E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.


Pile o'Tags

Stuff I Use

Bitbucket, Debian Linux, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, macOS, Markdown, Mercurial, Python, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, xmonad

Spam Report

At least 237132 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

What makes a good developer?

(Somebody on Quora asked about "traits that the best programmers seem to have". Here's what I said.)

Breadth of understanding. They are not dogmatic. They have used (at least in passing) more than one language, framework, operating system -- and understand the strong points of each.

Communication skills. They can explain their decisions. They can write code reviews. They can discuss their code.

Understanding that engineering is about tradeoffs. There is never an absolute "best" answer; there are always many choices each with their own sets of pros and cons.

Pragmatism. They focus on delivering functionality and have a suspicion of "clever" code.

Understanding that most of our work is maintenance. They write code to be read, and they aren't afraid to refactor when it will make code easier to work with.

Monday, July 27th, 2015

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