Golang gb project example

23 May 2017

machinery

Gb is a fantastic tool for Golang that let’s you define dependencies but more importantly (to me) is it lets you work out of a normal1 src directory wherever you want. You don’t have to mess with $GOPATH and you don’t have to put your own creations next to libraries. You could even code directly in Dropbox if you wanted to be super lazy about source control and sharing. Overall, I really like gb for projects. It’s more normal to other languages and I don’t have to have Go be the exception to my project backups / paths / scripts / everything.

But I think examples are lacking. The gb docs are great, I’m not saying that. I just wanted to walk through growing a project from small to medium to large and see how organization changes. First, we’ll start by building a fake calculator with no working pieces so it doesn’t need a lot of organization. Then as we add features, we’ll pretend that it needs lots of separation and structure for future expansion and work.

You’ll need to install gb with go get. You probably already have it installed and you know how to google so I’ll just skip that stuff.

I’m going to use the terms small / medium / large but please note that doesn’t mean stupid / insignificant / important. These size terms are just for labeling and explanation, don’t read anything else into it. If you make a small project, it’s not “stupid” just as a large project is not automatically “important” 2.

Minimum GB

First, a gb project is really just a directory with a src directory in it. Of course, nothing will work without some files for it to build. Below is the same error you’ll get even if you make gb_project/src (which gb looks under for source files).

$ mkdir gb_project && cd gb_project
$ gb build
FATAL: command "build" failed: no packages supplied

So, delete that directory and let’s do something more useful.

Gb wants a subdirectory for a package under src to tell it what to build. For our examples let’s make a pretend calculator. Our working directory is going to be pretend_calculator. This can be anywhere. Under your home, tmp or Desktop. Put it wherever you want. Just assume we’re in pretend_calculator as the project root after this point.

$ mkdir -p pretend_calculator/src/calculator

Let’s write minimal code for this to build.

// src/calculator/calculator.go
package main

func main() {
}
$ cd pretend_calculator
$ gb build
calculator  # showing us gb built the pkg, I'm going to omit this output from here on out

So our project tree looks like this:

.
├── src
    └── calculator
        └── calculator.go

When you gb build, it will create a binary ./bin/calculator that doesn’t print anything (not surprising, our main is empty). This project layout isn’t that great because the main is really a cmd. If we wanted to add more than executable, we’d have to change where the main() is and rename a few directories and files. So this isn’t great if we’re building an equivalent of Hello World, it’s hard to tell where func main() is if you just look at the filesystem.

$ tree -I pkg
.
├── bin
│   └── calculator
└── src
    └── calculator
        └── calculator.go

So let’s make this more obvious. Let’s create the start of a simple gb project with a command entry point.

Small Gb Project Example

In this case, we want some actual code that runs something. We’ll have everything in one file under cmd/. Later, we’ll move some code out to a package as the project examples grow in size. The cmd folder in gb projects tell gb to build binaries of that same name of the file or the package. It’s the executable we’re going to run from ./bin.

Now this is a bit tricky. If you name your source file src/cmd/calculator.go then you’ll get a binary called cmd. So what I’d do is name it something like src/cmd/calculator/main.go just show that this is where the main lives for this binary. You can name the file something other than main.go but it needs to be in a subdirectory. The gb docs are a bit vague in their example tree output describing this. Also, note that binaries will always show up in ./bin. So I’m skipping that output in the tree listings.

// src/cmd/calculator/main.go
package main

import "fmt"

func main() {
    fmt.Println("Calculator Fun Time™")
    fmt.Printf("2 + 2 = %d\n", 2+2)
}
.
└── src
    └── cmd
        └── calculator
            └── main.go  # <-- file can be named anything, needs .go extension
$ gb build && ./bin/calculator

Calculator Fun Time™
2 + 2 = 4

So this is a nice layout for a small CLI app with not too much logic that would be ok to put into a single file under cmd. If I wanted to break it apart more where the entry point (the main) and the app logic and functions were separated and kept organized, I’d use the medium project layout which we’re going to talk about next.

You could also just add functions to main.go to keep that file clean and then later move the functions around to different packages later.

Medium Gb Project Example

Let’s move some of the app logic to another file and package. This can be super confusing and yet it’s the most common thing to do (in my opinion) when working with Go projects. We’re going to make an add function in a new file and a new package called calculator. Note that this package is sort of arbitrary, it doesn’t need to be your project folder name or anything. Packages are subfolders under src. This will be more clear in the next gb project examples.

// src/cmd/calculator/main.go
package main

import (
    "fmt"

    "calculator" // <- this is really our local package in src/calculator/*
)

func main() {
    fmt.Println("Calculator Fun Time™")

    result := calculator.Add(2, 2)
    fmt.Printf("2 + 2 = %d\n", result)
}
// src/calculator/calculator.go
package calculator

// Let's not name them num1 and num2 if we can :)
func Add(number int, addend int) int {
	return number + addend
}
.
└── src
    ├── calculator
    │   └── calculator.go
    └── cmd
        └── calculator
            └── main.go
$ gb build && ./bin/calculator

Calculator Fun Time™
2 + 2 = 4

Note that we would be planning on putting all functions into src/calculator/calculator.go here. If we wanted to only put the Add function into src/calculator/add.go, we could do that. In the context of a medium sized Go project, we might not want to do that.

Also note that the main.go needs to import calculator. This refers to the package we created. If we want sub-packages and more sub-division, we can do that but we’ll get to that in a bit.

Large-ish Gb Project Example

Just a reminder, my label of large is very arbitrary.

Ok, now what if we want to add more functions and packages. We can continue to do so across files and packages. Let’s add subtraction and the concept of memory storage (you know the MR button?).

Adding subtraction is the same as addition. We just add a Subtract function to src/calculator/calculator.go with a Capital letter to export it. It’s the same as Add. We could split this out to different files if we wanted. Maybe that’s more interesting. We’ll do that in the next example.

// src/calculator/calculator.go
package calculator

// Nothing changes here.
func Add(number int, addend int) int {
    return number + addend
}

// Subtract 1 from 4 is 3.
func Subtract(from int, number int) int {
    return number - from
}

Let’s add memory storage. We need to create a struct to store stuff in. So our memory.go code is going to have a struct initializer in it. The function naming is just Go convention, nothing here is specific to gb.

// src/calculator/memory.go
package calculator

type memory struct {
    register int
}

func NewMemory() memory {
    return memory{
        register: 0,
    }
}

// MR means memory recall, it returns the contents of a number in memory
func (m *memory) MR() int {
    return m.register
}

// MS means memory store, it stores a number (normally would be the screen)
func (m *memory) MS(number int) {
    m.register = number
}

We only export the NewMemory function to keep people from creating structs themselves. Using this struct in main.go for the command goes like this:

package main

import (
    "fmt"

    "calculator"
)

func main() {
    fmt.Println("Calculator Fun Time™")

    add_result := calculator.Add(2, 2)
    fmt.Printf("2 + 2 = %d\n", add_result)

    subtract_result := calculator.Subtract(1, add_result)
    fmt.Printf("%d - 1 = %d\n", add_result, subtract_result)

    fmt.Println() // spacing

    // memory functions
    memory := calculator.NewMemory()
    fmt.Println("Storing the result in memory ...")
    memory.MS(subtract_result)                          // store
    fmt.Printf("Memory has <%d> in it.\n", memory.MR()) // recall
}

Running this now produces:

$ gb build && ./bin/calculator

Calculator Fun Time™
2 + 2 = 4
4 - 1 = 3

Storing the result in memory ...
Memory has <3> in it.

