Bobby G’s

b-g-logoI want to express my gratitude to Bobby G’s Pizzeria and their staff at 2072 University Ave for providing a great atmosphere for us to host our meetings on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three. Chef Anthony’s Fettuccine today was perfectly prepared, beautifully arranged and delicious. The six televisions provide entertainment between talking about Linux. The pizza and extensive beer list are always a hit. Thanks Bobby.

Website Change

We have a new wordpress website. We are discussing this at our meetings and on our email list. Comments welcome. We meet at Bobby G’s Pizzeria on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from Noon to 3PM in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Bobby G’s is on University Ave near Shattuck Ave. We […]

Lean IT

Information Technology (IT) has been getting leaner, doing more with less. Moore’s law marches on but CPU speeds and memory density aren’t often the primary impediments to getting something done. Lean IT is the application of some older ideas to IT using newer technologies. What have been your experiences with this?

We meet at Bobby G’s Pizzeria on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from Noon to 3PM in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Bobby G’s is on University Ave near Shattuck Ave. We hope you join us, join the discussion on our email list and/or join us in #berkeleylug on freenode.net by following the tabs at the top.

TDD – Test-Driven Design

A newer, sometimes controversial best practice these days when writing good, maintainable code is to write the unit tests for your code before writing your code. This is called Test-Driven Development or Design. I have had some good experiences with this methodology lately. I have used the nose for python and the built in prove which uses Test::Simple or Test::More in perl. Test::More is recommended by both modern and enlightened perl. While I haven’t used it yet, the BASH specific bats testing framework looks good for shell code.

Standards exist for unit tests. Perl developers have a long history of unit testing. Nose, prove and bats are all TAP compliant. Though the xUnit family is popular there are competing frameworks exist for many languages. Jasmine and others are ready to help unit test javascript code. The history of unit testing overlaps with many areas of computer science. The Mythical Man-Month talks about unit tests, first published in 1975.

The time taken to write code is arguably a savings of time overall. How can this be? This is due to work taken to clarify specifications which is required anyway. This should lead to better, more efficient code. The theory is that the much more modular code required for unit tests is also easier to understand and maintain. This theory has been validated in several research studies. The extensive regression testing can quickly identify changes that introduce bugs if the tests are run just before and/or just after a check in to a revision control system. However there isn’t quite consensus that TDD is the best way to code. What have your experiences been with Test Driven Design?

We meet at Bobby G’s Pizzeria on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from Noon to 3PM in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Bobby G’s is on University Ave near Shattuck Ave. We hope you join us, join the discussion on our email list and/or join us in #berkeleylug on freenode.net by following the tabs at the top.

Internet Slowdown Protest

On September 10th websites protested online by displaying a symbolic loading symbol on their sites. The results measured by the number of calls, emails and comments conveyed to the FCC, Congress and the White house were strong. This is very important to us now. It is difficult to imagine our lives before the Internet. In May, 2014 I wrote about Net Neutrality. The US focused article on Net Neutrality in the United States helps to summarize and remind us of some relevant history dating back an century and a half. “While the term is new, the ideas underlying net neutrality have a long pedigree in telecommunications practice and regulation. The concept of network neutrality originated in the age of the telegram in 1860 or even earlier, where standard (pre-overnight telegram) telegrams were routed ‘equally’ without discerning their contents and adjusting for one application or another. Such networks are ‘end-to-end neutral’.”

We meet at Bobby G’s Pizzeria on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from Noon to 3PM in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Bobby G’s is on University Ave near Shattuck Ave. We hope you join us, join the discussion on our email list and/or join us in #berkeleylug on freenode.net by following the tabs at the top.

HTTPS Everywhere

Web sites who install an SSL/TLS certificate allow the encryption of web browser traffic. Why should you care? Awareness for this need was raised for the public in April 2014 by the OpenSSL Heartbleed bug. HTTPS is especially useful in preventing eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks when using public Wi-Fi access points.

Encrypting web browser traffic is done with HTTP Secure. This provides an additional level of privacy between your computer and web sites you view by layering SSL/TLS over HTTP. TLS replaces SSL as of 1999.

On my computer I installed a browser extension available for Chrome, Firefox, Firefox for Android and Opera. The extension makes my browser default to prefer the use of HTTPS when possible. "HTTPS Everywhere is produced as a collaboration between the The TOR Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

When reading about the use of HTTPS Everywhere I was surprised to find an entry related to berkeleylug.com. I hope to work with our LUG members to update our website and links to embedded content to automatically rewrite the requests of web browsers to our web server.

We meet at Bobby G’s Pizzeria on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from Noon to 3PM in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station. Bobby G’s is on University Ave near Shattuck Ave. We hope you join us, join the discussion on our email list and/or join us in #berkeleylug on freenode.net by following the tabs at the top.

Computers as Docker Platforms

Docker (using LXC, Linux cgroups, Linux namespaces and union mounted file systems) is a powerful and efficient alternative to virtual machines. docker.io released their 1.0 version last month.

This is an ingenious implementation of boundary separation as seen implemented in the past on computers as inter-process communication (IPC), OS virtualization (as KVM and Solaris Containers) and
Java servlets on tomcat. As a side note, in the software world Java was heavily promoted with a promise of allowing the writing once and running anywhere of software. Reality has not fulfilled these promises. Recently Java was surpassed by python as the most popular programming language for teaching programming in higher education.

An operating system simply allows software applications to run. Keeping application boundaries clear has been tied to operating systems for a long time. UNIX software and the hardware used to run these computers has changed a lot. Docker may be the answer. The power of boundary separation and abstractions is that you don’t need to understand the other parts. It’s gotten so “easy” for end users that even without a full understanding of how things work many people today in the developed world can use embedded computers in their TVs, thermostats, raspberry pi, phones/tablets/mobile (often using iOS or Android), laptops or desktop computers. Yet when something goes wrong, down the rabbit hole we must go to figure out what’s really going on across the layers of abstractions and boundaries. What do you think?

Due to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final game viewing we may not be able to get as much space at Bobby Gs as we need. We may seek more space at Cafe Au Coquelet down University on the same block, 2000 University Ave.

We meet on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from noon to three in Berkeley near the Downtown Berkeley BART station near the corner of University & Shattuck. We hope you join us at Bobby G’s Pizzeria and/or join the discussion on our email list.