U.S. life expectancy drops sharply, the second consecutive decline
Americans born in 2021 can expect to live for just 76.1 years — the lowest life expectancy has been since 1996, according to a new analysis. It's the biggest two-year decline in almost 100 years.
This estimate is staggering.
““It’s a ridiculous decline,” Anderson said. “When I saw a 6.6 year decline over two years, my jaw dropped. … I made my staff re-run the numbers to make sure.”
Life expectancy isn’t really a prediction for a single individual. It’s more like a check engine light — an indicator for the health of society as a whole. When more people die than would be expected, or when they die at younger ages than expected, then life expectancy will decline.”Posted on 2022-08-31T21:27:50+0000
4.2 Gigabytes, or: How to Draw Anything
In our world, we can do anything that we want to do here. Any old thing. - Bob Ross, The Joy Of Painting Season 29 Episode 1
Need to resist the urge to just spend a few days playing with stable diffusion at this rate. I do have some old art projects I could dig up for this (need to find the images I liked, still have the code though).
That’s the size of the model that has made this recent explosion possible.
4.2 gigabytes of floating points that somehow encode so much of what we know.
Yes, I’m waxing poetic here. No, I am not heralding the arrival of AGI, or our AI overlords. I am simply admiring the beauty of it, while it is fresh and new.
Because it won’t be fresh and new for long. This thing I’m feeling is not much different from how I felt using email for the first time - “Grandma got my message already? In Florida? In seconds?” It was the nearest thing to magic my child-self had ever seen. Now email is the most boring and mundane part of my day.
I’m just thinking about those 4.2 gigabytes. How small it seems, in today’s terms. Such a little bundle that holds so much.
How many images, both real photos and fictional art, were crammed through the auto-encoder, that narrower and narrower funnel of information, until some sort of meaning was distilled from them? How many times must a model be taught to de-noise an image until it understands what makes a tiger different from a leopard? I guess now we know.
And now I suppose we ride the wave until this new magic is both as widely used, and boring, as email. So it goes.”Posted on 2022-08-31T17:20:42+0000
Stable Diffusion is a really big deal
If you haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on with Stable Diffusion, you really should be. Stable Diffusion is a new “text-to-image diffusion model” that was released to the …
It’s been crazy watching the explosion in this technology since DALL-E was announced - openai must be a bit annoyed that free alternatives are now available. I’ve been playing around with stable diffusion and the results are really good with only a couple minutes of first attempts - can’t even imagine how they would be with more work.
“As such, each image in the training set contributes only a tiny amount of information—a few tweaks to some numeric weights spread across the entire network.
But... the people who created these images did not give their consent. And the model can be seen as a direct threat to their livelihoods. No-one expected creative AIs to come for the artist jobs first, but here we are!
I’m still thinking through this, and I’m eager to consume more commentary about it. But my current mental model is to think about this in terms of veganism, as an analogy for people making their own personal ethical decisions.
I know many vegans. They have access to the same information as I do about the treatment of animals, and they have made informed decisions about their lifestyle, which I fully respect.
I myself remain a meat-eater.”Posted on 2022-08-31T17:05:03+0000
The growing evidence that Covid-19 is leaving people sicker
The potential impact on heart and brain disease poses challenges to healthcare systems globally
“But, as he prepares to publish further findings from his scrutiny of the VA database, Al-Aly is in no doubt that clinicians and society at large will be dealing with the after-effects of Covid in perpetuity. “This is not something that will go away in a week, in a year, or two, or three. This will reverberate with us for generations,” he says.”Posted on 2022-08-30T23:51:18+0000
#DropKiwifarms works to end the relationship between far-right hate forum Kiwi Farms and the digital service providers that keep Kiwi Farms active online. We started this campaign after members on the website published private information on Clara Sorrenti, including sexually explicit photos and vid...
Free speech debates often go far and wide but I will always draw a line at targeted violence (amongst other lines). Cloudflare has been getting a lot of (deserved, imo) flak for this and there are some instances of them losing business as well. I wish this would be resolved soon so more people don’t have to suffer.
