Sunday, November 11, 2018

I asked an online tracking company for all of my data and here's what I found | Privacy International

There have been a number of articles where people have gotten their personal data from Facebook or Twitter and shown the shocking level of detail in the data. This article is even more interesting because it is looking at Quantcast and the data it collects.

My Quantcast data, for instance, gives an eerily specific insight into my work life at Privacy International. From my browsing history alone, companies like Quantcast don’t just know that I work on technology, security, and privacy – my news interests reveal what exactly it is that I am working on at any point in time. My Quantcast data even reveals that I have a personal blog on Tumblr.

There are hundreds of firms like this that sit behind every website you visit and track incredible amounts of data on everything you do. I would highlight that every URL can then be mined to generate even more insight into you.

I block Quantcast and tens of thousands of other trackers on every browser I use with 1Blocker. I can’t recommend strongly enough that you should use a tool like 1Blocker. Surfing the web without privacy protection exposes you to incredible levels of surveillance.

The Graphic Art of Incredibles 2 — Josh Holtsclaw

This is a fun behind-the-scenes look at the research that went into the graphics in Incredibles 2. I liked seeing the real places that served as the inspiration for the completely made up, animated world of The Incredibles.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Calendars of public holidays and bank holidays | Office Holidays

This looks like a solid reference for holidays around the world. Having team members in the United States, Ukraine, India, Canada and Australia this is a handy tool. It’s always embarrassing to not be aware of major holidays in other countries, and this service has a number of ways to keep you up-to-date.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


Free, open source password manager. I’ll stick with 1Password for Families.

Apple walks Ars through the iPad Pro’s A12X system on a chip | Ars Technica

Some further details and specifications on the A12X chip in the new iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro outperforms every MacBook Pro we tested except for the most recent, most powerful 15-inch MacBook Pro with an 8th generation Intel Core i9 CPU. Generally, these laptops cost three times as much as the iPad Pro.

Apple’s position with custom silicon is super interesting. There has been rumor of them ditching Intel at some point. I think that might actually happen.

Theresa Glomb

Dr. Theresa Gloms presented at our company Growth Summit this year and gave a great talk on improving work. She shared her Let’s Make Work Better presentation. It was interesting to hear the research behind it, the overlap with many Getting Things Done concepts as well as Agile concepts.


This site looks like it’s still in development but it promises to be a place to share iOS Shortcuts with other users.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Developers On Call

This is a good assessment of many of the angles of an on-call rotation in a technology team. I agree with the conclusions, and also agree with the premise that all team members for a service or set of services should be in the on-call rotation.

Teams where the people creating the software help support the software achieve better quality through aligned incentives and increased awareness.

I like that this article calls out the elephant in the room, that there is a general culture in many organizations that developers are “above” being on-call. That is crap and needs to be dispelled whenever it is brought up. If anything, I would highlight that there are a lot of developers are just aren’t all that great at being on-call. The skill argument should go the other way. Great operations engineers know how their software behaves, and they know how to push it and make it do what they want. Often the developers that wrote it have no clue. Also, the general stress and pressure of incidents is something that you need to have the stomach for.

Event Store

The open-source, functional database with Complex Event Processing in JavaScript.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Google employees and contractors participate in “global walkout for real change”

it’s nice to see employees at one of the biggest technology companies in the world organizing and getting a voice on matters like this.

More than 20,000 Google employees and contractors in Google offices located in 50 cities worldwide walked out for real change at 11:10am local time protesting sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace culture that doesn’t work for everyone.

It’s a good trend.

OpenText to Acquire Liaison Technologies, Inc.

OpenText acquires another company in the communications space for EDI. Liaison was trying to become something different with their Alloy platform, but that was a reinvention that they didn’t have the fuel for it seems.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Look at the Design of Lua | November 2018 | Communications of the ACM

This is a good overview of the design goals of Lua and some insight into how Lua approaches a variety of programming concepts.

