Workers Durable Objects Beta: A New Approach to Stateful Serverless
Durable Objects provide a truly serverless approach to storage and state: consistent, low-latency, distributed, yet effortless to maintain and scale. They also enable coordination and real-time collaboration between clients.
This is cool.
"Every big-name real-time collaborative document editor works this way. But for many web developers, especially those building on serverless infrastructure, this kind of solution has long been out-of-reach. Standard serverless infrastructure -- and even cloud infrastructure more generally -- just does not make it easy to assign these coordination points and direct users to talk to the same instance of your server.
Durable Objects make this easy. Not only do they make it easy to assign a coordination point, but Cloudflare will automatically create the coordinator close to the users using it and migrate it as needed, minimizing latency. The availability of local, durable storage means that changes to the document can be saved reliably in an instant, even if the eventual long-term storage is slower. Or, you can even store the entire document on the edge and abandon your database altogether."Posted on 2020-09-30T08:06:16+0000
Complexity Scientist Beats Traffic Jams Through Adaptation
To tame urban traffic, the computer scientist Carlos Gershenson finds that letting transportation systems adapt and self-organize often works better than trying to predict and control them.
Pretty insightful read on transport systems, control theory, and on applying evidence based policies and failing to do so because of politics.
Oh and it discusses the lines between theory and practice; industry and academia.
"Once you build systems, it turns out that some holes in your concepts start to show up. You are faced with problems that you didn’t foresee. That forces you to refine your understanding, to revise your conceptual system. Answers always bring new challenges. But once you solve those challenges, then you can go back and make more soundly based conceptual contributions.
I have always gone from theory to practice and back."Posted on 2020-09-30T07:39:28+0000
How to get promoted
Almost everyone who does great work toils in relative obscurity. Performance reviews are social fiction. How do people really advance through the corporate hierarchy?
I cannot tell if this is satire or not. This is a great piece of writing that is a view into corporate culture and quite horrifying at the same time. Kudos to the author for achieving their stated goals (they said this can equally be read as satire or not). I am praying this is satire, for what it’s worth.
“When you first encounter this mode of being, it may be so far outside of your normal range of experience you'll have trouble processing it. Marx thought that to be fulfilled, humans must feel a connection to the end result of their work. For example, a carpenter feels satisfaction when he finishes a chair or a table. But in an industrialized society people no longer feel this connection, which robs them of the fulfillment. He called this phenomenon "estranged labor". One way to think about people who are attracted purely to wealth and status is that under these same conditions they don't feel estranged. They've either eradicated this feeling in themselves long ago, or never felt it in the first place.
Can you build a successful organization that keeps the unprincipled out? No. As the company grows more successful, so does the allure. The organization starts getting constantly bombarded by world class actors who specialize in slipping past the founders's defenses. And since at higher rungs much of the job is recruiting, the new hire becomes a Trojan horse. As soon as they're in, they open the door to dozens of cronies who diffuse into the company. It's like putting a drop of ink in a glass of water-- there is no undo.”Posted on 2020-09-29T05:05:59+0000
I was wrong. CRDTs are the future
I saw Martin Kleppmann’s talk a few weeks ago about his approach to realtime editing with CRDTs, and I felt a deep sense of despair. Maybe all the work I’ve been doing for the past decade won’t be part of the future after all, because Martin’s
Interesting article on modern data structures and systems protocols approaches. I need to go and watch the mentioned talk.
“Philosophically, if I modify a google doc my computer is asking Google for permission to edit the file. (You can tell because if google’s servers say no, I lose my changes.) In comparison, if I git push to github, I’m only notifying github about the change to my code. My repository is mine. I own all the bits, and all the hardware that houses them. This is how I want all my software to work. Thanks to people like Martin, we now know how to make good CRDTs. But there’s still a lot of code to write before local first software can become the default.”Posted on 2020-09-29T05:00:08+0000
So you want to live-reload Rust - fasterthanli.me
Good morning! It is still 2020, and the world is literally on fire , so I guess we could all use a distraction. This article continues the tradition of me getting shamelessly n...
Enter the world of ungodly, crazy hacks when live reloading code. I learnt a lot more than I think I’ll ever need to about process lifetimes and how the linker works on Linux. But this is really cool.
