Earlier today I had breakfast with one of my drinking buddies, and he asked me for some YouTube recommendations, because he’s bored with the stuff that he watches. I was going to DM them to him, but thought it would be more sensible for me to make a blog post and share them with others, as well.
I can’t say that this is an exhaustive or authoritative list, rather it’s a list of channels which I have found enjoyable or at least interesting.
HowtoBasic – An educational channel which explains how to perform many common tasks. Often with thousands of eggs. 🍳
Eckharts Ladder – A channel which focuses mostly on Stars Wars and Halo, this one focuses mostly on the warfare aspects of the Star Wars universe, such as the different kinds of ships and weapons.
DeSinc – Video game speedruns gone horribly sideways.
Down The Rabbit Hole – A series of videos by YouTube user Fredrik Knudsen, each video does a deep dive into a specific topic, complete with supporting research and documentation.
The Infographics Show – This channel hosts non-fiction videos between 5 and 15 minutes in length which cover some science-related aspects of history.
SciShow – Another science-related channel which focuses more on pure science-related topics, with most videos under 10 minutes in length.
Pretty Good – I’ll admit, I am not a sports guy. However, I adore the story telling in this series of videos from Jon Bois and SB Nation. He covers everything from the 222-0 blowout in college football to the psychology behind professional gambling to Scorigami in American Football.
SF Debris – He describes his channel as “serious reviews with silly commentary”. Most of the reviews are on works of science-fiction with an emphasis on the Star Trek franchise. He has even more reviews on his website.
Finally, I’ll leave you with The Instant Regret Playlist. This is a playlist of over 2,800 videos, and it is just a thing of beauty. Put it on the TV at your next party.
What do you like to watch on YouTube? Let me know in the comments!
That may seem like a strange thing to utter, but hear me out. When working in software engineering, you will find yourself doing the same thing over and over. It can be tedious and mind-numbing, and if it’s the sort of thing that involves multiple steps, can increase the risk of human error. For example, one case of human error cost a company millions of dollars and ultimately tanked that company.
This means that the more things that are automated or at least semi-automated, the better. There will be less manual steps to run, and less things that can go wrong because a step was missed or not executed properly. Conversely, because automation means the same thing is done over and over, you’ll get repeatable builds which make things like troubleshooting, multi-tenancy, and disaster recovery easier to perform.
I don’t normally like to talk about these sorts of things, but I am not only getting older, I am also mortal. So I just wanted to put out there that if something does happen to me some day, I wrote a blog post expressing my final wishes.
Awhile ago, I found myself trying to make a decision on which of several restaurants to eat at. They were all highly rated in Yelp, but surely there might be more insights I could pull from their reviews. So I decided to Splunk them!
Yelp has an API but, I am sorry to say that it is awful. It will only let you download 3 reviews for any venue. That’s it! What a crime.
So… I had to crawl Yelp venue pages to get reviews. I am not proud of this, but I was left with no other other option.
Python has been my go-to language lately, so I decided to solve the problem of review acquisition with Python. I used the Requests module to fetch the HTML code, and the Beautiful Soup module to extract reviews and page links from the HTML.
One of my activities outside of the office consists of staffing furry conventions. One of those conventions is Anthrocon, a furry convention held in downtown Pittsburgh every June/July. At that particular convention, I manage the website and their social media properties.
Yesterday, we opened general hotel reservations, and that resulted in a huge rush of members booking hotel rooms. 1,000 rooms were booked in the first 15 minutes! This was completely expected, and we kept track of how things played out on social media, and also took a survey of members who booked hotel rooms to see how things went. In this post, we’re going to share what we learned based on those survey results and Twitter activity.
First, did people who booked a hotel room get the hotel that they wanted?
For nearly 70% of you, the answer is yes. This makes us happy, but we would like to see the number higher—ideally 100% of our attendees would get a room in the hotel of their choice. This is something we continue to work on each year by adding new hotels and getting bigger room blocks in existing hotels.
So I’m a huge fan of the service NodePing. NodePing is a service used to monitor websites and service availability, and can ping hosts, monitor HTTP/HTTPS, other services like POP3/IMAP, DNS, and more! It can also perform “advanced HTTP” monitoring and check the HTTP response code or the content from the response! I pretty much use NodePing to monitor all of my hobbyist projects, as well as those belonging to friends.
One thing that gets tricky, however, is how to do alerting. NodePing lets you do email and text notifications, but neither feels “right” to me, especially if you want to alert multiple people at once. So I came up with a better way: sending webhooks into Slack! In this post, I am going to walk you through the process of making this happen.
First, you’ll need to purchase a plan on NodePing. Plans on NodePing start at $8/month, but I personally recommend the $15/month plan as you can monitor up to 200(!) different services with it. You’ll also need to create your own Slack instance, and Slack has a free tier, which I recommend.
After creating a Slack instance, I recommend downloading and configuring both the Desktop and mobile clients to connect to your Slack instance.
Setting Up A Webhook In Slack and NodePing
Now that you’re signed up with both services, you’ll need to create a webhook in Slack. To do that, go to the “Applications” page on Slack’s website and choose the “Incoming Webhooks” app. Add a new integration and copy the URL of the webhook into your clipboard:
Note that whichever Slack channel you send alerts to is completely up to you. My personal recommendation is to create a separate channel just for alerts from NodePing.
When I made the move to WordPress a few weeks ago I had a lot to learn, both in terms of functionality that WordPress had to offer, as well as plugins that I could install and which of those plugins actually worked well!
So I’m going to spend this post sharing what plugins I found the most useful so that anyone else who is getting into WordPress can have an easier time getting started.
Even if you don’t use Facebook or Twitter, chances are that your visitors do and they share your content on those sites. So this plugin is probably the most important plugin of the entire list, because it adds the appropriate meta tags to ensure that when your content is shared on either service, it is rendered correctly.
Furthermore, the Open Graph plugin allows you to set a default image and override it with other an image from the post itself or one uploaded separately:
Again, I cannot stress it enough–if you want your content to look presentable on social media sites, you need to use this plugin. Otherwise, you are passing up a huge opportunity.
One of the neat things about WordPress is that when you upload an image and then include that image in a blog post, you can decide where that image links to. The image can link to nothing at all, the raw image, or an “attachment page” which contains that image and a caption.
That said, something that has caused me grief for out of the box WordPress builds has been the image on the media page being really small. Take for example, this picture of a freeloading cheetah. When I upload the picture, the attachment page looks like this:
Just look at that. A tiny image and a bunch of the page being completely unused. Disgraceful. Surely we can do better!
As it turns out, tweaking a single line of code can be used to change the size of all images on media pages.