Links of the day - 13th June 2018

Node JS makes its way into Google's App engine environment

This is significant news. Google's App engine environment has been "dead-ish" for a long time. Node is making its way in only now. Python is still stuck on an end of life version (2). And Google has been pushing hard with Kubernetes and its amazing cloud offering, Kontainer engine. It seemed like it wanted to move away from this whole Heroku style PaaS offering. This section makes it seem like they've made significant strides to revive App Engine.

Idiomatic developer experience - When designing the new  runtime, we focused on providing a delightful and idiomatic developer  experience. For example, the new Node.js runtime has no language or API  restrictions. You can use your favorite Node.js modules, including  native ones, by simply declaring your npm dependencies in your package.json,  and App Engine installs them in the cloud after deploying your app. Out  of the box, you will find your application logs and key performance  indicators in Stackdriver.  Finally, the base image contains the OS packages you need to run  headless Chrome, which you can easily control using the Puppeteer  module. Read more in the documentation.

So no restrictions on modules is huge. Whatever OS style they are running underneath this is not going to complain about Node modules. While that alone might seem mild, the idea of being able to run headless Chrome using GAE seems like a huge deal! I could build an entire service of QA testing around this.

Technically that's also possible with AWS lambda but this is drop in native support. I'm super excited about the possibilities here.

Strong security - With our automated one-click certificate  generation, you can serve your application under a secure HTTPS URL with  your own custom domain. In addition, we take care of security updates  so that you don't have to, automatically updating the operating system  and Node.js minor and patch versions.

The key part here is the security updates. Automatically updating Node JS versions is further confirmation that they've done some kind of major upgrade under the hood to be able to do this.

Confirmation via a comment on the HN thread:

Another PM on App Engine here.
Historically  supporting a language on App Engine required modifying the languages  libraries to work on proprietary parts of Google infrastructure. This  entailed a decent bit of effort on our part, and also meant that some  apps & code wouldn't execute correctly.We now use technology based on gVisor (  in production for App Engine standard. This allows us to release new  language runtimes unmodified. Node.js support is the first runtime based  on this new stack.
We completely agree that we should be releasing support for new languages & major versions more frequently...

Fascism these days

An interesting take on how fascism can operate under covers without requiring it to be mandated by anyone in particular.

Would you keep blogging after having a quiet meeting with a  couple armed men who — politely and calmly — explain that they’re just  checking to make sure you’re not a threat to national security?
Would you even tell anyone about the meeting?
Consider that there  wouldn’t have to be any order or directive at all from the White House  to the Secret Service or FBI. The White House wouldn’t even have to know  about it.
This is one way fascism works. It leaves no marks. It doesn’t even have to lift a finger sometimes.

The last line of the article though betrays the good fortune that this writer has where they live:

For the record — and this is super-important — I do not believe  this is happening. This is merely illustration, and I’m not that  paranoid, and you shouldn’t be either.

People in Sri Lanka are not so fortunate. From white vans vanishing people away, to the prime minister of the country advocating controls on an individual's speech, we have every right to be paranoid.

Posted on June 13 2018 by Adnan Issadeen