“With our workaround, or "breakaround", as I've recently taken to calling it, we've entered the land of super-duper-undefined behavior, aka SDUB.
Because events are happening in this order:
T1 (main thread) spawns a second thread, T2
In T2, libgreet.so is loaded
In T2, greet() from libgreet.so is called
In T2, greet() calls println!(), which accesses LOCAL_STDOUT, which is initialized, and for which a TLS destructor is registered (using the fallback, since we hid __cxa_thread_atexit_impl)
In T2, lib is dropped, so libgreet.so is unloaded
T2 finishes, so all pthreads TLS key destructors are called (this is how the fallback works)
...however, the destructors' code was in the DSO we just unloaded.”Posted on 2020-09-28T00:09:23+0000
Trump’s Taxes Show Chronic Losses and Years of Income Tax Avoidance
The Times obtained Donald Trump’s tax information extending over more than two decades, revealing struggling properties, vast write-offs, an audit battle and hundreds of millions in debt coming due.
Sympolymathesy, by Chris Krycho
Learning in public: on theology, technology, ethics, software, politics, art, and more.
Noticed myself nodding along here - solid intro to type systems and why they are valuable.
"Types are not perfect. They still have tradeoffs. Some type systems aren’t worth it. But five years ago, I changed my mind about the value of type systems in general, because I learned about type systems that I hadn’t known about previously. And, critically, this taught me to be far less dogmatic about the value of ideas in programming languages and software development in general. If smart people see the value in something and I don’t, it’s quite likely that I have missed something, and there’s something to learn from them!"Posted on 2020-09-27T17:59:59+0000
When coffee makers are demanding a ransom, you know IoT is screwed
Watch along as hacked machine grinds, beeps, and spews water.
“That capability still left Hron with only a small menu of commands, none of them especially harmful. So he then examined the mechanism the coffee maker used to receive firmware updates. It turned out they were received from the phone with—you guessed it—no encryption, no authentication, and no code signing.”Posted on 2020-09-27T03:31:49+0000
How To Say No, For The People Pleaser Who Always Says Yes : Life Kit
Constantly saying yes to everything and everyone drains us of time and energy. This episode helps explain the roots of people-pleasing behaviors and how you can say no more often.
A worthwhile reminder at times.
“The next time someone asks you for something, assess your time and energy before taking on new responsibilities.
"People are missing out on things that we actually do want to do because we've been too busy turning around and saying yes to stuff that we shouldn't," says Lue.”Posted on 2020-09-26T22:49:07+0000
‘My dentist saved my tooth, but wiped my memory’
After simple dental surgery, William lost his ability to form new memories. This real-life medical mystery should change the way we think about the brain, says David Robson.
The fact that this can happen seemingly randomly is terrifying.
“When I speak to him, he has just relearnt – for the thousandth time – that his daughter and son are now 21 and 18, not the young children he remembers. He hopes the rest of their lives will not be lost to him. “I want to walk my daughter down the aisle and remember it. Should they become parents, I would like to remember that I have grandchildren, and who they are.””Posted on 2020-09-24T04:37:40+0000
What I Would Do If I Ran Tarsnap | Kalzumeus Software
What I Would Do If I Ran Tarsnap Tarsnap is the world’s best secure online backup service. It’s run by Colin Percival, Security Officer Emeritus at FreeBSD, a truly gifted cryptographer and programmer. I use it extensively in my company, recommend it to clients doing Serious Business (TM) all th...
Worth bookmarking again as this is chock full of timeless advice for small software businesses.
“Whoopsie! Simple error in assumptions in my Excel modeling, Tarsnap actually cost 4X what I thought it would.
By which I mean that instead of costing me $0.60 a month it actually costs me $2.40 a month.