“The official website of the DropKiwifarms campaign is now online. Our campaign has seen a surge of support, and outlets such as Business Insider, Time Magazine, Vice, Kotaku, and Daily Dot have begun to take notice and requests by media to organizers of the campaign keep pouring in. We are now entering into the second phase of this campaign where our organizational efforts intensify and we start to put more focused pressure on Cloudflare employees to get them to drop a website that the Anti-Defamation League has described as an “Extremist-friendly Forum”. Kiwifiarms is a transphobic hate forum that actively stalks people, publishes doxxing information, and is implicated in multiple suicides of transgender and neurodivergent people. Recently, users of the forum have also swatted a sitting congressperson, and Kiwifarms is hosted by a company formerly named after Adolf Hitler’s plan for Jewish genocide. Joshua Moon, the site’s owner, was permanently banned on Twitter for calling for genocide against Muslims and asking a Jewish journalist if he could have his fingers for a necklace.”Posted on 2022-08-30T16:38:16+0000
‘Police don’t produce safety’: the Black feminist scholars fighting for abolition
Mariame Kaba and Andrea J Ritchie on their new book and their vision for a prison-free world: ‘Let’s take money from death and put it toward life’
“Kaba: To me, the reason “defund the police” resonates with people is because we’re saying what we actually want to see happen. Some people on the left say: “‘Defund’ is totally ridiculous, it’s a budget gimmick.” Then some on the right say, “All hell is going to break loose, you all want the end of society.” For me, defund is such a clear, easy demand to understand. People understand it, they just don’t want to do it. People are like, “Oh, it’s so complicated!” No, it’s not. We’ve seen for years people defund public education and take that money and put it into more military, more policing, more prisons. The demand is to reverse that trend.
Ritchie: The common response is “that was the wrong slogan”, but it clearly had an impact because it generated the powerful backlash that we’ve seen, which is police doing exactly what Mariame was talking about – exercising their power politically and with ferocity over the last two years, precisely because their power was threatened by this idea, because they faced one of the greatest crises of legitimacy in at least a generation. Yes, we want to take money away from death and put it toward life, especially in a pandemic and climate catastrophe and economic crisis. People also say: “Defund movements have come and gone and are dead.” But people are still pushing defund demands on the ground across the US and are seeing now that mayors and city councils are having to justify and put a lot of energy into re-legitimizing police and refilling their budgets.”Posted on 2022-08-30T01:18:13+0000
The Big [Censored] Theory
A case study on how the government censors TV in China.
This was a really detailed analysis and an interesting overview of how tv censorship is done in China. Cool application of software to a problem that wouldn’t have easily been solved without.
“Hong Kong-based journalist and author Nury Vittachi shared a similar experience in a New York Times opinion piece, describing that a crime story he co-wrote with a Chinese director had to be rejiggered multiple times, finally resulting in an “implausible tale” that involves noble detectives of Chinese origin in order to pass the authorities’ review.
“The rules kill creativity,” Vittachi added.”Posted on 2022-08-29T21:24:02+0000
Jonas Hietala: Rewriting my blog in Rust for fun and profit
Rewriting my blog in Rust for fun and profit August 29, 2022 Background I’ve used Hakyll as my static site generator for around 9 years now. Before that I think I used Jekyll and also more dynamic pages with Mojolicious in Perl and Kohana in PHP, but I can’t be completely sure as the git history...
This was a fun little read. And makes me wonder if I should blog at some point about my static site generator that I rewrote late last year to tinker around with some fun rust concepts.
“Why reinvent the wheel again?
I wanted to write my own static site generator as a fun and interesting project. It shouldn’t be that hard and it would give me complete control over the site, which should give me a bit more flexibility than if I used an existing site generator.”Posted on 2022-08-29T21:13:47+0000
The Aging Student Debtors of America
In an era of declining wages and rising debt, Americans are not aging out of their student loans—they are aging into them.
This is from July but super relevant in light of all the debates around student loan forgiveness. It’s too easy to forget the all too real costs that these usurious loans have on people.
