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Using JavaScript to hack the web

mer, 08/16/2017 - 09:02

There's no lack of online resources for JavaScript, from courses that teach you the basics to tutorials on app creation. In this article—which doesn't require you to make your own apps, or even to have particularly deep product knowledge—I'll explain how to use JavaScript to create useful browser hacks that enhance your web experiences and boost productivity.

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Track your creative projects with mind-map software

mer, 08/16/2017 - 09:01

I'm a huge proponent of using mind maps in creative work, which you may know if you've read any of my previous articles or follow my podcast.

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How to write better error messages

mer, 08/16/2017 - 09:00

The first time a user encounters an application's documentation, it's not always with the user manual or online help. Often, that first encounter with documentation is an error message.

Technical writers should be involved in writing error messages. It's an important, although often overlooked, part of the job. After all, error messages are documentation, albeit documentation that's embedded in the code.

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GNOME at 20: Four reasons it's still my favorite GUI

mar, 08/15/2017 - 09:02

The GNOME desktop turns 20 on August 15, and I'm so excited! Twenty years is a major milestone for any open source software project, especially a graphical desktop environment like GNOME that has to appeal to many different users. The 20th anniversary is definitely something to celebrate!

Why is GNOME such a big deal? For me, it's because it represented a huge step forward in the Linux desktop. I installed my first Linux system in 1993. In the early days of Linux, the most prevalent graphical environment was TWM, the tabbed window manager. The modern desktop didn't exist yet.

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Testing in production: Yes, you can (and should)

mar, 08/15/2017 - 09:01

I wrote a piece recently about why we are all distributed systems engineers now. To my surprise, lots of people objected to the observation that you have to test large distributed systems in production. 

It seems testing in production has gotten a bad rap—despite the fact that we all do it, all the time.

Maybe we associate it with cowboy engineering. We hear "testing in production" and assume this means no unit tests, functional tests, or continuous integration.

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Tips for finding partners open enough to work with you

mar, 08/15/2017 - 09:00

Imagine I'm working on the front line of an open organization, and I'm committed to following principles like transparency, inclusivity, adaptability, collaboration, community, accountability, and commitment to guide that front-line work. A huge problem comes up. My fellow front-line workers and I can't handle it on our own, so we discuss the problem and decide that one of us has to take it to top management. I'm selected to do that.

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3 new OpenStack guides

mar, 08/15/2017 - 09:00

If your job involves doing development or system administration in the cloud, you know how hard it can be to keep up with the quick pace of innovation. OpenStack is just one example of a project with lots of moving parts and a ton of amazing features that operators would benefit from becoming more familiar with.

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How my two-week project turned into a full time open source startup

lun, 08/14/2017 - 09:03

Over a year ago, I decided to build a software business that focused on custom web application development, startups, and unique website projects. I had built a very strong and talented team of people who were ambitious to help me start this company as their side gig. We called it Vampeo. We acquired a bunch of projects and started development while keeping our full-time day jobs.

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Why containers are the best way to test software performance

lun, 08/14/2017 - 09:01

Software performance and scalability are frequent topics when we talk about application development. A big reason for that is an application's performance and scalability directly affect its success in the market. An application, no matter how good its user interface, won't claim market share if its response time is sluggish.

This is why we spend so much time improving an application's performance and scalability as its user base grows.

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How to avoid leaving money on the table with salary negotiation

lun, 08/14/2017 - 09:00

Although any sort of negotiation can be stressful, negotiating compensation for a new job—especially when you have the opportunity to get paid to work on open source software—can be especially intimidating. Because of this, many people, particularly women and minorities, choose not to negotiate at all. Unfortunately, this choice may come with a $500,000 penalty. That's how much money the average person loses throughout their lifetime by choosing not to negotiate their wages.

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We're giving away FOUR LulzBot 3D printers

lun, 08/14/2017 - 09:00

It's that time of year again. As students and teachers head back to school, we're celebrating by giving away four LulzBot 3D printers in our biggest giveaway ever!

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Top 5: 13 years of OpenStreetMap, Linux-powered guitar amps, and more

ven, 08/11/2017 - 17:06

In this week's top 5, we take a look at maps, robots, and more!

This week's top articles 5. 6 hardware projects for upgrading your home

When you make your house a little smarter, you’re going to want to use open hardware. Editor Alex Sanchez shares some projects that you can do yourself on your old house.

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How to create a blog with AsciiDoc

ven, 08/11/2017 - 09:01

I work daily with content management tools and support documentation writers whose preferred markup language is AsciiDoc. It has a simple syntax, but enough features to keep even a hardcore documentation nerd happy. AsciiDoc allows you to write documentation in a more natural way and mark it up cleanly for presentation on the web or as a PDF. This got me thinking, "Wouldn't it be handy to be able to maintain a website purely with AsciiDoc?"

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4 open source tools that got my startup off the ground

ven, 08/11/2017 - 09:00

When I started my first company, money was tight. We had a small office and a couple of computers, but not much else. I'd done all my cost planning without even thinking about business licenses and software costs. I know it was a mistake, but it can be easy to treat these sorts of things as an afterthought.

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7 open source Twitter bots to follow

jeu, 08/10/2017 - 09:02

We are quickly entering a world in which you may spend more of your day communicating with robots than with humans.

Don't believe me? Ask yourself how many times you've used an automated checkout machine or ATM in lieu of a human, called the 1-800 number for a customer service need and been greeted by a machine, asked Google or Alexa what temperature to roast your brussels sprouts at, or interfaced with a website that gave you a personalized recommendation.

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6 hardware projects for upgrading your home

jeu, 08/10/2017 - 09:01

Every day, hobbyists and tinkerers are pushing the boundaries of what we can do with low-cost microcontrollers and mini-computers like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. That trend doesn't stop when it comes to IoT and home automation. In this article, I'll round up six projects from Adafruit Industries that use open source hardware and software to improve home life (or at the very least, make more fun) in new and interesting ways.

Open your front door with a fingerprint sensor

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Making pay transparent at Basecamp retains talent

jeu, 08/10/2017 - 09:00

There are no negotiated salaries or raises at Basecamp. Everyone in the same role at the same level is paid the same. Equal work, equal pay.

We assess new hires on a scale that goes from junior programmer, to programmer, to senior programmer, to lead programmer, to principal programmer (or designer or customer support or ops . . .). We use the same scale to assess when someone is in line for a promotion.

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How to make a low-cost guitar amp with Linux

mer, 08/09/2017 - 09:02

Back in the old days, if you wanted to record guitar music at home (or, stereotypically, in your garage), you got an electric guitar (or another instrument capable of making noise, such as a synthesizer), an amp to produce the sound, some effect pedals to customize the sound, and a multi-track recorder such as a 4-track or 8-track recorder. You would plug the guitar into the effects pedals, the pedals into the amp, and the amp into the recorder (or you might mic the amp and record that).

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How to write an effective checklist for documentation

mer, 08/09/2017 - 09:01

In the rush to release your documentation, you have a lot to do. Chances are, you'll miss something. That could be a little something, or a big something. But why take that chance?

A release checklist can help you avoid making mistakes. It can help make your release process more efficient. A properly crafted checklist, whether on paper or on screen, can ensure that your documentation release goes smoothly and that you don't miss anything.

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Local government migrates to open source cloud

mer, 08/09/2017 - 09:00

Open source software has come a long way since the turn of the century. Every year, more and more people are embracing open source technology and development models. Not just people, though—corporations and governments are exploring open source solutions, too.

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