Felix Crux

Technology & Miscellanea 

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I’ve started putting together a list of the “core” books I recommend for people interested in exploring different facets of our field. I certainly don’t think you need to read all of them to be a capable software professional; rather it is the list I would put together if asked about how to learn more about specific areas.

This list came about because after compiling similar lists two or three times over the years in various places and formats, I’m following good development practice and factoring it out for reuse and sharing.

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The rexiv2 library crate (available on crates.io) for Rust provides read and write access to media file (mainly photo) metadata in the Exif, XMP, and IPTC formats. Many file formats are supported, including of course JPEG, PNG, TIFF, XMP sidecar, some camera raw formats, and various others.

You can view the documentation here, get the source code, and report bugs or contribute code.

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Doug Crockford gave a talk at the University of Waterloo last night as part of the Yahoo! Hack-U (University Hack Day), on the same topic as his new book, JavaScript: The Good Parts. I was lucky enough to get a seat, and have tried to condense my nine pages of notes into an overview of the highlights of his talk. Though I've rewritten parts, all of the content and wisdom is Doug's — I'm just the humble scribe. Of course, any errors of transcription are mine.

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Makefiles are the granddaddy of build systems. Though falling out of favour relative to more modern systems like SCons and ant, make is still the lingua franca of software builds, particularly in the C and C++ parts of the open source world. Because of this, it is imperative to have at least a basic understanding of makefiles and their use.

There are plenty of tutorials introducing the fundamentals of makefile syntax, and a handful that show off some advanced features. There are very few, however, that actually show how to write a useful makefile, or that introduce makefile conventions and patterns. For me, this meant that writing makefiles became an arduous process of stringing together snippets from various places, and hoping they interoperated harmoniously. Frustratingly, I'd often learn of a new feature months later and rip out half of the file and replace it with a single line. Worst of all, I had no idea if what I was doing was “conventional” or even passable as a serious makefile.

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I am afraid that I have to admit that the development of this site has until now proceeded in what any programmer must consider a state of sin: it was not under version control. Sure, I had periodic snapshot backups, but forget about versions, branches, and reverts.

The reason for this is that I was under the mistaken impression that my VCS of choice, git, made it difficult to set up remote branches. I think my confusion stemmed from the fact that it is somewhat tricky to set up public-facing ones with good commit-access control etc (which is why GitHub is so great).

Now that I looked into it more, I find it's actually tremendously easy, and I've got a really great work-flow set up: I have a master repo on the server, a development repo on my laptop, and another one in the directory from which the site is served. I can make changes on my laptop (and thanks to the magic of makefiles and m4 macros, keep a separate dev config file), and then push those to the master repository. When I'm ready to launch, I just pull them to the serving repo and run a make prod.