“The family made good on both: as ward chairwoman, Robert’s wife maintained the family home as a community backbone, and Betty Ann, who asked that she and her family members be identified by first name only, grew up with a steady stream of neighbors flowing through the house. Although her mother had no money, Betty Ann was a strong student and earned enough scholarships to receive a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education. In the next few decades, she worked as a public-school teacher in Pittsburgh and Harlem, in addition to raising two children as a single mother. But she grew increasingly frustrated by the marks of educational inequity—moldy lunches, low-grade reading materials—that plagued her classrooms. “I thought the only way that I could change things was to have a higher degree,” she told me.
In 1983, at the age of fifty-two, Betty Ann enrolled in New York University’s law school. As a middle-aged Black woman, she wasn’t exactly the typical N.Y.U. law student. Her white male classmates would slyly elbow her books off the long library tables, and once, while standing at her locker, a classmate waved a ten-thousand-dollar tuition check, signed by his father, in her face. Betty Ann had borrowed twenty-nine thousand dollars in federal loans. Today, she owes $329,309.69 in student debt. She is ninety-one years old.”Posted on 2022-08-28T22:56:29+0000
An Engineer’s Bill of Rights and Responsibilities - Honeycomb
The engineer's bill of rights: Here are the commitments we make to our engineers at Honeycomb—and some of our expectations.
This was the precursor to the last post; this time focused on engineers. Great read and I felt myself nodding along.
“You should have a career path that challenges you and contributes to your personal life goals, with the coaching and support you need to get there.
You should substantially choose your own work, in consultation with your manager and based on our business goals. This is not a democracy, but you will have a voice in our planning process.”Posted on 2022-08-28T15:52:14+0000
An Engineering Manager's Bill of Rights (and Responsibilities)
The engineering manager's bill of rights: Here are the commitments we make to our EMs at Honeycomb—and some of our expectations.
This was a really good read - I liked the framing of how management responsibilities have changed a bit in the industry over the last few years, and Honeycomb’s approach was quite refreshing. And the quote really hit home for me:
“Why? Admittedly, partly for crass practical reasons: so many of the best and most promising managers I know have left management roles for senior IC roles since 2018, and as someone who has to hire managers, this creates a supply problem for me. Sincerely though, I also observe that a truly staggering number of Honeycomb’s most effective, most admired senior ICs are former managers, and while they seem quite happy and I wouldn’t wish them back to their old roles, the fact that all of these smart, thoughtful, driven, emotionally intelligent people all chose to leave the same high-paying, respectable role must mean something (yes, respectable—it is unfortunately a fact universally acknowledged that every in-law is more impressed by “Engineering Manager” or “Director of Engineering” than “Senior Software Engineer” or “Staff Engineer”).
Partly, this is just a sign that we’ve made senior IC roles more appealing—more lucrative, more autonomous, with clearer career progression—as we intended to do! This is good. But I think it is also a sign that the job of engineering manager has gotten harder, and in many organizations, it can now feel like an unwinnable game, caught between two distinct and sometimes conflicting generations of expectations. “Posted on 2022-08-28T15:35:30+0000
Pakistan declares national emergency as flood toll nears 1,000
At least 937 people have died and 33 million ‘badly affected’ as Pakistan struggles to cope with devastating floods.
Climate change is real and is unfortunately going to lead to so many more deaths unless radical action is taken. My heart goes out for these folks - and if you can donate, please do.
““Pakistan is under an unprecedented monsoon spell and data suggests the possibility of re-emergence of another cycle in September,” she said.
Two of the worst-hit provinces – Balochistan and Sindh – have received 298mm and 689mm rains respectively this year, which is about 400 percent more than the 30-year average.”Posted on 2022-08-28T06:27:50+0000
Installing air filters in classrooms has surprisingly large educational benefits
$1,000 can raise a class’s test scores by as much as cutting class size by a third.
I wonder if there has been follow up research here since this study was done since the results are quite staggering.
“The impact of the air filters is strikingly large given what a simple change we’re talking about. The school district didn’t reengineer the school buildings or make dramatic education reforms; they just installed $700 commercially available filters that you could plug into any room in the country. But it’s consistent with a growing literature on the cognitive impact of air pollution, which finds that everyone from chess players to baseball umpires to workers in a pear-packing factory suffer deteriorations in performance when the air is more polluted.
