Jeff Casavant DevOps and infrastructure Python developer and network engineer working in Columbus, OH. Everything written here is my own opinion, not necessarily that of any past or future employer or associate.

2018 in review

As this year of blog posts comes to an end, I'd like to look back at what I wrote this year.

Project idea: annotating political bias in internet articles

Here's an idea: a browser addon that injects bias annotations into articles you're reading.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: Russian Literature for the West

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs exemplifies the feeling the Coen brothers seem to go for: the same bleak, lonely realism found in Russian literature.

On Bond

I watched the first Bond movie, Dr. No, this weekend & have some thoughts on James Bond as a cultural icon.

What Matrix needs

Matrix is pretty dang solid overall; there's still some room for improvement if you've got the drive and the time.

Tim Cook, Facebook, and GDPR

Tim Cook said this past week at a privacy conference that he, and Apple, are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States. I'd like to take a look at one point in his argument.


There's a lot of talk about whether or not to use JSON Web Tokens and how to use them if you choose to. I'll go over some of the basics here.

Google envy

I ran across a good one this week: Hire people who aren't proven.

Mastodon: an update

I just haven't used it.

Projects I'm working on right now

I've got a few irons in the fire right now and I'd like to talk through them.

Why not Twitter?

I got a question this week - why didn't I get into Twitter? Or more accurately, why didn't it stick?

Fail Fast

One of the more generally applicable ideas that comes from programming is fail fast.

Mastodon: distributed, decentralized social networking

I wrote a couple posts about Matrix a while back. On the topic of distributed services, I'd like to talk about Mastodon.

Gridlock is essential

I firmly believe that gridlock is the essential feature of the American political system.

HipChat and the advantages of open source

Atlassian has discontinued their on-premises chat system in favor of Slack.

Kanban Mail

Kanban is an agile methodology uniquely suited to the way I do email.

Python's BDFL abdicates

Guido van Rossum, the Benevolent Dictator for Life of the Python project, has stepped down.

Hidden value

Are brands known as the best because of their attention to detail?


A remarkable amount of conscious effort goes into details in everyday products - details that we often just overlook.

Modern Tailor update

This shirt is well worth the money spent.

Choosing the wrong abstraction: Tesla Autopilot

I talked last week about choosing the right abstraction to present to your users. Tesla's Autopilot feature is a textbook case of choosing the wrong abstraction.

Choose the right abstraction

I think there are a lot of issues that stem from the wrong choice of abstraction - either in a user interface or deeper within a system.

Remarkable demo: Google Duplex

Did you see the excellent demo of Google's new Duplex AI booking a hair salon appointment with a human over the phone?

The student response to the Tom W Davis Clock Tower

The Tom W Davis Clock Tower in Ohio State's North Campus area is pretty run-of-the-mill. The student reaction to it - now that's what's interesting.

Online made-to-measure clothing

I've always had a problem getting shirts that fit. Here's a new approach: order clothing made-to-measure online.

Some of my favorite RSS feeds

Here's some real gems that I make sure to keep up on.

On the value of impractical philosophy

I think there's quite a lot of value in impractical, disconnected-from-reality, argumentation.

Project idea: identifying influence and subgroup identity with TF/IDF

I wonder if you can pick out what writing influences someone, and what subcultures they identify with, based on what terms and phrases they use.

Matrix: bridges, rooms, and clients

matrix logo

I've spent the past week using Matrix, and here are my general impressions so far.

Matrix: distributed chat that talks to everything

matrix logo

Matrix is the chat platform of the future.

What will replace email?

What's going to replace email?

Long predictions about remote work

I was discussing remote work with a friend a couple of months back and ended up coming to a couple of interesting conclusions about how remote work would cause societal change if it were to become mainstream. The discussion was motivated based on the idea of a completely distributed office with no centralized location. I thought these two ideas in particular were worth sharing.

Simple internet security improvements for the average person

I'd like to present here a couple of simple internet security improvements that won't slow you down too much and will improve your personal security posture dramatically.

Must see: the Furby Organ

On today's HackADay: the Furby Organ. This is technically impressive, and it's highly rewarding when he starts playing music on it.

Values a programming team should have

One of the things I think about regularly is how to properly manage a programming team.

My Linux desktop setup

I run Arch Linux both at work & at home and I use a few utilities between them to make them reliable and myself productive. Here's an overview of some of the choices I've made to make it that way.

Propercasing last names in Python

I wrote the first draft of this article around three years ago. I found it in my drafts and touched it up for this week's post.

Unusual internet puzzles

I've run across a few interesting puzzles on the internet over the years.

Long-term concerns about programming as a business

Being in the programming and technology sector comes with some unique concerns from the business angle.

Advertising & social signaling

Do you think advertising convinces you?

I don't.

Python list comprehension gotcha

List comprehensions in Python are handy.

PostgreSQL text search

Happened upon another good writeup on PostgreSQl's excellent text search functionality. It details an actual use-case where speed is required, and how to extract that speed from PostgreSQL using indexes and a modified search function.

Text Adventure

I've always been a fan of a good text adventure; this probably comes from my first computer gaming experience, Myst (not a text adventure, but a good puzzler - if you haven't played, it's on GOG, check it out). I've been entranced by Zork, but it's rare to find a well-done text adventure like it.

6-2 News

It was recently brought to my attention that the website I ran with Alvin Gao and Paul Conrady back in middle school is still around, in all its 90s glory. Feel free to check it out.


The original Bourne shell, the ancestor to the Bourne-Again Shell (bash) was written in C.

Well, almost.

PostgreSQL basics

I gave this talk at OSU's Open Source Club on 2015-03-26.

A simple service status page in PHP

I've recently added several services to my hobby VPS, including GitLab, Neo4J, and some custom-written Python stuff. I figured that it would become necessary for someone not logged in to the server to see the status of these particular processes, possibly for external monitoring purposes.

PostgreSQL materialized views, functions, and unrestorable dumps

I recently had to upgrade a PostGIS-enabled PostgreSQL 9.3 database to 9.4. In the process, it was decided that the server itself should be rebuilt and expanded. I accomplished the upgrade by dumping the data from the 9.3 installation (with pg_dumpall -c), transferring the file over SCP, and loading it into the new database with psql.

Unfortunately that wasn't enough - psql kicked back an error:

DRM considered harmful

I wrote this short paper for a philosophy of computing course here at OSU.

Simple branch-by-feature in git

I've been working heavily with Git, and the more I get into it, the more well-designed I find it to be.

Minecraft, CraftBukkit, and the GPL

I have run a Minecraft server for a couple of years now for my family and friends. The way it's entertained me has changed over that time - first I was interested in the game itself, but I gradually became interested in how different rules and levels of enforcement affected gameplay.

But that's a different story; I'm here today to talk about GPL violations.

Shellshock is underplayed

The shellshock bug, though it's now old news, is a bit more serious than how we treat it.


Last fall, I went to Startup Weekend here in Columbus, courtesy of the NEWPATH technical entrepreneurship group here on campus. It was a lot of hustle and a lot of fun.

Why I deleted facebook

I've been putting it off for a while now, but I axed my Facebook profile.


This past spring I had the good fortune of attending BoilerMake on the dime of my wonderful university.


Liquory is a webapp that I worked on over the course of a week and a half this summer with Claudius Mbemba. We produced it for the App Challenge.