Hi! My name is , and I'm a Partner at Fictive Kin.
I write using free range, inorganic electrons. — about me.

Leveraging De Morgan's Laws to Rewrite Boolean Expressions

Sometimes the logic in your application get a bit out of hand, and ends up an unreadable, tangled mess of negated conjunctions and disjunctions. A judicious application of De Morgan’s Laws can help you translate confusing expressions or sub-expressions to something a bit more readable, while maintaining the same logical truths and falsehoods that you originally intended.

Slack, Messaging Services, and the Overton Window

This seems to be a recurring theme amongst startups that provide messaging as a service: launch with as many 3rd party, open-protocol integrations as possible, and then once they’ve locked in enough traction/users/funding, slowly shut down external integrations.

What Shaving Can Teach Us About Software Development

I end up spending quite some time staring my own reflection in the mirror, and thinking. On one of those mornings, while stretching the skin on my neck with one hand to ensure I didn’t give myself a tracheotomy with the blade held in my other hand, I realized that I need to approach software more like I approach shaving.

The Container Craze

Containers are everywhere: it’s hard to go a day without hearing about the latest Docker feature, the newest post about how Kubernetes has revolutionized devops, or wondering how you’ll ever get employed if you don’t live and breath and blog daily about containers. But why now? Why, after decades of creating and scaling web applications, has containerization become the latest must-have for startups and established web companies?

Hello, My Name is Joël.

My name is, in fact, Joël. You’d never guess that, however, from the consistent and diverse ways in which my non-ASCII given name is butchered by web applications, email servers, databases, and overzealous baristas that seem to believe I am the father of Superman.

Using CloudFront to Bypass AWS S3 Static Website Hosting Name Requirements

Amazon Web Services has the ability to serve objects contained within an S3 bucket as a static website. If you want to have nerderati.com backed by content in S3, you need to have a bucket named nerderati.com in your AWS account. This is because S3 uses the Host: header to determine the bucket name, and is unaware of any CNAME/A records that may exist in DNS. What can you do, though, if someone else has already taken the bucket name that you need?

Why DHCP Lease Expiration Matters for Your Coffee Shop Router

Nearly all of my work requires an internet connection at some point or another, which means that most of the cafés I frequent have some sort of WiFi that I take advantage of. While I’m not generally one to complain about the quality of free WiFi in the small, locally run establishments in my neighbourhood, it does frustrate me that they are often misconfigured to the point where the staff must reset the router every few hours.

Installing Matplotlib, NumPy, SciPy, NLTK, and Pandas on OS X

I don't know exactly why, but installing science/math/statistics oriented Python packages on OS X has historically been a complete pain in the ass. It seems as though things have improved over the past few years with the development of custom disk images, meta-package installers and other fanciful things, but most of these solutions sacrifice the ability to upgrade the given packages or link against custom builds of supporting libraries due to overly aggressive sandboxing to ensure that things Just Work™.

Bartering for Beers with Approximate Subset Sums

My favourite days are the ones where I get to solve a seemingly difficult everyday problem with mathematics. A few weeks ago, my friend Andrei came to me via IRC with a question about how to effectively generate groups of beers from his cellar to trade with others.

Simplify Your Life With an SSH Config File

If you’re anything like me, you probably log in and out of a half dozen remote servers (or these days, local virtual machines) on a daily basis. And if you’re even more like me, you have trouble remembering all of the various usernames, remote addresses and command line options for things like specifying a non-standard connection port or forwarding local ports to the remote machine.

Ideas of March

Four years ago when I started using a micro-blogging service, I revelled in the sheer simplicity and low barrier to communicating my thoughts. Blogging, in that era, seemed like a historical vestige on the verge of being consumed and overtaken by the rapid fire, real-time tweets of my peers. I jumped on that bandwagon, and never looked back. Until now.

Code Your Art Out

Ever since I had the pleasure of keynoting at Make Web Not War: For The Web in 2010, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 2011 edition, which was announced just a few days ago.

Perpetual IRC - The Proxy Edition

Last time, we looked at how one could maintain a persistent session in IRC through the use of a terminal multiplexer (such as screen or tmux) and SSH. While this has the advantage of being very easy to setup, there are a few very obvious disadvantages and trade-offs:

Perpetual IRC - The Multiplexer Edition

One of the major advantages that IRC has over your ‘traditional’ instant messenger clients is that, with a minimum amount of effort and hardware, you can create a setup that will remain perpetually connected, even when you’re not online.

Making Git Behave

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of git, and of distributed version control in general; they offer a compelling toolset and degree of flexibility that you would be hard pressed to find in a “traditional” centralized version control system.

Compiling Vim With Ruby Integration On Snow Leopard

Sadly, the default installation of Vim on Snow Leopard does not have support for the ruby interpreter compiled in, which is a pre-requisite for using the plugin. Luckily, that’s easy enough to remedy, and in the process we’ll learn a thing or two about compiling your own custom Vim binary.


I’m quite happy to announce that I will be giving the keynote address at this year’s WebNotWar/For The Web conference, taking place on May 27th, 2010.

The Wonders and Simplicity of Redis Sets

If you were to apply a bijective function to each letter in each word of a language (e.g. English), how many pre-existing words would you obtain in the resulting image?


An explanation of the shebang, and what it means when included in a script. Sometimes, you learn things about tools you use every day.

Redis Memory Monitoring - Python Edition

I’ve been experimenting with a Python+Redis combination (with redis-py) for data analysis on a few side projects lately, and a simple script like this can come in handy when you want to make sure you’re not doing something completely stupid with Redis that gobbles up all of the allocated memory. And yes, I’ve been guilty of doing that on a few occasions.

ConFoo You Too

While a bit late, I’m extremely happy to announce that I have been selected as a speaker for the ConFoo.ca Conference to be held in Montréal at the beginning of March, 2010.