It has taken me awhile to summarise 2022. I intended to finish writing my book, "Just Perf", but family took precedence, as it always should. Instead, I drastically improved my curation skills, and did get a lot of writing practice in, while also honing my craft at work.
Admittedly, I was feeling a bit burnt-out, as one does from time to time working
in tech, and I decided at the start of 2022 that I would commit to making the
things I love explicit. Every time I found something I loved, into a note it
went. Bear has this neat functionality on mobile I use a lot, where the
functionality can be chosen to append to the end of a note. This is handy for
general link dumping, but in this case it it allowed me to focus media to a
particular bucket, as you can edit the text before dumping if you want. Doing
this sharpened my sensibilities, and I've since taken the practice for other
things in my life that I want to be sure of what is uniquely me and not simply
me copying others templates. I also had read The Practice by Seth Godin in which
he has a small section dedicated to adopting an abundance mindset; I love the
idea of holding onto an abundance mindset now, and I think hoarding a treasure
trove of what I love is the wrong thing to do, hence I am here sharing it with
you, dear reader.
It is now nearing the end of of the first month of 2023, and I felt it appropriate to get on with it and share this list. Things will inevitably change, and this list may contian things I will fall out of love with, but that's ok; I'm human and I'm growing. I will gradually refine this list to more than a link dump as a I revisit the content and reflect. I will be repeating this process again, and, indeed, there are some links at the tail end of this list that were thrown in this January. Hopefully you can mind a bit of my mess as I clean things up in public, but feel free to come back and see how things have changed. This foreword will likely adapt as time goes on, too. We need more living documents.
NB. With the inevitable collapse of twitter on its way, many of these twitter links will be converted into screenshots for posterity. I also am keen on the idea that if it doesn't fit in a screenshot or two, I don't think it's small enough to love.
Without further ado:
The isle of twitter
I've found that variations on "what are we trying to do here?" work amazingly well in a bunch of situations— Tikhon Jelvis (@tikhonjelvis) January 12, 2022
As long as I keep context and tone in mind, people don't take it the wrong way. I want it to feel like I'm asking somebody to help solve a problem, not accusing them.
I've also started just asking people "what would you like me to do?"— Tikhon Jelvis (@tikhonjelvis) January 12, 2022
It's a great question when I think the answer is "nothing": if I'm right, people will convince themselves that's the case; if I'm wrong, I'll learn about what they'd like me to do :).
when someone makes you feel safe. safe to express. safe to feel. safe to speak. safe to think. just safe. i love that. i love an emotionally validating human. i love an active listener. i love reciprocity.— gaia. (@gaialect) January 24, 2022
As a senior engineer, you should learn how to be less reactionary and more strategic. Reactionary behavior creates tactical solutions. Tactical solutions create more problems. Learning to think big and fix foundational issues sometimes makes hard problems disappear.— Jaana Dogan ヤナ ドガン (@rakyll) January 19, 2022
I wish more people isolated their business logic from their asynchronous interactions through a more explicit partially ordered local inbox that can be trivially scrambled and dropped during tests for getting sooooo many of the bugs in distributed systems to quickly pop out— @Spacejam@mastodon.social (@sadisticsystems) February 14, 2022
.@paarsec and I made an experimental short film: Softly, the current may bend our bodies. It looks at the connection between people and places, nature, water, touch. Watch it for free here: https://t.co/zz4rvnJGtf— Sy Brand (@TartanLlama) February 20, 2022
35. Antiroutine:— Gurwinder (@G_S_Bhogal) February 11, 2022
To create original output, consume unusual input. Avoid trending videos, NYT bestsellers, widely cited papers. Instead. read ignored texts, plumb the past for forgotten ideas. Step outside the zeitgeist so you can see it with fresh eyes.
The goal of Calvinball isn't to "win" the goal is to play. It's an infinite game, proper. You "win" by advancing the game. You advance the game by making a good move. A good move is surprising, insightful, unexpected, delights the audience, delights the players.— Rival Voices (@nosilverv) March 30, 2022
your life is not a thing to do something with, it's not a resource to be allocated efficiently (this itself is known to induce despair), your life is the domain in which you exist— Visakan Veerasamy ⛵️ (@visakanv) April 26, 2022
it's not a mathematical equation to be solved with any sort of finality, but a tension to be danced
FOUR Productivity FEYNMAN- strategies:— Prof. Feynman (@ProfFeynman) February 7, 2019
i) Stop trying to know-it-all.
ii) Don't worry about what others are thinking.
iii) Don't think about what you want to be, but what you want to do.