This error is symptomatic of what Tarsnap forces every single customer to go through when looking at their pricing. It is virtually impossible to know what it actually costs. That’s a showstopper for many customers. For example, at many businesses, you need to get pre-approval for recurring costs. The form/software/business process requires that you know the exact cost in advance. “I don’t know but we’ll get billed later. It probably won’t be a lot of money.” can result in those requests not getting approved, even if the actual expense would be far, far under the business’ floor where it cared about expenses. It is far easier for many businesses to pay $100 every month (or even better, $1,500 a year — that saves them valuable brain-sweat having to type things into their computer 11 times, which might cost more than $300) than to pay a number chosen from a normal distribution with mean $5 and a standard deviation of $2.”Posted on 2020-09-23T05:49:58+0000
Should you join a big company or start a startup? This frequently debated question paints a picture of a world where the only choice is between being a cog at a giant semi-monopoly, or taking investment money in the hopes of one day growing to be head cog at a giant semi-monopoly. Role models matter...
This was an interesting/inspirational read that took me a while because I took a detour through some of the links.
“This frequently debated question paints a picture of a world where the only choice is between being a cog at a giant semi-monopoly, or taking investment money in the hopes of one day growing to be head cog at a giant semi-monopoly.
Role models matter. So I made a list of small companies that I admire. Neither giants nor startups - just people making a living writing software on their own terms.”Posted on 2020-09-23T05:44:31+0000
Marc Andreessen On Productivity, Scheduling, Reading Habits, Work, and More - Andreessen Horowitz
This interview was recorded earlier this year and originally appeared on The Observer Effect; it has only been lightly edited for formatting here. TABLE OF CONTENTS On productivity Let’s get into it. Over a decade ago, you wrote a …
This was an interesting interview, albeit veering a little into “productivity porn” territory at times.
Not sure how he managed to steel himself enough to give up on books partway though.
“In a recent podcast, Naval Ravikant talks about how he doesn’t finish books anymore. He let go of the guilt of needing to finish books. Tyler Cowen has said something similar. Do you finish every book?
Yeah, I really struggle with that. I have a whole bunch of books that I haven’t finished which I really should just toss. Patrick Collison talks about this too. The problem of having to finish every book is you’re not only spending time on books you shouldn’t be but it also causes you to stall out on reading in general. If I can’t start the next book until I finish this one, but I don’t want to read this one, I might as well go watch TV. Before you know it, you’ve stopped reading for a month and you’re asking “what have I done?!” I think that’s part of it. This moral hectoring of “don’t do that” which can only be so successful. The other technique is to read a dozen books at a time.”Posted on 2020-09-23T05:09:45+0000
» X-COM The Digital Antiquarian
X-COM seemed to come out of nowhere. Its release was not preceded by an enormous marketing campaign with an enormous amount of hype. It had no video demo playing in the front window of Babbages, it wasn’t advertised twelve months in advance on glossy foldout magazine inserts, it had no flashing po...
Such a good read combining a human interest story with an analysis of game design techniques. And on one of my favourite games to boot!
“X-COM: UFO Defense shipped a few months later in North America, into a cultural zeitgeist that was if anything even more primed for it. Computer Gaming World, the American industry’s journal of record, gave it five stars out of five, and its sales soared well into the six digits. As the quote that opened this article attests, X-COM was in many ways the antithesis of what most publishers believed constituted a hit game in the context of 1994. Its graphics were little more than functional; it had no full-motion video, no real-time 3D rendering, no digitized voices; it fit perfectly well on a few floppy disks, thank you very much, with no need for any new-fangled CD-ROM drive. And yet it sold better than the vast majority of those other “cutting-edge” games. Many took its success as a welcome sign that gaming hadn’t yet lost its soul completely — that good old-fashioned gameplay could still trump production values from time to time.”Posted on 2020-09-23T04:41:16+0000
The maid who took on a Singapore millionaire
The case described by some as a "David versus Goliath battle" has stirred up debate in Singapore.
“The case has triggered a review of police and prosecutorial processes. Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam admitted "something has gone wrong in the chain of events".
What the government does next will be watched very closely. If it fails to address Singaporeans' demands for "greater accountability and systemic fairness", this may lead to "a gnawing perception that the elite puts its interests above that of society's," wrote Singapore commentator Donald Low in a recent essay.
"The heart of the debate [is] whether elitism has seeped into the system and exposed a decay in our moral system," former journalist PN Balji said in a separate commentary.”Posted on 2020-09-23T04:24:20+0000
Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in “anti-intellectual times”
Thirty years ago, the philosopher Judith Butler, now 64, published a book that revolutionised popular attitudes on gender. Gender Trouble, the work she is perhaps best known for, introduced ideas of gender as performance. It asked how we define “the category of women” and, as a consequence, who ...
