Will the really real programmers please stand up?

Get Real

How do you define a real programmer? There are many facets that you can use to judge someone’s skill as a programmer: ability, experience, enthusiasm, dedication, etc. But I recently read an article by RethinkDB blogger Slava, and he boils all of these points down to one item, memorization. Some people agree with this idea, but I do not, at all.

I have heard several companies bragging about having interview scripts like this, saying that this kind of testing is the most effective way to filter out unqualified applicants. However I think that the post by Slava perfectly demonstrates just how flawed this concept is. If there is one thing you should have learned in school, it’s that standardized tests are a terrible metric for gauging skill or intelligence.

But more to the point, I think that this is the wrong way to define a real programmer. Allow me to present you with my definition of a real programmer.

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The 5 types of programmers

Awesome Code

In my code journeys and programming adventures I’ve encountered many strange foes, and even stranger allies. I’ve identified at least five different kinds of code warriors, some make for wonderful comrades in arms, while others seem to foil my every plan.

However they all have their place in the pantheon of software development. Without a healthy mix of these different programming styles you’ll probably find your projects either take too long to complete, are not stable enough or are too perfect for humans to look upon.

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Setting up an Ubuntu LAMP server. Part 1: Initial setup

Ubuntu Logo

This will be the first part in a new series of articles about setting up your own Ubuntu LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) server. If you are already proficient with Linux and/or Ubuntu then you can skip this first part because it is just about the basic post-install set up and configuration. For those of us who haven’t set up an Ubuntu system a hundred times over, here is the quick and dirty base Ubuntu set up guide.

Once you have your Ubuntu operating system installed there are still a few things you need to do to get it ready for prime time. A fresh install of Ubuntu will have a root account (you chose the password during installation) and the SSH server running. At the moment my recommendation for version is 10.04 LTS.

Without further ado, lets get this show on the road. Start by connecting to your system via SSH and logging in to the root account. (For Windows users I recommend PuTTY as an SSH client)

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Ultimate web site optimization trick: data URIs

Are you an obsessive compulsive web site optimization nut? Are you willing to sacrifice maintainability for one less HTTP request? Have people ever asked you to seek a mental health professional because of your OCD? If so, then you are in good company. Us optimization nuts may not be very well received when we start building a project, but we become very appreciated when someone asks how to make it scale. Depending on who you ask, web optimization is either the most useless talent ever or the single most important skill on a web developers resume.

Allow me to broaden your optimization toolbox with the ultimate HTTP connection killer, the data URI scheme. Most web developers have never heard of data URIs but they can dramatically reduce the number of HTTP connections required to download your web site.

This article will explain what data URIs are, how to use them, and how to properly implement them.

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How to circumvent internet filtering and enhance privacy

The whole world knows about the so called “Great Wall” that protects the Chinese people from dangerous western ideals, the serious concerns about internet privacy in the United Kingdom, now we have Australia making a real push towards internet filtering legislation as well as all of North America and most of Europe signing on with the ACTA legislation. Of course we still have Iran blocking news, social media and even gmail. But even countries that we wouldn’t expect to support censorship are signing bad legislation, such as France, New Zealand, and Ireland.

For at least a decade the very idea of filtering information was something first world countries laughed at as a tactic only dictatorships and xenophobes would seriously consider, now it seems the stage is changing and governments and ISPs are becoming more open to the idea of national censorship.

This is a terrible, and dangerous trend. I for one hope the aussies block the forced internet filtering law and I hope the whole world sees ACTA as the scam that it is. There is a quote that I often like to cite when the topic of internet filtering comes up, “The internet sees censorship as damage, and automatically routes around it”. Unfortunately, when censorship happens at the ISP level, that automatic routing is broken, so you have to do some manual routing to circumvent the broken tubes.

I think it is important to know how to get around censorship schemes and I believe that the greater the number of people with this knowledge the better off the internet, and the world will be. So here’s how to circumvent internet censorship, the VPN.

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