Lua has a unique set of design goals that prioritize simplicity, portability, and embedding. The Lua core is based on three well-known, proven concepts—associative arrays, first-class functions, and coroutines—all implemented with no artificial restrictions. On top of these components, Lua follows the motto “mechanisms instead of policies,” meaning Lua’s design aims to offer basic mechanisms to allow programmers to implement more complex features.

I find Lua interesting. I wish there was a good iOS implementation to play with.

Frank Chimero · Everything Easy is Hard Again

Frank Chimero is typically an enjoyable read and this doesn’t let you down.

I wonder if I have twenty years of experience making websites, or if it is really five years of experience, repeated four times. If you’ve been working in the technology industry a while, please tell me this sounds familiar to you.

People will say that technology has a fashion thing. This is what they are referring to.

It seems there are fewer and fewer notable websites built with this approach each year. So, I thought it would be useful remind everyone that the easiest and cheapest strategy for dealing with complexity is not to invent something to manage it, but to avoid the complexity altogether with a more clever plan.

This is what experience brings. Early in their career technologists pile on complexity to solve any problem. After years of supporting those Towers of Babel, simpler solutions tend to look more appealing.

Last month, I had to install a package manager to install a package manager. That’s when I closed my laptop and slowly backed away from it.


Opinion | I Thought the Web Would Stop Hate, Not Spread It - The New York Times

This article merges the web with social media too much. I’d argue that Swisher’s letter writing example is similar to someone tapping away at a blog. The broad social platforms and their ethics-absent algorithms are the things that have given extreme positions so much visibility.

Swisher misses a key component. Most advertisers have no interest in being associated with such extreme speech. If the people that advertisers want leave these platforms, the dumpster fire that remains is not a business.

Google Chrome’s Users Take a Back Seat to Its Bottom Line | Electronic Frontier Foundation

This article is the biggest part of why I won’t use Chrome.

Google is the biggest browser company in the world. It’s also the biggest search engine, mobile operating system, video host, and email service. But most importantly, it’s the biggest server of digital ads. Google controls 42% of the digital advertising market, significantly more than Facebook, its largest rival, and vastly more than anyone else. Its tracking codes appear on three quarters of the top million sites on the web. 86% of Alphabet’s revenue (Google’s parent company) comes from advertising. That means all of Alphabet has a vested interest in helping track people and serve them ads, even when that puts the company at odds with its users.

Remember, Google was the last browser to support Do Not Track years ago. Nothing has changed regarding Googles incentives. If you value privacy, I don’t see how you can use Chrome.

The article gives Chrome credit for pushing HTTPS adoption on the web. I’m skeptical of that as well. Let’s Encrypt is the service that enabled that, and Google got a huge benefit from HTTPS allowing there bots to get a very strong signal about content quality from the usage of HTTPS.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Three Sales Mistakes Software Engineers Make

I would call these go-to-market mistakes more than sales mistakes, but it’s good advice to people building new products — not just software engineers.

A Few Thoughts on Apple Watch Series 4 – 500ish Words

I had the original Apple Watch and upgraded to the Series 3 with LTE a year ago. The Series 4 looks amazing with it’s larger screen, but the speed is the real winner.

Did I mention the Series 4 is fast? Series 3 was pretty fast. Series 4 is fast in a way that you never think about it; things just work, fast.

if you haven’t had a smart watch before it might seem odd that you need so much speed for one, but any delay at all is a big usability challenge for a smart watch. I’m trying to hold off and skip the Series 4, but it’s tempting given how good this new Apple Watch seems to do.

Apple’s New Map

Incredibly detailed post again from Justin O’Beirne detailing incredible detail on Apple’s new map initiative. It is an interesting post to go through and see the incredible effort going into mapping, and what a strategic advantage it is for Google in a number of areas.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

How We Built OmniFocus for the Web

Most of this is not all that interesting except for people that are into Omni and their software. However, the part where they talk about building a “headless” version of OmniFocus that runs on the server and handles the API connections from OmniFocus for the Web made me do a double take. I can’t tell if it’s novel and interesting, or downright crazy!

Mac mini: The MacStories Overview – MacStories

The Mac Mini hasn’t gotten an update in a very, very long time. This new one looks pretty great. It has a significant number of configuration options. I could easily see this being a great option for many people.

