Create your First Heroku Buildpack


Did you know you can install custom software on Heroku? You can, using buildpacks. In this tutorial, I show you how to write a custom buildpack. I’ll use MuPDF, a handy utility to convert PDFs to PNGs, as an example. Replace the MuPDF parts with the binary you want. Create the Binary Before we can […]

Hello World with Apex


Salesforce is extremely popular software. It is used by large and small companies alike, and its Salesforce1 Platform allows you as a developer to create applications in the cloud. You write code on the Salesforce1 Platform in a language called Apex. It is similar to Java. Most of the tutorials for getting started with Apex […]

Host Your Own Disposable Email App


I like Mailinator. I use it all the time. However, it has had some downtime recently at inopportune times for me. My friend Joël had the idea of creating one’s own disposable email like Mailinator’s. In this post, I’m going to show you how to do just that. It turns out it is pretty easy […]

Open Source: Pull Request Driven Development


Pull Requests are my favorite feature of GitHub. They are the way I prefer to do development. Avoid Communication Breakdown There is necessarily a lot of discussion that happens when writing code. On a team of one, this discussion happens in your brain. On a local team of two or three, it happens IRL. These […]

How to Launch a Rocket with an Arduino and Node.js


Recently, I had the chance to teach kids how to launch rockets using Arduinos. As you might guess, it was a blast. We wrote a countdown program using Node.js, hooked the program up to an Arduino, and wired up the Arduino. This sent an electrical signal to the rocket engine, igniting it. In this tutorial, […]

Remember to Floss With an Interactive Reminder Email


It’s been over a month since New Year’s Day, but I’m still trying to keep some of my New Year’s resolutions. I’ve found the best way to keep them is to have someone remind you—nag you, really. Likely, your friends don’t want to spend their free moments nagging you though. So, let’s have SendGrid do […]

Long Live the Informal Hackathon


The Major League Hackathons—Penn Apps, MHacks, BoilerMake, and HackTech–are great. Go to these. But go to the small hackathons, too. Good things come from the small, informal hackathons. And you can even easily organize one yourself. The very first hackathon was small. I’m stating the obvious, but hackathons did not start as large organized events […]

Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Code More


The year 2014 is here and with it New Year’s resolutions. My New Year’s resolution is to commit more open source code. Little apps like this one by Nick Quinlan are helping to keep that at the forefront of my mind. Specifically, I want to complete a 30 day GitHub commit streak. I’m bad at […]

A Sinatra and Heroku Application Template in 20 Lines


Heroku is a great web publishing platform. Additionally, Sinatra is a great ruby web framework. In this post, I’ll show you how to quickly combine the two. I have created a sinatra-heroku-template app to make it easy on you. All files combined, it is only 20 lines of code. Do the following to get it […]

Get Going with Go and Redis


Go is a promising language. It’s a strong replacement for Java, it’s similarly productive to writing Python, and it is an excellent tool for writing servers. I’m starting to dive into it in my spare time, and in this blog post I will show you the basics of getting started with Go and Redis together. […]