got some time to travel abroad. Scotland was the destination. Nadia and I think on planning one more trip there; this time checking the West Coast of the country. Edinburgh, is definitely the city to consider moving, in case I’ll ever get tired of Cyprus.

Working

2017 passed by the aegis of “Hold my beer!” Number of really challenging projects that were successfully launched in 2017. Couple of zombie-projects that had to be resurrected from the nearly dead condition so they could survive Black Friday and Christmas sales. And they did!

Surprisingly found myself coding lots of JavaScript at work and free time. Never thought of becoming a frontend developer, and still not planning to, but JS appears on my way more frequently then I expected (huh!).

Free Time

Is there any, duh?.. 2017 was full of different pivoting moments. Health wise, 3-month gym challenge proved that I can’t stand without it for long. It seems that this hobby is here to stay.

Hiking. I’d like to keep it on weekly basis, but apparently monthly period is more realistic (plus Cyprus is running out of hiking routes quiet fast with such pace!).

Back to normality. Apart of reading tech books, finally found some place for non-technical literature. Definite challenge of 2018 would be to finalise Hugo Awards list, which makes another 8-10 books remaining from 2017.

2018 Resolutions

Everyone likes lists. Lists are easier to memorise. It might help me remember, what I was planning for 2018. At least for a week.

  • Travel more!
  • More sports (Gym is fun, but with goal setting, is more challenging)
  • Figure out what kind of monster is(are): Python, Swift.
  • Pump my JavaScript/PHP madskillz.
  • Read more. A lot more.
  • Survive after quitting cigarettes.

Well, this looks like a list that I can accomplish, or at least try to 🙂

 

Happy New Year y’all! Now lots of food, festive mood, and wishes health, happiness, and whatever crazy comes in mind…

Over & out.

HubSpot: Gatekeepers and Gardeners

HubSpot tech blog published great article on job balancing and tech leads paradox of gatekeepers gardeners.

You might be a gatekeeper if:

  • your team regularly waits for you to review their PRs
  • your team waits to do the next thing assigned to them instead of taking initiative to find projects for themselves
  • you hesitate to go on vacation because you’re concerned your team will struggle in your absence

On the opposite.

A gardener might:

  • forego reviewing work, or let other members of the team take on the responsibility
  • let the team handle their own task management, trusting they understand the needs of the customer, business, and team
  • encourage members to build relationships on and off the team
  • let the team experience failure, trusting in their accountability to fix their problems and learn from their mistakes
  • have their team take on grungy work along with the “fun” work, because they understand the value of it

Great overview of these two roles people occasionally take once becoming managers/tech leads.

JavaScript – technological singularity & younglings effect

On March 2017, Eugene Gusev had an interesting talk (in Russian) at HolyJS regarding the technological singularity as whole in Front-End, and JavaScript ecosystem in particular. As a thesis taken, he noted an enormous number of 350k packages in NPM.

Few points being stated over the talk:

  • Quality of the packages (aka younglings publish low quality tools)
  • Hype over the ecosystem (frameworks and libs go up and down in popularity scale).
  • Business forces the choice, leaving minimum time on technical decision-making process.
  • Stop writing code, or “stop publishing your code”.
  • In order to program you should be a computer scientist.

All the points are quiet controversial. Though, accepting some of these statements as a potential problem, most of them have a reasonable explanation.

Prelude

Back when the trees were tall and the grass was green, I graduated my BSc in Computer Science, I’ve started working as a Junior Web Developer. By that time, a programmer who knew only JavaScript, or solely was coding on Perl/PHP/Python was considered lazy/unemployed/unicorn. The time flew by and the industry started splitting technological stack, so from Programmer/SysAdmin we forked into Front/Backend developers, SysAdmins to DevOps etc.

University, really?

We still have certain professions that require an educational degree. By paying for your education, you’re prompted to access research laboratories, expensive equipment that’s required for your research. Think of physicists or chemists. Stating that diploma (for Computer Science) somehow justifies your profile, or what you should be doing for living left behind with the era of industrial revolution. “The spice must flow” – that’s where we get into the almighty Internet for self-education. Udemy, Coursera – it’s right there, most of it is free, just read it, learn it.

Technological Singularity

Technological singularity is a hypothesis that the invention of artificial superintelligence will abruptly trigger runaway technological growth, resulting in unfathomable changes to human civilization.

Are we there yet? Yes, we are. It just arrived silently. Clustering professions to narrow the specialization is one of the countermeasures to prevent the informational noise that we get once diving into IT-sector. That’s where we step into Hype effect.

Hype Effect

Hype Cycle diagram
Hype Cycle by Ember in the Real World

350 thousand package in NPM. That’s massive, but hold on a minute! CPAN didn’t have the same issue in Perl community? PEAR and Pecl repositories stacked by repetitive packages, written by people just because they could. And they did! Every year, some big player like Google, Facebook, name a few, presents a new approach towards a common problem. Angular, React, EmberJS, VueJS. It automatically triggers a hype.

Architects in the companies start massively migrating to trendy frameworks, as it’s backed up by one of the above companies, which promises stable development, stable versioning and ongoing support. We get a drastic shift of packages developed for these frameworks. And the story continues until something new arrives on the market.

As companies do not operate in vacuum, all these transitions correlate with business decisions. Packages appear in almost-ready-to-us state, and remain loosely maintained just to get your npm/phake/rake running smoothly during the deploy process.

Packages & Plugins flood

Slowly the picture of 350k packages come into place. Each of the packages is a reflection of a person behind it and the problem he or she was trying to solve. Good solutions become trendsetters itself, become community defacto standards. What happens with others? – Well, it’s a pure darwinism, which triggers professional boost among the developers.

To sum things up

Your knowledge derives from those who dared, and published something. If you cannot choose out of a hundred packages one or two that might fit in your application, maybe you should question yourself what exactly you trying to solve? Diversity of approaches in IT and its openness is our strength. You found something wrong, write a bugreport, or send a pull request. The rest is just excuses in most of the occasions!

Office 365 – test trial is over, back to Google

I’ve been using Office 365 for office correspondence for about 7 months, since I moved to Qobo. Today I say enough to Office365 corporate lookalike email client. Everything is back to Google.

UX experience

One of the things I couldn’t get used to is the right-click bindings. I guess the assumption was to enrich the functionality of the interface by letting you move/delete assets on your sidebar (aka folder management). As the result – half of the browser daily routine is cut off. Most of the time my main working tool (apart of the vim) is the browser (webdev happy days!).

When someone screws up the shortcuts that I use gazillion times per day, it kind of annoys me. Who would have thought to replace Ctrl-R to “reply” shortcut for “refresh“. Ah, bollocks, moving on!

Focused/Other/Pinned emails. Pinned email go to the top of the list. Focused follow right after. Others – somewhere at the end. 6 emails fit into my laptop screen height, so you can get an idea, that the number of pinned or focused emails is quiet limited. I guess, I’m too old school to get these things right!

Search & Filter. Google Email search and filtering is unbeatable. Period.