Jan Krutisch ...maker. breaker. crush groover. body mover.

English articles

  • » Visiting Belgrade

    I don’t remember the exact date and I can’t find the needed data quickly (even Wikipedia fails me), but somewhere around the 24th of March of 1999, I was standing in the lecture hall at my university and opened up our bi-annual students assembly (I was part of the students council at the time) with a few, probably very incoherent words about what just started to happen in the Kosovo region. For the first time since the end of the second world war, german military forces were allowed to shoot enemy combatants on foreign ground. The german air forces were part of what was called OAF (Operation Allied Forces), an operation against what at that time was called Federal Republic Of Yugoslavia, which consisted of Serbia and Montenegro.

    I’m not interested in discussing the details of this conflict and to be honest, I had to read up on it on Wikipedia because I seem to have forgotten most of the details. But I do remember that for me as a german citizen, it felt like the end of an era: Post-WWII Germany crossed a line I personally hoped would never again be crossed. Under a left/green government no less.   read more...

  • » Going Full Encryption

    One of the main outcomes of the whole NSA thing for me is that we actually need to step up our game. And with we, I, above all, mean me. And what exactly means stepping up our game?

    If you haven’t, read Private By Default by one of our wise men, Tim Bray. It makes a few good points, why it makes sense to even encrypt traffic that seems harmless.

    So, setting this up on my personal web server (which is actually a cheap root server that by now mostly hosts static web pages) was relatively easy. There are some weird pitfalls though.

      read more...

  • » A public service announcement

    I have three computers I use on and off. On all of them, I have a relatively long blog post draft lying around I haven’t gotten around to finish and publish.

    That’s not a good sign.

    Over the course of the last weeks and festivities, I gave that some thought. And I believe I have found an answer, although I am not very happy with it.

    2013 was the year when, at least for me, the last pieces of that already pretty much ruined facade that covered our society and political order (our so-called democracy) finally crumbled to dust.

    It’s actually less the revelations by Snowden (and, me visiting the Chaos Communication Congress for the first time, had my fair share of new revelations and other depressing news there) than the way our society, the politicians, the press, but also the general public reacting to them that finally cemented my belief that we’re indeed now in a post-democratic state (As in state machine, not as in state prison). It’s not that I think that all is lost, but I think that the way out of this crisis will either be extremely long and painful, or extremly violent.

    Thing is: I have no idea what to do now. I have a few vague ideas on how we could fix society on a grand scale, but none of them is especially applicable in the current situation. I am just a software developer. A quite thoughtful software developer with strong political opinions, but one who now needs to take a step back and listen, read and make up his worried and confused mind on what would be a meaningful contribution to the future of our society.

    And in the meantime, I will try to just be a software developer, at least here, in this blog. As much as I feel the pressure to comment on the current turmoil, I found out over the last months that I simply can’t, at least not in a coherent, useful way. I’m afraid “F**K ALL OF THIS S**T” is hardly a useful contribution to the discussion, as much as it properly reflects my current feelings.

    I hope that re-enables me to write on this blog. It will be, for the time being, more technical, more shallow, perhaps, but hopefully it will be revived in 2014 this way.

    Here’s to hoping that from here on, things can only get better (My pessimistic winter soul disagrees, but eff it).

  • » The Problem with end-to-end encryption

    A friend of mine, Hendrik Mans, wrote a pretty good article (in german) about the whole PRISM etc. dilemma. His gist: We should stop to act in this case as if we are actually able to tell whats going on there. For the most part, we simply don’t know. Because we’re are not tech savvy enough to understand the technologies involved (which may or may not be true for you) but also because, for the most part, this stuff is still happening largely in secret and although Edward Snowden gave us some ideas of what’s happening, we still don’t know much about how that’s happening.

    He also rants about the “solutionists” crying “you only need to use end-to-end encryption” and that’s a point I actually want to elaborate on a bit.

    First of all, what do we mean with end-to-end encryption (e2ee) . For the sake of the argument, let’s assume it means something like PGP (or GPG for that matter) and everyone uses securely stored keys, the encryption is asymmetric and the keysize is big enough (which are a lot of assumtions already if you think about it) and so we can be relatively sure that this encryption is safe. Please note that I am not going to explain all of this to you. Fortunately, there are a lot of places on the web where you can get good information on this.

    This is a great tool if your name is Alice and you want to send Bob a message which should stay secret between you two.

    That is to say, if the secrecy of the message is what you actually care about.   read more...

  • » Get the book while it is hot!

    So, finally, about at least two months after my original schedule, I started selling my book.

    The Single Page App Jumpstart

    It’s been a tough decision. Not because I didn’t think the book was ready (I always planned to release it as soon as I thought it had enough material to be interesting to people), but because I, after Hendrik asked me if I knew Leanpub, basically threw 20-30 hours of work into the gutter and went for them instead of building the book on my own.