If Gilraine’s result holds up to further scrutiny, he will have identified what’s probably the single most cost-effective education policy intervention — one that should have particularly large benefits for low-income children.”Posted on 2022-08-27T23:02:12+0000
Why your website should be under 14kB in size | endtimes.dev
Why your website should be under 14kB in size Also available to read on dev.to (warning it is much larger than 14kB) Having a smaller website makes it load faster — that's not surprising. What is surprising is that a 14kB page can load much faster than a 15kB page — maybe 612ms faster — while ...
Great little piece of technical advice I hadn’t heard about before.
But, assuming you've tried your very best to fit everything into 14kB, and can't — the 14kB rule is still useful.
If you Make sure the first 14kB of data you send to your visitors can be used to render something useful — for instance some critical CSS, JS and the first few paragraphs of text explaining how to use your app.”Posted on 2022-08-26T03:53:21+0000
Inside the Pinecone | Pinecone
Edo Liberty, Pinecone CEO, provides a glimpse into the journey behind building a database company, including some insights into the latest innovations around the product and vector search.
Come for the feature announcement, stay for the great Rust praise. This matched my experience too.
“So, what did we learn? We all expect performance and dev processes to improve. Those indeed happened. What we didn’t expect was the extent to which dev velocity increased and operational incidents decreased. Dev velocity, which was supposed to be the claim to fame of Python, improved dramatically with Rust. Built-in testing, CI/CD, benchmarking, and an overzealous compiler increased engineers’ confidence in pushing changes, and enabled them to work on the same code sections and contribute simultaneously without breaking the code base. Most impressively though, real time operational events dropped almost to zero overnight after the original release. Sure, there are still surprises here and there but, by and large, the core engine has been shockingly stable and predictable.”Posted on 2022-08-25T01:40:57+0000
How SQLite Scales Read Concurrency
Understanding how the write-ahead log turns your scaling up to 11.
I love these blogs as I keep learning more about SQLite. Looking forward to the next one!
“While there are always trade-offs between design choices, the vast majority of applications will benefit from WAL mode. The SQLite web site helpfully lists some edge cases where the rollback journal would be a better choice such as when using multi-database transactions. However, those situations are rare for most applications.
Now that you understand how data is stored and transactions are safely handled, we'll take a look at the query side of SQLite in our next post which will cover the SQLite Virtual Machine.”Posted on 2022-08-25T00:52:45+0000
Biden to cancel up to $10K in federal student loan debt for certain borrowers and up to $20K for Pell Grant recipients
The administration will also extend the pause on federal student loan payments through Dec. 31.
I think what’s not appreciated as much in the reporting on this great move is the 5% income cap and 20 year limit on loans. I still wish education would be free but this is a great first step.
“Biden on Wednesday also announced a new income-driven repayment plan that would cap monthly payments for undergraduate loans at 5% of a borrower’s discretionary income, down from the rate of 10% under most existing plans.”Posted on 2022-08-25T00:49:26+0000
Congress Admits UFOs Not ‘Man-Made,’ Says ‘Threats’ Increasing ‘Exponentially’
The new budget for America’s intelligence services directs the Pentagon to focus its UFO investigation on those objects that it can't identify.
Cue stargate reveal in 3,2,1…
“"After all, why would Congress establish and task a powerful new office with investigating non-'man-made' UFOs if such objects did not exist?"
"Make no mistake: One branch of the American government implying that UFOs have non-human origins is an explosive development."”Posted on 2022-08-24T05:01:22+0000
Ex-Twitter exec blows the whistle, alleging reckless and negligent cybersecurity policies | CNN Business
Twitter has major security problems that pose a threat to its own users' personal information, to company shareholders, to national security, and to democracy, according to an explosive whistleblower disclosure obtained exclusively by CNN and The Washington Post.
Given that this is coming from Mudge, this is likely highly credible and quite worrying to read. There’s always two sides to the story though and I wonder what context we’re missing out on. Like for example none of the reporting I read on this mentioned that the CISO also left at the same time - I hope that was due to an oversight (she’s arguably not as famous as Mudge) and not due to sexism. But.. it still seems notable enough to warrant a mention at least?