Our current tree structure looks like this. We are doing file organization at this point but we really still have one package (other than main).

.
└── src
    ├── calculator
    │   ├── calculator.go
    │   └── memory.go
    └── cmd
        └── calculator
            └── main.go

What does a more complicated project look like?

Larger Gb Example

Let’s split out every function into a file to make the project very easy to navigate. Intuition should drive file search. Add and subtract will go in their own files. We’ll add the concept of a tape to display information that will also have the opportunity to save state that will make the memory feature more realistic to how physical calculators work.

I said we’d break out functions into intuitive files. Let’s put Add() into add.go

// src/calculator/function/add.go
package function

func Add(number int, addend int) int {
    return number + addend
}

And the same for Subtract

// src/calculator/function/subtract.go                                               1 ↵
package function

func Subtract(from int, number int) int {
	return number - from
}

Next, let’s make a tape.

// src/calculator/tape/tape.go
package tape

import "fmt"

// represents an empty memory instead of using nil which does not communicate well
const emptyRegister = 0

// For simplicity's sake, the calculator tape is essentially the entire electronics 
// of this fake calculator.  A tape probably wouldn't care about current previous 
// values for undo functionality.
type tape struct {
    lastNumber    int
    CurrentNumber int
}

func NewTape() tape {
    return tape{
        lastNumber: emptyRegister,
    }
}

func (s *tape) Clear() {
    s.CurrentNumber = emptyRegister
}

// Updates the internal state of the tape
func (s *tape) Update(number int) {
    s.lastNumber = s.CurrentNumber
    s.CurrentNumber = number
}

// Displays the current number
func (s *tape) Display(message string) {
    fmt.Printf("| %-22s|%7.1f|\n", message, float32(s.CurrentNumber))
}

// Just print a blank line like the calculator tape is advancing
func (s *tape) Advance() {
    fmt.Printf("|%31s|\n", "")
}

// Roll the tape back, behaves kind of like one-time undo
func (s *tape) Rollback() {
    s.CurrentNumber = s.lastNumber
    s.lastNumber = emptyRegister
}

func formatNumber(number int) string {
    if number == emptyRegister {
        return " "
    } else {
        return fmt.Sprintf("%1.0f", number)
    }
}

It’s very similar to the last examples, just more code. We have some types and structs in this file but you can see that any Capitalized anything is expected to be used externally. The package has no hierarchy but later when we use it, we’ll need to alias it.

The changes to the last project are simpler that it seems. All we did was:

  • We made a directory called src/calculator/function. The package is now calculator/function.
  • We split Add and Subtract into files named add.go and subtract.go. We don’t explicitly need to care about this when importing.
  • Each of these new files have package function. You can’t declare package calculator/function at the top. Doing that won’t even pass go fmt, it will error.

Memory.go stays the same, it’s in the root calculator package just because.

// src/cmd/calculator/main.go
package main

import (
    "fmt"
    "strings"

    "calculator"
    fn "calculator/function"
    tape "calculator/tape"
)

func main() {
    fmt.Println("Calculator Fun Time™")
    fmt.Println(strings.Repeat("-", 32))

    tape := tape.NewTape()

    tape.Update(fn.Add(2, 2))
    tape.Display("2 + 2")

    tape.Update(fn.Subtract(1, tape.CurrentNumber))
    tape.Display("Subtract 1")

    tape.Advance()

    // memory functions
    memory := calculator.NewMemory()
    memory.MS(tape.CurrentNumber) // store
    tape.Display("Hit Memory Store")

    tape.Clear()
    tape.Display("Cleared screen")

    tape.Update(fn.Add(10, memory.MR()))
    tape.Display("Add 10 to memory")

    tape.Advance()

    // rollback feature
    tape.Clear()
    tape.Update(fn.Add(1, 1))
    tape.Display("1 + 1")
    tape.Update(fn.Add(1, tape.CurrentNumber))
    tape.Display("+ 1")
    tape.Rollback()
    tape.Display("Rolled the tape back")
}

Our main file has expanded dramatically as we try to exercise the new packages and files we’re making. We need to give calculator/function an alias (in this case fn) to use a hierarchical package. It’s very arbitrary. We still are using Memory out of the calculator package so we need to import that explicitly like we were before. If you wanted to break memory out, you’d follow what we did with add & subtract.

Our tree now looks like this:

.
└── src
    ├── calculator
    │   ├── function
    │   │   ├── add.go
    │   │   └── subtract.go
    │   ├── memory.go
    │   └── tape
    │       └── tape.go
    └── cmd
        └── calculator
            └── main.go

Running it shows how main.go works. It might be easier to skim the code and just read the output. It’s a very contrived example but more “real”.

$ gb build && ./bin/calculator

Calculator Fun Time™
--------------------------------
| 2 + 2                 |    4.0|
| Subtract 1            |    3.0|
|                               |
| Hit Memory Store      |    3.0|
| Cleared screen        |    0.0|
| Add 10 to memory      |   13.0|
|                               |
| 1 + 1                 |    2.0|
| + 1                   |    3.0|
| Rolled the tape back  |    2.0|

Wrap Up

I hope this was interesting. I’ve been wanting an article like this to exist ever since I started using gb as a tool. I’ve found example gb projects on github that were useful examples but believe me when I’m blogging all this for myself as a future reference. Shoot me a note on twitter if you liked this or would like to see something else, it’s nice to know who’s reading.

[1] Nothing is normal

[2] I prefer better/worse over good/bad. In this case it'd be smaller and larger which is awkward in this case. The only rock we have to stand on in C.S. is metrics, everything else is opinion (like this very statement!).

Why A Dev Log is Great - Two Years Later

10 Apr 2017

pensieve from harry potter

I wrote about setting up a Dev Log about two years ago. At this point, I’ve been using this setup for two years so I thought I’d write a little bit about it as a follow up. After all, I hate uninvolved advice.

What Have I Learned

I’ve learned that the dev log works as a pensieve. It’s a dumping ground for code snippets and dreams. I found it a good outlet for frustrations too. But most importantly, it’s like an archeology site. Let me give you the best payoff of the dev log as a small story.

SSL Only Mystery

We use an external API for mobile stats tracking. It will track installs and other things from the app store. It’s wired up to our own API through a webhook. This webhook has a URL configuration. Originally, it was something like http://api.example.com/... and it had a payload and other such details. We hadn’t received data from them in many, many months. I started looking at this but basically had no context other than this.

Of course, the first question in debugging is what has changed. So what did changed? I didn’t think anyone had messed with the config in months because essentially this service was a set and forget kind of thing. We also hadn’t received Android or iOS data on the same day. Too suspicious, too convenient. So, I knew the data it stopped working. Let’s go to the dev log!

What did we find on the day that it stopped working:

Switch to temporary SSL redirects by default

Later, there are some clues that we were working on making the temporary redirects into permanent redirects. There’s notes all around this timeframe that we were working on making the site SSL-only. Ah.

Change the webhook to https and bam, we start getting rows in the database of payloads. The URL didn’t jump out to me as wrong. It’s obvious now but the dev log helped trigger some clues around this. The clues were also in the git log but not the surrounding context that we were working on making the site SSL-only.

It especially didn’t seem wrong as redirects are supported. It turns out the service we are using doesn’t handle redirects (or at least seems to not). Just looking at the URL as http:// doesn’t seem wrong at all. But with the dev log context, it does. This is what changed.

