My Last Post on This Domain

OK guys,

I think that it is time for me to publish the last post on this blog using WordPress as a domain. As you probably already know, GitHub is my favorite company and I have decided to switch my blog to a completely new domain.

I have published a couple of posts exclusively on the new domain and backed up every post from this domain to my new address (with one exception, but I’m working on it). I feel confident now to make the switch and I started to feel really comfortable using GitHub + Jekyll as a blogging platform, so I’ve decided to drop by and say good bye to my old domain.

From now on, you can follow me on r3bl.github.io. Be sure to use the http version of the site because https version is currently not properly implemented in the code. If you run into some issue while browsing the site or you miss a feature that I had implemented on this domain, feel free to report it here.

As always, you’re more than welcome to contact me anytime on aleksandar.todorovic@mail.ru. I hope that you’ll continue to read me on my new address.

Sincerely,
Aleksandar Todorović

Reasons Why GitHub is My Favorite Technology-Related Company

In this post I’m going to share with you a few reasons why I consider GitHub as my favorite technology-related company. If you still don’t know what GitHub is, you should continue reading this article because I’m going to share with you some of the most popular features GitHub has integrated in their service.

GitHub logo

What is GitHub?

GitHub is a web-based Git repository hosting service, which offers all of the distributed revision control and source code management (SCM) functionality of Git as well as adding its own features.

This is the definition I borrowed from a GitHub Wikipedia article. In short terms, it’s a place where every developer (or a student soon-to-be developer like me) can share their source code and their stories with the world. It’s a huge and highly respected collaboration platform.

It’s been used by every big technology company you can think of. Let me give you a few examples: Google, Twitter, Mozilla, Microsoft, Facebook, Adobe, IBM, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Netflix, Dropbox and PayPal. Still think GitHub doesn’t have a huge support? What if I told you that White House uses it too? I bet you didn’t know that some of these organizations even participate in the open source community at all!

So, why have they all chosen GitHub as a platform?

A Great Place to Store Your Code

Let’s be honest, today, if you’re not hosting your source code on GitHub, your open source project does not exist. I have a lot of respect for other solutions such as Launchpad and BitBucket, but lets be honest, GitHub is the place to go if you need a place to share your source code.

Huge Developer Community

There are 8.2M people collaborating right now across 19M repositories on GitHub. Developers from all around the world are building amazing things together. Their story is our story.

I borrowed this quote from GitHub’s press page. Over eight million people is not a small number, and they’ve all chosen GitHub as their choice. Together, they’ve created around 19 million repositories.

GitHub as a Replacement for LinkedIn

Don’t get me wrong, I love LinkedIn and I’m using it myself for quite some time (you can find my LinkedIn profile here). But the truth is, you can post pretty much anything you want on LinkedIn and you can perfect your profile in any way you want. GitHub does not allow you to do the same.

Everything you publish on GitHub, you prove it right away.

As an example, lets say that you posted on LinkedIn that you know how to program using C++. Your connections can endorse your skill and your employer can be sure that you know how to program using C++ if enough of your connections endorse it. But, if he visits your GitHub profile, he can see your C++ knowledge in action. He can read the code you’ve posted and based on the code, he can make sure that you’re a creative and a collaborative person, and that you have an experience in working with C++.

Now don’t get me wrong, your GitHub is not a replacement for your resume and you should not think of it as a replacement for your resume. But, it is a place where you can show your skills instead of talking about them. And there are some projects like Open Source Report Card that grabs your public GitHub data and represents them in a way that’s pretty similar to a resume (check out my Open Source Report Card here).

GitHub Pages

Now, let’s say that you want to build a website that represents you, your organization, your company, or anything else. You have a couple of options. You can buy your own domain and hosting service and build it from scratch. You can choose some freemium service like Wix, where you will create a stunning website in minutes without any coding knowledge, but you will be limited to the features that service allows you to do.

So, lets say that you want to have a full control over your site, without any limitations what so ever, and you showcase your website development and design skills in the process, all of that completely free of charge. The solution? GitHub Pages! You can create your personal website, a website for your organization or a website for your project straight away. And it’s not really complicated to do that. Don’t believe me? Check out my online portfolio! It took me less than 15 minutes to create it using a template offered by GitHub, and I have a full control of that website, which explains how I managed to alter the design of the template called Hack by Ben Bleikamp (see how original template looks like here).

GitHub Training

GitHub uses Git, which is a distributed revision control system designed and developed by Linus Torvalds for Linux kernel development back in 2005. It has become the most widely adopted version cotrol system for software development there is (source).

Now, lets say that you don’t know how to work with Git, the same way I didn’t know how how to work with Git not too long ago. Problem? Heck no! All resources for working with Git using GitHub as a platform are already provided for you by GitHub itself! GitHub offers you free resources (or training kits as they call them) here and you also have a few free online courses available here. Whatever learning option you choose to use out of those provided, you’ll see that your materials are divided in three difficulties: beginner/foundations, intermediate or advanced.

GitHub Gists

This is the newest addition to the GitHub services. It’s a place where you’re able to share your text or a part of your code publicly (which means that your gist will be searchable by a search engine and viewed from your profile) or privately (which means that only people you choose are going to be able to view it, and you share Gists with them by simply copying a link).

Atom Text Editor

After I found out about Atom, I fell in love with GitHub all over again. Atom is a hackable text editor for the 21st Century (as advertised by GitHub).

So, a hackable text editor, what does that even mean?

That means that you can hack every single thing inside of that text editor. Don’t know how? Not to worry, there are thousands of packages already available, all of them hosted on GitHub and offered free of charge. Don’t like the design of the editor? Pick your favorite flavor of Atom out of thousands of them available here. You can customize your installation to be anything from a simple text editor to a full IDE (short for Integrated Development Environment). Heck, you can even write your publications, your blog posts or your books in it. In fact, I even used it to write the post you’re currently reading (see the picture below) in the same way I’m using it to write every single post on my blog.