iv) Have a sense of humor and talk honestly. pic.twitter.com/COQU9HHkdx
My Rust database projects will continue. The next up: merging the @komora_io fragments into sled :) My recent fixation on rewriting things until I can write them in about a day (or break them into pieces that are small enough to do so) really seems to be working well w/ low time.— @Spacejam@mastodon.social (@sadisticsystems) May 20, 2022
Fascinating HN comment from someone who's company built a custom distributed data warehouse using compressed SQLite DB files in S3 that were queried using Lambda functions orchestrated by PostgreSQL running a custom foreign data wrapper https://t.co/gvRviN8D9R pic.twitter.com/YC8iNAyFxB— Simon Willison (@simonw) May 24, 2022
Compass computer for GRiD Systems. Designed by Bill Moggridge. Palo Alto, CA, 1982 pic.twitter.com/fIlBxFKesB— femb✦t (@__femb0t) May 21, 2022
Brian Eno on creating the Windows 95 startup sound pic.twitter.com/u64NsnkPhm— 𝗗𝗘𝗔𝗗𝗦𝗢𝗨𝗡𝗗 💀 (@DeadsoundApp) May 28, 2022
These structures can get big! But even zoomed out, seeing the general shape of something can help you when debugging. When you're familiar— Kate (@thingskatedid) April 24, 2021
with how things look, you can spot patterns in what changes. Our brains are good for that! pic.twitter.com/2AJWViF1Pk
🧵 Make yours and everybody else's lives slightly less terrible by having all your programs print out their internal stuff as pictures; ✨ a thread ✨ pic.twitter.com/NjQ42bXN2E— Kate (@thingskatedid) April 24, 2021
I have deep respect for people in tech who have a sense of _taste_ and use it to guide judgement (whether in design/engineering/product/whatever). It’s a rare quality, and it’s very few environments that allow such people to thrive, but it’s pretty marvellous when it does happen.— sunil pai, inc. (@threepointone) June 1, 2022
I used to have a strict plan for what I wanted to do in my career and how perfect it would look.— Wes Kao 🏛 (@wes_kao) June 4, 2022
Now I proudly don't have a 5 or 10 year plan.
I know the type of impact I want to make, doing work I'm great at, with people I respect and who bring me joy.
That's enough. 💜
NORMALIZE THIS. pic.twitter.com/BRZLzKM0lc— Jorge Castro ❤️ 🇺🇦 (@castrojo) June 17, 2022
These 'Beach Animals' were created by Theo Jansen as a fusion of art and engineering. The kinetic structures walk on their own and get all their energy from the wind.pic.twitter.com/1m2JvPXUSB— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) June 26, 2022
In my constant scouring of Pinterest for fantasy fashion inspiration, I found the account of the Islamic Fashion Institute (it's a Muslim fashion design school in Indonesia) and it's full of images of absolute jaw dropping beauty and coolness and incredible design pic.twitter.com/p3n5ZR3GSb— TREZ MAKES ART AND RIFFS 🥟 (@GameResTrez) September 8, 2022
Confident leaders acknowledge what they don’t know, work hard to acquire that knowledge, and believe in their ability to learn. This is how I ultimately unlocked my career.— Dan Rose (@DanRose999) September 8, 2022
Honesty engenders trust.
Humility opens the door to learning.
Curiosity leads to understanding.
Programming isn't so much about conveying to machines instructions for how to do a thing. It's more about building clear mental models of the thing. That's the hard part. Writing the code and running it can be a tool to shape your own thinking.— François Chollet (@fchollet) October 6, 2022
There is an art to replying and commenting, and probably like 60-70% of people I’ve seen on the internet fail at it. The important thing is not to speak your mind, but to “support” the OP. You can support them by disagreeing well & you can “mis-support” them by agreeing stupidly— Visakan Veerasamy ⛵️ (@visakanv) September 11, 2018
People underestimate how much a “I believe in you” or “I will support you” means to someone who has uncertainty at the job or in life.— Bryan Liles (@bryanl) December 21, 2022
every moment is an opportunity to choose differently— Visakan Veerasamy ⛵️ (@visakanv) October 13, 2022
Small peek at the unnecessarily complex and very bespoke soup shader I made for this pic.twitter.com/xrIYcELF4W— Harry 💬 (@HarryAlisavakis) July 9, 2022
We’re only as strong as the people around us let us be. Which is why it matters that we can now shape our power, by shaping our community and context. Where is it you can be you? Who does that for you? When you realize identity is fluid, contextual and shapes what you can do, you can also put yourself into a context that enables all of you. - Nilofer Merchant
yeh, also we're blind to abuse from people we admire -Max Rozen
A key engineering skill is noticing what’s blocked, and figuring out why, following a thread of hints from person to person until you can see what’s not moving. You might end up asking the same question again and again. You might get handwavy responses that seem like answers but don’t actually give you extra information. That’s how these games go.