“But, the disclosure says, Zatko soon learned “it was impossible to protect the production environment. All engineers had access. There was no logging of who went into the environment or what they did…. Nobody knew where data lived or whether it was critical, and all engineers had some form of critical access to the production environment.” Twitter also lacked the ability to hold workers accountable for information security lapses because it has little control or visibility into employees’ individual work computers, Zatko claims, citing internal cybersecurity reports estimating that 4 in 10 devices do not meet basic security standards.”Posted on 2022-08-23T21:49:27+0000
The strength of the strong force
Much ado was made about the Higgs boson when this elusive particle was discovered in 2012. Though it was touted as giving ordinary matter mass, interactions with the Higgs field only generate about 1 percent of ordinary mass. The other 99 percent comes from phenomena associated with the strong force...
“Years have passed since the experiments that accidentally bore these results were conducted. A whole new suite of experiments now use Jefferson Lab's higher energy 12 GeV beam to explore nuclear physics.
"One thing I'm very happy about with all these older experiments is that we trained many young students and they have now become leaders of future experiments," Chen said.
Only time will tell which theories these new experiments support.”Posted on 2022-08-22T23:39:42+0000
A deep technical dive into all things Redis. Covering various Redis topologies, data persistence and process forking.
This was a really insightful read and now I have a new site to follow. I also learnt that Redis supports hyperloglogs which is really cool - wish I’d known that before!
“Rather than iterating over, sorting, and ordering rows, what if the data was in data structures you wanted from the ground up? Early on, it was used much like Memcached, but as Redis improved, it became viable for many other use cases, including publish-subscribe mechanisms, streaming, and queues.”Posted on 2022-08-22T06:20:17+0000
How to advertise to developers: deep dive into paid developer marketing
I dive into best practices, targeting, creatives, landing pages, channels, and examples from the best developer-focused companies.
This was a really interesting read that I’ll come back to in the future - and maybe get vetted by some of my marketing friends.
“What is next?
Just go run your ads already
If you need a quick framework based on what we talked about, here it is:
Figure out what you want to achieve (goal)
Choose a platform. Make sure your audience is there
Setup conservative targeting (filter out too much if you have to but make sure you are talking to the right audience)
Design a practical and relevant ad creative. Use Moat for inspiration
Connect to the right landing page (amplify paths people are already taking)
Run a minimal viable test first
If the test was successful, scale your ad spend”
The '3.5% rule': How a small minority can change the world
Nonviolent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts – and those engaging a threshold of 3.5% of the population have never failed to bring about change.
From 2019, so a lot (and very little) has changed since then. This was an informational read.
“Ultimately, she would like our history books to pay greater attention to nonviolent campaigns rather than concentrating so heavily on warfare. “So many of the histories that we tell one another focus on violence – and even if it is a total disaster, we still find a way to find victories within it,” she says. Yet we tend to ignore the success of peaceful protest, she says.
“Ordinary people, all the time, are engaging in pretty heroic activities that are actually changing the way the world – and those deserve some notice and celebration as well.””Posted on 2022-08-22T05:42:38+0000
A Dad Took Photos of His Naked Toddler for the Doctor. Google Flagged Him as a Criminal.
Google has an automated tool to detect abusive images of children. But the system can get it wrong, and the consequences are serious.
Sigh. This is just a scary situation all around. Appeals processes need to be better as well as detection of CSAM. So many trade offs here but I wish companies would strive to do better. Or at least apologize when they got it wrong (though I understand why they can’t — lawsuits)
“A Google spokeswoman said the company stands by its decisions, even though law enforcement cleared the two men.
Ms. Hessick, the law professor, said the cooperation the technology companies provide to law enforcement to address and root out child sexual abuse is “incredibly important,” but she thought it should allow for corrections.
“From Google’s perspective, it’s easier to just deny these people the use of their services,” she speculated. Otherwise, the company would have to resolve more difficult questions about “what’s appropriate behavior with kids and then what’s appropriate to photograph or not.”Posted on 2022-08-21T16:34:10+0000
“Quantum-Safe” Crypto Hacked by 10-Year-Old PC
To stay ahead of the quantum computer threat, cryptographers around the world have spent the past two decades designing postquantum cryptography (PQC) algorithms. These are based on new mathematical problems that both quantum and classical computers find difficult to solve.
