18 Oct 2007

How to detect broken, dead rss feeds in google reader

A simple trick, I wanted to share in google reader.

Go to the Trends page:

Select the "Inactive" tab in "Subscription trends":

There you have it the list of somehow inactive feeds.

The top 3 reasons why those feeds may be inactive are:
  • the blog doesn't exist anymore (404)
  • the blog changed it's engine and the feed url is not the same (for ex: the blog moved from jroller to wordpress, it is hosted somewhere else...)
  • there hasn't been any post for a really long time
Advise for the blogger reading this:
  • Try to avoid at all cost changing the feed url
  • When it's not possible write a last post saying the url is changing before changing it otherwise nobody will notice it and therefor you are loosing all your readers

1 Oct 2007

Most Programmers Don’t Write Tests (and never will)

This article/survey inspired me for this post.

Extreme Programming has been around for the last 10 years but there is still a minority of people using it on a daily basis and I fear it will always be a minority.

I consider myself an addict to TDD. I won't explain what it is... I hope you already get the picture.

When I discovered it I got the "Woh !" feeling. At least a technique to write code with less bugs !
I tried (and in some case succeed) at doing some TDD evangelism.

My first opinion was that it was just a matter of educating people, I never learn this technique at school, neither in the enterprises I worked for... I learned it by reading blogs/books and so on.

But despite my efforts it seems it always ends-up in some sort of "rotten state".

The tests end up disable to do refactoring, people don't write tests first because they are stress and/or just want the thing done or other valid reasons in the sort term.

Developers just want immediate feedback and people always choose the "Path of least resistance". Doing tests is just harder because you have to face other problems ("how do I isolate my tests", "how do I avoid depending on a database", "I need to change my api to make it testable"...)

I think it's just human nature and human nature just don't change.

Take this extract from Jackob Nielsen usability guideline:
Overall, though, whether you look at application or website guidelines, usability guidelines remain remarkably stable across decades. That's because they depend on human characteristics, which don't change that much.

That why I dropped the evangelism thing :(

I just use this technique for me, show it to others and even explain it if I feel the person is responsive to it. May be some will find it useful but I doubt it will become the main way to code... Too bad :(

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