This is such a good interview and worth reading. The interviewee keeps honestly rejecting the premise of leading questions and cutting through the BS.
Also surprised that they published it. If only more stuff was like this.
“Judith Butler: I want to first question whether trans-exclusionary feminists are really the same as mainstream feminists. If you are right to identify the one with the other, then a feminist position opposing transphobia is a marginal position. I think this may be wrong. My wager is that most feminists support trans rights and oppose all forms of transphobia. So I find it worrisome that suddenly the trans-exclusionary radical feminist position is understood as commonly accepted or even mainstream. I think it is actually a fringe movement that is seeking to speak in the name of the mainstream, and that our responsibility is to refuse to let that happen. “Posted on 2020-09-23T03:06:07+0000
How Deutsche Bank Let Crooked Clients Run Rampant
When the $10 billion mirror trading scandal was exposed, little emerged about who its victims were or how much Deutsche’s executives knew. The FinCEN Files investigation shows how deep the rot went.
Even more damning :(
“Deutsche’s problems were so striking they prompted Bank of America to file a confidential alert known as a suspicious activity report, or SAR, to the US government. Bank of America employees had visited Deutsche’s London office to discuss worries about Russian money laundering. They were stonewalled when a Deutsche manager interrupted their meeting and asked them to leave the building. Bank of America found the situation troubling enough that it raised the matter with Achleitner, according to its filing.”Posted on 2020-09-22T05:10:48+0000
Is Revenue Model More Important than Culture?
I always loved getting problems of the type “What is the limit as x approaches infinity” type in high-school/college. You’re given an equation (of the classic y=x format), and asked to derive what …
This was an interesting read on the economics of various business models and how they seep into product and company culture.
"I think that over time, the revenue model is the dominant term. The limit of a product towards infinity, so to speak, is based on its revenue model. If your revenue model is ads, it doesn’t matter if your stated mission is “to organize the world’s knowledge and make it universally accessible and useful”, “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”, or anything else. If your revenue model is ads, you are an ads company."Posted on 2020-09-22T04:36:55+0000
“F**k the algorithm”?: What the world can learn from the UK’s A-level grading fiasco
The A-level grading fiasco in the UK led to public outrage over algorithmic bias. This is a well-established problem that data professionals have sought to address through making their algorithms m…
Seemed relevant given a lot of the current and ongoing discussions of algorithmic bias - especially in light of the twitter facial recognition terribleness this weekend.
“Many of the cases of algorithms gone rogue that we know about could have been stopped by critical reflection earlier in the process. Such reflection however, is unlikely to come introspectively. Despite their best efforts, those developing algorithms will be prone to bias and intellectual lock-in.”Posted on 2020-09-21T06:38:23+0000
On the use of a life
First, to dispense with the philosophical argument: Yes, this is my life, and yes, I'm free to use — or waste — it however I please; but I don't think there's anything wrong with asking if this is how my time could be best spent. That applies doubly if the question is not merely about the choice...
This was a really enlightening read on the pursuit of satisfaction in life. Especially relatable given the Pakistani focus on always climbing up some ladder or the other or being given a focus in life.
“Okay, so, what do we think about TarSnap? Dude was obviously a genius, and spent his time on backups instead of solving millennium problems. I say that with the greatest respect. Is this entrepreneurship thing a trap?”
(I usually leave out author bios but it’s relevant in this case, he started university at 13, got a PhD from Oxford and won the Putnam to boot)Posted on 2020-09-21T05:51:46+0000
Secret Documents Show How Criminals Use Famous Banks To Finance Terror And Death
Thousands of secret “suspicious activity reports” offer a never-before-seen picture of corruption and complicity — and how the government lets it flourish.
This whole release is frightening and worth reading. Kudos to Buzzfeed news for some high quality journalism here.
“The lack of money laundering enforcement had nothing to do with a lack of evidence of suspicious transactions, but a lack of interest by political and law enforcement leadership.’’