The Surprise of the Double Me

Just as when you don’t have a pair and you need to be the “high level person” and the “low level person” all at once, I’ve found that my complaints and frustrations come off TO MYSELF as whining. This is amazing. Let me say this again.

Logging frustrations in my dev log comes off as “whining” to myself later.

I still think this is good if it’s a healthy outlet. It’s not good if it lets you polish your whining so it can be delivered as a pithy zinger to an unexpecting listener. The dev log is about capturing your thoughts. Be careful what your thoughts are, you might get what you want. I still like to capture task changes as this represents time lost or spent. Maybe this sounds like whining in the log but that’s ok.

Do Not

Don’t tag or organize your thoughts into an ontology or fancy structure. The idea is to get in and get out. One friend is good enough with org-mode that he was able to structure his log more than me. That’s fine. Make it your own. But don’t start making per-project logs, I think it would just self-destruct under ceremony burdens. The dev log is something I write in during context switches. Get in and get out. See my previous post for shortcut keys.

I however would leave clues for myself like LEARNED: or TIL which could be used for retros. Or PR: S3 refactor if I opened a pull request. The idea is to capture what have you been doing or what is your time being spent on. I capture interruptions or helping someone too. That’s a great thing to jot down when you first come back to your desk or switch from Slack.

Helped Dumbledore with Docker

Two Years Later

10435 lines of text and two years. My intention or goal was never length. It was always the pensieve. Reading back on it is a massive log of bugs, TILs, tech gotchas and a frustration heat-sink. There are face-palm mistakes, logs of miscommunications, “this library doesn’t do that” notes and details.

2017-02-28 - Tuesday

Trying to do a deploy, S3 goes down hard and breaks the Internet.

There are rabbit hole results with fantastic details right before you come back from the rabbit hole:

Envconsul won’t work for us because of our combination of unicorn zero downtime deployment configs, how we want to handle ENV restarts and a limitation of Go. Envconsul won’t work because it does in fact restart the app correctly if -once is passed and you -QUIT the worker. But since -once has been passed, you can’t reload the environment.

https://github.com/hashicorp/envconsul/issues/52

This is the detail I wanted to capture so I can chunk it later as “we can’t use envconsul” and then I can just text search for this later. This is how it actually worked many times.

Porting Ruby to Crystal

25 Feb 2017

So let’s say I have some CLI I want to exist …

The concrete example I’m going to use is my previous blog post about Slop where I demonstrated how to use the slop gem. The code in that post is slightly contrived and certainly not clean but I think it demonstrates how to test CLI scripts which suffer from some testability problems (how do you capture STDOUT?). The thing that it does not demonstrate is long term maintenance problems that happen after it’s written once for a blog post.

Code review aside, this desire to have a binary CLI was inspired from a very real work situation where we had a CLI utility and not surprisingly it was damaged from some gem and dependency problems. Mainly, if I use (consume as a user) the slop gem it’s in my bundle. If my list of gems grows forever eventually I might want want to develop another gem that uses slop as a dev. So now I need to use RVM’s gemsets or gem_home or otherwise keep my gems and projects sandboxed. Because (as it did happen) pry uses slop and when pry stayed behind causing slop problems between projects. Distributing this gem to our team was problematic because different people used different gem isolation tools.

So … uh … what if I just want a CLI? Why can I just live and die in /usr/local/bin like “normal” unix-y utilities do?

Golang to the Rescue?

So for the past few years I’ve experimented with Go as a tool in the toolbelt for the above problem. It has fast compile times, can cross-compile to other cpu types and you can get a binary even for a web service. Shipping a binary for an api service sounds pretty neat! However, it lacks high-level density (usually called expressiveness). So without starting a language war, what if I want something in-between loose shell scripts and strict compiled C (not that I’m specifically talking about shell or C)?

Ruby is so close to shell script sometimes and then you can drop into the “real stuff” for the heavy lifting and then just continue in happy script land. I feel like a lot of shell script problems align with this flow. Looping over images and doing mass conversion for example. It’s just a little bit of heavy algorithm surrounded by a lot of shell stuff, which is great. So Ruby has been fine in that way. But then not fine for it to live in $PATH.

Go as an experiment has been fine while I’ve sought a panacea for $PATH. Go has a lot of interesting things in it and I’m not giving up on it. But porting isn’t real. Rewriting is real. Porting Ruby to Go is a rewrite. You really need to go back to requirements / thinking and you will feel tempted to refactor. It’s closer to rewriting I mean. It works the other way too. I’ve seen “Java in Ruby” in a lot of libraries.

There’s no such thing as porting. Only rewriting.

I’ll show otherwise later.

What Sharing Ruby is Like

So if I make a hello world CLI in Ruby called utility, how do I share it?

binaries vs scripts

Here I list the dependencies that are implied in the top box. In ruby there are many. Many times they aren’t listed or described. If you are a ruby dev, you just know that things start with bundle exec, you probably have it aliased. If you aren’t, you are confused and probably don’t use the thing because the README didn’t work.

Maybe this above in the middle is the source code I’m trying to share. Scripts can be commited with file permissions so the chmod on the left isn’t entirely needed. What is definitely needed is some path setup which may or may not already be configured. I suppose you could put utility into /usr/local/bin but then it’s like an oddball exception. brew list won’t show it and it’ll never be updated. You’ll just have to remember you installed utility as a one-off? Uhh …

Basically it boils down to this:

“Please install a dev environment” vs “Please use a package manager.”

You can see that on the left I’m basically asking a user to install a dev environment for a Ruby program. And then as time progresses, what happens to that dev environment? Does it bit-rot? Does homebrew break it?

And maybe you might say “just gem publish”. Phusion used to do this for passenger. And logstash. But then they stopped. Using rubygems to distribute ruby code is sometimes done but then sometimes it’s frowned upon. I’m not sure exactly why and I don’t have a source although codegangsta kinda hints at it.

This isn’t a ruby problem. The same thing happens with node & python. But when I run into a utility written in Go, I breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s written in golang. Woo! This should be easy to install and run.

Worst case it’s a go get. Sometimes it’s a brew install. I think these mechanics keep people from packaging ruby utilities into homebrew. I know there are packages that help with this like Phusion’s tool and FPM but I just don’t see that a lot. Most of the time the README just says gem install but they skip all the context that I diagrammed up there. Even my own projects blow up on me. Sometimes I have to reset bundler and ruby (OSX upgrades). Then I’m missing a gem.

# My own goddamn project
~ > whatthefi
~/bin/whatthefi:80:in `main':
  uninitialized constant Slop::Parser (NameError)
  from ~/bin/whatthefi:136:in `<main>'

The fix: gem install slop. I had already done bundle before but cleaning out gems, upgrading homebrew, upgrading to Sierra or switching from rbenv/chruby/rvm and back and forth can leave this script “broken”.

So, what to do? I just want a command in my path. Do I have to switch languages?

Continue Reading →

The Enthusiast Trench

25 Nov 2016

trench outside

The Enthusiast Trench is a metaphor for a topic/hobby/community/pastime that can’t easily observed and understood from outsiders without a similar amount of interest or involvement of the curious party.

There isn’t just one Enthusiast Trench. There are many trenches and they are easily to find if you are walking on the surface of the earth. It’s like the concept of rabbit holes but rabbit holes or rabbit holing is usually a pejorative about wasting time. Enthusiast Trenches are about interest, enthusiasm and the hidden nature of the payoff in these things until you spend enough time to appreciate them. At that point, you are in the trench and now you are unable to explain to outsiders what you have learned and witnessed in the Enthusiast Trench. The trench in The Enthusiast Trench metaphor isn’t a pejorative. It isn’t related to dirt or digging. Enthusiast Trenches aren’t good or bad.

