Saturday, December 2, 2017

Oura Ring | Sleep Tracker and Smart Ring with a Heart Rate Monitor

Some interesting and cool tech. Many (most?) people wear rings all the time. This seems like the simplest, least intrusive option there could be to passively collect biometric data on a person. It’s interesting that they are first focusing on sleep.

Is the economy suffering from the crisis of attention? | Bank Underground

Interesting article theorizing on a possible connection between economic growth and the rise of mobile and social technology. The suggestion is that one of two things is happening: time on social is taking away from productive time or time on social is yielding a distracted population that is less productive. I would suggest both are likely true. Cal Newport gave a thoughtful summary of this article as well.

Friday, December 1, 2017

ongoing by Tim Bray · Unapocalyptic Software

I love this writeup by Tim Bray on what software development is actually like.

It’s like this: You sit down to im­prove a piece of soft­ware, make a cou­ple of changes, and sud­den­ly a lot of unit tests are fail­ing, leav­ing ug­ly red trails on your screen. (In fac­t, if you made changes and didn’t break unit test­s, you wor­ry that something’s wrong.) But then you dig in­to them one by one, and af­ter not too long, it’s all back to green; which is re­al­ly a good feel­ing.

Fun read, and very accurate.


I’m a big fan of The Decemberists and a friend said this game was really awesome. On the Christmas list! 😁


Very cool website that allows you to see what information your browser is giving away on you and how well it fights against advertising and tracking technology. I had no idea this existed and it’s great that it does. Found it via this announcement about the new version.

In The Works – Amazon Aurora Serverless | AWS News Blog

AWS re:Invent 📣 → What is a Serverless database? I’m not sure I know, but the idea of a database that has no cost other than storage when it’s idle is pretty amazing for certain workloads. Sadly this is only available for MySQL at the moment, but they promise PostgreSQL coming soon.

Amazon Neptune – A Fully Managed Graph Database Service | AWS News Blog

AWS re:Invent 📣 → Graph databases are a bear to pick, use and run. AWS offering a cloud hosted graph database will hopefully address all of these issues. There are a large number of use cases where graph databases make a lot of sense but so many people have been burned by them that they tend to solve a graph problem using a document or relational database.

It’s cool to see that this supports RDF and SPARQL, core concepts of the Semantic Web. It also supports TinkerPop3 (really? can we get better names?).

App: The Human Story - A documentary coming soon.

This documentary looks pretty interesting. I like the focus of the intersection of how people use digital tools. Not just the human or digital side, but the power of both used positively together.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Another option for storing secrets for your systems and infrastructure. 🔐

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Chaos Toolkit

Nice to see more general tooling coming to the chaos engineering space.

The Chaos Toolkit aims at simplifying your journey through the Principles of Chaos Engineering and more generally considers that you should embrace continuously observing and poking your system to empower your team in face of adversity.

Carp | Veit's Blog

I find it fun to read through takes on various computer languages. There are so many languages and the vast majority never got any traction. A thorough blog post reviewing a language is sort of like a vacation to another country to explore it’s traditions and taste the flavors and importantly come back home shortly after. I had never heard of Carp but this is a thorough review of it. A Lisp language that compiles down to C to then be compiled natively.

Friday, November 24, 2017

CEOs Don’t Steer

Interesting and thought provoking article on the role of a CEO.

The primary CEO function, and the trait the good ones are selected for, is to provide the gyroscopic stability required to keep a company vectored in the chosen direction.

There is a lot that makes sense in this article, and a lot I’ve seen up close many times. 🤔

Brilliant Jerks in Engineering

I know a lot of managers in the technology field who would repeat the conclusion in this article.

Early on in my career, I supported brilliant jerks of any type and thought they were worth it. I was wrong.

I did that too. Always have to think about the team impact.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

AlphaGo Zero – How and Why it Works – Tim Wheeler

Interesting and approachable article reviewing how Alpha Go Zero taught itself how to play Go, and how these techniques can be used for a number of discrete games.

The last paragraph put an interesting spin on the advances in AI. 😳

It is interesting to see how quickly the field of AI is progressing. Those who claim we will be able to see the robot overlords coming in time should take heed - these AI’s will only be human-level for a brief instant before blasting past us into superhuman territories, never to look back.

Against Productivity – The Message – Medium

This is going to sound a little weird but this article totally made me think of GTD and the concept of “mind like water”.

