Building Copy as Plain Text Google Chrome Extension in 15 mins

Today, I wanted to make it easy for me to copy text from the web in plain text format. I read a lot of stuff on the web. When I find good articles I take notes and store them in Evernote. Evernote provides a rich text editor to compose notes. The default behaviour provided by Chrome is to copy the text along with the page style. This is not what I want most of the time. To avoid this, I have to first copy the text in a plain editor like Notepad or browser address bar and then copy it again and paste in Evernote. I am doing this for long time. I thought there has to be a better way. It came to my mind that this can be easily solved by writing a Google Chrome Extension. A Google Chrome extension that adds copy as plain text context menu option.

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Mental Models for Software Engineers: Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor helps us choose between two or more explanations of a problem. It provides a useful mental model for problem-solving. A razor is a principle or rule of thumb that allows one to eliminate unlike explanations for a phenomenon, or avoid unnecessary actions.

One popular definition of Occam’s Razor is:

If we face two possible explanations which make the same predictions, the one based on the least number of unproven assumptions is preferable, until more evidence comes along.

This mental model help us look for explanations that are least complicated. It does not mean explanation has to be easy so that anyone can grasp it with limited effort but it means explanation can be logically reasoned without making too many assumptions.

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Building an Article Extraction Python API with newspaper3k and flask

Today, I was working on an application that required me to extract the main content html for a web page. This is called article extraction. Most of the time you want to extract the text of the article but I wanted to extract HTML of the main content. For example, if you are reading following WashingtonPost article then I want to extract the main HTML content on the left. I don’t want sidebar HTML containing ads or other information.

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Issue #30: 10 Reads, A Handcrafted Weekly Newsletter For Software Developers

The time to read this newsletter is 175 minutes.

Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life – Marcus Aurelius

  1. Learn more programming languages, even if you won’t use them: 10 mins read. I first got this advice few years back when I watched a two minute video by Bjarne Stroustrup, creator of C++. He recommended you should not call yourself programmer if you only know one programming language. The magic number he mentioned in the video was 5. This post also makes the same point. Different programming languages are good at different things. Every programming language makes a tradeoff. They help you think about a problem in different way. I got hang of functional programming once I learnt Scheme basics. I try to learn a new programming language every couple of years. I need to start using them in my side projects.

  2. Announcing AMP Real URL: 20 mins read. In case you are not aware, AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is an open source standard led by Google that helps speed up access to websites by caching the content near to user. This is good for readers but for content producers there were few issues. The biggest issue with AMP is that rendered webpage has a URL starting with https://google.com/amp/. Users have become used to looking at the navigation bar in a web browser to see what web site they are visiting. The AMP cache breaks that experience. In this post by Cloudflare folks authors talk about how they fixed the real origin URL problem with AMP using web packaging and Cloudflare workers.

  3. Infrastructure as Code, Part One: 15 mins read. This is an introductory read on infrastructure as code. If you are not aware of it then you should give it a read. It is a nicely written introduction to IaC.

  4. When rules don’t apply: 30 mins read. This is a 30 mins video that talks about how executives at Apple, Google, eBay, Intuit, and other big tech companies conspire against their own employees by secretly agreeing among themselves not to hire each other employees. Tech companies treat their employees as their assets and cheat them.

  5. Designing a modern serverless application with AWS Lambda and AWS Fargate: 20 mins read. A lot of good ideas in this post on how to build modern applications. The key points for me in this post are:

    1. You should different compute services based on the use case. The post talks about why author used both AWS Lambda and AWS Fargate. For short computation jobs use lambda and for long compute jobs that have no designated end use AWS Fargate.
    2. Give a thought on isolation model when deciding which compute service to use. AWS Lambda compute instances are isolated from each other so if one rogue your application will not suffer.
    3. When you are building a side project or building MVP for your startup your goal should be to minimise maintenance and operation tasks. Serverless services help you do that.
    4. AWS CDK is a service that allows you to write IaC in your own preferred language.
  6. Thundering Herds & Promises: 10 mins read. I love this kind of posts which share how team solved a real-world technical problem. This post covers how Instagram solved the thundering herd problem with their cache using the promises. The below explains explains what thundering herd problem means

    > If your cache is hit with 100 concurrent requests, then, since the cache is empty, all of them will get a cache-miss at the one moment, resulting in 100 individual requests to the backend. If the backend is unable to handle this surge of concurrent requests (ex: capacity constraints), additional problems arise. This is what’s sometimes called a thundering herd.

  7. The Good and the Bad of Google Cloud Run: 10 mins read. The key point made in this post is that Google Cloud Run is not FaaS. Google Cloud Run allows developers to push container images with HTTP server to GCP and GCP takes care of running them at scale. If you have build pure serverless application you will know that pure serverless apps architecture is event-driven service-full architecture. This forces developers to think about applications in a different way. According to author, Cloud Run is providing a safety blanket for developers intimidated by the paradigm shift of FaaS and service-full architecture.

  8. Azure Cosmos DB: Microsoft’s Cloud-Born Globally Distributed Database: 20 mins read.This is a detailed explanation of Azure’s Cosmos DB internals. This article was too technical and detailed for me. I will try to re-read it again to better grasp the underlying details of Cosmos DB.

  9. How to Improve Your Memory (Even if You Can’t Find Your Car Keys): 10 mins read. This post by Adam Grant talks about how to improve your retention power. The key points are:

    1. Take rest after learning a new concept.
    2. Don’t re-read stuff
    3. Try to do a small quiz on what you have learnt or try to explain it to someone
    4. I also apply similar technique in my newsletter by summarising what I have learnt from a post in my own words.
  10. An Overview of Go’s Tooling: 30 mins read. This is the post that you should bookmark if you are a Go developer. The post covers most the Go tools a developers need to interact with. I wish more such posts should be written for other languages as well.

Video for this week:

Mental Models for Software Engineers: Hanlon’s Razor

It is difficult to be sanguine when people around you does something wrong with you. The wrong doing does not have to be extreme it could be as simple as a colleague not replying to your email when you expected them to reply. In many situations like these we tend to assume that other person does not want our good and they are doing it intentionally. The result of these explanations is that we strain our relations with people around us. We can’t read their mind but still we end up assuming what is in their mind. Hanlon’s razor mental model can help us overcome this bias.

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