Back in Chicago

Back in Chicago

There are always good reasons to keep going back to Chicago. This time, it was for Hannah’s cousin’s wedding. More...

Another Great (Podcast) Link Dump - June 2017

  • The Quiet Master of Cryptocurrency — Nick Szabo
    Tim Ferriss Podcast
    I generally can't stand Tim Ferriss, but this is a good episode. Nick's blog is great (if you haven't read him, start here).
  • Extra: Henrietta Lacks
    Radiolab
    At Northwestern, the "One Book" program tries to build community by sending incoming students a copy of a book before they arrive on campus. My year, it was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. This episode gives an overview of her story, and by interviewing her family members, and some of the scientists involved in the research that her case spawned. To be honest, I started the book that summer, but never finished it. I'll get to it some day.
  • Funky Hand Jive
    Radiolab
    Microbiomes are interesting. It's odd to think that so much of our life is defined by bacteria.
  • Squatters of the Lower East Side
    99% Invisible
    Planning urban development is hard, and sometimes, the unplanned spontaneous decisions of many lead us to interesting places that central planning couldn't reach.
  • Reversing the Grid
    99% Invisible
    I had never thought about the political implications about generating electricity at home. This episode discusses "net-metering," or the billing mechanism that allows someone with PV panels on their roof to get credit for generating more electricity than they consume. How did it come about? Some guy plugged his PV panels into his meter, and it started going backwards!
  • Speed Dating For Economists
    Planet Money
    This makes the idea of getting an economics PhD even less appealing than it already was. The fact that even the people who arguably know the most about how markets function can't build a better matching market.
  • Spreadsheets!
    Planet Money
    It's ridiculous to think that spreadsheets were so revolutionary only a few years ago.
  • Slot Flaw Scofflaws
    Planet Money
    Is it illegal to study how a system works, to the point that you understand it so well that you can exploit it? No, that's the whole point of open source software. Patch the issue, give the gray hat his bounty, and move on.
  • Passports
    50 Things That Made the Modern Economy
    This series of podcasts by Tim Harford has given us strong history lessons, telling us why things are the way they are. This specific episode though, focuses more on asking whether any of it makes sense "From a certain angle, it is odd. Many countries take pride in banning employers from discriminating against among workers based on characteristics we can’t change: whether we’re male or female, young or old, gay or straight, black or white. [...] But mostly our passport depends on the identity of our parents and location of our birth. And nobody chooses those." Somehow, this seems ok in our modern mind set - it is all a game of Us & Them.
  • What Kind of Idiot Gets Phished?
    Reply All
    Lately I have been more paranoid than usual about this, and I am considering changing how I handle my password management all together, and even buying a YubiKey for personal use. This episode just backs that feeling even more.
  • Blockchain Beauty Contest
    Exponent
    If you think about it hard enough, everything is made up. Countries, money, companies, the constitution, everything! And, blockchains, too...

Another Great Link Dump - June 2017

Ha. And here I was thinking I’d post links more often… My stats say that while I used to read roughly 10-12 articles a day, these days I am barely hitting 5. My yearly rolling average peaked in mid-2016.

To be honest, I am not sure what to make of it.

This round-up is full of Apple stuff, so not too many comments on my end, but sharing some interesting perspectives. There’s also a ton on cryptocurrencies, because that’s the latest craze in tech, and I have also been following along.

