This page contains my aboslute favourite things on the Internet. I collect everything I read in to Raindrop, and I put the best stuff here. If you find these links insightful, I also share them on an email list that you're welcome to join.
An homage to the era of flash games. Jonas Richner writes about their rise and fall, what made them so successful, and why it's sad that this era has come to an end.
Websites like Newgrounds made it possible for anyone to publish their games without a studio or a publisher. Developers uploaded experimental games, artistic games, brutally violent games, funny games and activist games. It was the wild west of gaming and the creativity that came out of that environment was amazing. People made games just because they wanted to make games, not to turn a profit.
Of all the places to read a PDF with this title, the US Department of Defense was not high on my list. Pragmatic advice on how to tell if someone is lying to you about how agile their software development is.
Agile is a buzzword of software development, and so all DoD software development projects are, almost by default, now declared to be “agile.” The purpose of this document is to provide guidance to DoD program executives and acquisition professionals on how to detect software projects that are really using agile development versus those that are simply waterfall or spiral development in agile clothing (“agile-scrum-fall”).
One of those bugs that seems impossible, but ends up making complete sense.
"We're having a problem sending email out of the department."
"What's the problem?" I asked.
"We can't send mail more than 500 miles," the chairman explained.
I choked on my latte. "Come again?"
A visual, practical exploration of the effect CPU cache can have on program performance. A great read if you know programming but haven't had any exposure to CPU caching yet.
Distributed consensus, making multiple networked computers agree about things, is hard. For many years it was essentially impenetrable. Then Raft came along and made it possible for mere mortals to understand. This visual guide makes it even more accessible. Even I get it.
There's so much to learn from this post. In programming, debugging is the majority of what we do. Digesting the techniques Hector Martin uses to find this particularly nasty bug will go a long way.
Using a heat gun set at a fairly low temperature (130°C) I warmed up two modules at a time (the other two modules are under the rear cover, as my laptop has four SODIMM slots total). Playing around with module order, I found three additional weak bits only detectable at elevated temperature, and they were spread around three of my RAM sticks.
Ever zipped a zip file? Russ Cox takes that idea to its conclusion by creating and infinitely nested zip file.
The programming exercise, then, is this: write a Lempel-Ziv program using just those two opcodes that prints itself when run. In other words, write a compressed data stream that decompresses to itself.
Gripping peice about the hacker who stopped the WannaCry worm.
Hutchins was composing another tweet when he noticed that three men had walked up to him, a burly redhead with a goatee flanked by two others in Customs and Border Protection uniforms. “Are you Marcus Hutchins?” asked the red-haired man. When Hutchins confirmed that he was, the man asked in a neutral tone for Hutchins to come with them, and led him through a door into a private stairwell.
Then they put him in handcuffs.
This could apply equally to any craft. There aren't any shortcuts. Mastering something takes long, hard, deliberate practice.
I've had to work on and maintain software that has fallen prey to this law before. It is nightmare incarnate. Take heed.
With a sufficient number of users of an API, it does not matter what you promise in the contract: all observable behaviors of your system will be depended on by somebody.
Ever had a brilliant idea but management just wouldn't listen? Those idiots never listen. Or maybe you're just not presenting it right, or giving up too easy. If this sounds like you, this talk is going to change your life.
Swap is just extra RAM, right? Wrong. I'll let Chris Down explain.
Swap is primarily a mechanism for equality of reclamation, not for emergency "extra memory". Swap is not what makes your application slow – entering overall memory contention is what makes your application slow.
You might be familiar with the phrase "normalisation of deviance." If you're not, you're in for a treat. If you are, it's still worth reading Dan Luu's take on it, especially if you work in tech.
There's the office where I asked one day about the fact that I almost never saw two particular people in the same room together. I was told that they had a feud going back a decade, and that things had actually improved -- for years, they literally couldn't be in the same room because one of the two would get too angry and do something regrettable, but things had now cooled to the point where the two could, occasionally, be found in the same wing of the office or even the same room. These weren't just random people, either. They were the two managers of the only two teams in the office. Normal!
I love reading letters. I have the Letters of Note books. They're wonderfully self-contained and rich in history. This letter in particular is a warm and respectful take on a brilliant question: why explore space, when there is so much suffering on Earth?
