Engineers Log

Posted on Sun 15 June 2014 in Productivity

Four years ago(to the day) I wrote a post on why I was Giving up on wikis and I have to admit, four years later my opinions on the topic really haven't changed.

It's been 4 years, 700 questions(with 800 answers) and several server moves later and by and large the process hasn't changed all that much, everything is just little more streamlined.


When I started I simply used tagging to reflect the technology the

  • I tag company sensitive questions with the company name, so if I ever leave that place, I can easily find/drop questions with company sensitive info.
  • A lot of the time, I notice that a solution I'm entering is worthy of a blog post. I tend to flag my questions as to-blog, so when I'm looking for writing inspiration it's pretty easy to start writing when you've got a list of essentially half-complete posts waiting for you.
  • Sometimes I gave internal access my OSQA install to companies I worked for. If I was writing rough documentation for a specific team I would create tags for them to review my "documents" while I was writing them up.


Originally I stored my scripts with some comments in a standard ~/scripts folder and grep when I needed functionality. This solution always ended up getting messy to me so I moved them to my OSQA install. They're much tidier up there personally, I drill-down into the scripts tag then filter with what I need. Plus OSQA stores every revision of a question/answer so I can easily peruse old variants. I'm aware git would solve such a problem, but being able to jump onto a random machine and grab all my scripts via the web in a standardised way is pretty nice too.

Quicker Searching:

A simple fix, essentially I added my OSQA search as a keyword search on my browser so I can quick search by keyword followed by my search term.

Future Improvements:

  • In Refactor Your Wetware one of the recommendations the book gives is to use an Engineer's Log, this is essentially what this OSQA install is, my Engineer's Log. One suggestion the book does it mark an X, every-time you use a solution from your Engineers Log. I want to eventually hack OSQA, so that I can use the Upvote feature myself to flag frequently used solutions.
  • Eventually I'll add pygments syntax highlighting. 4 years later and I still haven't gotten round to it.
  • I should probably migrate from an OSQA install to Askbot, considering there doesn't seem to be much of an open source future but my current solution works just fine so I see no need.

That's about it really, to be honest the lesson here really is that flexible solutions last.