Archive for June, 2013

Lest we forget…

The United States Bill of Rights is a remarkable document. Our founding fathers had incredible foresight about the need to limit the power of government and protect our rights of liberty. In recent years, many of these amendments have been under attack by our government. Some are being ignored altogether. The US Constitution and the principles behind it are a big part of what made us great. It made us a free country. We stood for something. These are our rights. We should read them more often and fight for them whenever necessary.

1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

2. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

3. No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

4. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

5. No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

6. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

7. In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

8. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

9. The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

10. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

People gave their lives so we could have these rights. How hard are we willing to fight to keep them?


Update on a few of my open source projects

I’ve been trying to do some cleanup and reorganization of my various open source projects. I regularly get emails asking for help or gently reminding me that one of my projects needs updating. The truth is, most of my projects have been horribly neglected for the last couple years. While I can’t promise my participation will improve, I would like to recognize some of the extraordinary people who have been helping me with maintenance while I’ve been busy. Here’s a quick status update on five of my more popular open source projects.

PubSubHubbub plugin for WordPress

I know, I know, RSS is supposed to be dead. Tell that to the 1,300+ people who downloaded my PubSubHubbub (PuSH) plugin last week, or the 58,000+ people who’ve downloaded it since it was first released. A huge thanks to Matthias Pfefferle for his help maintaining the project. It’s hard to say what’s going to happen to RSS & PuSH, especially as Google kills their Reader product. I expect big companies to continue to push for more centralized systems. Meanwhile, I’ll be here rooting for the open and distributed web however I can.

Timezone detection in JavaScript

My timezone detection article continues to be one of my more popular posts on this blog. Today there are thousands of websites using some variation of my timezone detection code. Jon Nylander took my code and has expanded it into a far more robust solution. His version is way better than mine, so use it instead.

Backwards compatible window.postMessage

My cross-browser implementation of window.postMessage is now pretty stable and is still one of the simplest solutions I’ve seen. I’ve heard that Twitter and Disqus both use easyXDM instead, but I haven’t dug into it myself to know how it compares.

Name Parser

Splitting names is a surprisingly tricky task. My solution isn’t perfect, but it’s a nice step beyond just splitting a name based on a space. Mark Pemburn did a nice job porting my library from PHP to JavaScript. This library has a lot of potential for improvement and I’d love to see more contributions here.

Rolling Curl

Another popular post (especially with the rent-a-coder crowd trying to scrape websites) was my Rolling Curl library in PHP. It solves the blocking connection problem with using cURL in PHP. Alexander Makarow and Fabian Franz have done a great job at improving my code and adding new features.

I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to participate in these projects and others. It blows my mind how much of the world runs on open source software. Open source was one of those things that never fully made sense to me until I started contributing myself. I encourage every developer to find a way to get involved in an open source project and give back. It’s been a great way for me to meet other passionate developers and learn from people who are smarter than I.