Labnotes

Weekend Reading — All the bounces

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Simon Kuestenmacher "Timezones of Antarctica. It must be a mess when all the staff of all arctic research stations want to organize a BBQ or at least a phone conference..."


Design Objective

Patrick Thornton This should be common knowledge:

Designers are usually given symptoms, not actual problems to solve.

First step is to figure out the real problem that needs to be solved.

This means that product managers, journalists, business people, etc. need to understand this first step. They usually get problem wrong.

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Ryan Singer Because if you don't understand the problem, the solution will eat your product alive:

A major cause of product bloat is building things you know how to build but don't understand. If a customer wants it, but it doesn't fit into your mental model of use cases, building it creates an area in the system that you can't reason about.

Aneesh Karve At the very least, do this:

I find that focusing on "jobs to be done" helps to cut through feature creep. More so than use cases, which are not always situational and thus easier to contrive.

Introducing Project Paper Cuts I wish more software vendors would follow:

Project Paper Cuts is dedicated to working directly with the community to fix small to medium-sized workflow problems, iterate on UI/UX, and find other ways to make the quick improvements that matter most. … One big source of inspiration for us has been the Refined GitHub browser extension.

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Scott Belsky To do things that don't scale:

Here’s what i’ve observed and been perplexed by after 10+ years trying to organize the creative world: Creative minds don’t want productivity at the expense of creativity. While the science of business is scaling, the art of business is the stuff that doesn’t.


Tools of the Trade

Real world SSD wearout Don't RBD in production, and watch for slow SQL queries:

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  • Redis+RDB generates a ton of disk writes and it depends not on the amount of changes in Redis db, but on DB size and dump frequency.
  • Actively used SWAP on SSD is probably a bad idea.
  • In DBMSes like Postgresql … bad database design or access patterns might produce a lot of temp files writes.

matt blaze How dare you!

I'm told that I'm being very disrespectful by referring to the Blockchain as a mere data structure, and that it is more like a way of life. I apologize to any computers I've offended.

First million integers, laid out with UMAP A beautiful visualization of the first million integers and their prime factors. Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection is an interesting way to "see" order in the data, and it took me two readings and I still have no clue how UMAP works.

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Astra! Friendly reminder:

microprocessors are domesticated sand

wideNES - Peeking Past the Edge of NES Games Reverse engineering the Nintendo Picture Processing Unit, and detecting scenes without using computer vision.

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Lines of Code

Ted M. Young 👍

Your regular reminder that coding includes writing tests, writing docs, talking to folks, moving code around, deleting code, renaming things, and thinking.

George Porter This (read story to find out) is a relic from the days of PDP-11, why do modern programming language still carry this baggage?

A quick story about the hardest bug I ever debugged. My first job in high school was working at a Houston-based ISP called NeoSoft. I was writing a multi-platform web server in Tcl/Tk (w/ OTcl) called NeoWebScript 1/

David Winterbottom 😈

On your first day at the new job, squash every commit from the repo into a single commit with message "Legacy code" and force-push to master.

Sam Halliday No idea why I find this so funny:

How many programmers does it take to screw up a light bulb?

5 story points


Architectural

My Favorite Sayings 💯

The greatest performance improvement of all is when a system goes from not-working to working … The real challenges are getting programs completed quickly, ensuring their quality, and managing the complexity of large applications. Thus the primary design criterion for software should be simplicity, not speed.

John Feminella What's easy to measure is not necessarily what you need to optimize:

Whenever I see a company hyper-focused on optimizing their infrastructure pennies, I wonder how many dollars are being missed elsewhere in the pipeline.

📜 Here's a thread of one example of what I mean by this.

The subtleties of API contracts, or how enabling HTTP/2 broke Go clients API contracts are not just function name and argument types (h/t drewish):

Go had previously not defined whether it was safe to reuse a request, but it was. Go 1.6 still didn’t define whether it was safe to reuse a request, but it wasn’t, and in the meantime users started to implicitly depend on the behavior. The slight shift in contract is about as subtle as things get, but it was a change in contract nonetheless, and demonstrates how it’s possible to introduce a breaking change even if every function signature stays the same.

