#62

Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.
— Anaïs Nin, Essayist

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

The genius of the London Tube Map
[ted]

Design legend Michael Bierut tells the story of the accidental success of one of the most famous maps in the world -- the London Tube Map.



Management Debt (2012)
[a16z]

Thanks to Ward Cunningham, the metaphor technical debt is now a well-understood concept. While you may be able to borrow time by writing quick and dirty code, you will eventually have to pay it back—with interest. Often this trade-off makes sense, but you will run into serious trouble if you fail to keep the trade-off in the front of your mind. There also exists a less well-understood parallel concept, which I will call management debt.



Why our engineering leaders focus on product over process
[product.hubspot]

Engineering leadership usually has three things in scope: process, people, and product (that includes technology and architecture). Most leaders can fully focus on only one or two of these; it’s nearly impossible to do all three of them well.

 

Management/Culture

The Most Common Type of Incompetent Leader
[hbr]

“I would rather have had a boss who yelled at me or made unrealistic demands than this one, who provided empty praise.”



Clean Up Corrosive Interpersonal Dynamics on Your Team with This System
[firstround]

“The consequences of not identifying and addressing conflicts and corrosive team dynamics are always dire,” says Laura Gates, whose work as an executive coach helps clients navigate these hard conversations. “When leaders are unwilling or unable to talk about tough issues, co-founders fight, high performers quit, equally talented people get fired unfairly, projects fall apart or miss deadlines, cultures turn toxic, morale suffers, people leave and companies implode. The price of not addressing conflict is simply too high.”

 

Development/Releases

Want Better Software? Focus On Communication.
[corgibytes]

Your company is an organization and the system it is designing is your codebase. The structure of your codebase will be a copy of the communication architecture you use in your company.


How To Use Technical Debt In Your Favor
[levelup.gitconnected]

Technical Debt is inevitable, only you can reduce the interest to be paid


Scrum, Swarm, Sprint — How to Take the Agile Process and Make it Your Own
[open.nytimes]

Like many technology organizations, Customer Care Technology, my team at The New York Times, uses scrum as our main process. To plan our sprints, we would go through the backlog, pick stories and assign a story to each of our six engineers, who would then work hard to get their story done. Because of unforeseen roadblocks, the stories would often get pushed to the next sprint or we would work together on a story to finish it before the end of the sprint. The problem with this process was that by the time we realized we needed to work together, it was often too late in the sprint.


Managing Unplanned and Support Tasks
[developers.soundcloud]

One challenge engineering teams often face is dealing with work that doesn’t revolve around developing new features but that still requires the team’s attention and time. The Content Engineering Team here at SoundCloud is no exception, so we iterated on a process to deal with unplanned and support tasks to end up with fewer interruptions and more time to spend on implementing planned features.
 

Technical

Maybe you don't need Rust and WASM to speed up your JS
[mrale]

Few weeks ago I noticed a blog post “Oxidizing Source Maps with Rust and WebAssembly” making rounds on Twitter - talking about performance benefits of replacing plain JavaScript in the core of source-map library with a Rust version compiled to WebAssembly. This post piqued my interest, not because I am a huge on either Rust or WASM, but rather because I am always curious about language features and optimizations missing in pure JavaScript to achieve similar performance characteristics.
 


You Are (Probably) Here: Better Map Pins with DBSCAN & Random Forests
[engineering.foursquare]

A map is the most natural backdrop against which to present geospatial data. Yet, the problem of determining where exactly to drop a venue’s map pin is a surprisingly difficult one. A common, but limiting, solution is to geocode a venue’s street address to a pair of latitude/longitude coordinates. At Foursquare, however, we have accumulated a massive location dataset that has allowed us to sidestep the geocoding approach altogether. In this post, we will describe how we harness the patterns inherent in user behavior to continually improve map pin placement over time.


Text Buffer Reimplementation
[code.visualstudio]

The Visual Studio Code 1.21 release includes a brand new text buffer implementation which is much more performant, both in terms of speed and memory usage. In this blog post, I'd like to tell the story of how we selected and designed the data structures and algorithms that led to those improvements.

