Weekend Reading — This may startle them but it does not hurt them and will curb the behavior

This week we go pool side, rant about a caucus, discover the origin of logs, travel to the moon with a USB-C charger, and order hot singles from Amazon.

Weekend Reading — This may startle them but it does not hurt them and will curb the behavior Super-summer interweb radio station with cheesy 90's videos is exactly what I need right now.

Weekend Reading is a blog about technology, and also people and culture. Culture includes politics and media. So, of course, I have strong opinions on what happened at the Iowa caucus earlier this week.

Short version, the DNC paid < $120K to build an app for tabulation votes. The contract went to a small vendor, inexperienced developers, who did little if any testing. When they tried to use it the first time, it went as well (or as horribly) as you’d expect.

The first mistake, maybe they didn’t need to write all that code. The second mistake, out-sourcing domain expertise to app developers, Justin Joque talks about that:

the replacement of people who know how organizations, bureaucracies and systems function with poorly designed and specified "apps" that continually fail

Bad product launches are the industry standard now. Doesn’t mean it’s right, we should be doing better. But it’s not news, either.

Here’s the thing. The Iowa caucus has a manual process that works just fine:

So across the state, counties just like ours called their results into Des Moines headquarters the old-fashioned way, flooding the phone lines and overwhelming the few volunteers assigned to this job.

The only reason they’ll want to use an app is to get those results the same night instead of waiting a day. Iowa represents ~1% of the US population, waiting a day for the results is not a big deal.

Except, if you’re the 24/7 news industry. They need to feel the airtime with stories, and if they don’t have a story, they’ll make one up. Since they didn’t have the results until 3 days later, they had to make up a story.

Much ado about absolutely nothing at all. So there you have it, the non-story of the week, now you know and you’re not smarter for it.

Design Objective

Alex 🌚 “Love writing design specs that don’t leave any open questions.”


Making Sense of Dyslexia on Behance - usinf origami posters to raise awareness That's a creative campaign that easily gets the point across. Love this.


laura bananas 😭 This is the one thing uniting designers and developers:

designer: looks nice but can we move the headers 1px up
developer: its not that we cant its that then i have to put 19px (ugly number) instead of 20px (beautiful number) in the css and that makes me sad
designer: ah absolutely understandable carry on

Tools of the Trade

Rob Napier Good point. So many times I got stumped by a bug, but once I figure out which of my assumptions was wrong, I instantly found the bug:

Periodic Reminder: When debugging, you must first accept that something you believe is true is not true. If everything you believed about this system were true, it would work. It doesn't, so you're wrong about something.

This is a surprisingly common stumbling block for devs.

Good Experiment, Bad Experiment — Reforge Running an experiment is not just about start, stop, and write down the results. There is science (and art) to running a good experimence and avoid wasting time on the bad ones. This post captures the essence:

Good experiments advance product strategy. Bad experiments only advance metrics.

Good experiments have a plan for success. They invest in making a successful experiment a real part of the product and think about full go-to-market integration. Bad experiments leave MVPs in the product forever.

Fermat's Library Also, this is where log comes from (as in, “did you check the logs?”).

15th century sailors kept track of their speed at sea with a knotted rope, a piece of wood and an hourglass.

This is the reason why “knots" became a unit of speed for maritime navigation.

Learn more about it in this week’s paper:


Someone Used Neural Networks To Upscale An 1895 Film To 4K 60 FPS Oh, wow, this is really interesting and the results are quite impressive. Also, not at all concerning, when you consider the rapid pace of video manipulation. Also, Digg still around?


Lines of Code

WrrrdNrrrdGrrrl 😭

An older woman came into the bookstore today. I made a joke about a credit card reader issue and she said "these things are all programmed by twenty-five-year-old boys who don't comment their code" and somehow we ended up having a great conversation about programming and biases.


Justin Joque 👇 This is 100% correct. And also, not a new thing. Consulting companies have been doing this for decades (eg McKinsey is 94 year old business), replacing people who know the system with different people, out-source, off-shore, and now apps. In the end, apps are just a new way to out-source labor for cheaper:

A few thoughts about the Iowa Caucuses: what we are seeing there is part of a larger shift, the same thing that happened with the Boeing 737 max, the MiDAS software that wrongly kicked 20k people off of unemployment in Michigan. We are seeing over and over the replacement of people who know how organizations, bureaucracies and systems function with poorly designed and specified "apps" that continually fail. The problem is not really the technology, but the idea that local institutional knowledge and labor can be easily replaced with consultants

Cari Hernandez This quickly turned into a meme, substitute with “the CTO wants to use microservices”, or ”store todo lists on the blockchain“:

Every time your democratic party official mentions using an app the best thing to do is spray them directly in the face with a spray bottle filled with room temp water. This may startle them but it does not hurt them and will curb the behavior.


