Interactively Evaluating Clojure Code in Comments in Emacs

There’s a loose convention in Clojure of leaving top-level (comment ...)-style comments in source files to give examples of how a particular piece of code works or to provide a convenient means of invoking functionality contained in the file. You can even see this in the source files to Clojure proper.

Even though leaving commented out code can seem a bit messy, it has also saved me a ton of time relearning how to invoke something, so I have somewhat mixed feelings about the practice. But, regardless of the merits of using this in production code, it’s unarguably useful in development, and I use it extensively as I work to test out function invocations with different arguments, and to store little bits of test data.

Frustratingly, this form does not play nicely with CIDER’s C-M-x (cider-eval-defun-at-point) and C-c M-; (cider-eval-defun-to-comment) commands, which expect the target form to be at the top-level of the file. The containing (comment ...) form means that technically isn’t so, leading me to perpetually evaluate the wrong form…

Launching Dev Dependencies with tmux

When working on CollBox, we have a handful of external services the app depends on which we need to have running at development time. I used to run these via Foreman, but somewhere along the way my Ruby installation seems to have gotten borked (thanks, Catalina?) and since then I’ve been running the services by hand. I always work in a tmux session anyway, so I decided it was time to see what it would look like to launch my window full of dependencies in tmux from a script.

2017 Reading List

Last year I tried out making a reading list in January, to keep myself reading at an acceptable pace, and to put a bit more foresight into what I would be reading. This worked out pretty well. Despite finishing a couple of my 2016 books in the first days of 2017, I largely stuck to my schedule, and I finished everything on my list, including a few rather lengthy items. I actually didn’t read a whole lot more than I had listed (to my surprise), which makes me even more confident that this is a good idea, since it sets a minimum reading curriculum.

Again this year, I’ve tried to establish some common themes to allow for comparative reading and amass some knowledge of a field. The stronger themes are decision-making (four books) and creativity (four books), and the remaining four books are loosely centered on self-improvement, though that’s more of a coincidence than a plan.

Curation is Creation

Last Black Friday I posted to Facebook:

I’m abstaining from buying anything today in protest of excessive consumerism. Make something instead!

And got a rather curious reply from a friend:

I wish I could make things

I mulled that over for quite a while. I struggled to put myself in the commenter’s shoes. It’s wildly foreign to me.

In my head, clearly creation is for everyone. It’s not the domain of some privileged class of individuals—it’s an essential act of being human. Everyone should—and can!—create. But I kept tugging at the thread because of a nagging suspicion that perhaps lots of people feel this way.

No, Seriously, It's Naming

I just read David Bryant Copeland’s post It’s not Naming That’s Hard—It’s Types which he wrote in response to Katrina Owen’s What’s in a Name? Anti-Patterns to a Hard Problem and I feel compelled to say a few words. Katrina’s post provides some suggestions around the perennial developer challenge of naming things in code. Along the way she asserts that including the type of a variable in its name is typically an antipattern, and “type information is just not that compelling”–something David took great exception to.

David argues that the actual problem is we don’t have enough types: “types are a better way to solve the problems Katrina identifies in her post.”

He then proceeds to turn Katrina’s perfectly reasonable bit of code…

def anagrams(subject, candidates)
  candidates.each do |candidate|
    subject != candidate && same_alphagram?(subject, candidate)
  end
end

def same_alphagram?(subject, candidate)
  # ... (not provided, but I want to offer a fair comparison of length)
end

…into this…

Reading Notes: Just Fucking Ship

Whenever you look around, you know what you should be doing: creating and launching and selling a product, bootstrapping a business on the side. You’re smart. You’re capable. You’ve got the skills to make stuff […] why can’t you just make this happen? […] We’ll teach you 21 principles for getting off your butt and finally shipping. (official site)

Part of my 2016 reading list.

This is soup to nuts guide to the human aspects of shipping a side project. It’s not going to teach you how to design a logo or a code a website, but if what’s holding you back from completing your dream is lack of confidence, disorganization, over-ambition, etc., then this could be the book for you.

There’s nothing tremendously groundbreaking here, but it’s compact and won’t waste your time (as I’ve come to expect from Amy Hoy).

Reading Notes: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Meditations…is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations…as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. (Wikipedia)

Part of my 2016 reading list.

Definitely a worthwhile read. I read the (recent) Hays translation as I heard it continually recommended. These are private notes on life from a great man, and one of the great charms of this book is that it’s not dressed up in hopes of impressing anyone–it’s practical and direct. He probably never expected anyone else to read it.

2016 Reading List

2015 was a haphazard reading year for me, with a number of partially-read books at the beginning of the year, squeezing in a few pages in my tent while roadtripping across the western U.S., and then finally powering through a few more books once life settled down a bit. Eleven books finished in total, assuming I’m not missing anything.

This year I’m going to try being a bit more structured (in the spirit of Mark Zuckerberg), and lay out a schedule of what I will definitely be reading. With my current workload that’s going to be a modest one-book-per-month pace, but additional reading is of course welcome. A schedule will allow me to clear my plate of a few lingering items, establish some higher-level reading themes, and have some idea of when I’ll actually get to one book or another.