From: Sebastian, Sidnet | To: Redmine + Korabiewice Animal Shelter

As part of dog-assisted therapy day in Poland, we wish to repay our four-legged friends for their beneficial impact on our lives. As with every other month, we also show our support for an open source project chosen by our staff. This time around the project was selected by our colleague – Sebastian Stasiak. Sebastian works at our office in Rawa Mazowiecka, and we jokingly refer to him as our “memeager” due to his undying love for memes.

Redmine

Redmine is a flexible, open source project management system. Its list of users includes US and Japanese government agencies, as well as the developers of the Ruby programming language (which actually is the language used to write the Redmine application in the first place). We have been using Redmine for internal and customer projects for 9 years.

Some of Redmine’s notable features include:

  • creating a hierarchy of projects and tasks,
  • assigning roles and privileges in a flexible manner,
  • integration with source code repositories,
  • monitoring of working time,
  • ability to add new, specific functions.

“Redmine itself already has an impressive array of functions. However, its greatest asset is undoubtedly the possibility of further expansion. At Sidnet, our team uses features like additional plugins that allow us to run projects in accordance with the Agile philosophy. We have built some of these extensions by ourselves from scratch”, said Sebastian.

Korabiewice Animal Shelter

This is a shelter for animals of all species, and has been operating as part of the Viva! Foundation since 2012. Currently, the shelter is home to several hundred different animals – not only dogs and cats but also cows, goats and even foxes. Apart from donations, the shelter is financed solely by the Foundation. Volunteers working at the shelter help in feeding and healing the animals. They also build safe and comfortable boxes, houses, kennels and paddocks for them. In addition, the volunteers also assist in physical and virtual adoptions.

“I am well-acquainted with this shelter and I know that they require constant support. I used to work there as a volunteer and walk the dogs. One of them was particularly memorable. He weighed around 40 kilograms and would always act up on the way from his enclosure to the paddock, but immediately turned into a mild and playful puppy the moment he passed through the shelter’s gate. Later on, he found a new home at the seaside”, Sebastian recalled.

WarsawJS Meetup #58 from the perspective of Sidnet

In the last few months, I have been regularly attending the WarsawJS meetups for professionals and enthusiasts of JavaScript. Today I’d like to share my brief (personal and subjective) review of yesterday’s talks.

“Bootcamps from the perspective of a trainer and a developer”

Michał Michalczuk took on the topic of bootcamps and their effectiveness based on statistics. I appreciated that he had a critical view on the whole idea, even though he himself is a bootcamp organizer.

Michał raised a few valid points: that not everyone is good material to become a programmer, that not all bootcamps in Poland are created equal, and that bootcamps should not be seen as a substitute for a degree in computer science. His opinion was that bootcamps are valuable as means of quick introduction to the field and just the first step of many to follow. I am in complete agreement.

„Building high performance apps with Titanium”

Rene Pot is a representative of Appcelerator, a company based in the US, who for the past decade have been developing the Titanium app framework. He named several advantages of the framework, comparing it with more popular solutions with a similar purpose, like React Native and Flutter. There was a live coding demo, showcasing how easy it is to build mobile apps on Titanium.

What piqued my curiosity was what business model allowed the company to make a profit on a fully open-sourced product. It turned out what helps them keep their lights on are enterprise clients. Still, the company remains committed to the spirit of open source and makes all solutions available to the general public on GitHub.

I found this presentation a bit exotic, because I don’t know of any applications (whether big or small) built with this framework. Rene himself admitted that he hasn’t found any Titanium-based applications on the Polish market.

„Call me irresponsible if I ever crash on null or undefined in JavaScript or TypeScript”

A short but packed talk from Rafał Pocztarski on the subject of good coding practices to avoid common pitfalls — application errors and crashes.

What every JavaScript developer should keep in mind:

  • Validate API responses. If we blindly assume the API would always return data in the proper format, we are taking a risk. Developers should always check and validate the data.
  • Expect the unexpected. Always consider the edge cases.
  • Eliminate bugs as early as possible. Common errors such as type error or null pointer exception can be avoided with the help of solutions like TypeScript, TSLint, Flow, or TravisCI.