    I did know Leanpub, of course. I even checked it out back in the days. But somehow I ended up trying to do all of this stuff on my own. Which was, as I see it now, a bad decision. From now on, every minute I invest into this project will be about the text and the example code and not about how to fix some weird code highlighter bug in Apple iBooks.

    So, thanks Hendrik, for poking me in exactly the right moment (After I spent a full weekend on readying my own infrastructure and publishing chain).

    It took me another day or so to convert the whole book to the slightly different markdown dialect Leanpub uses. Their publishing workflow is just insanely simple and brilliant - Thank you Peter and Scott for this great great platform.

    And now I advise you to Buy The Book!

  • » JavaScript Styleguides

    As an author of a soon-to-be-published book on JavaScript applications, I had to come up with a coding style to use in the examples I have in the book. So I wrote this article to explain my way of thinking about JavaScript coding styles.

    Having said that, the JavaScript community if there’s such a thing, has a few elements that leave me baffled every time. One of them is the battle over coding styles.

    One particularly curious example, that also often gets cited, is the npm styleguide. So to explain why my JavaScript coding style looks as old fashioned and C-Like, let’s look at this extreme example and why I don’t follow it.

      read more...

  • » Premature Abstractions Illustrated

    A lot of the discussion in the Ruby community are revolving around abstractions and when to use/do them and when not to. This is a struggle every developer faces every day, on various levels of, wait for it, abstractions.

    It is also something the JavaScript community discusses very often, hotly, with very mixed results. If you look at, for example, the discussions around backbone.js and all of those add ons like Marionette, you can easily see that this is a topic that can lead to hot blood and unclear results.

    Funnily, I recently fell into the “premature abstractions” trap pretty badly myself. I can’t share details in code, because it’s a yet to be released client project, but the story goes a little something like this (drop the bass):   read more...

  • » Your Design Principles

    A quick show of hands, how many of you have seen Dave Thomas’ closing keynote at the Scottish Ruby Conf?

    For me, this keynote was one of the most liberating moments of 2012. Why? Because in essence, he was telling me that I wasn’t crazy. He was telling my that my gut feelings of what I thought was wrong with the rails community were at least shared by someone who I hold in high regard.

    (By the way. If you have never read “The Pragmatic Programmer”, please do. Really.)

    Here’s the contents of the slide where Dave made me jump with joy:

    “Good” code is not the only code

    Dave said:

    I think there’s this increasing tendency in the ruby community to feel that somehow we’re the guardians of “good” programming taste. Right? Everything has to be done right. Everything has to be done using patterns. Everything has to be done using factories and injection and all this other kind of bullshit that I tried to escape when I left the Java world 1999. And what happens? You’re bringing it back to me. STOP!

    Yes, you could say that this resonated with me.   read more...

  • » Distributed synthesis - my MHD Reykjavik hack

    This is actually a pretty sad moment - I am sitting in an airport cafe at KEF and am about to leave Iceland after a brief, 6 day love affair with one of the most exciting places I’ve ever been to.

    The reason I’m here is the Music Hack Day Reykjavik which, as Johan, one of the organizers, told us, started off more as some sort of joke and then turned into the most awesome Music Hack Days I’ve ever been to. The event itself was great: Awesome food, great crowd of people, small enough to be able to get to know each other, pretty much the most awesome food I ever had at a hack day (Lobster soup from the Sea Baron. Need I say more?) and some pretty awesome hacks. But on top of this awesomeness: Iceland. With Geysirs and Huge Waterfalls (Gullfoss), Edges of continental plates.

    But enough of that. If you can find a chance, to go to iceland, it’s worth it. I will definitely go back for a longer visit.

    My Hack was something I had in mind for a long time now, but in contrast to earlier hackdays I didn’t actually prepare myself: I wanted to build some form of distributed synthesizer. With the Web Audio API available on iOS devices since iOS6 came out, this project got even more interesting. My original plan was to create something together with our long time MHD travelmate Michael aka Rockitbaby, but he had to cancel the trip on short notice due to very unfortunate events, so I was on my own.   read more...

  • » I'll be writing another book

    Just a quick post from another night where the sleep doesn’t come so easily. I am really happy to finally having gotten my sh-t together enough so that I can spread the news: I’ll be writing another book. The first one was definitely an interesting experience - It’s definitely worth a lot to be able to mention that you are actually the co-author of one of the first books on a subject when you are applying for a job.

    That being said, financially, writing a technical book with a traditional publisher is a complete desaster. I knew this beforehand and since I was writing the book while being employed, this was not a huge problem in terms of financial risk.

    This time, things will be a bit different.

      read more...

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