MacBook or XPS Linux Ultrabook…looks like a Mac after all

I have had two laptops for most of the twenty years: a personal laptop and a work laptop.  Before I owned my own company that was a question of the company’s I worked for policies.  While I had my own company it was about living by the same rules that applied to everyone else in the company (I’m a big fan of dogfooding anything I do).  Now that I’m on the individual consulting/developer bandwagon I’m in the same boat.  I have a pretty decent System76 Linux laptop that’s a couple years old but pretty bulky.  I have a positively ancient 2011 MacBook Air.  Disk space and speed wise it is fine.  Memory wise at 4 GB it’s starting to get a little cramped if I have too many Google Drive tabs open and the like.  Processor wise though it is a dog.  It’s at the point now where some sites like Facebook and Gmail can take tens of seconds to complete rendering.  At least they allow interactions while they finish parsing their JavaScript etc.

When the MacBook Pros came out it looked like that’d be a great opportunity to switch and while the feature set finally looked reasonable the price point for what I want was artifically high due to selections that I couldn’t get with other configurations.  It’s not that a particular end configuration was expensive compared to a Dell (or System76) but the fact I could get the exact configuration I wanted out of the Linux laptop and not the Apple made the actual price point lower by over $1000.  With the new MacBook Air models that just came out I decided to do my standard configuration.  For this one I’m doing a 13″ to replace my MacBook Air but with the reasonable bump ups to make it last a long time.  After all, I like to keep hardware for awhile so no reason to skimp out to have to replace it yet again in a couple years.

What were the end results?  When I put together the exact configuration I’m looking for in both systems the Mac comes out to $1599 compared to $1659 for the Dell.  That’s pretty astounding to me.  I finally have a Mac option that fits my need at essentially the same price point.  What does that mean?  First, it means that the imminent demise of my antique personal laptop is imminent.  Second, it means that it’s probably getting replaced with another Mac.

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 14

Yesterday was the first day in several I could commit to real time towards D* again.  After getting back up to speed and making the status post I went on into the API development again.  I was able to make some good progress on some brand new endpoints.  The first one I worked, which is the first that needed from scratch coding of the main code, was the Tag Followings controller.  The day before I had struggled getting Rails to make the POST for creating tags work against the spec.  However after talking it over and thinking about it it was the spec that needed changing.  In another software framework I could just make it work but relying on the auto-wiring in Rails brought the design flaw nature to light.  With a simple change starting yesterday real development of the Tag Followings endpoint started.

The methodology I’m using when developing the new controllers is as follows.  First, I want to get the basic infrastructure in place and the tests.  That means that the first phase is to write the skeleton of the controller code, the skeleton of the RSpec tests, and to wire the two together.  I make sure that the routes behave the way I think they should according to the API Spec without worrying about returns etc.  The skeleton of the controller should implement all routes.  The skeleton of the unit tests should be testing for happy path and reasonable error conditions.  So that’s stuff like: the user passes the wrong ID for a post that they are trying to comment on, or an empty new tag to follow, etc.  I then go over to the external test application and code up the corresponding code in there as well.  With everything running I make sure that the endpoint is reachable from the outside (which it should be), but don’t worry about returns, processing etc.  If it’s possible to setup fake returns easily I do that otherwise I just ensure the proper methods are called.  After all of that is coded and committed then it is off to filling in the controller method by method.  For each one coded up I complete the unit tests and the external test harness interactions as well.  Once that’s all done then I move on to the next one.  In some cases, like Tag Followings, there needs to be refactoring elsewhere which has implications on the above flow.  I usually do those pieces before coding the controller.  It is at the design time that whether I should be using common code with another controller which may not exist as a Service component becomes apparent.  If I need to make any changes over  in other code I check that there are unit tests which properly cover the changes I am going to make, at least as best as I can tell, write those and then make the changes.  This should minimize the possibility of disruption.

When interacting with Frank R. on the merge requests one of the pieces of feedback I got was that with everything compressed down to one commit it was hard to tell why I did certain things.  As I code all of that is there but I’ve been rebasing everything down to one commit per endpoint so that when it comes time to merge the API branch into the main develop the log will look something like: Post API endpoint complete, Comments API endpoint complete, etc.  To get around this I’m trying a new flow.  When I think something is ready to be merged i’m doing a Work in Progress (WIP) Pull Request (PR).  That PR has the raw commit history and the name “WIP” in the leader of the label.  After a review and a thumbs up I’m going to rebase it down to one commit and then submit the final one for integration.  By the time WIP is done the code is feature complete however and should be ready to be merged.  I’m therefore counting WIP PR’s as the threshold for saying something is feature complete.

With all that said the three new endpoints that were feature complete as of yesterday are: Tag Followings, Aspects, and Reshares.

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 13

After a week of distractions I finally have a new update on the progress.  We’ve successfully merged all the work done to date into the one main API branch and are now working on new features moving forward.  The first feature we have completed with full tests and test harness interaction is the ability to manage and work with the user’s followed tags.  So we have the full post lifecycle from before, and now tags done but not merged into the main branch yet.

