Not Today January 30, 2017
I was in a bad mood. My flight to SFO had been delayed significantly, and five hours in, our pilot apologized: “Due to strong winds we’ll have to stop in LAX to refuel.” As soon as we landed, I turned off airplane mode and opened Twitter to pass the time while I waited to take off again. One thing was quickly made clear: due to an Executive Order from the White House, green card and visa holders are being detained in airports around the U.S. Fuck. Continue reading...
Surprise, you're in Costa Rica now! January 23, 2017
I had to arrange a last minute trip home to renew my visa in order to go to a different trip later this year. Now I am stuck here for a few days. Hopefully I won’t have enough time to do another set of Costa Rica photos, but who knows. More...
Wolfram's automata, a simple implementation with Python January 23, 2017
Complexity science is one of my favorite topics, ever. Wolfram’s elementary cellular automata are a great way to understand it, and writing code to generate them is very simple. Continue reading...
Links - January 22, 2017
The new year has received me with a lot of reading, but of the dead tree variety. I’m halfway with books #3 and #4 of the year by now. I guess an unexpected trip, and an even more unexpected stay in Costa Rica helped too.
- Metaphors We Compute By Alvaro Videla
Language matters. Names shape how we think. This is as important in computer science as in any other field. We talk about queues and stacks and bugs and patches, not because we like jargon, but because metaphors are the only way we can get complex ideas across quickly. Communication is the hardest thing about software engineering, and pretty much any human endeavor. Picking the right metaphors can ease our job significantly, and shed light on how others have solved the same problems in the past.
- San Francisco Asks: Where Have All the Children Gone? Thomas Fuller - The New York Times
There are a slew of insane facts in this piece. For example, San Francisco has the lowest percentage of children of any of the largest 100 cities in the US. The rate for San Francisco is 13%, for New York is 21%, and for Chicago, 23%, which is also the overall average across the United States. The number of dogs is roughly the same as the number of kids: 120k. There is one additional student enrolled in the public school system for every 100 apartments sold in the city. The public school system has shrunk by 40% since 1970. More than 10 private schools have opened in San Francisco since 2009. This city really makes no sense.
- The Department of Homeland Security International Entrepreneur Rule Fred Wilson - AVC
Very excited for this. Hoping to take advantage of it at some point in the future.
- Dismissing Python Garbage Collection at Instagram Chenyang Wu and Min Ni - Instagram Engineering Blog
I’ve never even thought that disabling garbage collection could be a sensible option. It’s always fun to see how people can take a deep-dive into the inner workings of their toolchain and come out with this kind of performance boost. Questioning basic assumptions can be a good idea.
- Some Colleges Have More Students From the Top 1 Percent Than the Bottom 60. Find Yours. The Upshot - The New York Times
Another great data visualization project out of the NYT’s “analytical journalism” desk, this time about the relationship between education and economic mobility. Finding your school is really easy. Here’s Northwestern, for example. There are no surprises: the numbers are stark, as expected.
- Looking for commonality among HTTP request APIs Brett Cannon - Tall, Snarky Canadian
When Brett started posting a bunch of polls on how people use various Python libraries for HTTP requests, I knew he was up to something good.
- The Sound of Silence Jessica Livingston
This post has been making rounds on tech twitter, and several of the newsletters I follow shared it, too. I wholeheartedly disagree with Jessica here, which is exactly why I wanted to share this. I think Anil Dash’s response summarizes my thoughts well.
Links - January 09, 2017
- The Ten Year Anniversary of the Apple TV Ben Thompson - Stratechery
Ten years ago today, Steve Jobs unveiled two products that could change the world. One did. The other one was the Apple TV. Ben reminds us that how much he’s idolized, “it’s worth remembering that even Steve Jobs hedged his bets.”
- Grappling With My Family’s Identity in a Post-'Brexit' Europe Katrin Bennhold - The New York Times
It is too easy to start listing groups which you identify with. The author talks about her family, and their identities. What does it mean for her to be European, when she’s faced with the contrast between her spouse’s Welsh-ness and her own German-ness? What does it mean to have a name, or a passport? More importantly, what will it mean in 10 years, or 20?
- Why read old philosophy? Katja Grace - Meteuphoric
I had never thought about how Philosophy is studied in such a different way than pretty much any other discipline. What does this tell us about how we should study science, or how we should teach mathematics?
- Reserves Fred Wilson - AVC
While obviously biased, Fred has good points about the importance of having experienced venture capitalists backing your company. I knew that reserves, and follow-up rounds, were an important aspect of the business, but its always good to understand the mechanics in a deeper way.
- The Economics of Fake News Matthew E. Kahn - Environmental and Urban Economics
It is easy to draw a matrix to group the cases of what might be fake news, based on the belief of its publisher and its consumer. It is a simple confusion matrix, where the only quadrant we should really worry about is the one where “the supplier knows the story is false but the demander believes the story is true.” Kahn exposes important issues about the economic environment in which a market for fake news might arise.
- Entrepreneurship Is Intellectual Immigration Brad Feld - Feld Thoughts
A quick read. The idea of moving away from your comfort zone, and perpetually moving towards new things is definitely an appealing one to most entrepreneurs.