Daily Tech Digest - October 27, 2021

Node.js makes fullstack programming easy with server-side JavaScript

Web application developers are inundated with options when it comes to choosing the languages, frameworks, libraries, and environments they will use to build their applications. Depending on which statistics you believe, the total number of available languages is somewhere between 700 and 9000. The most popular—for the past nine years according to the 2021 Stack Overflow Developer Survey—is JavaScript. Most people think of JavaScript as a front-end language. Originally launched in 2009, Node.js has quickly become one of the most widely used options among application developers. More than half of developers are now using Node.js—it is the most popular non-language, non-database development tool. It allows you to run JavaScript on the server side, which lets software engineers develop on the full web stack. Node.js’s popularity has snowballed for good reason. Node.js is a fast, low-cost, effective alternative to other back-end solutions. And with its two-way client-server communication channel, it is hard to beat for cross-platform development.

Your Data Plane Is Not a Commodity

If you are going to invest a ton of time, effort and engineering hours in a service mesh and a Kubernetes rollout, why would you want to buy the equivalent of cheap tires – in this case, a newer and minimally tested data plane written in a language that may not even have been designed to handle wire-speed application traffic? Because, truly, your data plane is where the rubber meets the road for your microservices. The data plane is what will directly influence customer perceptions of performance. The data plane is where problems will be visible. The data plane will feel scaling requirements first and most acutely. A slow-to-respond data plane will slow the entire Kubernetes engine down and affect system performance. Like tires, too, the date plane is relatively easy to swap out. You do not necessarily need major surgery to pick the one you think is best and mount them on your favorite service mesh and Kubernetes platform, but at what cost?

Why traditional IP networking is wrong for the cloud

Of course, the IP networking layer does provide a way to connect your data center to the cloud. However, one of the main challenges of legacy networking is that it provides limited visibility into applications in the cloud—the lifeblood of enterprises today and arguably the primary driver behind cloud adoption. At Layer 7, or the so-called application layer, enterprises have a holistic view of what takes place at that level (applications and collections of services) as well as in the stack below, such as at TCP and UDP ports and IP endpoints. By operating with the traditional stack (i.e, the IP layer) alone, enterprise teams have a substantially harder time viewing what is above them in the stack. They have a view of the network alone, and blind spots for everything else. Why does this matter? For one, it can significantly increase remediation time when performance problems occur. Indeed, enterprises need to understand how their cloud infrastructure works in relation to the application and A/B test configurations to align with application performance.

Defining the Developer Experience

Microservices architecture and cloud-native applications go hand in hand. Most organizations leverage a microservice architecture to decouple and achieve greater scale, as without it you have too many people changing the same code, causing velocity to slow as friction increases. Where in monolithic architecture, teams would be bumping into each other to merge, release, and deploy their changes to the monolith, in a microservices architecture, each team can clearly define the interfaces between their components, limiting the size and complexity of the codebase they are managing to that of a smaller, more agile team. Each team can move more quickly since they can focus on the components they own. Their level of friction and velocity can be that of just the group working on that component, not that of the larger development organization. ... But this creates its own problems as well, a key being the complexity of needing to ensure the cohesive whole also gets tested and functions together as a complete software product.

How we built a forever-free serverless SQL database

How can we afford to give this away? Well, certainly we’re hoping that some of you will build successful apps that “go big” and you’ll become paying customers. But beyond that, we’ve created an innovative Serverless architecture that allows us to securely host thousands of virtualized CockroachDB database clusters on a single underlying physical CockroachDB database cluster. This means that a tiny database with a few kilobytes of storage and a handful of requests costs us almost nothing to run, because it’s running on just a small slice of the physical hardware. ... Given that the SQL layer is so difficult to share, we decided to isolate that in per-tenant processes, along with the transactional and distribution components from the KV layer. Meanwhile, the KV replication and storage components continue to run on storage nodes that are shared across all tenants. By making this separation, we get “the best of both worlds” – the security and isolation of per-tenant SQL processes and the efficiency of shared storage nodes.

