There is a very odd, very good feeling when you as a programmer return to some technical task that you used to do – and you find that you do it better. For myself I am once again dabbling in RSS programming and it feels great. It was almost 14 years ago to the day that I started Feedster based on an idea that Dave put out there by linking to an idea that Dave Aiello had.

That one tiny mention on inspired me to hack together a truly awful RSS search engine that in turn survived a slashdotting and then picked up a co-founder, a CEO, angel investment, a move to San Francisco, real venture funding and actual staff.

It was, I believe, March of 2003 on a snowy night and now in January 2017 on another snowy night I am again writing feed processing code.

The technically interesting part here is that the operations I did poorly back in 2003 are now flowing and gracefully from my fingers as I work. Specifically I used to monitor feeds by doing a full fetch and then hashing the body with MD5 and comparing it to a stored value from the last time. This time I knew “Ok. Do an HTTP head and look at just the header values”. Additionally I am using a far better toolset in 2017 (ruby / rails / elixir / phoenix) than I ever did back in 2003 (php).

If as an engineer you’ve never returned to a problem space after a long interval, I’d recommend it. Just seeing how you tackle the same problem after a long break certainly makes you think.