#54

A system is never finished being developed until it ceases to be used.
— Gerald Weinberg, American computer scientist

The Speed Dial - An abbreviated set of articles for the reader who has limited time.

I Made My Shed the Top Rated Restaurant On TripAdvisor
[vice]

And then, one day, sitting in the shed I live in, I had a revelation: within the current climate of misinformation, and society's willingness to believe absolute bullshit, maybe a fake restaurant is possible? Maybe it's exactly the kind of place that could be a hit?

 

How ending net neutrality could affect consumers and the Net
[wikitribune]

When browsing the internet, you can currently load an article from InfoWars, an alternative political site with roughly 32 million visitors in October, at the same speed as you can load a piece of analysis from the New York Times website, which had 408 million visitors in the same month. All lawful web traffic must be treated equally – this is the basis of “net neutrality”.

 

Technical debt
[tech.findmypast]

However in my experience engineers use technical debt in a much broader sense. It might be deployment pain where you have to babysit a deployment to production. It might be flaky acceptance tests that you have to rerun a few times to get to pass. It might be that the code you’re working with is structured in a way that you can’t extend. Whatever it is, it wastes your time.

 

Management/Culture

Develop Your Culture Like Software
[open.nytimes]

So how do you go about changing culture? It’s notoriously difficult, but so is changing complex software systems and we know a lot about how to do that.

 

How to Navigate the Politics of an Innovation Project
[hbr]

We often forget, however, that meaningful innovation efforts can have a disruptive side. Namely, some people’s ideas will win, and those of others will lose.

 

Distributed responsibility: An engineering manager’s perspective
[blog.asana]

Asana runs on distributed responsibility: it’s our unique approach to management where leaders work to mentor and empower others to be as autonomous as possible.

 

Development/Releases

Bug Severity Explained
[devroom]

So, let’s take a look at how the non-computer engineers tackle the categorization of bugs and issues. I found that ProQC has a nice write up on the topic. Note that their guidelines are aimed at physical products, but there’s a sensible parallel to software products.

 

Center stage: Best practices for staging environments
[increment]

It’s all too easy to deprioritize investing in staging when there are features to ship and your rollbacks work, you know, most of the time. But if you want to run code on a mature and respected platform, you need a staging environment. It’s not about eating your tech vegetables; it’s about showing respect for your users’ money and time.

 

Airplanes and Ashtrays
[csswizardry]

For me, the ashtray is a symbol of pragmatism. Of course we don’t want people to smoke—we tell them not to!—but we have to accept that, at some point, they will. This acceptance then paves the way for a more pragmatic compromise in which we don’t have the perfect world that we want, but we also don’t have a disaster on our hands. Nobody wins, but nobody loses.

 

Technical

Artwork Personalization at Netflix
[medium]

How do we convince you that a title is worth watching? Answering these questions is critical in helping our members discover great content, especially for unfamiliar titles. One avenue to address this challenge is to consider the artwork or imagery we use to portray the titles.

 

The Financial Graph
[medium]

One of our first modeling decisions was whether we should model asset structures in a traditional flat, tabular structure (think of the good old balance sheet and Excel), or whether we should try to incorporate real world ownership structure and asset owners, despite the extra level of complexity.

 

Powering BBC Online with nanoservices
[medium]

Creating this broad variety of experiences, in an affordable and reliable way, is a big technical challenge. To achieve this, one approach we’ve taken is nanoservices: hundreds of small components, developed and owned by different teams, which come together in different ways to make different experiences.

 

News/Other

Lake Chad: The World’s Most Complex Humanitarian Disaster
[newyorker]

Boko Haram, climate change, predatory armies, and extreme hunger are converging on a marginalized population in Central Africa.

 

White House May Share Nuclear Power Technology With Saudi Arabia
[propublica]

The Trump administration is holding talks on providing nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia — a move that critics say could upend decades of U.S. policy and lead to an arms race in the Middle East.

 

Vanguard Founder Jack Bogle Says ‘Avoid Bitcoin Like the Plague’
[bloomberg]

Bitcoin has been on a spree, but legendary investor Jack Bogle doesn’t think you should pull your money from the S&P 500 just yet.

 

Elitists, crybabies and junk degrees
[washingtonpost]

“Why does a kid go to a major university these days?” said Antenori, 51, a former Green Beret who served in the Arizona state legislature. “A lot of Republicans would say they go there to get brainwashed and learn how to become activists and basically go out in the world and cause trouble.”

 

Replacing bail with an algorithm
[economist]

New Jersey has a bold experiment to reduce the number of people in jail awaiting trial

 

The Two Clashing Meanings of 'Free Speech'
[theatlantic]

Today’s campus controversies reflect a battle between two distinct conceptions of the term—what the Greeks called isegoria and parrhesia.

 

Graven Image
[fieldofvision]

Using over 100 years of archival footage, director Sierra Pettengill explores the history of the largest Confederate monument, Georgia’s Stone Mountain.

 

Microbes by the ton: Officials see weapons threat as North Korea gains biotech expertise
[washingtonpost]

Five months before North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, U.S. intelligence officials sent a report to Congress warning that secret work also was underway on a biological weapon. The communist regime, which had long ago acquired the pathogens that cause smallpox and anthrax, had assembled teams of scientists but seemed to be lacking in certain technical skills, the report said.

 

Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?
[theguardian]

Since it decriminalised all drugs in 2001, Portugal has seen dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime.

 

Kremlin: We see Trump's tweets as official statements
[reuters]

Tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump are viewed in Moscow as his official position and read by his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Tuesday.

 

How to Liberate Yourself from Social Anxiety
[youtube]

"Captivate" is more than just the title of her new book, it is the effect that Vanessa Van Edwards has on audiences through her videos, articles, and data-driven insights.

 

Podcasts/Books

The Best Books of 2017
[bloomberg]

These are some of the most popular choices in the annual survey of book recommendations compiled by Bloomberg

 

5 amazing books I read this year
[gatesnotes]

Reading is my favorite way to indulge my curiosity. Although I’m lucky that I get to meet with a lot of interesting people and visit fascinating places through my work, I still think books are the best way to explore new topics that interest you.