Why Outdated jQuery Is Still the Dominant JavaScript Library

Despite its enormous usage, developers today may not even be aware that they’re using jQuery. That’s because it’s embedded in a number of large projects — most notably, the WordPress platform. Many WordPress themes and plugins rely on jQuery. The jQuery library is also a foundational layer of some of today’s most popular JavaScript frameworks and toolkits, like AngularJS and Bootstrap (version 4.0 and below). “A lot of the surprise about jQuery usage stats comes from living in a bubble,” Gołębiowski-Owczarek told me. “Most websites are not complex Web apps needing a sophisticated framework, [they are] mostly static sites with some dynamic behaviors — often written using WordPress. jQuery is still very popular there; it works and it’s simple, so people don’t feel the need to stop using it.” jQuery will continue to be a part of WordPress for some time to come, if for no other reason that it would be difficult to remove it without breaking backward compatibility. 

How AI and AR are evolving in the workplace

Businesses are also using AR-based apps for tracking, identifying, and resolving technical issues as well as for tasks, such as retrofitting, assembling, manufacturing, and repairing production lines. The AI market is not only anticipated to help the development of enterprise, it is also believed that the technology can also help to achieve business growth objectives and generate value. Nine out of 10 C-suite executives believe they must leverage AI to achieve their growth objectives. ... The challenge of deploying evolving technologies, is always that until they have fully matured, integration can be a challenge. With smart glasses as well, there can also be security and privacy concerns. In medical and surgical settings for example, the use of cameras in operation rooms is very sensitive and controversial. For sensitive scenarios like these, the use of such devices must be agreed and understood to be for the benefit of all beforehand. While AI is a more developed technology, it is also costly, and may require a strong upfront investment.

Good security habits: Leveraging the science behind how humans develop habits

There is a secret recipe for good security habits that we’ve discovered from decades of research: it’s called the habit loop. And you can use the habit loop to hack your own brain for better security. You start with a prompt – which is just the signal that tells you to start a behavior. Then there’s the behavior itself. And finally, the most important step, giving yourself a reward. Even if the reward is just patting yourself on the back, your brain starts to release endorphins so when you see the prompt again next time, your brain will want to do that behavior again to receive another reward. Security can seem scary to some people while to others it might feel like it’s too much work. Using the habit loop can help make security feel easy, because we don’t have to think about habits: by definition they are what we do when we’re on autopilot. But since habits make up about 50% of everything we do in our lives, it’s also the best way to have a massive impact on our security.

More Tech Spending Moves Out of IT

Karamouzis says this is leading to a shift in how organizations buy technology. Enterprises had previously moved from buying products to buying solutions -- a combination of products and services. These products and solutions were purchased in a serial fashion. That doesn’t work anymore, says Karamouzis because now you must make four to 10 buying decisions concurrently to ensure different digital business initiatives lead to growth. This is part of a new way organizations buying; they are buying “outcomes,” she says. These changes have pushed organizations more to the public cloud, making enterprises and the entire global economy increasingly dependent on internet-delivered services. The most important of these services are provided directly by or running within hyperscale cloud services providers, says Gartner VP analyst Jay Heiser. “As everything becomes digital, virtually every aspect of society and the economy will have dependence upon the real-time functioning of a small number of public cloud services,” Heiser says.

Why Soul-Based Leadership Will Change the Nature of Remote and Hybrid Work

One of the most highly researched and evidence-based ways to invigorate executive function is through the ancient practice of mindfulness. Although it’s taken on a relatively "pop" aura relative to 2500 years ago, developing mindfulness is actually hard work! But the payoff is big in terms of making more informed decisions and leading with care. I often recommend one technique I learned from one of my teachers that I’ve personally modified a bit and called the Standing Ground Practice. You can be anywhere: sitting or standing at your desk or waiting on a corner to meet a friend. It’s ideal if you can go outside and stand facing a tree or something alive that’s naturally rooted in the earth, but it’s not necessary for the practice to be effective in this context. After finding your spot, bring your attention to the contact point between your feet and the ground or floor beneath you. Focus on that point and consider what it feels like. Thoughts about all kinds of things will most certainly interrupt. 

Quote for the day:

"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment." -- Jim Rohn

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