Higher food production through survey and assessment from orbit, and better food distribution through improved international relations, are only two examples of how profoundly the space program will impact life on Earth. I would like to quote two other examples: stimulation of technological development, and generation of scientific knowledge.
How tall is the average person? How long are their arms? What about their legs? These are all the wrong questions.
After multiple inquiries ended with no answers, officials turned their attention to the design of the cockpit itself. Back in 1926, when the army was designing its first-ever cockpit, engineers had measured the physical dimensions of hundreds of male pilots (the possibility of female pilots was never a serious consideration), and used this data to standardize the dimensions of the cockpit. For the next three decades, the size and shape of the seat, the distance to the pedals and stick, the height of the windshield, even the shape of the flight helmets were all built to conform to the average dimensions of a 1926 pilot.
This link is as much about the way the web is used as a medium for getting the message across as it is about the message itself. Colin Morris has used the web to its fullest extent to visualise his analysis, and I can only hope more people follow.
Intuitively, Around The World definitely feels like a very repetitive song. Several of the familiar entries on this list are essentially novelty songs (Macarena, Barbara Streisand, The Thong Song, Cotton Eye Joe...) famed for their silly refrains. This inspires some confidence in the metric I'm using.
Transformations by Thomas Hardy
I don't read much poetry, but for some reason this one has always resonated with me. There's something about the conciseness of it, and how it paints a picture of the cycle of life.
What if we taught art and music the same way we teach maths in high school?
After class I spoke with the teacher. “So your students don’t actually do any painting?” I asked. “Well, next year they take Pre-Paint-by-Numbers. That prepares them for the main Paint-by-Numbers sequence in high school. So they’ll get to use what they’ve learned here and apply it to real-life painting situations— dipping the brush into paint, wiping it off, stuff like that. Of course we track our students by ability. The really excellent painters— the ones who know their colors and brushes backwards and forwards— they get to the actual painting a little sooner, and some of them even take the Advanced Placement classes for college credit. But mostly we’re just trying to give these kids a good foundation in what painting is all about, so when they get out there in the real world and paint their kitchen they don’t make a total mess of it.”
While I found Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to be overall difficult going, this section has stuck with me. It talks about the dual purpose of universities, and how those purposes are at odds.
The real University, he said, has no specific location. It owns no property, pays no salaries and receives no material dues. The real University is a state of mind. It is that great heritage of rational thought that has been brought down to us through the centuries and which does not exist at any specific location.
A video by the inimitable CGP Grey. It's a condensed summary of the book The Dictator's Handbook. How do people get, and stay, in power. If you like the video, you'll love the book.
Another CGP Grey video. This time about how to deal with extended lockdown. Created in the time of COVID-19, but the advice is timeless.
A big list of short, practical nuggets of advice. Some of them I can take or leave. Others I live by every day.
Never get involved in a land war in Asia.
Promptness is a sign of respect.
Absolute silliness that is close to my heart.
The standard unit of area shall be the nanoWales, defined as 1nWa, representing 0.0000207km2 or 20.78m2, 5.195 Thai talang wah or 28.99 Old Spanish square vara. The microWales, milliWales and Wales (Wa) are, naturally, accepted multiples of the base nanoWales.
An amusing name for an amusing phenomenon.
An eclectic essayist is necessarily a dilettante, which is not in itself a bad thing. But Gladwell frequently holds forth about statistics and psychology, and his lack of technical grounding in these subjects can be jarring. He provides misleading definitions of “homology,” “saggital plane” and “power law” and quotes an expert speaking about an “igon value” (that’s eigenvalue, a basic concept in linear algebra). In the spirit of Gladwell, who likes to give portentous names to his aperçus, I will call this the Igon Value Problem: when a writer’s education on a topic consists in interviewing an expert, he is apt to offer generalizations that are banal, obtuse or flat wrong.
When does someone leave a company? Their last day? The day they hand in their notice? Earlier? It's earlier. Much earlier.
Resignations happen in a moment, and it’s not when you declare, “I’m resigning.” The moment happened a long time ago when you received a random email from a good friend who asked, “I know you’re really happy with your current gig because you’ve been raving about it for a year, but would you like to come visit Our Company? No commitment. Just coffee.”