 

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 12

The merging of the various side branches into the main branch is coming along.  Because this isn’t being done as a primary job there is a bit of an expected delay between the pull request (PR) being generated and the branch being merged in.  This is giving me the opportunity to work on other features on Diaspora though.  The process is going along much faster than I expected it to, which is good.  At this point we have merged the Likes, Comments, and Post Endpoints together.  The PR on the Post Endpoint is now queued up however all of those changes exist in one branch.  What that means is that I was able to perform a full Post life cycle test using the test harness.  This means that we have an external application talking through the API and doing the following for a user:

  1. Creating a post
  2. Querying for the post and printing out it’s data
  3. Adding a comment to the post
  4. Liking to the post
  5. Printing out the comments and who liked the post
  6. Deleting their comment on a post
  7. Unliking a post
  8. Deleting a post

This is a very important step. Follow additional progress on the API Progress Google Sheet.

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 11

It’s been a few days since I’ve been able to put some real time into Diaspora development but I’m back today.   Being back home from travel too means I can finally get past the blockers on the other branches.  I’ve actually gotten all of the branches I had been developing on to feature complete status, with full tests, and the test harness fully coded against it.  That means that through the API one can complete the entire Post, Comment, Like, etc. lifecycle for posts with all data types (regular, Photos, Polls, location, etc).  Conversations are also feature complete with full test harness as well.  Streams are also complete, however I haven’t tested with sufficient post volumes to test paging behavior.  Now it’s going to be the trick of getting past the tech debt of getting them merged together into the API branch.  Hopefully that’ll come in the next day or two.  I’m going to spend some time doing other Diaspora stuff besides that as I work through those pieces as well.  As always follow the progress on the API Progress Google Sheet.  After the merge I’ll be moving on to the Tags Endpoint, the first endpoint that is a full from scratch development for me.

In Summary:

  • Fully feature complete endpoints with full external test harness interaction completed are: Comments, Conversations, Likes, Posts, and Streams (except for paging behavior).
  • Ready for merging of the side branches into the main API branch

Personal Reminder: no one has a right to your time

Life is actually a very short finite thing.  Each day there are only so many waking hours of which one can only pour in so much energy.  Do you decide to pour it all into useful work, spending time with family, spending time doing nothing but watching television or playing games, or whatever.  The bottom line is that we have to decide how we want to expend that in a way that will make us as contented as we can be.  We will miss the mark obviously but that doesn’t mean that one has to engage in behaviors that they know are moving opposite that direction.

Continue reading Personal Reminder: no one has a right to your time

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 9

I’m still on the road so my contributions aren’t as great as I’d like them to be but I did manage to make some progress on the API development.  At this point Conversations Endpoint minus the message listing of a conversation itself (next up).  The test harness is coded up against the Conversations such that it can create, read, and hide/ignore them.   As I finish up the Conversations Endpoint work and wrap up the Posts Endpoint work when I get back home I will soon be leaving the world of reviewing the existing implementation done by Frank while augmenting the tests, writing test harnesses, and making changes to get all of the tests to pass.  I will then be entering the world of from scratch development on the rest of the API.

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 8

While I’m on the road I’ve been hoping to get some more work in on the API.  Yesterday was a bust, and I knew it would be.  Today looked like it was going to be a bust but I actually was able to get some time in tonight due to some plans that were cancelled last minute.  As I sat down to start working I realized that I hadn’t been quite as prepared to develop on the road as possible.  Before leaving I made sure my development laptop Ruby VM was fully configured, could compile the main code and the Kotlin test harness.  I was all good to go!  Except, I forgot to push my work up to the GitHub and Gitlab.  Oops.  Well, that derailed continuing work on the Posts API Endpoint, but with plenty more endpoints to go I started up on the Conversations endpoint, the next most filled in one to start from.

I did make a good amount of progress of fleshing out the unit tests and making some code changes to make the requests and returns on the Create method to correspond to the specification.  It was at that point I realized I didn’t quite test my setup even further.  I didn’t have a registered application in my OpenID setup on this dev instance.  I also didn’t have the configurations I used when I set it up on my main development machine either.  After some fumbling around I did manage to get it registered so I could then start testing the external test harness against the endpoint.  After some final code tweaks I got that up and running and now have the test harness generating new conversations between two users!  On to the rest of the conversations API tomorrow!

Diaspora API Dev Progress Report 7

I’m still making good albeit slow progress on the Posts Endpoint.  While the Posts Endpoint doesn’t have a lot of methods the complexity of the send and the return data is far greater than the other endpoints I’ve done so far.  Posts have more than just text.  They can have polls, geolocation data, mentions, aspects management, and photos.  Yet posts are the core of the whole system.  They are the digital elements we interact with the most.  So progress on this endpoint is crucial.  I’m pleased to say that at this point I’ve made enough progress with the unit tests and the test harness that from an external application I have been able to do have an external program do the full lifecycle of posting: Create a post, read a post, comment on a post, and like a post.  I’m pretty stoked about that!  While I have the full complement of all post data available on the GET method tested, I still have to create the test harness test methods around pushing posts with ancillary data (location, polls, mentions, photos), and need to write the unit tests for photos as well.  The Photos endpoint for uploading photos during a real post creation process is a whole other matter though, but we’ll get to it soon enough!

Exploring Diet & Exercise From a 1st Person Point of View