Gurwinder 👇This is the kind of content that works very well at 280 characters:

MEGATHREAD TIME: In 40 tweets I will describe 40 powerful concepts for understanding the world. Some are complex so forgive me for oversimplifying, but the main purpose is to incite curiosity. Okay, here we go:

Starting with:

Causal Reductionism: Things rarely happen for just 1 reason. Usually, outcomes result from many causes conspiring together. But our minds cannot process such a complex arrangement, so we tend to ascribe outcomes to single causes, reducing the web of causality to a mere thread.

Why the Most Important Idea in Behavioral Decision-Making Is a Fallacy - Scientific American Blog Network TL;DR The popular idea that loss aversion is the bigger motivator (fear > greed) doesn't replicate well. Add another one to the replication crisis. When we're talking about losing vs gaining $10, loss aversion doesn't play a significant factor.

In the case of loss aversion, contradictory evidence has tended to be dismissed, ignored or explained away, while ambiguous evidence has tended to be interpreted in line with loss aversion. For example, a paper purporting to illustrate that price increases are more impactful than price decreases received 65 citations in Google Scholar in 2016, whereas a follow-up paper challenging this view received only 17 citations.


Daniel Gross “Sometimes a comment on the Internet is better than all the management books in the world.


Adrienne Porter Felt So true it hurts:

A solid 10% of being an engineering manager is asking two people if they've talked to each other yet

Locked Doors

Simon Weckert Love this hack!

99 smartphones are transported in a handcart to generate virtual traffic jam in Google Maps. Through this activity, it is possible to turn a green street red which has an impact in the physical world by navigating cars on another route! #googlemapshacks


Oliver Hough “I made this handy map so you know how to attribute”


Byron C Clark “This has got to be some kind of secret spy communication, right?”


Startup Life

Manu Kumar 👇 Why it's nearly impossible to “accelerate a startup”. You don't always see the straight line to product/market fit, learning takes time:

7/ Every startup is it's own unique puzzle. The founders job is to decipher and figure out their puzzle. And like when you're assembling a puzzle, you sometimes get it wrong, and have to go back and try again, or try a different approach.

Debt is Coming TL;DR The recurring revenue stream of SaaS companies is basically a fixed income asset. Your customers are your assets, and you can borrow against those assets. At the growth stage, debt is cheaper than equity. Mind you, current debt instruments are dangerous for startups, which have pushed them towards VC, but I can see how new type of startup friendly debt instruments come online and make a big dent in the VC world.



Mat Velloso “And you think you're a big deal because you can ssh into your container...“

NASA brings Voyager 2 fully back online, 11.5 billion miles from Earth “Thanks to some (very) remote engineering work by NASA, the intrepid explorer’s science mission is back on.”


Apollo 11 vs USB-C Chargers Explores the important question: can you use the CPU in a USB-C charger to fly people to the moon?


A Small-Rocket Maker Is Running a Different Kind of Space Race They're based in Alameda, so I have straight line of sight from my house, but they're not launching any rockets from here (populated area) so 😢 It's a different kind of rocket for sure, tiny (40') and as far as launch vehicles go, dirt cheap ($2.5m). Goal is to launch a lot of them, with small payloads, like the Swarm satellites. Think of this as microservices deployed to low earth orbit.

Available To Hire

Signal boosting people looking for a job. If your company is hiring, or you know someone who is, reach out to them. If you'd like to get included next week, email me at

mudge Rubyist with 14 years experience, senior developer/technical lead. London.

FRANCESC Engineering leadership role at late-stage startup/public co. golang & kubernetes a plus.

legally james! Senior full stack JavaScript (front, back and DevOps). London.

None of the Above “Hot Singles Near You starting at $4.99 with Prime delivery“ 😭

wikipedia brown aka silk bonnet spectre Current mood:

so you're trying to tell me that it's the same week as it was earlier this week? give me a break

Best of Nextdoor “Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley...”


Pigeon Fancier 👇 Any of these happened to you?

What’s the most ridiculous demand a customer has made of you? I’ll go first: when I was working retail, a woman once demanded I pick her up from her Botox appointment with my car & bring her to the mall to shop

Russ McSpadden “A coyote and a badger use a culvert as a wildlife crossing to pass under a busy California highway together. Coyotes and badgers are known to hunt together.”

brony sanders 🍞📈 “it’s so interesting that the first generation of kids who were used as props by their instagram influencer moms have grown up and are now asserting their own agency. and their reaction isn’t exactly a surprise. who would want their childhood to be online like this?”


Gabrielle Blair 🔥🔥🔥

When I hear men worshipping guns and talking about how there’s nothing that will stop them from defending their family, my mind goes to Naaman in the Bible. Do you remember Naaman? He was a great military leader, and he also had leprosy.


Akki “This is the best thing you'll see today 😍”

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