A few weeks ago I stumbled into Josh Branchaud‘s excellent Today I Learned repo on Github. He got the idea from Hashrocket and decided to start his own version of their TIL repo. The idea caught on, apparently, as a Google search for “today I learned github” yields quite a hefty number of results. If I recall correctly, his repo was a top story on Hackernews for a bit too.
When I first found out about TIL, I set a personal goal to read at least five of the snippets every day until I had gone through all of them. I’ve been hit and miss with that, hitting the goal about half of the time. It’s a shame I haven’t kept up with it more faithfully, cause there’s quite a few handy snippets in there. A few of them have even made it into my (oh my) Zsh aliases. The snippet for killing everything on a specific port, for example, is very handy. And I also learned a lot from the Clojure snippets, like aggregating maps with merge-with.
More than I liked any one specific snippet, though, Branchaud’s repo (along with so many of its TIL cousins on Github) stood out to me because of it’s emphasis on learning how to use the the tools we already have in software development instead of hyping up some new flavor of the week technology that will solve all of our problems.
There’s a natural obsession with tools in software. To an extent that’s probably healthy; to an extent it’s probably not. Either way, there isn’t really a day that goes by that you don’t hear about some great new tool that you simply have to try. And while I think very few of us would argue that it’s important to understand the tools you are using in software, it’s usually not Linux one liners and Vim tips and tricks and that get all the attention. Today I Learned repos, though, caught on for a little while, for whatever reason. And they were a nice change of pace from the barrage of Next Big Tools and Frameworks that we all hear about on almost a constant basis in software.
Anyway, if you haven’t checked any of the Today I learned repos yet, you should give them a look. Thoughtbot‘s got a decent one as well (they’ve also got some great tutorials on their blog too, like this crash course on Tmux). And I’m sure there are others as well. If you have one to share or stumble into one that’s great, please leave it in the comments.
And with that, I’m gonna go back to learning before the day is over. Tomorrow I’ll Learn still works in the acronym. But I noticed a handful of these snippets I’d to play with before I forget 🙂