My Twitter Digest for 09/29/2015

Because profit is more important than innovation, high school testing still relies on the TI-83 graphing calculator.

But this is also a world where high school math students have to shell out $100 for the same TI-83 graphing calculator that their parents used twenty years ago (or one of its descendants, at least)—instead of using a free app that they could simply download to their phone. Why? Mic reports that the main reason is tradition. Texas Instruments has managed to get its calculators written into the standardized tests used by many schools. And inertia being what it is, it’s really hard to change something like that once it gets set down on paper.

Source: In an age of tablets and e-books, high school testing still relies on the TI-83 graphing calculator | TeleRead

This should serve as a reminder that it isn’t just the legal world that drags its feet when it comes to new and obviously better technology. The world is awash in examples of this sort of thing where a powerful incumbency holds back or outright blocks the adoption of new tech simply to preserve some profit margin. Ignoring, disregarding, or suppressing innovation in the name of maintaining profits especially in a near monopoly market is practically a rule of business.

My Twitter Digest for 09/28/2015

My Twitter Digest for 09/26/2015

My Twitter Digest for 09/25/2015

Vagrant may be the most powerful tool for configuring development environments that you’re not using

Vagrant is a tool for creating and configuring lightweight, reproducible, and portable development environments. Vagrant provides a unified interface for controlling the life cycle of one or more virtual machines using the command line. Because Vagrant is platform-agnostic, you can share the same Vagrantfile with anyone; it does not matter if they are using Windows, Linux, or Mac.

Vagrant supports a number of virtualization technologies, including VirtualBox and VMware. The pluggable nature of Vagrant has allowed the community to curate support for additional virtualization technologies including Parallels, Amazon Web Services, and libvrt.

The second most common bug lies in the configuration of production systems, specifically the differences in configuration between production systems and development environments. Even with perfect and precision engineering, a difference in the version of a package or operating system can cause disastrous outcomes at deployment time. For this reason, there is often a push between increasing the parity between development and production environments.

Source: Vagrant: A powerful tool for configuring development environments

I think Vagrant is an under utilized tool in the development and deployment toolbox. I’ve got a good handle on code control using git but we do trip over configuration variations as we bring more boxes online in the cloud. Making sure that Apache and PHP have all the right modules loaded and same config files sounds easy enough but it really is a challenge when each instance gets built from scratch.

Relying on a single Vagrantfile to control virtual machines is a real solution to this but there is a learning curve and we do need to overcome a certain amount of organizational skepticism about using “canned” solutions for the deployment of servers. After all we’re not that far removed from the days of having to order, install, configure, and deploy physical boxes one at a time, but we need to move ahead as we shift to the cloud.