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Burn After Reading - Issue #5

Burn After Reading - Issue #5
By Kristian Glass • Issue #5 • View online
We’re 5% of the way through 2019, and apparently past the point now where most New Year’s resolutions have failed…
There’s lots of suggestion that big, semi-aspirational “resolutions” tend to fail, and that setting goals, along with associated incremental habits that will get you there, is a much more successful strategy. I’d be interested in hearing what you all do along these lines!
Meanwhile, as before, another assortment of things I’ve read and enjoyed over the last week or so:

Patrick McKenzie has a great series of general questions that would be valuable to ask during a project - when I think about things that I’ve worked on, almost all would have benefited from someone raising some of these! A particular favourite: “How can we get a marketing / recruiting / PR / etc. win out of this?” - it can be so easy to forget the value in sharing and publicising achievement.
I’ve not yet (knowingly) seen any “self-driving” cars in person, but if you do, you might want to be careful about taking a photo, after someone found their rather expensive and shiny-sounding camera had its sensor permanently damaged, seemingly by a car’s LIDAR sensor!
This interview with mathematician Tadashi Tokieda was a lovely read - he collects “what he calls ‘toys’ — objects from daily life that are easy to make yet exhibit behavior so startling that they often puzzle even physicists”. A really nice demonstration of the benefits of sharing ideas and making them accessible to others.
Recursive Radical Packing Language is a system for describing arbitrary Chinese characters - I know approximately nothing about the Chinese languages, but that’s not a prerequisite for appreciating this elegant encoding/descriptive system.
Intellectual Property systems can be complex enough when everything goes smoothly, but “crowdfunding backer patented my project” is the kind of phrase likely to make anyone wince - fortunately it looks like it turned out better than it could have done.
Finally, how do you draw an X? Consensus seems to be “that Americans do 7 & 8 while UK does 5 & 6” - I do 5 myself!
If you can avoid ever needing to know about character encodings, that’s lovely for you - discovering a Minecraft server used CP437 was not a fun process - but UTF-7 is a particularly “special” encoding, using only printable ASCII to encode the entire Unicode multiverse.
I’ve suffered from the consequences of some of MySQL’s design decisions in the past - I tend to use PostgreSQL in production now - but the “feature” that lets a MySQL server request any file from a connecting client looks particularly unpleasant.
I forget where I first heard the idea of having a tech “Golden Path” (“this is the official stack we support and use by default; you can do your own thing but you’re on your own”) but I loved it - you get a common shared core for the modal setup, but with the freedom to diverge if needed - Charity Majors has a great article on why you want a Golden Path, and a good roadmap for how to get there.
This deconstruction by Fabien Sanglard of Andrew Kensler’s raytracer that fits on the back of a business card was fascinating - I love a good breakdown of something I’d ordinarily have no idea about.
Thanks for reading! I really appreciate getting feedback, whether it’s you hitting the thumbs up (or down!) button, or getting in touch. As ever, if you think someone else might enjoy this too, then please just forward this on!
Cheers, Kristian
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Kristian Glass

Things I've read, things I've liked, thoughts I've had

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