 

News/Other

How a failing Atlanta school cut its student turnover rate by nearly half
[cbsnews]

When Nicole Evans Jones became principal at Thomasville Heights Elementary School two years ago, she inherited a crisis. The Atlanta school, at times, has been the worst performing elementary school in all of Georgia – and one of its poorest.
 


Saudi Arabia's heir to the throne talks to 60 Minutes
[cbsnews]

In his first interview with an American television network, Mohammed bin Salman shared his thoughts on Iran, the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, his country's troubled past and its hopeful future
 


U.S. Strikes Qaeda Target in Southern Libya, Expanding Shadow War There
[nytimes]

The United States military carried out its first ever drone strike against Al Qaeda militants in southern Libya this weekend, signaling a possibly significant expansion of the American counterterrorism campaign in the North African nation.
 


To find suspects, police quietly turn to Google
[wral]

On a satellite image, they drew shapes around the crime scenes, marking the coordinates on the map. Then they convinced a Wake County judge they had enough probable cause to order Google to hand over account identifiers on every single cell phone that crossed the digital cordon during certain times.
 


Madison Square Garden Has Used Face-Scanning Technology on Customers
[nytimes]

Madison Square Garden has quietly used facial-recognition technology to bolster security and identify those entering the building, according to multiple people familiar with the arena’s security procedures.
 


Robots Are Trying To Pick Strawberries. So Far, They're Not Very Good At It
[npr]

Robots have taken over many of America's factories. They can explore the depths of the ocean, and other planets. They can play ping-pong. But can they pick a strawberry?
 


No Longer a Secret: How Israel Destroyed Syria's Nuclear Reactor
[haaretz]

It was one of the Israeli army's most successful operations, but was censored for over a decade. Now, a Haaretz investigation goes behind the scenes of the 2007 strike on 'The Cube,' shortly before it became an active nuclear reactor: From the intelligence failures and American foot-dragging, to the arguments at the top levels and the threats of a total war with Syria
 


This Is What The Northern Lights Look Like From Inside a U-2 “Dragon Lady” Spyplane
[theaviationist]

“I had no idea how fast the aurora moved and changed. It danced around, changing shape several times a second. That made it a challenge for the photographer in a spacesuit sitting in shaking metal can moving 500 mph,” Ross commented after shooting these shots.
 


Walmart Launches Small Army Of Autonomous Scanning Robots
[sanfrancisco.cbslocal]

Artificial intelligence will soon be put to work at Walmart stores around the country. And it could be a game-changer for retail.
 


China will ban people with poor ‘social credit’ from planes and trains
[theverge]

Starting in May, Chinese citizens who rank low on the country’s burgeoning “social credit” system will be in danger of being banned from buying plane or train tickets for up to a year, according to statements recently released by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission.
 


Russia May Be Targeting Undersea Internet Cables. Here's Why That's Bad
[time]

Russian ships are skulking around underwater communications cables, causing the U.S. and its allies to worry the Kremlin might be taking information warfare to new depths.
 


YouTube Bans Firearms Demo Videos, Entering the Gun Control Debate
[bloomberg]

YouTube, a popular media site for firearms enthusiasts, this week quietly introduced tighter restrictions on videos involving weapons, becoming the latest battleground in the U.S. gun-control debate.
 


Patriot Missiles Are Made in America and Fail Everywhere
[foreignpolicy]

The evidence is in: the missile defense system that the United States and its allies rely on is a lemon.

 

Books/Podcasts/Videos

Rise and Kill First: The Inside Story and Secret Operations of Israel's Assassination Program
[goodreads]

The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. From the very beginning of its statehood in 1948, protecting the nation from harm has been the responsibility of its intelligence community and armed services, and there is one weapon in their vast arsenal that they have relied upon to thwart the most serious threats: Targeted assassinations have been used countless times, on enemies large and small, sometimes in response to attacks against the Israeli people and sometimes preemptively. In this page-turning, eye-opening book, journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman offers a riveting inside account of the targeted killing programs—their successes, their failures, and the moral and political price exacted on the men and women who approved and carried out the missions.