  • A Brief History of the UUID
    Rick Branson - Segment Blog
    Identity online is hard - and I don't mean tying your persona to social media, but actually tagging bits and bytes with other bits and bytes to identify them across machines. The self-incrementing column of integers is a mainstay of traditional databases, but what happens when scaling across machines becomes necessary? Here's some history of how that's been solved across the years.
  • Apple Isn't a Tech Company
    Neil Cybart - Above Avalon
    Posted without comment.
  • A Year of Google Maps & Apple Maps
    Justin O'Beirne
    Posted without comment.
  • Actually good Silicon Valley critiques?
    Noah Smith - Noahpinion
    While Noah lives in San Francisco, he's not really a Silicon Valley insider, so seeing his reaction to Scott Alexander's Reality Check was interesting. His take? "All in all, Silicon Valley represents one of the least objectionable, most rightfully respected institutions in America today."
  • Tulips, Myths, and Cryptocurrencies
    Ben Thompson - Stratechery
    In a strange melding of worlds, Ben moves away from the usual tech talk and goes deep into the history of financial manias. Using Yuval Harari's notion of shared myths, this post makes a clear difference between bubbles of irrationality, and bubbles of timing. I firmly believe that crypto is one of the latter.
  • Bringing back the Somali shilling
    JP Koning - Moneyness
    And if you really thought fiat is valuable, think again.
  • Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new internet
    Jon Evans - TechCrunch
    Evans with the counter-narrative: "It’s easy to envision how and why an interwoven mesh of dozens of decentralized blockchains could slowly, over a period of years and years, become a similar category of crucial infrastructure […] while ordinary people remain essentially blissfully unaware of their existence." Ah, and nice Fred Wilson burn. I also thought the Rare Pepe story was nuts.
  • The consequences of allowing a cryptocurrency takeover, or trying to head one off
    Tony Yates - FT Alphaville (Paywall)
    What are the implications of crypto for central banking? The written-in-stone aspect of the blockchain makes monetary policy way more credible, which is a good thing, but at the same time crypto knows no borders, making adjustments by one group of users spill over to others quite easily. A more in depth look here.
  • Chicago taxi industry sliding towards collapse
    Aamer Madhani - USA Today
    The writing has been on the wall for a while - is not a surprise - but the numbers are staggering: "42% of Chicago’s taxi fleet was not operating in the month of March [...] The average monthly income per active medallion has dipped from $5,276 in January 2014 to $3,206 [...] medallions hit a median sales peak of $357,000 in late 2013, just before Uber arrived on the scene in Chicago. In April, one medallion sold for just $35,000."
  • Buyer Beware
    Fred Wilson - AVC
    Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are all the rage these days. Some people will get screwed in this process, and I am staying away from buying any ERC20 tokens for a good chunk of time.
  • Options vs. cash
    Dan Luu
    A couple of years ago, right after my college graduation, I was very close to going the startup route, but ended up joining Apple instead. With hindsight, I can tell that financially the decision is a no-brainer: Cash is cash.
  • Is the United States Becoming Less of an Optimal Currency Area?
    David Beckworth - Macro Musings
    Currency areas, and defining regional economies is one of my long-time favorite topics. There is a trend in the US towards lower labor mobility, which has deep implications for the economy. Historically, if an economic shock hit a state like Oklahoma, its citizens would respond by migrating to California, where things were better. This is no longer the case. As this trend continues, the business cycles of different zones in the country may start to diverge, and at that point the monetary policy set by the Fed might stop making sense.
  • Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich
    Richard V. Reeves - The New York Times
    A note on inequality, since that's another recurring theme here.
  • When Pixels Collide
    sudoscript
    If you haven't heard about Reddit's April's Fools experiment from earlier this year, you need to read this. Emergent behavior is awesome.
  • Alpha (A translation of Genesis 1)
    Douglas Summer Stay - Llamas And My Stegosaurus
    We're training our computers to do some really strange things. This one translated Genesis 1 to only use words that start with the letter "A."

Notes from Pycon 2017

Notes from Pycon 2017 This year I finally got to attend Pycon. Having only attended a way smaller conference before (PyBay 2016) it was awesome to see the insanity that comes with cramming 3000+ pythonistas (!) into one convention center. It was totally worth it. For a less technical view of my trip to PyCon, check out my other Portland post, which has a bunch of photos, too. Otherwise: Continue reading...

Portlanding

Portlanding This past week I got to travel to Portland for work, and took a couple of extra days to explore the city. I was attending a conference, PyCon, which took up most of my time, but I still got to travel quite a bit. For the nerds out there, here are some notes about my experience at the conference itself. Otherwise: Continue reading...
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