Picture of how I wrote this post

GitHub Student Developer Pack

This is something I recently discovered. A few days ago, I got a letter from my collage professor stating that as a student, I’m eligible to get a GitHub Student Developer Pack, which offers me over 15 free and paid development tools from GitHub and its partners at a huge discount. Now, I should point out that I’m still in the verification process at the time this article is published. This process could last for weeks! But, I should also point out that a guy called Alex Fernandez from GitHub staff has personally apologized to me for that. The reason why this process lasts for so long is because they have to review each request manually, which does take quite some time.

GitHub-Mark-64px

GitHub Has an Amazing Support

I’m a developer. I use a lot of stable and unstable software and services on a daily basis and it is important to me to get the support as fast as possible. I had an issue with a certain GitHub feature so I decided to contact GitHub support. I’ve got an email response in like 20 minutes, and they’ve been very helpful in the process. They’ve managed to explain to me why I had this issue and what I had to do to resolve it. I have to give them a straight 10/10 for their support.

So, if you are a developer, is there a reason not to use GitHub?

Honestly, I don’t think there is. If you’re developing a proprietary software, there are plenty of reasons why you should not post the source code of your application on GitHub. But, that should not stop you from working on open source software in your free time. By doing so, it will benefit you (once you start looking for a new job), it will benefit the developers behind a project that you’ve decided to be a part of, and it will benefit every single user of that open source project. GitHub offers you a wide variety of opportunities and you should take advantage of them!

Advice for living in this world (by Quinn Norton)

Wow, this is the first time (although I can’t guarantee you that it will be the last) that I’m going to share with you a story that was not written by myself. And there’s an excellent reason for that. I don’t think that I’ve read a single story (or an article if you please) that had so much influence on me about today’s technology. It was written by Quinn Norton and published in a book called Share This Book (2012) by Share Foundation. Please, read it thoroughly. I promise you that you will be amazed by this astonishing piece of writing.

Advice for Living in this World

Every day is stranger than the last one.

Each of us has a point where we fall short, where we can’t go on at this mad pace. We ride the wave as long as we can until we start to drown in time and change, and nothing makes sense anymore. And then we fight back from that insanity. This is so common an experience, it’s practically a rite of passage in our new online lives.

Somewhere along the way our networks exceeded us. We spent 12,000 years carving civilization out of the wild, and at the very edge of
its most technical, most complex, most beautiful moment, it became wild again. Like a matryoshka doll of our human disasters, from within our safe, designed and managed world, we built forests of infinite darkness. In the spaces between our devices, we populated this new wild with the predatorial spirits we’d exterminated from the outer landscape. Once again we face disease, dark creatures, black magics, and the all-seeing eyes of evil gods, all in the worlds we’ve created between us, all embedded in our most logical and mathematical system.

Technological life is just becoming life, it takes the weird and violent paths of life. Our network is biologically complex, unpredictable, a state of nature. It’s obtaining the qualities of forests, seas, galaxies — filled with unearthly beauty, the apprehension of which will pull the breath from your lungs. And like nature, it’s complex and messy and every story, every single one, ends in death.

We need the oldest human tools for this new landscape. This is an age of elemental magic, battling wizards, and capricious gods. To make sense of this world, the routers and servers need their own nymphs and dryads, cable lays need the Shinto river gods, and we need to see Coyote and Raven passing through the application layer, bickering and upsetting the world as they go, but eventually bringing us pieces of the sun.

These are the opening moments of a mythic age, a polytheistic age. The drab but reliable monotheism, the old man God, and the careful
and slow secular rationalism he engendered, then fought, kept order in the world for a long time. God and Secular Rationalism were both
cut from the same cloth, mostly by reasonable men with proper ways to go about things that made the world predictable, rational, reasonable, hierarchal. But they couldn’t run fast enough to catch us in the 21st century. We overwhelmed them with a trillion tiny imps, little daemon servants that spawned, made trouble, and died before an ant could so much as shake its legs. We can still hear the Old Man and Rationalism screaming in the ever receding distance behind us, and before us, a world of chaos and weird constructed and endlessly self constructing from their technological inventions.

Our laptops will live in the corners of our domiciles, and we will take them with us, like the ancestral Roman housegods. We will come to see programming as magical incantations: cantrips that make small things happen, or great and long rituals that can stop time or turn the world from light to dark. We increasingly live in fear of these magics, not understanding them, but knowing there are those few gifted and sinister humans who do.

And the stories we will have, of them, of us! In the coming years we are going to need many gods to make sense of this world. We will
write many new myths to teach our loved ones and keep them safe. With no chance of understanding it all, we will need superstitions to guide us through the forests of the net. We face the old magic of ghosts in our machines, the sympathetic magic of DNA samples, and the voodoo of control in true names. Any sufficiently advanced magic turns out to be indistinguishable from technology.

I encourage you to pick up one of the old religions, and an amulet against the evil eye– perhaps TOR + one of those lovely mediterranean glass beads. Read the old myths, and consider how they might be useful, how they are, in fact, true now. Find out the basic sigils that folks use in dark woods, and carry talismans against things that prey on network travelers in the downcycle night. We have ways for times like these, we just haven’t used them in a while. These are the things we need to dust off, gods and myths are
how we manage unmanageable nature– even if we supposedly built it. Without them, we are lost, outdated, clinging to old ways and being harvested by evil things that eat the slow and careful. Nature, even this strange network nature we’ve created, does not reduce, it does not compress, and like all free things, it is terribly dangerous.

Rationalism had its run, but it’s just not rational anymore.