Anything that can’t be explained why it is fun is probably an Enthusiast Trench. When a person has to resort to metaphors, they are trying to think of things that surface people have seen and use those for stand-ins for things they have seen underground in the Trench.

trench inside

If you listened to someone talk about why they built a life-sized Lost in Space blinking computer replica they might tell you “it was fun” but if you probe “why” then they are going to have a rough time explaining it. The raw answer in their head is probably something like:

I didn’t think I’d be able to get the neon bulbs refresh time to be precise enough to look like the original Burrows props. But, after I did some tests and talked with some friends that I met (and have become good friends with since), I knew I could get the full scale version working. Then it was just a matter of time …

The Trench isn’t this project or this person. It’s the whole community of people doing projects like this. The Trench hides the real “why” behind a time and interest wall.

A community where mods, hacks or extensions exist and are plentiful is a strong indicator that it is an enthusiast trench. The important thing about Enthusiast Trenches is not that it is one or it isn’t one. It’s that it can’t be easily appreciated.

I can think of a lot of examples but some of the biggest trenches are the ones that are abstract and not physical. Photography is one but it can be demonstrated physically (maybe not the process but the product). The abstract trenches are really tricky. So, naturally, being a software person I can think of a lot of software trenches.

Examples

A working irc client in minecraft using mods. minecraft irc

A raid-proof base in Rust (a survival/building game), designed in an external CAD program with mods. rust base

A development board with the PCB shape of a Lego minifig lego pcb

These examples pictured above are easily demonstrable because they are visual or physical. Abstract things are not.

Libs

This is true for software libraries in every language I can think of. Maybe I’m not in some of these communities. Maybe I’m haven’t been in the communities for a long time. I might ask the question “what are modern libraries to use in Java these days”? This is like calling down to someone in the trench after you have left. People are extending tunnels that can’t easily be explained.

Python Trench: “oh, nobody uses urllib2, everyone uses requests and there’s this great requests addon that makes uploads so easy, it really ..” (etc etc).

Maybe software libraries aren’t purely fun. But people can be enthusiastic about them because they are amazing in their eyes. If you are an outsider, you won’t be able to see the fun in the interior tunnels of their trench.

Fear of Missing Out

There is definitely a relation to the fear of missing out (FOMO). You could feel bad about not being in all trenches and many times I do. I don’t want to encourage FOMO. I don’t want to give FOMO any more fuel. I don’t really have a solution to FOMO and really that’s a different topic.

I follow the City Skylines subreddit but I don’t play the game. I know people are having fun. I sort of understand the game mechanics and the game loop. But there are a lot of mods and deep mechanics I don’t get. This is true of a lot of games with “mods”. The community is digging its own trenches from within a trench by extending the game. But I really don’t grok the fun.

Sometimes, I just let the weight of the trenches flow over me and appreciate the complexity. Like looking at a landscape from really far away. It’s beautiful because it’s missing the details.

Pry and Slop

19 Apr 2016

If you are working on a gem that uses slop itself (your gem uses slop) then you might run into this error when adding pry. Because the latest published pry gem uses slop 3.6 but you are probably using slop 4. Slop 4 and 3 aren’t the same API.

require 'my_cool_gem_im_working_on'

Gem::ConflictError: Unable to activate my_cool_gem_im_working_on-0.2.0, 
because slop-3.6.0 conflicts with slop (~> 4.2)
from .../rubygems/specification.rb:2284:in `raise_if_conflicts'

On bundle install you’ll probably get a different error.

Resolving dependencies...
Bundler could not find compatible versions for gem "slop":
  In snapshot (Gemfile.lock):
    slop (= 4.2.1)

  In Gemfile:
    my_cool_gem_im_working_on was resolved to 0.2.0, which depends on
      slop (~> 4.2)

    pry (= 0.10.1) was resolved to 0.10.1, which depends on
      slop (~> 3.4)

Running `bundle update` will rebuild your snapshot from scratch, using only
the gems in your Gemfile, which may resolve the conflict.

This is true for pry 0.10.2 too. There are two options I’ve found that works:

Update Pry

tl;dr Do this

Install 0.10.3 or newer. Make sure your bundle is resolving to that exact version. This means

# your Gemfile
"pry", "= 0.10.3"

in your Gemfile. If you are working on a gem and don’t really have a Gemfile but have a gemspec file then put this dev dependency in your gemspec.

# your .gemspec file
spec.add_development_dependency "pry", '= 0.10.3'

Install From Master

You could also install pry from github master. This might show up as 0.10.3 depending on when you are reading this. Version numbers only increment when pry does a release. I found that pry git master did not have this issue.

Now the problem here is, if you are working on a gem yourself, you don’t have a Gemfile. Afaik, you can’t install a gem from github source instead of a gemspec (that wouldn’t make sense because you are going to distribute a gem!). But perhaps, you maybe want pry temporarily in your gemspec like this:

# your_gem.gemspec
spec.add_development_dependency "pry", '=0.10.3'

Here’s how you can install a gem from source in a gemspec temporarily.

# do what you want here but I clone into a global place called ~/src/vendor
mkdir -p ~/src/vendor
cd ~/src/vendor
git clone https://github.com/pry/pry
cd pry
gem build pry.gemspec
# it will spit out a pry gem with a version on it
gem install pry-0.10.3  # or whatever `.gem` file is created

Now we have pry 0.10.3. Bundle doesn’t care it came from pry master. So when it picks up on the spec.add_development_dependency it will install the version you already have. BUT BIG PROBLEM You probably don’t want to commit this because people will get the same error you got on bundle install if that version doesn’t resolve. As far as I can tell, this pry version works with slop so perhaps you just want to use 0.10.3 and be done with this. I just wanted to illustrate how you can manipulate bundler.

Pry Vendored Slop

The reason this is happening is because of the slop namespace. Pry fixed this in a commit associated with that issue. It’s fixed because they inlined the gem as Pry::Slop so now Slop (your version) doesn’t conflict/activate.

Hope this saves someone’s day! :)

Ruby Slop Example

06 Apr 2016

Slop 4

I had an older post about ruby and slop but that’s with Slop 3 which is basically locked to Ruby 1.9. No doubt, this post will bitrot too so please pay attention to the post date. The current ruby is about 2.3.0, slop 4.3 is current, it’s 2016 and the US election cycle is awful.

update This CLI has since been ported to crystal as an example of that process. Porting a Rubygem to Crystal

It’s ok that you need help

I think the most confusing thing about slop is that it has great examples and documentation but when you try to break this apart in a real app with small methods and single responsibilities some things sort of get weird. I think this is because of exception handling as logic control but I’m not sure enough to say slop is doing something wrong that makes this weird. In my example

I refer back to MY OWN BLOG quite often for slop examples so it’s ok that you need help.

Slop’s example

Let’s look at the example from the README.

opts = Slop.parse do |o|
  o.string '-h', '--host', 'a hostname'
  o.integer '--port', 'custom port', default: 80
  o.bool '-v', '--verbose', 'enable verbose mode'
  o.bool '-q', '--quiet', 'suppress output (quiet mode)'
  o.bool '-c', '--check-ssl-certificate', 'check SSL certificate for host'
  o.on '--version', 'print the version' do
    puts Slop::VERSION
    exit
  end
end

I disagree with -h here for hosts. I think -h should always be help. This is especially true when switching contexts. When I switch to java or node or go or python, I have no idea what those communities’ standards are. I rely on what unix expects: dash aitch. I disagree also with this example because figuring out how to handle -h for help is the most confusing thing about using slop because you have to use exceptions as flow control (sort of an anti-pattern).