The New 12.9- and 11-inch iPad Pros: The MacStories Overview – MacStories

The new iPad Pro’s look amazing. I do the majority of my computing on an 11” iPad Pro at home, and a 12.9” iPad Pro at work. I’ve already pre-ordered the new more compact iPad Pro for the office, and I’m ready to upgrade at home and am considering going for the larger one as well. The previous 12.9” with it’s large bezel and weight was just too big, but this new one looks very compelling. I’m wondering if I couldn’t do with one of these instead of a laptop at home. The fact you can plug a monitor into the USB-C port is pretty compelling as well for photo editing. 🤔

What happens when the turtle 🐢 from logo meets music? 🎶

IBM’s Old Playbook – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Some great analysis of IBM’s position with Red Hat.

This is the bet: while in the 1990s the complexity of the Internet made it difficult for businesses to go online, providing an opening for IBM to sell solutions, today IBM argues the reduction of cloud computing to three centralized providers makes businesses reluctant to commit to any one of them. IBM is betting it can again provide the solution, combining with Red Hat to build products that will seamlessly bridge private data centers and all of the public clouds.

Thompson has a great take on this.

Don't Be Evil

A deep dive into the culture and memes of Silicon Valley.

I Bought Used Voting Machines on eBay for $100 Apiece. What I Found Was Alarming | WIRED

This whole article is concerning. It shouldn’t be this easy to get these devices and dissect them for flaws.

If getting voting machines delivered to my door was shockingly easy, getting inside them proved to be simpler still. The tamper-proof screws didn’t work, all the computing equipment was still intact, and the hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the “Property Of” government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Monday, October 29, 2018

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Parsing logs 230x faster with Rust

This is a fun read walking through a high performance solution and the best way to solve it. The way this references cost is a good example of considerations engineers need to keep in mind in the cloud. ☁️💰

Saturday, October 27, 2018

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley - The New York Times

This is such a hard issue. I feel very conflicted about it. I used to spend a lot of time on my Apple //c back in the day, but what you could do was so different. Now I find my son sitting on his iPad and in reality all he’s doing is watching TV. No brain stimulation.

“I try to tell him somebody wrote code to make you feel this way — I’m trying to help him understand how things are made, the values that are going into things and what people are doing to create that feeling,” Mr. Lilly said. “And he’s like, ‘I just want to spend my 20 bucks to get my Fortnite skins.’”

It is perhaps too nuanced, but I think you have to move beyond just “screen time” and really look at the activity. What is your child doing on the device? Are they programming? Diving into the tarpits of social media disgust? Watching TV mindlessly? Reading a book? Reading the largest encyclopedia in the world? Learning how to build a robot?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The next career step for Senior Software Engineers (that isn’t management)

Cool article and introduces an idea of going from Implementor, to Solver, to Finder as an engineer. I haven’t heard this terminology used but I really like it!

As an Implementer, you’re an inexperienced programmer, and your tasks are defined by someone else: you just implement small, well-specified chunks of code…

As you become more experienced, you become a Solver: are able to come up with solutions to less well-defined problems…

Eventually you become a Finder: you begin identifying problems on your own and figuring out their underlying causes…

That seems very compelling and valuable to frame the career advancement of engineers.

The Google Pixel 3 Is A Very Good Phone. But Maybe Phones Have Gone Too Far.

Review of the Pixel 3, but also a reflection on the obsessive compulsion we have with our phones.

My neck hurts. I am never not looking down. When I am not looking at my phone, I become slightly anxious. And then, when I do actually look at it, I become even more so. It reminds me of how I once felt about cigarettes. I experience the world with a meticulously crafted, tiny computer slab between me and it. I am an asshole. But so, maybe, are you?


How to Write a Technical Paper: Structure and Style of the Epitome of your Research

This is a great example document.

A major problem that young researchers face is their inability to write good research papers. This document serves as a guideline on how to write a good technical paper.

Technical papers and white papers have been confused with marketing organizations taking over white papers as a form of advertising. It’s good to see a robust discussion of a straight technical paper.

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