Is it real or is it

Everything here is my personal opinion. I do not speak for my employer.
Back: May 2017
Next: July 2017

2017-06-01 »

Asked WolframAlpha for "tesla quarterly revenue." I don't know what I expected.

2017-06-06 »

#TIL that ICO stands for "Initial Coin Offering."
Everything after that is pure gold.[1]

[1] Non-physical gold obviously

2017-06-07 »

I have been fascinated by this class of problem for years. In theory, if you have highly motivated, engaged, efficient people with not too many deadlines, you don't have to solve this explicitly: just let people do what they think is "important" and it'll work out. In small companies, probably like early-day Google, this informal system works out great. Once you have formal systems, you have incentives, and once you have incentives, you have to have high-level people (who are further from the actual problems being solved) make decisions about what to incent and disincent. Unsurprisingly, those decisions end up being mostly about "strategic direction" and not about day-to-day manageability, because executives don't have to do any day-to-day management. Instead, they just see the technical debt slowly build up and the teams slow down, but nobody can quite tell how it happened.

2017-06-08 »

QotD: "You're probably all familiar with how distance-vector protocols work."

I guess I'm at the good kind of conference.

2017-06-15 »

Job title in recruiter email: "Full Stack Developer (Python)"

I'm pretty sure that's impossible, even for the extremely loose definition of "full stack" that the kids use nowadays.

2017-06-19 »

Holy crap. We're gonna need some bigger batteries. (Via Mary Meeker at

2017-06-20 »

Take a look at the rise in Netflix minutes watched in the USA, around the time GFiber started (2011-2012) to last year. The right strategy for an ISP certainly does change over time. (From Mary Meeker at It's filled with awesome.)

2017-06-21 »

Another fascinating one: 200-year trends in poverty, child mortality, literacy, and democracy. Via Mary Meeker at Presumably subject to some pretty fuzzy definitions ("democracy"), but I think it's fairly honest.

2017-06-22 »

If I ever write an autobiography, remind me to title it, "Huh. Well that's not what I expected."

2017-06-25 »

Thought I'd try out streaming music services, so I signed up for a free trial of Spotify and then Tidal. The default tier of Spotify sounds awful, but that's to be expected; if you upgrade to premium, you get "real quality" music, which sounds okay, roughly like the music I already had on my iPhone.

I figured there was basically no chance I'd be able to tell the difference between that and Tidal's "Hi-fi" tier (lossless compression, ~1.4Mbps), given that I don't have particularly high-quality audio equipment (ok, Bose headphones, known more for their noise cancelling than professional-grade audio fidelity).

I was wrong. I can tell the difference. (No, it's not just louder and it doesn't just have more bass.) In fact, it sounds like I remember CDs sounding back in the 1990s. Go figure. I had thought my ears just got worse with age, but no, just this once it wasn't me, it was whole world that degraded.


[There's this kinda weird "scratchiness" in compressed music in the mid ranges, eg. vocals, that kinda crept up on me over the years. Listening to uncompressed music for the first time in forever was a real "wait a minute..." feeling.]

I'm almost 100% sure I'm not an audiophile, so all in all, I'm pretty confused by this.

2017-06-26 »

I missed this Elon Musk interview when it came out in April, but it's pretty great. As usual he comes across as a bit unrealistic about what's possible in the short term, but he still tells a pretty compelling story. I especially like the idea of underground car tunnels vs flying cars. ("I sure hope the people up there have kept up with their hubcap maintenance" was a pretty funny understatement.)

2017-06-27 »

In my earlier programmer lives, one of my favourite quotes was from the Other Larry, Larry Wall, who talked about the three programmer virtues: laziness, impatience, and hubris. It occurs to me that big company programmers have plenty of hubris but are severely lacking in laziness and impatience. And you could make a case that most of our problems come from that lack.

2017-06-28 »

A good assistant knows how to shop at more than one store.

2017-06-29 »

This week I learned: the NOAA maintains a database of rainfall levels, in mm/hour, for every 8km x 8km area[1] on earth, for every 30 minute period since 1999. And you can download it. It's ~90GB compressed. It's formatted as a fortran data dump, of course.

Job continues to amuse.

[1] At the equator. Narrower elsewhere. They seemingly didn't bother collecting data above 60N or below 60S; maybe it never rains there. I don't know how weather works.

Back: May 2017
Next: July 2017

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