The fact that they did it on a 10 year old computer is glorious.
“One reason SIKE’s vulnerability was not detected until now was because the new attack “applies very advanced mathematics—I can’t think of another situation where an attack has used such deep mathematics compared with the system being broken,” says Galbraith. Katz agrees, saying, “I suspect that fewer than 50 people in the world understand both the underlying mathematics and the necessary cryptography.””Posted on 2022-08-19T19:30:49+0000
Can you find the bug in the Legacy Code? A coding Choose your own Adventure - Journal of Astrological Big Data Ecology
After being promised an exciting new job working in a software company, you are asked to find a bug in some legacy code. Can you do it?
This was a really entertaining choose your own adventure story. I ended up getting a phd and somehow getting fired because of it - will play again later!
“You are a new employee at the code factory. The job listing said that you’d get to do all sorts of fancy machine learning applications but it turns out you’re needed to fix old legacy code that doesn’t work anymore! You re-run the code against the test cases laid out by the last guy who worked on this legacy code and it’s outputting the error.”Posted on 2022-08-18T21:20:14+0000
This was an interesting read, gave me a lot of food for thought.
“Will this vision pan out? I don't know... maybe. But I think we're heading in this direction already. It won't be overnight revolution, even structured programming wasn't. Many of these ideas are not explored enough yet, and some of them might even be impossible to implement, who knows. Testing is the most developed out of these, I'd say. Even though it's still far behind what I want, I think most of the building blocks are there”Posted on 2022-08-17T21:49:35+0000
How I Hacked my Car
The Car Last summer I bought a 2021 Hyundai Ioniq SEL. It is a nice fuel-efficient hybrid with a decent amount of features like wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay, wireless phone charging, heated seats, & a sunroof. One thing I particularly liked about this vehicle was the In-Vehicle Infotainme...
Great tutorial. But also this leaves me with very little confidence in Hyundai. Using a publicly available test keypair?! Sigh.
“But at least I had the encryption key. To verify that no one else had gotten this far I googled the encryption key. Encryption Key Search Results
Google Git? Apple? Chegg????
Turns out the encryption key in that script is the first AES 128bit CBC example key listed in the NIST document SP800-38A.”Posted on 2022-08-13T14:26:14+0000
This 17-Year-Old Designed a Motor That Could Potentially Transform the Electric Car Industry
Robert Sansone's research could pave the way for the sustainable manufacturing of electric vehicles that do not require rare-earth magnets
Come for the inspirational story, stay for the lesson on mechanics and the engineering behind motors.
“Robert Sansone is a natural born engineer. From animatronic hands to high-speed running boots and a go-kart that can reach speeds of more than 70 miles per hour, the Fort Pierce, Florida-based inventor estimates he’s completed at least 60 engineering projects in his spare time. And he’s only 17 years old.”Posted on 2022-08-12T17:43:16+0000
So you've decided to start a free software consultancy...
Recently a friend of mine told me that he was planning to start a free software consultancy, and asked for my advice, as I have an extensive background doing free software consulting for a living. While I have already given him some advice on how to proceed, I thought it might be nice to write a blo...
This had some useful advice - it rings true though I have no way of verifying it.
“These are just my observations from nearly 20 years of doing professional consulting around FOSS. There is no singular right way of running a consultancy, but these are the key aspects that helped me to maintain good working relationships with my customers.
Running a FOSS consultancy is hard work, but can result in a sustainable business, if you are willing to put in the work.”Posted on 2022-08-12T03:42:23+0000
How SQLite helps you do ACID
Let's take a peek at how the rollback journal works.
I can’t wait for the follow up post here - this was really interesting.
“But it certainly has its trade-offs. Kicking out all other transactions whenever you need to write something can become a bottleneck for many applications that have concurrent users. When people say that SQLite doesn't scale, it's typically because they used the rollback journal.