Continue Reading →

Serverspec and Packer

15 Mar 2016

Thoughtbot has an excellent and much desired article on getting Docker + Rspec + Serverspec wired up but I couldn’t find anything about images generated from Packer. Packer generates its own images and so we can’t just build_from_dir(.). Our images are already built at that point. We’re using Packer to run Chef and other things beyond what vanilla Docker can do.

The fix is really simple after I was poking around in pry looking at the serverspec API.

First of all, what am I even talking about? Serverspec is like rspec for your server. It has matchers and objects like

describe file('/etc/passwd') do
  it { should exist }
end

describe file('/var/run/unicorn.sock') do
  it { should be_socket }
end

So although we have application tests of varying styles and application monitors, serverspec allows us to test our server just like an integration test before we deploy. I had previously tried to go down this route with test kitchen to test our chef recipes but it was sort of picky about paths. Additionally, going with serverspec and docker doesn’t even require Chef. Chef has already been run at this point! What this means is fast tests. Just booting a docker image and running a command is fast.

# single test
$ time bundle exec rspec
1.415 total

Nice!

So how does this work? Well, like I said the thoughtbot article is really good but I wanted to add to the ‘net about packer specifcally. The critical piece to make Serverspec work with a Docker image created from Packer is in your spec itself (spec/yer_image_name/yer_image_name_spec.rb).

# spec_helper and a lot of spec/ came from `serverspec-init1`

require 'spec_helper'
require "docker"


describe "yer_packer_image" do

  before(:all) do
    image = Docker::Image.get("yer_package_image")

    set :os, family: :debian   # this can be set per spec
    # describe package('httpd'), :if => os[:family] == 'redhat' do
    #   it { should be_installed }
    # end

    set :backend, :docker
    set :docker_image, image.id
  end

  it "has bash installed" do
    expect(package("bash")).to be_installed
  end

end

See that image = Docker::Image.get("yer_package_image") bit in the before block? This is the difference between build my image (what the thoughtbot article uses) and run an existing image. Since packer builds the image, we can just reuse the one we have from our local store. Then later :docker_image, image.id sets the image to use during the test. It knows about docker because of require "docker" from serverspec. I’ll mention what versions of these gems I’m using at the time of this post since this might bit-rot.

docker-api (1.26.2)
rspec (3.4.0)
serverspec (2.31.0)
specinfra (2.53.1)  # from serverspec

An idea that didn’t work

Ok this is cool! How about we have packer run our tests after the packer build. Unfortunately this is mostly useless. :( The tests will run but they won’t do anything if the tests fail.

Here’s the post-processor bit of our packer config. It just tells Packer to do things after it’s done building. The first bit is tag our image so we can push it out to our registry.

  "post-processors": [
    [
      {
        "type": "docker-tag",
        "repository": "your-company/yer_packer_image",
        "tag": "latest",
        "force": true
      },
      {
        "type": "shell-local",
        "inline": ["bundle exec rspec ../../spec/yer_packer_image"],
        "_useless": "don't do this"
      }
    ]
  ]

The path structure is arbitrary above. We have a project we’re currently working on that I’ll explain in another blog post or talk. The only specifics about this file structure is that typically you’d want to do something like require 'spec_helper' but if you are building an image from a subdirectory and then running tests from another nested subdirectory then you’ll need to require_relative 'spec_helper'. I actually don’t know why this isn’t the default anyway.

But like I said, running tests with Packer as a post processor doesn’t do anything. You could run it with PACKER_DEBUG or something but I don’t like any of that. I’ll be following up with a more complete workflow as we figure this out. So you don’t need to do this last bit with the post-processors. I just wanted to leave a breadcrumb for myself later.

Sidekiq Rate Limiting

12 Feb 2016

birds_on_a_wire

Sidekiq Enterprise has a rate limiting feature. Note that this is not throttling. The perfect use case is the exact one that’s mentioned in the wiki: limit outbound connections to an API. We had a need for this between two of our own services. I spiked a little bit and I thought the behavior was interesting so I thought I’d share.

Continue Reading →

Rails Style Route Parsing

20 Jan 2016

At one point a while back, I had a config file outside a rails app and what I wanted was something like this:

Given this mappping definition /order/:meal/:cheese How can I turn these strings into parsed hashes? /order/hotdog/cheddar -> {meal:'hotdog', cheese:'cheddar'}

I knew that something in Rails was doing this. I just didn’t know what. I also didn’t know what assumptions or abstraction level it was working at.

Journey into Journey

The gem that handles parsing the routes file and creating a tree is journey. Journey used to be (years ago) a separate gem but is not integrated into action_dispatch which itself is a part of actionpack. So to install it you need to gem install actionpack (or use bundler) but to include it in your program you need to require 'action_dispatch/journey'. If you have any rails 4+ gem installed on your system, you don’t need to install anything. Action pack comes with rails.

require 'action_dispatch/journey'

# reorganize pattern matches into hashes
def hashify_match matches
  h = {}
  matches.names.each_with_index do |key, i|
    h[key.to_sym] = matches.captures[i]
  end
  h
end

pattern = ActionDispatch::Journey::Path::Pattern.from_string '/order/(:meal(/:cheese))'
matches = pattern.match '/order/hamburger/american'
puts hashify_match matches

matches = pattern.match '/order/hotdog/cheddar'
puts hashify_match matches

# {:meal=>"hamburger", :cheese=>"american"}
# {:meal=>"hotdog", :cheese=>"cheddar"}

We have to have hashify_match reorganize our objects because this is what pattern.match returns:

irb(main):001:0> matches = pattern.match '/order/hamburger/american'
=> #<ActionDispatch::Journey::Path::Pattern::MatchData:0x007f9d4d527aa0
 @match=#<MatchData "/order/hamburger/american" 1:"hamburger" 2:"american">,
 @names=["meal", "cheese"],
 @offsets=[0, 0, 0]>

So we have to turn these ordered matches into a hash.

irb(main):001:0> matches.names
=> ["meal", "cheese"]

irb(main):002:0> matches.captures
=> ["hamburger", "american"]

We could also zip the results together but we wouldn’t have symbolized keys.

irb(main):001:0> Hash[matches.names.zip(matches.captures)]
=> {"meal"=>"hamburger", "cheese"=>"american"}

You could symbolize them easily within a rails app or by including active support.

require 'active_support'
require 'active_support/core_ext'
Hash[matches.names.zip(matches.captures)].symbolize_keys

How to install a specific version of something in Homebrew

06 Jan 2016

cd /usr/local

# find some sha you want, I want mysql 5.6.26
git log -S'5.6.26' Library/Formula/mysql.rb
git checkout -b mysql-5.6.26 93a54a

brew install mysql
# oh no!  the CDN doesn't have 5.6.26 anymore!
# Homebrew pukes with a 404 error.  :(  :(  :(

# make homebrew's cache folder
mkdir ~/Library/Caches/Homebrew

# google for the tarball (the url doesn't matter as long as you trust it)
wget http://pkgs.fedoraproject.org/repo/pkgs/community-mysql/mysql-5.6.26.tar.gz/733e1817c88c16fb193176e76f5b818f/mysql-5.6.26.tar.gz -o ~/Library/Caches/Homebrew/mysql-5.6.26.tar.gz

brew install mysql
# This installs older versions of dependencies.
# You probably don't want to install old versions just for fun.
# Like, this will install some version of cmake for mysql 5.6.26 but
# idk what happens when you flip back to master and install
# something else that requires cmake.