From: Wojtek, Sidnet | To: Gentoo Linux + Marcin Sztrubel (Avalon Foundation beneficiary)

Is “geek” the first thing on your mind after hearing the word “programmer”? Well… in many cases, you probably would not be wrong to think that way. It would appear that in our team, the role of the most highly devoted technological zealot is played by Wojtek Siewierski, also known as Vifon. It is solely because of him that our company project management system, Redmine, is now known as Nerdmine. Thanks to his special toolbox, Vifon is always prepared to handle any and all technological emergencies and his PC with heavily customised settings would most likely prove practically unusable to anyone besides him, and him alone.

Which open source and non-profit projects will we support in May thanks to Wojtek’s choices?

Gentoo Linux

Gentoo is one of the most flexible Linux distributions. It is a blast for experienced and demanding users who like to constantly tinker with their operating systems and adjust every single detail to their personal preferences. Thanks to the specific nature of Gentoo (which is based on source code instead of binary packages), many functions can be automated. As such, Wojtek does not have to manually patch and modify the software provided to him by the system. This tedious and time-consuming process is now a thing of the past.

The core element of Gentoo is its package manager called Portage. It allows the user to customise practically any aspect of the programs and libraries that they wish to build, in a controlled and efficient manner. For example:
“In the case of some programs, it is impossible for the user to modify certain functions, e.g. shortcut keys. But with Gentoo, I build the source code on my own computer. As such, all it takes is for me to introduce a simple change in the code in order to be able to modify the shortcut keys even before installing the program itself”, said our programmer.

Marcin Sztrubel

Marcin is a beneficiary of the Avalon Foundation, which helps him collect funds to fight his progressing muscle atrophy. Without access to special rehabilitation therapy and expensive orthopaedic equipment, Marcin would never be able to enjoy life on his own. This is the second time that Vifon has asked us to donate money to Marcin.

“Marcin is a friend of my mother. He requires regular and costly rehabilitation. He has been using a wheelchair for quite a long time now, but he never gives up and is still valiantly fighting against his disease”, Wojtek said.

The Avalon Foundation is run by a disabled person and its goal is to help other disabled and chronically ill people in need. Since 2006, the Foundation has been supporting such persons by providing them with rehabilitation services and enabling them to be more independent, as well as removing barriers between them and the rest of society.

From: Leszek, Sidnet | To: Mozilla + A Piece of Heaven Foundation

In the Sidnet team, several key factions exist: macOS supporters, Linux lovers and Windows fans – and all of them are equally ready to fight for the honour of their beloved operating system. One of the representatives of the latter camp is Leszek Kalota, who chose projects to support this month. Even the biggest advocate of Windows, used to working with proprietary applications, still appreciates the value of open source software. Check who will receive our financial support in April thanks to Leszek.

Mozilla

The creator of the web browser, Firefox, which Leszek uses in his everyday work. Mozilla puts a lot of emphasis on the fight against rampant disinformation plaguing the Internet. In addition, it promotes digital skills and strives to maintain a high level of online discussions.Currently, Mozilla is developing the first browser specifically designed for software developers. Firefox Developer Edition is currently in the testing phase and it includes functions like:

  • a CSS Grid, which allows the user to visualize the grid, display associated area names or preview transformations,
  • a graphics editor, thanks to which the user is able to fine-tune animations, alignment and padding,
  • a Web Audio editor, which allows the user to work with the Web Audio API.

“The
tools created by Mozilla are designed for the benefit of Internet
users, not to make a profit. This is why they have my respect and why
I have been using their products, that is, the Firefox browser and
the Thunderbird e-mail program, for over 10 years”
– said our
programmer.

A Piece of Heaven (Kawałek nieba)

The Children and Ill People Help Foundation “A Piece of Heaven” assists in the treatment of malnourished, poor and traumatised children and provides them with the necessary support. When the patients are unable to find appropriate treatment options within Poland, the volunteers of the Foundation try to find clinics abroad that may be able to help. So far, the Foundation has changed the lives of thousands of people, including children with brain tumours, retinoblastoma, neuroblastoma or heart defects.