However, SQLite continued to improve and eventually introduced the write-ahead log (WAL) journaling mode and even the wal2 journaling mode. These provide significantly better support for concurrent readers.”Posted on 2022-08-10T16:00:14+0000
Quiet quitting: why doing the bare minimum at work has gone global
The meaninglessness of modern work – and the pandemic – has led many to question their approach to their jobs
“Ranjay Gulati of Harvard Business School has instead characterised it as a “great rethink”, where people evaluate their lives and options: people like Natalie Ormond. “I left my 14-year social work career last September,” she said. “I wasn’t driven to climb the ladder and felt that I was coasting – not doing the bare minimum, but just doing my job and not going above and beyond.””Posted on 2022-08-07T05:27:23+0000
Not a Yoking Matter (Zero-Copy #1) - In Pursuit of Laziness
This is part 1 of a three-part series on interesting abstractions for zero-copy deserialization I’ve been working on over the last year. This part is …
This was a really interesting series of posts. I learnt a lot about weird arcane corners of rust that I didn’t know about and now I’m excited to find a use for these libraries at some point.Posted on 2022-08-05T04:09:46+0000
The disproportionate influence of early tech decisions — brandur.org
Spend five years at a hypergrowth startup like Stripe, and you see a lot changes during that time. Organizationally, it’s night and day, as a few hundred people scaled to thousands, the structure adapted to teams with charters and responsibilities that were much more fixed, and with a rigid manage...
I’d say a lot of early decisions are important just because the cost of change is often higher than that of leaving a working thing alone. This piece resonated a lot.
“It’s not a bad instinct, but quality is more of a sliding scale than it is a good or bad dichotomy, and I’d argue that many small companies optimize too much in favor of speed by trading away too much in terms of maintainability by shipping the first thing that was thrown at the wall.
And this fails the other way too, where major believers in academic-level correctness agonize over details to such a degree that projects never ship, and sometimes never even start. (Cough, Heroku Dogwood stack, cough.)
As with most things, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Spend time thinking and planning, but not to a degenerate extent – it’s also important to do. Refactoring is a key part of the equation – code is never right the first time, it converges on right through many iterations. And ideally the first couple refactors are significant, not only small patches that leave the bulk unchanged. More refactoring passes are better, but subsequent ones will produce diminishing returns.”Posted on 2022-08-04T04:34:45+0000
You aren't lazy. You just need to slow down
Instead of viewing laziness as something we need to fix or overcome with caffeine or longer work hours, social psychologist Devon Price says to think of laziness as a sign you probably need a break.
“"Laziness is usually a warning sign from our bodies and our minds that something is not working," he says. "The human body is so incredible at signaling when it needs something. But we have all learned to ignore those signals as much as possible because they're a threat to our productivity and our focus at work."
That achievement mindset might actually be hurting you. And rethinking "laziness" can lead to more compassion.”Posted on 2022-08-04T04:31:31+0000
Performance Numbers Worth Knowing - Speculative Branches
Performance Numbers Worth Knowing When you design software to achieve a particular level of performance, it can be a good idea to be familiar with the general speed regimes you are working with: fundamental limitations like storage devices and networks can drive software architecture. Here are a set...
Bookmarking for later reference when it comes to system design - this list is more comprehensive than most.
“When you design software to achieve a particular level of performance, it can be a good idea to be familiar with the general speed regimes you are working with: fundamental limitations like storage devices and networks can drive software architecture. Here are a set of common benchmark numbers that can help you anchor performance conversations and think about the components that your software will interact with. As with all guidelines, these numbers are all slightly wrong, but still useful.”Posted on 2022-08-04T04:29:28+0000
Crimes with Python's Pattern Matching • Hillel Wayne
Let's make the CPython team regret adding pattern matching to Python!
The examples here are basically black magic.
“Should I use this?
The pattern matching feature is, on the whole, pretty reasonably designed, and people will expect it to behave in reasonable ways. Whereas __subclasshook__ is extremely dark magic. This kind of chicanery might have a place in the dark beating heart of a complex library, certainly not for any code your coworkers will have to deal with.”Posted on 2022-08-04T04:27:43+0000
Use One Big Server - Speculative Branches
Use One Big Server A lot of ink is spent on the “monoliths vs. microservices” debate, but the real issue behind this debate is about whether distributed system architecture is worth the developer time and cost overheads. By thinking about the real operational considerations of our systems, we ca...