# You can delete the branch when it's done.
cd /usr/local
git br -d mysql-5.6.26
git checkout master

# I assume you can use a newer version of cmake (or other deps)
# after the binary is built but I don't know.

Great dev log with vim and iTerm

13 Nov 2015

What did you do this week? Um. Uh. (remembering intensifies)

I have this problem a lot at work. I’m cranking on stuff, figuring things out day to day but if someone asks me what I’ve done, I have no clue. Being put on the spot sucks. When something sucks, it’s a problem. Put it on the tool sharpening list.

So what can we do? It’s pretty easy, just keep a diary. But there are some specifics that I’ve worked out because I’ve had Lists of Lists™ before. I’ve learned that Lists of Lists™ do not work.

I want to:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Have it be easy to use, non disruptive.
  • Actually use it. Something that I’m not going to hate, throw away or give up on.

A Nice Setup

iTerm allows you to launch a terminal with a global hot key and run a command. What’s better is that it stays out of your way when you click away.

iTerm Setup

Configure a new profile in iTerm. Set a command to run vim.

iterm_profile_creation

Make the profile pop up with a hot key.

iterm_hotkey

Voilà!

iterm_hotkey

Combine this with a quick vim script to insert the date headers (including knowing what weekends are), it’s pretty nice.

Vim Setup

(completely optional)

Here’s a shortcut that will add a header like # 3000-12-25 - Thursday at the top of the file. Assign it to a shortcut and hit that at the beginning of the day. Put this in your .vimrc or .vimrc.local depending on how you have vim setup.

" Insert the date at the top of a development log.
nmap <leader>N ggi# <C-R>=strftime("%Y-%m-%d - %A")<CR><CR><CR>

Now, in command mode, hit ,N for next date. It will jump you to the top and start today’s entry. It’s fast, it’s nice and it stays out of your way. You’ll do this all the time so this is important.

1 # 2017-01-26 - Thursday
2
3 █

Awesome Things This Does

No more remembering during standups

During standups or retros, I can convert this quickly into a summary:

  • What I worked on
  • What I’m waiting on

Whatever your format is, your log is what you did and you won’t forget stuff.

As a bonus, after using this log for a while, it also can show you how hard you’ve been working and keep yourself from being too hard on yourself. That thing you really tried hard on that you forgot where you left it, maybe you chunked it as a failure when it was not a failure. Maybe you left yourself enough detail to show:

I could keep going on this experiment but the point was proven. I ran into a limitation beyond my control. I tried many different options and approaches but the technology isn’t ready or something else is up.

As time goes on, this chunking effect is more dramatic. Wait until you forget how hard you tried.

No more forgetting that cool command you typed

Sometimes I browse my history to find that curl that worked. But which one? In my dev log, I’ll just paste in a command or the thing that actually worked. Maybe I was debugging something because I forgot something silly. Writing that down is like a tiny “hurrah” but also a breadcrump to future me what the hold-up was.

Weekend Me

I don’t think about work on the weekend. Monday me hates this. With a dev log, this isn’t a problem. I just review Friday and that’s enough to jog my memory.

Advice Time

I’ve been using this for a year and it’s been amazing. I’ve done it everyday. So let me hand out some advice.

  • Don’t create multiple files. If you work in multiple teams, don’t try to orgranize your thoughts into teams. Just split it up by day. Embrace the chaos. This is quick. Hit key, brain dump, hit key, keep working. If you hate this and it keeps you from logging then change this advice. I think most people would hate having to categorize work into separate files.

  • Don’t worry about tagging or searching. I only tag things like TIL so it jumps out. Not even for retrevial. Text search works fine. I have 7500 lines from 1.5 years of content and I can find anything just with vim text search.

  • Make it yours. If you don’t want to call it dev_log.md, call it something else.

  • Whatever you hate about this blog post, change it. The real idea is: solve a problem for you, in my case and most people’s on my team it has been remembering what you did and remembering your wins.

Setting timezone with homebrew installed mysql

01 Nov 2015

I couldn’t find this information anywhere so I’m writing it. If you installed mysql (and I mean MariaDB) through homebrew then you might find some trouble when trying to set your timezone to UTC or GMT.

Edit /usr/local/etc/my.cnf. Add a new section at the bottom:

[mysqld]
default-time-zone='+00:00'

Restart mysql.

> select @@global.time_zone;
+--------------------+
| @@global.time_zone |
+--------------------+
| +00:00             |
+--------------------+

Alternatively, you could break this out into a file called /usr/local/etc/my.cnf.d/gmt.cnf

[mysqld]
default-time-zone='+00:00'

The plus sign is critical. If you find any tips/tricks related to this, send them to me on twitter. Contact information is there on the sidebar.

Encoding in Ruby and Everywhere

08 Jul 2015

I gave a lightning talk at pdxruby recently. I was trying to explain the gotchas but was doing live coding in pry and it wasn’t enough time for me to figure out some nice succinct take-aways. My bigger point was something like “our industry seems to keep forgetting certain things”. This is not to say Yer Doin It Wrong. I just think it’s interesting that some things keep coming up because they are very rare.

  • How to generate an SSL cert
  • Encoding and utf-8
  • Database salts
  • HTTP and RFCs - I personally have forgotten or misremembered something

Even if you’ve done it many times, you haven’t done it recently (like just now) so we all forget. This theme is interesting! Different teams, people, states and projects … some common patterns maybe? Many times with these hard subjects, I often come across as “wrong!” and that’s not what I’m trying to do. I just want to point out where the key things are so that you can remember where to look to google some more or trigger your memory.

So, this encoding thing. Ruby 2.x changed lots of things. First, your source file is utf-8. Your strings are utf-8 by default. There’s more to it than that but it’s all pretty much utf-8 now. There’s also no iconv in stdlib anymore. It’s just .encode off the string class (we’ll get to that in a second).

Your Encoding Friends

Open up pry (if you don’t have pry, gem install pry). It’s all you’ll need. If you do ls Encoding, you’ll see a list of encodings that Ruby supports. You get this for free in every process. You don’t need to do anything special. You’ll notice that "".encoding is => #<Encoding:UTF-8>. That inspected Encoding:UTF-8 bit is coming from that list.

pry> ls Encoding constants:
ANSI_X3_4_1968    Emacs_Mule
ISO8859_6         SJIS_DoCoMo     ASCII        EMACS_MULE
ISO8859_7         SJIS_KDDI       ASCII_8BIT   EUC_CN
ISO8859_8         SJIS_SoftBank   Big5         EUC_JIS_2004
ISO8859_9         SJIS_SOFTBANK   BIG5         EUC_JISX0213
ISO_2022_JP       ...             UTF_8

There’s also a shorthand versions of these encoding names that you can use but I like using the constants where I can because it’s namespaced with Encoding so it’s more intention-revealing. So let’s write a file as utf-8 so I can explain the shorthand thing.

File.open('/tmp/awesome.txt', 'w:utf-8') {|file| file.puts "awesome" }

This is pretty straight-forward. It creates a file with awesome in it, encoded in utf-8.