“Due to the chaos of everyday affairs, it is often quite easy to forget that for people who are seriously ill, things like medicine, surgery, rehabilitation or medical equipment may, in fact, be a metaphorical piece of heaven. I sincerely hope that thanks to our support, the sky will be crystal clear for someone, if only for a single day” – said Leszek.

From: Tadzik, Sidnet | To: Matrix + SOS Children’s Villages

We have our own way of celebrating the Ides of March. As such, on the day of this mid-March feast instead of honouring the god of war, we chose to celebrate our own private heroes. After all, we do that every month. This time, we will support open source projects and charities selected by Tadeusz Sośnierz, an experienced Perl programmer.

Matrix

Matrix is an open standard used in online communication. One of the apps based on this standard is Riot, through which our team can maintain contact, despite being largely scattered around. Unlike popular messenger apps, Matrix does not try to force people to use its own, specific network. Instead, it aims to connect already existing communication networks with one another. Thanks to this solution, it will not be necessary for us to install numerous apps and create several accounts to stay in touch with our friends.

It is a perfect choice for people who want to break out of “the matrix”, that is, the part of the Internet which is governed by big tech corporations and not the users themselves. “The Internet is constantly centralising. It is becoming increasingly focused around major global companies that consider Internet users to be products, not customers. Matrix is one of the projects that bring back a bit of the Internet’s former splendour” – says our programmer.

“In addition to that, Matrix also places great emphasis on the resistance of the network to potential attacks as well as technical failures. Because of its decentralised nature, even if the server is disconnected the users will still be able to continue their conversation thanks to their own servers. This is particularly important today, given that certain governments are cracking down on selected means of online communication in order to prevent their citizens from using them” – says Tadzik.

SOS Wioski Dziecięce (SOS Children’s Villages)

The association helps abandoned and orphaned children, as well as those coming from dysfunctional families. It operates in Poland and Cameroon. The association focuses on creating family orphanages where children are brought up by foster parents. It is part of the SOS Children’s Villages International organisation which has been operating for over 65 years and is currently present in 135 countries worldwide.

“Not everyone has been given a chance to grow up in the warm and loving environment of their family home. Thanks to the Association, children of parents who are unable to take care of them may instead be taken care of by SOS Foster Families. This provides them with the sense of security and acceptance which are necessary for them to prepare for an independent, adult life. SOS Children’s Villages aims to help the children forget about their traumatic past and grow up to be healthy and responsible adults that will not hesitate to help others in need” – says Tadzik.

From: Jakub, Sidnet | To: Django + Warsaw Hospice for Children

Every team has a member who sees the world in slightly darker tones than the rest. In our team, this honorable duty is fulfilled by Jakub, but this does not stop him from investing in our initiative aimed at supporting those in need. See whose day is going to be brighter, thanks to Jakub Opara:

Django

The most popular framework for building web applications in Python. It is used by Mozilla, Disqus and Instagram, among others. Django was created nearly 15 years ago as an internal project for the editorial department of the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper. It grew to become a well-known project and is currently developed by the Django Software Foundation.

“Django works well for the purposes of our internal projects. It allows us to quickly create web applications and new tools to facilitate our work. We used Django to create several handy utilities, such as a team schedule planner, specifically tailored to our needs”, says Jakub.

Warsaw Hospice for Children

A foundation that aims to promote palliative care for terminally ill children, provided at their homes. Thanks to this model the young patients are not required to stay in the hospital permanently, but instead may return home, where they are visited by hospice employees. Since 1994 the Foundation has focused on improving the quality of life of the children, as well as providing support to their families.

“The Foundation does not make promises to extend the life or shorten the suffering of the affected children. It does, however, enable them to live through the final moments of their lives with dignity. It strives to eliminate the physical and psychological pain of the patients, it organises fundraisers that enable to provide care at home, and lastly, it supports the grieving families” , says Jakub.