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Search - "limitations of the mind"
So I got the job. Here's a story, never let anyone stop you from accomplishing your dreams!
It all started in 2010. Windows just crashed unrecoverably for the 3rd time in two years. Back then I wasn't good with computers yet so we got our tech guy to look at it and he said: "either pay for a windows license again (we nearly spend 1K on licenses already) or try another operating system which is free: Ubuntu. If you don't like it anyways, we can always switch back to Windows!"
Oh well, fair enough, not much to lose, right! So we went with Ubuntu. Within about 2 hours I could find everything. From the software installer to OpenOffice, browsers, email things and so on. Also I already got the basics of the Linux terminal (bash in this case) like ls, cd, mkdir and a few more.
My parents found it very easy to work with as well so we decided to stick with it.
I already started to experiment with some html/css code because the thought of being able to write my own websites was awesome! Within about a week or so I figured out a simple html site.
Then I started to experiment more and more.
After about a year of trial and error (repeat about 1000+ times) I finally got my first Apache server setup on a VirtualBox running Ubuntu server. Damn, it felt awesome to see my own shit working!
From that moment on I continued to try everything I could with Linux because I found the principle that I basically could do everything I wanted (possible with software solutions) without any limitations (like with Windows/Mac) very fucking awesome. I owned the fucking system.
Then, after some years, I got my first shared hosting plan! It was awesome to see my own (with subdomain) website online, functioning very well!
I started to learn stuff like FTP, SSH and so on.
Went on with trial and error for a while and then the thought occured to me: what if I'd have a little server ONLINE which I could use myself to experiment around?
First rented VPS was there! Couldn't get enough of it and kept experimenting with server thingies, linux in general aaand so on.
Started learning about rsa key based login, firewalls (iptables), brute force prevention (fail2ban), vhosts (apache2 still), SSL (damn this was an interesting one, how the fuck do you do this yourself?!), PHP and many other things.
Then, after a while, the thought came to mind: what if I'd have a dedicated server!?!?!?!
I ordered my first fucking dedicated server. Damn, this was awesome! Already knew some stuff about defending myself from brute force bots and so on so it went pretty well.
Finally made the jump to NginX and CentOS!
Made multiple VPS's for shitloads of purposes and just to learn. Started working with reverse proxies (nginx), proxy servers, SSL for everything (because fuck basic http WITHOUT SSL), vhosts and so on.
Started with simple, one screen linux setup with ubuntu 10.04.
Running a five monitor setup now with many distro's, running about 20 servers with proxies/nginx/apache2/multiple db engines, as much security as I can integrate and this fucking passion just got me my first Linux job!
It's not just an operating system for me, it's a way of life. And with that I don't just mean the operating system, but also the idea behind it :).20
Less a rant and more of a rave about the Racket language.
If you haven't heard of it, Racket is a Scheme/Lisp that eases programming language development.
Let me break down why this is handy. When you come to dislike a language, it's because of limitations in the language itself or its ecosystem. That, and you are always obliged to translate your ideas to the terms of the language, the libraries in that language, and the idioms in both. Overall it starts to feel like a cage, because even if you git gud at a limited language, you still might not be able to do the things you REALLY want to do.
Lisps turn this on its head by letting you translate the solution to your terms rather than making you translate your solution to its terms. Lisps are homoiconic, which is a fancy word meaning that all valid programs in the language are also valid literal expressions of data in the same language. The code/data divide collapses and you can at any moment decide "Hey, this code I'm writing? It's data now and I'mma generate stuff with it." That's when you start getting macros and the beginnings of serious metaprogramming.
Racket made this mind-bendingly powerful. To the point that some of the language features make you gawk and say "Ok, but why anyone would ever need to do THAT?!" Some examples include converting compile-time errors to run-time errors and writing your own exception handling system.
But the kicker is that Racket is the only language I know of where you can say "You know what? Racket is sucking at this thing I want to do right now. I wish my language looked like THIS" and then you can use Racket to write your language in terms of Racket, and then your language becomes a valid extension of the Racket ecosystem. Your custom language can still import and use the rest of the ecosystem.
So, in a single Racket project, you can have a typed language, an untyped language, a configuration language and a markup language, and all of them can use the same libraries. It also means that if you have an accountant, ops manager or designer in house, you can write a little language for them that that understand and integrate their understanding of a solution with your system.
Why are relatively few using this box of magic?
Well, for one thing, it's hard. Unlike most, Racket enjoys the benefits of seriously amazing, complete and correct documentation. Which SOUNDS great, but here's a direct quote from one part of it.
"The intent of a cross-phase persistent module is to support values that are recognizable after phase crossings. For example, when a macro transformer running in phase 1 raises a syntax error as represented by an exn:fail:syntax instance, the instance is recognizable by a phase-0 exception handler wrapping a call to eval or expand that triggered the syntax error, because the exn:fail:syntax structure type is defined by a cross-phase persistent module.
A cross-phase persistent module imports only other cross-phase persistent modules, and it contains only definitions that bind variables to functions, structure types and related functions, or structure-type properties and related functions. A cross-phase persistent module never includes syntax literals (via quote-syntax) or variable references (via #%variable-reference). See Cross-Phase Persistent Module Declarations for the syntactic specification of a cross-phase persistent module declaration."
The thing is, I know a little bit about what that means. I read their introduction guide meant for people new to the language, and made enough progress in the reference to understand these terms in isolation. But when I keep running into paragraphs like THAT, I have to review everything again because I just get lost.
The other problem may be that it has the classic Lisp Curse (http://winestockwebdesign.com/Essay...), which means its power is also its greatest weakness. The power of a programming language can grow strong enough that the people who contribute to society using it rarely bother to use each other's work.
Still, Racket has a more complete and cooperative ecosystem compared to other Lisps I've observed. I'm still a total fanboi of the language and would love to get a job using it, but it's probably a long time out.
Thanks for reading. I don't have a particular desire to tell you to drop what you are doing to use it, I just think it's cool and wanted to brag on it a bit.1
tl;dr i am proud of my universal program but annoyed it won't get appreciation.
i kept in mind that this tool might not only help my personal duties to be done more efficient but also might come in handy to all my colleagues having similar tasks to do. the downside is my colleagues having irrational computerphobia and i know for sure they will proceed to do these repetitive writings manually resulting in inconsistencies and an inefficient time management. while my wise wife tries to convice me that at least i had fun coding this stuff and having it supporting me with annoying tasks, it still bothers me being the only user, as it means no progression for the company. it riddles me how the colleagues, acknowledging us all being craftspeople in the first place, avoid use of computers whenever possible and rather rely on medieval working flows.
i find it quite amusing to be the 'can you fix my printer'-guy, but i just cannot handle this attitude. and everyone complains about having so much to do. get your shit together and start clicking these few buttons goddammit!