$ cat /tmp/awesome.txt
awesome
File.open('/tmp/awesome.txt', 'w:iso-8859-1') {|file| file.puts "awesome" }

You can’t say ‘w:latin-1’ here. That’s another name for iso-8859-1 but latin-1 doesn’t work here for the file writing mode.

You can write a few modes in different encodings and the bytes come out exactly the same. There’s a historical reason for this. EBDIC begat ASCII begat ANSI (sort of) begat Unicode. All along the way, the lowest bytes stayed backwards compatible.

# utf-8 written
$ xxd /tmp/awesome.txt
00000000: 6177 6573 6f6d 650a                      awesome.

# latin-1(iso-8859-1) written
$ xxd /tmp/awesome.txt
00000000: 6177 6573 6f6d 650a                      awesome.

# ascii written
$ xxd /tmp/awesome.txt
00000000: 6177 6573 6f6d 650a                      awesome.

This is also why English speaking programmers are surprised by encoding errors because you can get away with a lot by sticking with these low order bytes and remaining ignorant (slightly strong word but intended in its opportunity sense). It’s only when “weird” data comes in that we have to think about encoding right?

Here’s another friend. If you do Encoding::BINARY.to_s you’ll get ‘ASCII-8BIT’. This is the same as saying “I don’t know”. It’s not the same as Encoding::ASCII. You can tell because .to_s says ‘US-ASCII’. So .to_s can be handy here.

There is a method called .encode. This takes the place of Iconv in the stdlib. It works just like the unix command iconv. It takes one encoding and converts the bytes into another. This isn’t the same as .force_encoding as we’ll see in a second.

Now this is where culture/language trickiness comes in.

Lucky

All these things are the same bytes because we (sort of) got lucky on our history, where ASCII came from (A is for American) and kind of how computer keyboards and alphabets work. Someone had a good counter argument to this statement at the meetup and I agree. What I mean is, some of this is a bit culturally sensitive and complicated.

What I really mean is:

  • English works well on a keyboard
  • Keyboards are the fastest input device
  • ASCII was invented by English speakers
  • UTF-8 is extended ASCII
  • English was invented before the computer

So, world, I’m sorry (empathy not apology).

What Encoding Is

Take this string "\x20". It’s a space character. If you look at man ascii you’ll see that 20 is “ “ in ASCII. You might recognize this from %20 in URLs. 20 decimal is 20 in hex too. The \x bit means hex. URL encoding is hex too so 20 is the same 20. If I pick something higher in the codepage like "\xC3", things are going to get weird. “\xC3” by itself isn’t valid utf-8. And that’s fine until I try to do something with it. If I print it, it’s nothing. Puts just gives me the normal newline.

puts "\xC3"

=> nil

If I combine it with \x20, that’s not valid. ASCII space is at the top of the UTF-8 codepage. I can’t just make up stuff. Or maybe I can and get lucky. But in this case, it prints the unknown utf-8 symbol: <?> If I try something else, just a different error message shows up:

pry> "\xC3".encode('us-ascii')
Encoding::InvalidByteSequenceError: incomplete "\xC3" on UTF-8
from (pry):107:in `encode'

pry> "\xC3\x20".encode('us-ascii')
Encoding::InvalidByteSequenceError: "\xC3" followed by " " on UTF-8
from (pry):108:in `encode'

And not that this can’t be done. If I use something that definitely fits in the ascii range (low bytes), everything is fine by implicit coincidence.

pry> "\x20".encode('us-ascii')
=> " "

So what’s going on? Let’s look at this new string “YAY”.

"YAY".bytes
=> [89, 65, 89]

So 89 is what in hex … um … piece of paper

89.to_s(16)
=> 59

Right. So “YAY” is

"YAY".bytes.collect {|b| b.to_s(16) }
=> ["59", "41", "59"]

We can take this and get

"\x59\x41\x59"
=> "YAY"

"\x59\x41\x59".encoding
=> "\x59\x41\x59"

Because ASCII fits inside the beginning of utf-8.

"\x59\x41\x59".encode('ascii')
=> "YAY"
"\x59\x41\x59".encode('ascii').bytes
=> [89, 65, 89]
"\x59\x41\x59".encode('ascii').force_encoding('utf-8').bytes
=> [89, 65, 89]

We could do this all day and not flip a bit. It’s just not modifying the byte sequence and that’s really what the data is.

So that’s the happy path with ASCII. It just sort of luckily works because of history and other things that are complicated. The more complicated path involves a few things. First, what happens when Ruby loses control of the encoding it knows about and finally what happens when non-ASCII things start happening.

This is the Korean word for wizard. I don’t know Korean btw. It’s just an easy alphabet and I think it’s neat.

wizard = "마법사"
wizard.bytes
=> [235, 167, 136, 235, 178, 149, 236, 130, 172]

Nothing in .bytes is going to be over 255 because bytes are 8-bit. You’ll never, ever see .bytes return anything over 255. So what’s the deal? Why are there more bytes there? Is it because Korean has more letters inside each of those characters? No, that guess doesn’t make sense when I do this with a single “character”:

"ㅅ".bytes
=> [227, 133, 133]

It’s because utf-8 is dynamic. ASCII fits in 1 byte. If we force this to Encoding::UTF_16, it has four bytes. What we thing of as a letter is irrelevant. It’s bytes and codepoints in an encoding scheme. ASCII/English just happens to be lucky at the top of the number chart.

So let’s turn that single character into utf-16 (Java’s default).

"ㅅ".encode('utf-16').bytes
=> [254, 255, 49, 69]

But that doesn’t mean we should. And … if we force this the wrong way, we’ll have a bad time. Ruby won’t change the bytes if you do .force_encoding. But it will if you .encode, as you can see. It depends what you are trying to do.

Next, I’m going to show what you can do with all of this.

Data Corruption

Let’s take a more practical example. Let’s say a file was written in the wrong encoding. This could be a database backup file that you really care about. You could use iconv but let’s play in pry because it’s more fun and interactive.

Let’s set up the failure scenario.

File.open("/tmp/mysql-backup.sql", "w:UTF-8") {|file| file.puts wizard.force_encoding('iso-8859-1') }
import = File.open("/tmp/exported_garbage.txt", encoding:Encoding::ISO_8859_1).readlines.first
=> "\xC3\xAB\xC2\xB0\xC2\x94\xC3\xAB\xC2\x82\xC2\x98\xC3\xAB\xC2\x82\xC2\x98\n"

If you just try to .force_encoding it’s not going to work.

File.open("/tmp/mysql-backup.sql", "w:UTF-8") {|file| file.puts wizard.force_encoding('iso-8859-1') }
import.force_encoding('utf-8')
=> "ë°\u0094ë\u0082\u0098ë\u0082\u0098\n"
import.encoding
=> #<Encoding:UTF-8>

Interestingly, .force_encoding sticks. So let’s try again, knowing the path that the data took. We can reverse it:

  1. First the data was utf-8.
  2. Then it was forced to be latin1 but it’s in a utf-8 file.
  3. Then it was read as a latin1 file.

Since the read happened in Ruby-land, we can force_encoding the file reading mistake. Now it’s a utf-8 string that was forced to latin1 in mistake 2. So we just have to re-encode those bytes back to latin1. Finally, it was utf-8 in mistake 1. So we can just force_encoding the last step because it wasn’t written externally or re-encoded, the bytes were forced.

pry> import.force_encoding('utf-8').  # undo the wrong file read
pry* encode('iso-8859-1').            # undo the file write
pry* force_encoding('utf-8')          # undo the force in the file.puts block

=> "바나나\n"

You can do it as one big line and play with this. Just make sure to check your encoding of your play variables. The variable import is now utf-8 so weird things will happen if you think it’s latin1. Re-read the file with readlines to reset your playtime.