In many ways foolishness isn’t the opposite of wisdom, but its absence. Productivity is the opposite of wisdom. Humanity is a creature of time and imagination. From these things our fruits are born more than manufactured. Productivity is a quality of perfect robots. Stories, adventures and all new things still have to come from messy humans.

It probably sounds confusing that an article condemning the focus on productivity reminds me of a productivity framework. However, the true goal of GTD is to give your mind space and time. Not to get more done, but to get more off your mind. To have a mind like water. This is a part of GTD that people tend to not focus on enough.

Bob Lutz: Kiss the good times goodbye

A vision piece describing the next 20 years of the automotive industry. Notable as it’s written by the former Vice Chairman and Head of Product Development for General Motors.

The era of the human-driven automobile, its repair facilities, its dealerships, the media surrounding it — all will be gone in 20 years.

20 years seems too aggressive to me. But the end state is hard to argue.

Decision making under stress - Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats

Running technology platforms 24x7 means you have incidents, and stress, and decisions that must be made. Being aware and knowing how that impacts decisions is important knowledge to have.

The research is clear: the best way to protect yourself from making poor decisions under stress is to train and prepare for it. Training enhances both skills and self-efficacy, enabling you to make better decisions and giving you the confidence to carry them out with minimal hesitation.

Add to that sleep deprivation as another potential risk.

User experience design for APIs

Great topic that more thought should be going to. API design is largely an afterthought for many services. You can tell API’s that are just a dump of internal objects. They are hard to use and equally hard to understand. This article shows a good start to doing this right.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The End Of Net Neutrality As We Know It – AVC

Fred Wilson highlighting the Net Neutrality changes being proposed by the FCC and also providing a worthwhile four steps that we as consumers can look for to take action beyond protesting the FCC action.

No, you’re not being paranoid. Sites really are watching your every move | Ars Technica

This is exhibit #1 for why you need to use a content blocker on the web. This article goes into great detail on the capabilities that companies have, but take a moment to watch the video that demonstrates a user and what the site owner can see. Now consider that level of collection on every site you ever visit. Defensive techniques are needed for such invasive technologies.

FCC unveils plan to repeal net neutrality rules - The Washington Post

Ajit Pai is doing exactly what everyone would expect him to be doing as Chairman of the FCC. Vertically integrated media and broadband companies (Verizon, Comcast, AT&T) will enjoy his FCC much more than anyone else. ☹️ The misleading politics on Net Neutrality are infuriating to those closer to the issue.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Real-life AWS cost optimization strategy – Teads Engineering – Medium

Managing cloud infrastructure expense is a real challenge. I’ve experienced and seen everything in this article and more. This dynamic is entirely new to pre-cloud technology organizations that bought hardware and then just used that sunk cost. In the cloud, cost has to be an architectural consideration in ways it has never been before.

GitHub - Introducing Team discussions

New capability that makes total sense for GitHub to add. I’m guessing this was pretty easy for them too given all the infrastructure they have for GitHub Issues.

Pi-hole®: A black hole for Internet advertisements

Nice open source project to run your own DNS server at home that will blacklist ad networks. Nice to see people working on efforts like this. I’d rather pay a few bucks and use something like Eero Plus but this is great for people that want more control.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

“One Damn Slide After Another”: PowerPoint at Every Occasion for Speech : Computational Culture

Wow! This is a tour de force on the evolution and use of slides and presentation software evolution. It’s a long read but pretty interesting and importantly balanced. It is not a takedown of PowerPoint but instead a robust exploration of the act of presenting and persuading.

This essay critically contextualizes PowerPoint. We argue that many of the stylistic conventions associated with slideware have long been part of business communications. Personal computing, however, scaled up the production of presentations. Doing so linked knowledge work with personal expression. The result has been the rise of presentation culture. In an information society, nearly everyone presents. Analyzing presentation software makes visible the largely under-appreciated reliance on performative authority in knowledge production.

The conclusion brings it home. I’ve never thought of PowerPoint as a part of visual culture!

PowerPoint is not a slide projector without a slide tray. It is not a neutral automation of existing processes. It is a part of visual culture, an increasingly everyday experience at every kind of occasion for speech.

Worth reading. Even if you skim sections like I did. 😊

A Year of Tech Solidarity | Civicist

Politics and tech are largely a strange null set. Maciej Ceglowski, the owner of Pinboard which I use to keep all my bookmarks on, has been actively working to change that through basic, old school organizing. This article is a reflection on the slow going he’s had in the first year doing that.

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