This was great. I’m firmly in this camp - use one server, have a monolith, use SQLite - this makes things so much easier.
I was just talking the other day with a friend along similar lines and back of the envelope math suggests you can host a 1M DAU site on a $5/mo app server. Computers are fast and we tend to over engineer solutions.
“When you experience growing pains, and get close to the limits of your current servers, today’s conventional wisdom is to go for sharding and horizontal scaling, or to use a cloud architecture that gives you horizontal scaling “for free.” It is often easier and more efficient to scale vertically instead. Using one big server is comparatively cheap, keeps your overheads at a minimum, and actually has a pretty good availability story if you are careful to prevent correlated hardware failures. It’s not glamorous and it won’t help your resume, but one big server will serve you well.”Posted on 2022-08-04T04:03:52+0000
The Costs of Accountability - The American Interest
The ballooning demand for misplaced and misunderstood metrics, benchmarks, and performance indicators is costing us big.
This was a super long read that made me both think and nod along a lot as I read it. The author gives a great overview of the rise of metrics-driven “accountability” culture, some of the claimed benefits, and a lot of the observed downsides. I had heard of some these examples in the abstract for a while but seeing them laid out in detail, across areas ranging from education to policing to medicine, was something else.
The writing got a bit dry in the philosophical critiques section - I started skimming there till the conclusion bits - but it’s worth a read.
“One effect of that depletion is to motivate those with greater initiative and enterprise to move out of mainstream, large-scale organizations where the culture of accountable performance prevails. Teachers move out of public schools to private and charter schools. Engineers move out of large corporations to boutique firms. Enterprising government employees become contractors and consultants. There is a healthy element in this. But surely the large-scale organizations of our society are the poorer for driving out those most likely to innovate and initiate. The more that work becomes a matter of filling out forms and filling in boxes by which performance is to be measured and rewarded, the more it will repel those who know how to actually think.
Economists who specialize in measuring economic productivity report that in recent years (2007–12) the only increase in total factor productivity in the American economy was in the IT-producing industries. A question worth asking is to what extent the culture of accountability—with its staggering costs in employee time, morale, and initiative—has itself contributed to economic stagnation?”Posted on 2022-08-04T02:22:49+0000
sqlite-zstd: Transparent dictionary-based row-level compression for SQLite - An sqlite extension written in Rust to reduce the database size without losing functionality - phiresky's blog
Motivation (or side side projects) While working on my startup (DishDetective) I started a side project of an automatic time-tracking tool (timetrackrs), where I try to collect a lot of information about my habits for later analysis. The main component collects data from my computer about what
This was a pretty interesting technical read. I’ve thought of doing similar stuff at the application layer in the past (a la Managed Compression @ meta) but it’s cool to see something like this for SQLite and in a manner that doesn’t need any application level changes.
“For some use cases, sqlite-zstd is great. It can reduce the size of your database by 50 to 95%. The performance impact is there, but considering most operations still run at over 50k per seconds you’ll probably have other bottlenecks. There’s other optimizations to be done
The same method should work for other databases, with barely any modifications required for e.g. PostgreSQL. I’m not sure why no one has done this before or maybe I just couldn’t find it.”Posted on 2022-08-03T05:45:14+0000
The Bias No One Talks About
How workplaces favor those who speak up, and what you can do about it
This was chock full of great advice. I have seen this bias play out way too many times and try to counteract it when I can, but it sucks and is tough.
“If you could have seen me growing up, you would probably be shocked by just how shy I was. The thing is, most people are not born with the skill to discuss any topic intelligently and without preparation. But that's the beauty of learning to speak up: with enough practice, anyone can level up their skills and improve their career prospects, no matter how shy they think they are.
As leaders, we have the ability to help make the playing field more equal, and as colleagues, we can vouch for our fellow team members. And if you're a natural introvert, there are small steps you can start taking today to make your voice heard and your perspective known.”Posted on 2022-08-02T15:38:32+0000