An

a day keeps the doctor away
Everything here is my opinion. I do not speak for your employer.
January 2015
March 2015

2015-02-02 »

"If you come up with a list of many reasons to do something, Nassim Taleb once wrote, you are trying to convince yourself—if there isn’t one clear reason, don’t do it."

[From http://casnocha.com/reid-hoffman-lessons, although I didn't really find the rest of the article as good.]

I had to think about this advice for a bit, but upon consideration, I really think it's right.  It seems overly simplistic at first, but I think that's why it works.

Why should we do Fiber?  Because everyone wants faster Internet, obviously.  Why should I work on wifi?  Because without it, I still can't have my faster Internet where I want it.

2015-02-08 »

This presentation about "modern SQL" is interesting:
http://www.slideshare.net/MarkusWinand/modern-sql

It reminded me how much I hated using SQL back when I did, and made me feel slightly optimistic that they are finally solving some of its most obnoxious failings, and yet made me super sad that we still don't have anything better than this.

I'm not a big functional language person, but honestly, a real functional query language would be so much better than this bunk.  It's embarrassing that any time I want to do a slightly different type of query they have to standardize a new language feature.  FETCH NEXT 10 ROWS ONLY indeed.

And then we think we're all special with the mapreduces, but we just went too far the other way.  A lot of big data analysis forgoes indexes completely.  It's so easy to spin up CPU cores now, but so hard to define an index, and so slow to do random disk seeks, that we often find ourselves grunging linearly through terabytes of data only to throw 99.9% of it away.

There must be a better way.

2015-02-15 »

"""But this is not the world that the progenitors of the self-esteem movement thought they were making. For them, positive self-regard was a state that had to be earned. “Nathaniel Branden meant something a little more honestly come by,” says Campbell, the co-author of The Narcissism Epidemic. “When people talked about self-actualization, that meant really pushing yourself to reach your full potential. Self-actualization is really hard.” The reason the empty version of self-esteem proved infectious, Campbell believes, is simple: “It feels good.”

The movement’s U.S. origins are surely no coincidence. Self-esteem fits perfectly over the top of the traditional ideal of the free and noble individual, striving to achieve the American dream. The movement’s sin was making it sound easy. It removed the part about striving, replacing it with an unearned assumption of exceptionalism. The lesson became that simply wanting it is enough. You’re special. You deserve it."""

https://medium.com/matter/the-man-who-destroyed-americas-ego-94d214257b5

2015-02-19 »

"I begin to understand why ChromeOS is so locked down: So vendors can't fill it with crapware. The developer mode switch helps users, but not vendors, thanks to the scary boot message."

– Rudolf

Considering the Windows crapware-laden laptops I've seen, that's actually the most convincing reason I've heard so far that the scary boot message is absolutely needed.

2015-02-20 »

I am quite inspired by the incredible self restraint and carefulness of the people who received the Snowden docs.  They've been able to keep giving us bigger and bigger reveals at just the right rate to keep their topic constantly in the news.  And also, keeping the spy agencies guessing about what might or might not be still to come.

It might not work, for changing anything, but I can't think of any strategy that would work better.

2015-02-27 »

So... the Internet is the library.  But we need better non-centralized content hosting systems, that's for sure.

Note: when I talk about non-centralized content hosting systems, I do not necessarily mean anonymous ones.  I realize anonymity is sometimes important, but it can be achieved in various ways (eg. if someone is willing to apply their name to a site/server/node/contentstream that hosts other people's anonymous content).  It's much easier (and legally, much less prone to regulatory shutdown) to run a non-anonymous distributed store than an anonymous one.

One of the reasons I'm proud to work on Fiber is the symmetric uplink/downlink speeds that are better than you get with most centralized hosting.  GFiber could be the ISP that finally allows real decentralized hosting to happen.

2015-02-28 »

I'm not able to be as happy about this as I am about the net neutrality ruling.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3042895/as-big-as-net-neutrality-fcc-takes-aim-at-state-imposed-internet-monopolies

Regulating uncompetitive industries is a great idea.  But central governments overriding rules made my less-central governments is, on the whole, not great.

We should be able to expect that more-local governments can make better decisions about their local areas, because they're expert in those local areas.  Think of the road system: there are municipal roads, state roads, and (I think; anyway I'm from Canada where this is true) federal roads.  There are some inevitable disputes at the boundaries between these definitions, but mostly, the system makes sense.

Internet infrastructure is, to me, a lot like road infrastructure: decisions should be as local as possible.  The problem began when various state governments removed this decision making power from local governments.  Imagine if instead, state governments had decided that local roads can only be built after state approval, rather than municipal approval.  It would just be weird.

But now, instead of fixing that problem - figuring out why the states overrode the local rules at all, and making sure the decision making at the state level is fixed - we're overriding the state decision at the federal level (and worse, it's a regulatory agency, not an elected body, doing the overriding, which is even more creepy).  A federal agency should not be making decisions about how my town of 1000 people lays down its local roads... but it just did.

All this is complicated by the fact that the federal government did something I believe is right, and that they're really just undoing a mistake made at the state level.  We should not need the federal government to protect us from state government except for a few fundamental things (eg. constitutional/human rights).  The state governments are supposed to do the right thing.  If the belief is that they don't... well, the system is severely broken.

I think the net outcome is better than before.  (I grew up, after all, in a city where the local telecom, TBayTel, was provided by a public company owned by the city, and it was great.)  But I really don't like how we got there.

January 2015
March 2015

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