Hackathons…an honest opinion.

When taken as a hole a hackathon is a marketing, networking, and possibly hiring event. Engineers and developers of all levels attend with the award of getting to demo a cool / neat / fresh solution to (generally) an age old problem. Hackathon’s do not exemplify the planning, fitment, trial and error, depth of knowledge, or thoroughness of execution. If you want shake hands and rub elbows, defiantly attend. If you want to demonstrate your ability at a specific technology, attend. If you want to actually solve the problem, pass. If you want to win, read on.

To win a hackathon contest your team will need three main things to stand a chance. 1) Get a public speaker on your team. This person should spend the entire time planning, practicing, and refining the pitch/demo. You will have a very limited amount of time to convence 1 to dozens of NON-technical people why you (possible) solution is THE best. One chance, make it count. It MUST be the best anyone has seen. 2) Have a technical wow factor; the more it looks like magic the better. Voice commands, robotics, haptic feedback, AR, VR, machine learning, computer vision. Or any other ‘WOW’ factor. Simply making a web app  will not get you into the semi-finals. (For example; MongoDB + NodeJs + Bootstrap + Google Maps). And finally 3) if you have item 1 and 2 covered; then, and only then, should you attempt to solve the challenge.  The solution does not have to actually work, just look like it could. Your selling the idea, not the actual implimentation the majority of the time.

The hackathon/s I have attended where fun and defiantly an interesting experience. But I’m to old to survive on 3 hours a sleep day after day. Giving up entire weekends, sleeping on couches, eating take-out every meal, sitting in front of a screen for 18+ hours for days on end is not fun to me anymore. Sure I do software for a paycheck, I am not at the keys more than I need to be. Solving problems takes thinking, lots of thinking; planning, then execution. Hackathon flip this backwards and put the participants under pressure to perform.

TL;DR: Attend a hackathon at least once and see if it is your type of event. For me though; I am to old for programing benders anymore; the body just cant hang with the 20 somethings.

A prime example of why automated testing works…

Today I got to a change request that read something to the order of ‘move all this code from place X, the new namespace Y. By the way, it is referenced all over the place.’. This could easily have been a dawning and over whelming task. Moving massive piece of logic that is core the operation of the application…AND cause no errors into production? Ugg..

I started out my moving the classes and find/replace (f/r) the namespace declarations. Ran test, failed; check error log. Log states class not found.  F/R use statements, run test: fail; check error log. Log states class reference not found. F/R inline usage statements, run test: fail; check error log. Log, weird error about not being able to instantiate something something. Fixed that, ran test: pass. Ran entire test suite: passed.

Imagine, if you will, that this change was request on a massive system. The more complex a system gets the more effort is required to execute a change. More effort = more time, more headache, more hating your career choice.

  • Total time to execute the requested changes in this example: < 4 hours.
  • Confidence nothing broke: > 95%.
  • Happiness tests saved some sanity and made the morning pleasant: > 100%.

Tl;DR: Testing works. It’s an level of assurance that your changes did not introduce breaks in a system that is know to operate correctly.

Out of the box performance: PHP + PDO + MariaDB

Backstory:

Another week, another evening at the Pub with some friends and colleges. Somehow or the other we got on the topic of database insert performance and how long it would take to reach the 32bit max integer.  That being 2.14somethingsomethingsomething billion. I wagered that the the max signed int could be a reached relatively quickly, my college on the other hand said ‘no no no; it  would take hours. Days even’. And so, a wager was born.

The requirements:

PHP + PDO + a SQL database; default configurations. No editing php.ini to allow higher memory usage, no disabling *SQL disk_flush in my.cnf, etc. Raw install, logic, go for the gold.

The process:

On the local development machines we limit the container service manager to limit hardware usage to 7 of the 2.4Ghz CPUs and 15Gb of memory. For the disk we run 256GB SSD, desktop models; nothing fancy.

On that hardware I setup a PHP 7:latest service and a MariaDB:latest service; then linked them. From there it was a matter of connection credentials and increasing the batch insert count until it was close, but not over, the default memory usage per thread. Then how to start up multiple threads, easy enough, bash helped out there. So using bash I spun up 10 threads and let the process run for 1 to 2 minutes.

Getting the max value after the given time frame I was able to extrapolated out how long  it would take to fill the 2.14 billion rows.

The Result:

At current the fastest time requirement would take 1.526 hrs to go from 0 to 2.14 billion row inserts. I know we can get faster but ran out of time today.

The Source:

If you are interested in the code / stats /etc the repo is here https://github.com/davidjeddy/full-up-the-db. Feel free to fork / PR the repo if you can get a faster speed. It would be really awesome to show 32 bit max int can be reached in 5 minutes or less. (Remember, no editing of configurations.)

PSA: Do not use Codeception DB and Yii2 modules together…

…specifically the Yii2: ORM and DB module and transactions. The Yii2 $I->seeRecord() & related methods do NOT use the same connection ID as the DB module. So doing actions such as importing fixtures and executing actions via the ActiveRecord abstraction happen on the frameworks connection.

Trying, then, to do actions like $I->seeInDatabase() and related DB modules actions will fail, almost always. Why? The Db module uses a separate connection, as defined in the suite.yml (acceptance/functional/unit) files.

So, from here out I will not be using the two modules together. Either use Yii2+Fixtures or use the DB+dump.sql. Both, together, is problematic at best.

Did a thing today, ‘nother new package.

New Package: Stripe + CommandBus + Yii2

I got tired of writing out the entire Stripe class requirements coupled with the need to trigger stripe events from different areas of the application  motivated me to create this package. It is by far NOT production ready but lays the ground work and ideas for the package. Take a look, leave a comment, contribute.

Also have another one in the works that combines Google Chrome, Codeception, headless browser testing, and replacing PhantomJs (since the maintainers are deprecating the project).

Yii2 hasOne vs hasMany param order

hasOne()

* 
* public function getCountry()
* {
*     return $this->hasOne(Country::className(), ['id' => 'country_id']);
* }
*

hasMany()

*
* public function getOrders()
* {
* return $this->hasMany(Order::className(), ['customer_id' => 'id']);
* }
*

Notice the opposite order? The docs explain why but it’s still confusing.

Ticket submitted.

Yii2 and bower/asset: jquery.inputmask AfterAction report…

So last week Im working along and I run composer install … to get a new framework installation to while trying to track down a bug. The install fails. I am all like ‘what did you say to me!?’ bower-asset/jquery.inputmask package was not being found. I look through the composer.json of the framework and sure enough it is required. A frontend client asset is required to install a framework. While some would say ‘thats a terrible idea’ in this case it makes sense. The framework is a full MVS stack, not just a middleware, or just a ORM, or just a client rendering engine.

Anyways, after looking in Packagist and following the link to Github the repo itself was basically empty. Apparently GirtHub repo alias’s have a life span limit. This limit had expired and thus caused the package URI to no longer resolve correctly. So I submitted a couple tickets on the respective projects and went home.

Not sure how long it took exactly but when I returned to work the next morning not only GitHub restored the alias but the framework group was going to updated the dependency list to point to the (newer) repository in the next point release. While this does not seem like a big thing to some; I felt happy I was able to find, isolate, and identify an issue that effected a number of people; and did so very quickly. Then provided a solution. #problem-solver

 

Related Links:

Packagist: jquery-inputmask
Yii2 GitHub ticket