-from Surviving the Organisational Side Quest — No Idea Blog
Base your priorities on company priorities and be relentless about revisiting them. A clear understanding of priority will help clarify which projects to start, stop, abandon or finish. And it’ll help avoid the worst scenario where your team does great work on an ultimately meaningless task.
-from Understanding Project Management Will Improve Your Developer Job | blog.danielna.com
At Google, one of our favorite mottos is that “Failure is an option.” It’s widely recognized that if you’re not failing now and then, you’re not being innovative enough or taking enough risks. Failure is viewed as a golden opportunity to learn and improve for the next go-around. 7 In fact, Thomas Edison is often quoted as saying, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” - SWE At Google (Book)
So one effective thing you can do if you want to think better is to become better at probing other people’s thinking. Ask questions. Simple ones are better. “Why” is the best. If you ask that three or four times you get to a place where you’re going to understand more and you’ll be able to tell who really knows what they are talking about. Shortcuts in thinking are easy, and this is how you tease them out. Not to make the other person look bad – don’t do this maliciously – but to avoid mistakes, air assumptions, and discuss conclusions. from here
To create the strategic framework, start with the company vision—where is it you want to go? Then, identify the obstacles standing in the way of getting there, and experiment around ways of tackling them. Keep doing this until the vision is reached. A mission explains why the company exists; a vision explains where the company is going, based on that mission. from here
- Will the customer buy It? — proof value
- Will users figure out how to use it? — check usability
- Will we be able to build it? — ask about the feasibility
- Will our business benefit from it and will we cover the costs? — verify viability from here
It’s easy for imposter syndrome to kick in at this point. One technique for fighting the feeling that you don’t know what you’re doing is to simply pretend that some expert out there knows exactly what to do, and that they’re simply on vacation and you’re temporarily subbing in for them. It’s a great way to remove the personal stakes and give yourself permission to fail and learn. -Google's SWE book
“All models are wrong, but some are useful” is a famous quote often attributed to the British statistician George E. P. Box.
It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life. -Jean-Luc Picard
A concept is a structure that is invented to give a coherent account of the immediate consequences of actions in a complex system. Thus concepts are rarely ends in themselves, but are means to other ends. - Daniel Jackson's paper on concepts?
A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once. It seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come. -julius ceaser, shakespeare
This is currently only a fraction of what is stored in the larger document. It will take a bit of time to narrow down to what's chaff and what's of value.
- The computer built to last 50 years
- Postmodern Anarchism in the Novels of Ursula K. Le Guin
- My Seatbelt Rule for Judgment and Chesterton’s Fence: A Lesson in Second Order Thinking for being wary of prior solutions before dismantling them.
- Hyperbolic band theory through Higgs bundles, which has some exquisite illustrations in a maths paper.
- The algebra (and calculus!) of algebraic data types
- Jez Humble - The Secrets of High Performing Organizations
- 21 compilers and 3 orders of magnitude in 60 minutes
- Why Rust mutexes look like they do
- Crosscut: Drawing Dynamic Models, design principles
- λ-2D: An Exploration of Drawing as Programming Language, Featuring Ideas from Lambda Calculus
- Computers can be understood - Made of Bugs
- Effective Mental Models for Code and Systems
- Kitchen Soap – On Being A Senior Engineer
- Where to Start - Keavy McMinn
- Lessons from Writing a Compiler
- The Programming Languages Zoo
- Error Handling in a Correctness-Critical Rust Project
- The unreasonable effectiveness of shipping every day
- Relax for the same result
- What I think about when I edit — Eva Parish
- Stepping Stones not Milestones
- Mechanical Watch
- Let’s Talk Locks!
- Parse, don’t validate
- A visualisation of the SHA-256 algorithm.
- Your First Thought Is Rarely Your Best Thought: Lessons on Thinking
- All models are wrong
- sled simulation guide (jepsen-proof engineering)
- Throwing Away Secrets
- Rust Language Cheat Sheet
- A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming
- Jon Bentley's "Programming Pearls" columns, and Van Wyk's "Literate Programming" columns in the CACM
- Awareness is a User Interface
- Formal Methods Only Solve Half My Problems
- x86 Opcode Structure and Instruction Overview
- What’s new with io_uring
- Researchers Achieve ‘Absurdly Fast’ Algorithm for Network Flow
- Explaining Code using ASCII Art
- A New Way to Cook Pasta?
- On naming things ...
- How do we know certain things to be "obvious", in general?