Andrew Tork Baker

Container and coffee enthusiast

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What containers can do for you

I recently wrote a blog post for O'Reilly’s Radar blog - “What containers can do for you”:


The post gives a brief introduction to containers, discusses some immediate benefits of adopting containers in your organization, and some predictions about how containers will affect IT this year and beyond.

It’s a great primer if you’re considering using Docker or Rocket in 2015. Check it out for yourself!

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Introduction to Docker

I’m thrilled to say that my O'Reilly “Introduction to Docker” video tutorial is now available!

Introduction_to_Docker - O_Reilly_Media.jpg

This two-hour crash course will take you from Docker’s “Hello world” to deploying code and infrastructure updates to a Dockerized app in the cloud. It’s a great way to dive into Docker.

You can also view the video on Safari.

Developing the video was a great experience and I’m very excited to see it out in the world. If you have any feedback, send it my way on Twitter or email (check the ‘say hello’ button).

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This post is about a project I did during my funemployment. Read more about it here:


When I first considered becoming “funemployed” to expand my development skills, there was one tech at the top of my list: Node.js. I had been curious about Node for a while, and after a couple tutorials I was ready to dig in and build a project with it.

Around the same time, Instagram released Hyperlapse, a new iOS app that helps you make stabilized time-lapse videos easily. I was playing around with it at home and joked to my girlfriend that it would be funny to put a bunch of Hyperlapse videos to dubstep music. Thankfully, she persuaded me to try something gentler.

A couple weeks later Hypermasher was ready for the world. Check it out for yourself:

Building the product

Hypermasher uses the Instagram and SoundCloud APIs to pull in a...

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The silent, grateful majority

In the summer of 2012 I went to see Scott Berkun speak at a local meetup in DC. Berkun is an author who writes about creativity, philosophy, and management with a focus on tech.

I later ordered and read his most recent book at the time, Mindfire. Berkun is a great essayist, and some of his words have stuck with me years later.

There’s one essay I particularly took to heart: “How to make a difference”. It’s a short read - I highly recommend it.

In the essay, Berkun recounts an experience during his last days at Microsoft. After a final lecture in front of his peers, Berkun is struck by one colleague’s straightforward, personal expression of gratitude for all Berkun’s work. Berkun remarks that such expressions are exceedingly rare, which is a shame considering the powerful positive effect they have on their recipients.

This is a lesson I have taken to heart. When I particularly enjoy...

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Last week I left my consulting job. Working as a consultant was a great fit for my first years out of college - I learned a ton about business and (good and bad) software development.

But I realized that now is an ideal time to strike out on my own. I have few current financial obligations but enough savings to sustain me for a couple months. As a software developer, I also have the privilege of knowing work is easy to find (though it might not be good work).

So I took the plunge and became unemployed.

I am grateful most people in my life have been supportive, though explaining my plans required some creativity. I have alternately described this as my “techie version of a mid-twenties round-the-world trip,” “technical vision quest”, or “taking my place as heir to the Tork paper products empire.”

That last one is a joke - I unfortunately have no relation to Tork the company, though...

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PyOhio Docker 101 tutorial

I was grateful for the opportunity to deliver my Docker tutorial session at PyOhio last month. The conference had great facilities and was very well organized - especially for a free conference. My thanks to the organizers!

Here are links to all the content I presented that day:


Tutorial repository:

The tutorial repository contains a Vagrantfile to help you configure your local development environment.

If you really want to get going quickly, you can use the Amazon EC2 AMI that I created for tutorial attendees. When launching a new EC2 instance, select “Community AMIs” and then search for docker_tutorial_pyohio.

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What makes a good side project?

Today I’m excited to open source my winter side project, spin-docker - a lightweight, RESTful, docker-based platform as a service. You can check out the spin-docker code on Github or the extensive documentation on ReadtheDocs.

Even though docker itself is barely one year old, spin-docker joins an already exciting lineup of docker-based PaaS tools: dokku, Deis, and Flynn to name a few. So while I love my ~400 line Flask app, I concede that it’s unlikely to propel me to fame and fortune.

The experience I gained working on this project, however, made it more than worth the effort. It was a great reminder of how beneficial a well-structured side project can be. When I’m ready to start my next one, here are the two things I’m going to keep in mind:

Start with a problem - your problem

I started working on spin-docker because I had a problem.

Last summer I ran an internal intro to SQL...

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Trello: just as fun when playing alone

I have been hooked on Fog Creek’s Trello ever since @htammaro turned me on to it about a year ago. Trello won me over initially with its intuitive UI and easy setup, but I have become an advocate of the tool for one simple reason: most of the time, it just works. Trello has great collaborative features which make it a favorite with small teams, but when I started using it for my personal to-do list, I found more benefits than I expected.

The right features when you want them

After trying many different services like Astrid, Remember the Milk, and even Evernote and Google Tasks, I found that nothing quite fit. Some services had too many features, which made adding tasks cumbersome, while others didn’t have enough. This is where Trello shines: Its base functionality is simple, but labels, due dates, attachments, and checklists are unobtrusively waiting when you need them. My personal...

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How do I internationalize my Django app?

This is a how-to post I was recently asked to write for Excella Consulting’s blog.

Internationalizing a website is hard. If you have a simple site and are working with a mature web framework, you might not have much trouble. But if your web app is dynamic, complex, and tightly interfaces with other technologies, then you need to plan your technical approach more carefully. This spring, I helped one of our Washington, DC clients launch their first multilingual site targeted at approximately 14 million users using Django. No small feat, but in the end we succeeded in creating a unique experience for our new audience without adding needless complexity to the app.

Here are a few key lessons I picked up along the way:

Django packages from the community work like magic … but at a price

Before we began development we identified the django-modeltranslation package as a great tool for our...

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From the archives: Trackr teaser video

I made this video in early 2012 for a product idea I was working on with some friends from college. The product was called Trackr, and the idea was that it would be a highly visual externally-facing status tracker. An individual or organization could use it to show progress towards their goals on a scrolling horizontal timeline. Like a slick annual report but you update it along the way.

Though I’m far from having serious videographer skills, I get really in to video projects. This idea came to me after I had arranged some vacation before starting my job at Excella. I was headed to San Francisco, Boulder, CO, and Williamsburg, VA, so I figured incorporating my travel into the video would give me some production value points. I supplemented it with stock footage and a royalty-free track from Jamendo.

I worked on Trackr with Jordan Buller, Maria Tchijov, Steve McHail, and Harrison...

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