Bruce Hauman Or as they say, "pro tip":

It happens far too often that the process of documenting a feature after its been implemented reveals serious flaws the design of that feature. I’m just not learning the obvious lesson.


Peopleware

bechillcomedian ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Apparently kids are taught this acronym in school now:

T.H.I.N.K. before you speak.

T - is it True?
H - is it Helpful?
I - is it Inspiring?
N - is it Necessary?
K - is it Kind?

I feel like I need this to pop up every time I go to post online.

Autism from the inside Too many depictions of autistic people rely on tired clichés. Listening and learning.

Danielle Paquette That's the right move:

Interesting: Microsoft announces it will only ink contracts with companies that provide workers 12 weeks of paid maternity/paternity leave.

That includes firms that staff landscapers, janitors and cafeteria workers:


Techtopia

Franken-algorithms: the deadly consequences of unpredictable code I guess we humans will learn the lessons the hard way:

In an algorithmic environment, many unexpected outcomes may not have been foreseeable to humans – a feature with the potential to become a scoundrel’s charter, in which deliberate obfuscation becomes at once easier and more rewarding. Pharmaceutical companies have benefited from the cover of complexity for years (see the case of Thalidomide), but here the consequences could be both greater and harder to reverse.

phooky 👻

My mom, staying in my guest room, texted me to ask why it sounds like there's a fax machine stuck behind the wall. I told her it was the 3d printer running in the basement. We selected a weird future.


Locked Doors

The Untold Story of NotPetya, the Most Devastating Cyberattack in History In which Russia uses code leaked from the NSA to craft a vicious malware, attack Ukrain and in the process cause $10 billion damages to various businesses around the world, including Russia's own Rosneft:

Then, in June 2017, the saboteurs used that back door to release a piece of malware called NotPetya, their most vicious cyberweapon yet.

The code that the hackers pushed out was honed to spread automatically, rapidly, and indiscriminately. “To date, it was simply the fastest-propagating piece of malware we’ve ever seen,” says Craig Williams, director of outreach at Cisco’s Talos division, one of the first security companies to reverse engineer and analyze NotPetya. “By the second you saw it, your data center was already gone.”

Data vandal changes name of New York City to “Jewtropolis” across multiple apps Quality control meets user generated content business model.


None of the Above

LEGO "We’ve built the impossible: a full-sized LEGO Technic @Bugatti Chiron …and it drives! #BuildforReal"

James Mishra 😭

Why did they call it "Airbnb" when they could have called it "localhost"?

Anarkingu Gidora Use case:

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fervour with measure Emoji, fancy unicode, and accessibility:

  • always add descriptions to images, so screen-reading users know what they're about. include what the key info is (e.g. what food it is, description of yr face and mood if it's a selfie)
  • use normal/custom emoji if you want, but sparingly
  • avoid spelling whole words with the letter emojis.

To Heal Some Wounds, Adult Cells Turn More Fetal Not just stem cells:

In a newly discovered type of wound healing, which some researchers call “paligenosis,” adult cells revert to a more fetal state.

Mr. Roger Live and let toast:

Could we, without relentlessly criticizing, let people have their pumpkin spice, and avacado toast, and their fandoms, and their D&D, and their too-early-Halloween-decorations, and whatever little harmless things in which they’ve manage to find a tiny shriveled flower of joy?

LEGO Axle Sorter AS-L40A Impressive.

Pattern TIL

This is how Utah stocks fish in its mountain lakes. Utah's Department of Natural Resources says air drops are less stressful for the fish than a long journey by ground. More than 95% survive the fall. Utah DNR compares the fish to high divers diving into a deep pool of water. 🐟

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Parker Molloy 🚨

I really feel like people aren’t taking the Republican PR campaign against perceived bias in tech companies anywhere near serious enough.

What they’re not going to do:
actually regulate tech companies

What they’re actually trying to do:
convince tech companies to favor them

Fluff Society This sheep has all the bounces.