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Burn After Reading - Issue #8

Burn After Reading - Issue #8
By Kristian Glass • Issue #8 • View online
Cinematography, keyboards, trees, woodlice and Pong; enjoy!

The Boots Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness is a brilliant piece of writing in Terry Pratchett’s Men at Arms that does a great job of illustrating how it’s expensive to be poor. Siderea’s The Vimes Boots Theory: Further Reflections has the theory in full, and dives deeper into some of the many ways that the more you have, the easier it is to get and keep more.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse seems incredibly popular among my friends and peers - I’ve not yet seen it myself, but I enjoyed Ian Failes’s piece If It’s Not Broke, Break It’: Sony Imageworks’ Renegade Approach To ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, exploring some of the design decisions and approaches taken, and the consequences that ensued.
Some friends are currently job-hunting at the moment, which led me to dig out Marc Cenedella’s How to answer ‘Do you have any questions for me?’: 25 great questions to ask your future boss. It’s a great list of questions, whether you’re trying to narrow down your options or just make sure that you’re forewarned and forearmed for a new role.
Magic: The Gathering is a fantasy card game that took up a lot of my early teenage years, and remains a temptation now. Whether you know Magic or not, Duncan A Sabien’s How the ‘Magic: The Gathering’ Color Wheel Explains Humanity takes a look at “personality types” in the context of one of the game concepts. There’s a lot of tedious corporate-sponsored pseudoscience out there, but this was a fun read that doesn’t take itself too seriously, while providing an interesting model and perspective.
I got myself a new keyboard recently - a second Ergodox for travel / office use. I’m quite an Ergodox fan - I’m typing this on the first one I bought a few years back - and if you ever get a chance to try one, I’d recommend it. I still don’t make much use of the thumb cluster, but the split grid-shaped (“ortholinear”) layout feels really nice.
Finally (maybe skip this if you’re eating) Greg McKenzie’s list of Woodlice Recipes was, well, enlightening…!
According to Colin McMillen, 93% of Paint Splatters are Valid Perl Programs. I doubt this will surprise many, but the work that went into the study and the mechanisms within Perl that allow this are definitely fascinating. If “lerzfijglpFiji-j” is a valid program in your language, maybe it’s time to consider some of your design decisions?
Lesley Carhart found that Life Moves Fast, Smart-Apartment Style when she found out that her apartment was ‘going “smart”’, and covers some of her achievements and experiences as a result. Alas I think things are likely to get worse for less-informed and less-experienced renters before they get better…
Simon Willison is Generating a commit log for San Francisco’s official list of trees. It’s great to see Git used not just as “version control for my code” but for tracking the history of datasets too. I was also impressed by the “serverless” setup that used CircleCI scheduled jobs to actually do the scraping and commit the changes to GitHub - no need to host/run a service yourself!
In my last job, I spent nearly four years as a CTO, and now I “CTO as a Service” for a variety of clients. Paul Robinson’s The Problems of the CTO Role is a great summary of several of the challenges I’ve faced - worth a read whether you’re in that role yourself, have ever thought about becoming one, or are just looking for some perspective on a CTO you work with.
Jake Thomas’s article Client-side instrumentation for under $1 per month is a neat look at creating an analytics system backed by AWS (mostly Lambda and Athena). In real-world terms, it’s easy to forget all the hidden costs of building and running your own services that don’t end up on a balance sheet or your credit card bill, but it’s a great demonstration of functionality and possibilities.
Thanks for making it this far, I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback is always much appreciated, whether by email, Twitter, or the thumbs-up button!
If you think someone you know might enjoy reading this, then do please pass it on, or point them to the subscription page at
Cheers, Kristian
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Kristian Glass

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