Friday, February 3, 2012

Great resources are often hidden (and forgotten)

You know the problem. You found a resource that you thought was awesome, but where did you find it? how did you find it? and most importantly - how do you find it again after you closed the browser window?

I think we're a product of Google. Open the browser, start typing and find the answer you are looking for. Heck, it does not even matter if the result you find 5 minutes later is slightly different from the one you found earlier, cause you just type, find, use and move on. This is great and works in many cases, but ...

... sometimes you find resources that a very valuable, but you cannot remember the steps you actually took to get there. This is where bookmarks come in, but I'll be the first to admit that I bookmark 50% of what I should and half of what I bookmark I intend to read later, but who has the time?

I was lucky enough to rediscover an old friend recently whilst fighting with the Open Babel API: This snippet of test code for the python bindings - it is really valuable when trying to figure out what you can and cannot with the API. The file is stored as a plain file on a server who could be gone tomorrow - where could I possibly store it? I see no good solution to this. Since there is no license to redistribute, I ventured to github and created a private gist* - now it is stored "forever" and at least I know where to look. On the plus side, this is clever because it is even version controlled and if I manage to grab something I am sure I can publicly display (like Noel'o'blawg does), I sure will. On the down side, this is just another tool in the box of tools.

I think it will increase forever ...

* From the github homepage:
Gist is a simple way to share snippets and pastes with others. All gists are git repositories, so they are automatically versioned,forkable and usable as a git repository.