UTF-8 Doesn’t Just Solve Everything

Base64 encodes to ASCII. So you’ll have very similar problems like above.

require 'base64'
encoded = Base64.encode64 'bacon is great'
=> "YmFjb24gaXMgZ3JlYXQ=\n"
decoded = Base64.decode64(encoded)
=> "bacon is great"
# Yay for ascii?

# Wait a minute ...
encoded = Base64.encode64 'ºå߬∂˚∆ƒ'
=> "wrrDpcOfwqziiILLmuKIhsaS\n"
decoded = Base64.decode64(encoded)
=> "\xC2\xBA\xC3\xA5\xC3\x9F\xC2\xAC\xE2\x88\x82\xCB\x9A\xE2\x88\x86\xC6\x92"
decoded.force_encoding('utf-8')
=> "ºå߬∂˚∆ƒ"
# The bytes didn't change, so force_encoding is correct here

Conclusion

Encoding is hard. It comes up a lot. I forget what I have learned. I hope this is a beacon to myself and others about some lessons and tricks. Playing with this stuff now might save you stress later when something real pops up. I’ve seen backups be useless and then saved with iconv tricks and Ruby’s encode method is the same thing.

New Gigs, New Digs

26 May 2015

Started a new gig about three weeks ago. Sad to leave the old team and friends. It was awesome and I grew in a lot of ways. But this new place is probably what I was looking for.

It’s way too early to call or judge or even sum up because it takes me about three months to settle into any new job and place. You might think that’s ridiculous but I’ve unsciencely tracked this and it holds up. Slow burn man. It’s three months.

The new place is Goldstar. We sell discount tickets fill events and have amazing customer service in and around this domain. From the tech side, the app is Rails and mobile with a set of amazing devs and ops peeps. We have expanded the tech team very recently and I’m one of the new recruits.

Learning a codebase is rough. Building a codebase and learning along the way is much more natural and comes with an advantage that needs to be cared for and not abused. “Can you not code?” This isn’t happening at the new place. I’m more amplifying what Katrina Owen said on Ruby Rogues about a book that explains downhill synthesis, uphill analysis. It’s way easier to understand a system when you’ve built it. Not even because the code is fresh in your mind. But because you hold the structure and general layout and design, connected by memories and breadcrumbs. When starting from the outside, it’s code splunking. Even if there are tests. Most of the time, I’ll break the test and see what happens. And then fix it. This simulates the synthesis part! Take it apart and put it back together for the put it back together part. This didn’t really click until Katrina enlightened me. I thanked her on Twitter. She was happy. Happy time.

So let’s talk about something pretty serious. This perceived skill gap. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I’m hanging with smart people but have a massive case of impostor syndrome. But right before this job, I wondered if the small-shop world had accelerated way past the big-scary enterprise world. And it has. But it’s not a huge deal! Do you know why? Because C, Unix, TCP/IP, Sockets, CAP Theorem, I/O speeds, SOLID, ACID and all the other non-science-laws-this-is-the-best-we-can-do-guys stuff of computer science is forever. It’s the bedrock. It’s what’s really happening. And once you know or even have a previous story/tale about these things then learning today’s Hipsterware™ is no big deal.

What’s Riak? I don’t know! It’s consistent and available? Oh! It must be really slow. Yep! Great! Right there I can knock it out of a few use cases where Redis or Memcached would be put in there. I could blather on about this. It’s really not healthy. It’s pretty arrogant actually. Most of the work is not in the initial introduction and overview. It’s in the deep and long lived implementation where your cherished newlywed tech betrays you in your most dire moment of edge-case mortality. There are so many things that I think are really great because I haven’t seen them blow up in my face in prod. There are lots of things that I used to think are great, which now I say “yeah …” unsurely because I’ve seen them blow up or not be a good fit.

I still have many miles to walk. Here some things that I’m predicting WITH MY MIND POWERS that I’ll learn and or gain from this new gig.

  • vim - My vimfiles and dotfiles have been challenged. Not even an editor war. An editor civil war. Are leader keys evil? Is nerdtree evil? Yes!? What?! I submit. I yield! I see the speed at which you are navigating files. I have thought about your strategy before and not seen it in action. Fine. I will delete my .vimrc and use yours. I’ve done it before with janus. I can start over again. Each time, I learn something new. The goal now is to stay as close to vanilla vim as possible.

  • Ruby - looking forward to pairing with lots of folks. I’ve been hearing a lot of great discussion. Lots of end-game topics. “What is intention revealing? What is this actually doing? What is the difference between these two classes? Let’s measure how fast this runs if we try it this way.”

  • AWS - A bigger setup than I’m used to. VPC I’ve done. But not so many objects. Learning lots of integrations within AWS. Pulling and syncing to buckets and stuff. I’m sure I’ll be flexing the fog gem at some point.

  • Instrumentation - It’s a big deal. There are many cloud services in action. Some are overlapping. It’s neat. It’s real. Retros where we look at code climate scores. Custom dashboards. I donated a raspberry pi for the cause. “Hook it up to the TV! Give me real insight. Get it done. Yay!” Pretty sweet.

  • Automation and CM - Chef is being used in a really nice way. It’s changing and evolving. No sacred cows. Custom tooling. Chef server is a bit slow, so move everything out. Put state somewhere else. We need to beef up the custom bits of this. We’re also working on other tools around containers. There’s no single tool really. It’s very practical. No sacred tools. I’m very impressed with the ops folks. It’s kind of beautiful.

  • The Business - It’s so easy to drown in tech. I’m looking forward to seeing all the pieces come together and watch something real happen. Ernie Miller said it best:

    Humane Development, to me, means the acknowledgement that we are humans working with humans to develop software for the benefit of humans.

    To me, this is where you see the user story get run not by your test suite but by a real customer or person. It’s the best part for lots of reasons.

Everyone is really good. That’s the job. The digs part is, our rental is coming to a close and we’ve bought a house. The next time I post might be from a different location. But not so far from where I’m at now. We love Portland. I miss friends/family but we’re staying.

I hope this town becomes a tech sanctuary for Bay Area and Seattle burnouts.

Finding a Tree

01 May 2015

When I moved to Portland, I saw this tree on I-5 outside the city. It kind of stands by itself. Pokes out before you hit downtown. I always wondered where it was. Was it huge? Was it normal? How would I find it?

Since I’m trying to explore the city and I had a week off between jobs (oh yeah, that news), I thought I’d take a break from the tech blogging and tell you about this tree I finally found after all these months.

First, I can’t believe my luck on this new Google Maps feature. I had used the Google Earth desktop app before but I didn’t realize it’s the satellite view now. It’s pretty intense on the graphics card. My mac was overheating while my gaming PC was yawning. So it’s not laptop or old mac friendly. :)

So here’s a picture of the tree as you’d see it from I-5. tree_from_i5

Here’s the dead give-away shot from Google Earth. After that, it was easy to track down. All I had to do is zoom and pan to the tree poking out in the orange circle here: tree_from_google_earth

I went to the street it’s on and took a few photos. It looks just like it does from the highway. And it’s lined up with the city. tree_found

It actually turned out to be a bunch of trees all clumped together. tree_found_close_up

Awesome. What a fun use of the google earth view in google maps.