Ashwin Sundar

Software I liked in 2023

Here are some software programs I liked1 in 20232.

mermaid.js - Excellent tool for creating architecture (and other) diagrams from text. Add to a markdown file with special syntax. Renders in GitHub natively. Has some bugs, but team seems to have a good head on its shoulders and should hopefully work them out soon. 8/10

VSCode - One of the few things Microsoft hasn’t totally screwed up yet. Plug-in ecosystem is enormous. 9/10

Vim - At the other end of the spectrum. I forced myself to learn keybindings last year and now I can’t not use them. I find myself unable to use text editors that lack a “vim mode”. 2Bi" - fixed that missing quote! I find the extension ecosystem a bit puzzling still - extensions I install never seem to work quite right. Having to memorize extra keybindings for each plugin maxes out my mental load. 8/10

DigitalOcean - A breath of fresh air compared to AWS. There are fewer services and quite a lot of abstraction. It fills the gap between walking to work and flying a fighter jet there. DO support has been super prompt and helpful the two times I’ve contacted them (even on the free support tier). If you need three+ 9’s of reliability, call Amazon, Microsoft, or Google. For everything else there’s DigitalOcean. 9/10

Django - The first time I’ve enjoyed web development in quite some time. The abstraction level can get a bit silly at times, but I find that it’s easy to peel back the layers of the onion, so to speak, and troubleshoot the inner workings. Still plagued by runtime errors. Maybe I’m bad at writing Python. mypy and typeddjango/django-stubs just don’t cut it for me. I want more compile-time errors! 8/10

Logic Pro - Technically started using it in late 2021 but really got more into it this year. Used to produce music for a group of friends that play together. Tons of keybindings. Interface can get confusing, but it’s a powerful tool. 9/10 - I am alright at constructing regular expressions. I wish I was better. I ordered “Mastering Regular Expressions”, but just couldn’t get excited about reading 542 pages on regular expressions. 9/10

If didn’t exist, this might not have happened:

Returning Regex 101

I’m sorry, Mr. Friedl. It’s me, not you. - A basic message board for the tech cabal. Where scientism-ists meet scientific skeptics. If you ever wondered what a world would look like where everyone studies STEM and nothing else, read the comments. If you think all libertarians are smart, read the comments. I enjoy the throwback to the year 2002, never-changing design, and complete lack of an algorithm to recommend news. If you ever wondered what a message board in the fictional Three-Body video game would be like, this is it3. 9/10

  1. Caveat: This article was not sponsored by any company, foreign or domestic. Microsoft, Digital Ocean, and Apple are unaware that this website exists. I have never gotten anything for free from any of those companies. If I write any more sentences people will think I’m lying. ↩︎

  2. Subcaveat: If you, like me, ever found Vim useful, please considering donating to the late Bram Moolenaar’s foundation ICCF Holland↩︎

  3. Actually, it might be more like telnet’ing into ↩︎