It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve been working on my side project Agulus, my upcoming book Developer Career Book, my podcast Complete Developer Podcast, helping run Code Newbie Nashville, as well as a full time job and having a family. I’ve been doing a lot of writing of late, but not very much online.
As I’ve been trying to juggle all these things, technology has simply not been helping any more. In the past couple months, I’ve had the following experiences:
There are a lot of upsides to wordpress. It’s not terribly difficult to set up, relatively straightforward to administrate, and makes a lot of website use cases pretty simple. This is why I initially used the tool, as I just wanted to get started without too much ceremony. However, after a few years of using the tool, I started having a lot of issues. For one, Wordpress has got some significant security issues, as well as a large number of automated attacks on the platform. Nearly every day, I got at least half a dozen messages where particular IP addresses were being blocked for repeated unsuccessful login attempts. In addition, I had to spend a fair bit of time trying to tune my website to sort out performance issues, a number of which were actually the result of interaction with the MySql database server. Finally, I had frequently wanted to experiment with different ways to lay out the website, but it wasn’t as straightforward as I liked due to the complexity of the tool.
I’ve been away from the blog for a bit. Life got really busy back in July and I finally realized I was a bit over-committed and had to scale back for a bit. During the down time, I’ve been re-evaluating my business and trying to determine what things I want to continue doing. Blogging is definitely one of the things I plan to continue, but I needed to get some other things handled. I’ve thinking a lot about the direction in which I want to take my career as well, and I realized I was doing a lot of stuff that really isn’t what I want to do. However, that thought process also revealed a number of things that I DO want to do that will help my career go in the correct direction.
After the shooting that happened last week and the subsequent revelation that online forums may have contributed to that bowl-cut-weirdo’s radicalization and subsequent rampage, several people I know have approached me to ask what website owners with discussion boards could have done that could have prevented radicalization. There are some options, but I’ll warn you, most of them are pretty terrible and have a tendency to be easily circumvented (or to backfire spectacularly). The architecture of the internet is intended to be able to route around damage (it was designed to assist with communications after one or more nuclear strikes, after all), and censorship mimics damage in an architectural sense. So, most fixes are not particularly useful, although there are some options.
This past weekend, I spent a great deal of time reworking some parts of our data access layer for Agulus that have been problematic in the past, mostly by trying to get rid of places where we are using ExecuteScalar and places where we are are working with DataTables, as both places are very sensitive to changes in the underlying database schema and the errors don’t surface until runtime, which really stinks. I managed to figure out how to get all the metadata I needed to replace this functionality (some things could be easier….) and proceeded to start editing my templates to achieve this goal. As I did so, I started reflecting on how much I’ve learned, mostly the hard way, about how to manage larger sets of T4 templates while keeping things maintainable. I’ve not seen a lot of guidance floating around on how to deal well with this stuff, so here’s a list of a few things I’ve figured out (so far). Most of the guidance below sounds very much like the guidance you’d expect to see when building something using ASP.NET MVC, which if you think about it, makes a lot of sense since both share many similar concerns. None of these are earth-shattering, but people tend to forget that code that generates code should be maintained at the same quality level as code that is actually being shipped.