The most powerful way to fix the problem might be the simplest: Arrest the executives whose banks break the law. "The bankers will never learn until you start putting silver bracelets on people," Pelletier said. "Think of the message you're sending to repeat offenders."”Posted on 2020-09-20T17:27:58+0000
How do you reason about a probabilistic distributed system?
In which I am stunted upon by coin flips Wasn’t too long ago that I felt pretty good about my knowledge of distributed systems. All someone really needed in order to understand them, I thought, was a thorough understanding of the paxos protocol and a willingless to reshape your brain in the image ...
This was a very engaging technical read.
“I didn’t dislike probability & statistics, I just tried to keep my distance as much as possible. All the algorithms in distributed systems I’d encountered so far involved nondeterminism, sure, but not probability. I’d assumed nondeterminism was just a more flexible way of reasoning about probability. This idea of mine would prove to be a source of great unnecessary confusion as I learned the art of reasoning about probabilistic distributed systems, so I’ll do you a favor and give you the core lesson of this entire post in one sentence:
You cannot model probability with nondeterminism, and you cannot model nondeterminism with probability.”Posted on 2020-09-12T04:15:22+0000
The surprising traits of good remote leaders
Strong in-person leadership skills don’t necessarily translate to being a good virtual leader. Instead, organisation and competency reign supreme.
I found this engaging and interesting, and kept nodding along, till they provided more details on the study and uh... not sure I'll buy this given that they never actually studied or touched an actual corporate or business environment. Would love to know if/how I'm wrong here and how the research corrects for this.
"The study, published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, tracked 220 US-based teams to see which team members emerged as leaders across in-person, virtual and hybrid groups. The researchers conducted a series of in-lab experiments with 86 four-person teams, and also traced the communications and experiences of 134 teams doing a semester-long project in a university class (students are commonly used as proxy for workers in leadership research). The study was carried out pre-pandemic, focusing on emergent leaders: those perceived as leaders, and whose influence is willingly accepted."Posted on 2020-09-11T02:40:27+0000
How I operated as a Staff engineer at Heroku
I was incredibly lucky to spend 5 amazing years at Heroku. By the end of my time, I was operating in a Staff capacity, although I’m honestly completely uncle...
This was an engaging read on what it means to be a more seasoned engineer. There's a lot of sage advice in here and it's hard to pick out just one small, self-contained quote.
"Success looks like seeing conversations about timeline and priorities between ICs start from a shared background. Success looks like having no major blow ups about “How could you suggest we ship this hack?” Instead, folks can talk about technical choices through a business lens: “I know we’re currently low on staff compared to our product ambitions, but is this the right place to simplify?” Success looks like a team with a shared goal for the quality and resiliency of code that we’re writing. Success also looks like other ICs feeling confident in advocating for changes, since they see our team making technical decisions with a consistent goal in mind. When I talk with ICs in 1:1s, there should be no “I’m not sure why I’m doing X” when it comes to code, infrastructure and incidents."Posted on 2020-09-11T02:37:20+0000
"I'm a coffin confessor. I tell people's secrets from beyond the grave"
My client told me that he wanted me to crash his funeral and that he would pay me $7,300 to do exactly what he asked. I had to out the best friend for trying to sleep with the deceased's wife.
As millennials continue to destroy industries, this person took a stand and decided to start a new one.
“He told me that he wanted me to crash his funeral and that he would pay me $7,300 (AUD$10,000) to do exactly what he asked. I was to interrupt the funeral when his best friend was reading the eulogy and to tell his best friend to sit down and shut up. Then I was to explain to everyone that I had something to say on the behalf of the deceased.”Posted on 2020-09-10T05:48:38+0000
The Little Cards That Tell Police 'Let's Forget This Ever Happened'
Some cops give their friends and family union-issued "courtesy cards" to help get them out of minor infractions. The cards embody everything wrong with modern policing.
How is this a thing?!
"When police officers are presented with a PBA card, they need to make a calculated decision about how seriously to take it. “Imagine you're a police officer, you're out there doing your job every single time, and you give your wife, or your brother, or your kid the card. You say, ‘Just show this to a police officer, and he can always call me and I can talk to him.’” Driscoll said."Posted on 2020-09-03T03:42:41+0000