Won’t Subscribe · Since I’m lightly employed these days, I enjoy keeping up with the news. In recent weeks, I’ve been blocked by the paywalls of the Wall Street Journal, Globe & Mail (closest thing Canada has to a national newspaper), the Times/Sunday Times (of London), the Telegraph (also UK), Business Insider, and Bloomberg. Recently I got a bit of inside info on how these publications think about the economics, and I’m here to explain why they’re wrong ...
[27 comments]  
Workflows in AWS and GCP · Recently, Google launched a beta of Google Cloud Workflows. This grabs my attention because I did a lot of work on AWS Step Functions, also a workflow service. The differences between them are super interesting, if you’re among the handful of humans who care about workflows in the cloud. For those among the other 7.8 billion, move right along, nothing to see here ...
[5 comments]  
Slow Drone Soar · I recently invited you to read a thousand-page novel without much in the way of sentences, so I think it’s perfectly reasonable to point you at a 69-minute drone-metal album that largely lacks melody and rhythm. I refer to Life Metal, a 2019 release from Sunn O))). Because in 2020 we really ought to be sharing good things with each other, and this is a good thing; the new music I’ve enjoyed most this year ...
[4 comments]  
Studying Water · I have the good fortune to live in a seafront city, the further fortune to travel often by boat to a cabin by ocean’s edge, and still further, to work in a boat/office, many hours a week within arm’s reach of salt water. The water exhibits mysteries and tells me things I don’t understand but would love, given another lifetime, to study ...
[5 comments]  
Long Links · I seem to have fallen into a monthly rhythm of posting pointers to what I think are high-quality long-form pieces. One of the best things about not having a job as such is that I have time to read these things. My assumption is that most of you don’t, but that maybe one or two will reward an investment of your limited time ...
[3 comments]  
, the fact that... · I’ve been reading Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann since January of this year and finished it earlier this evening. I’ve taken breaks from it to read other books and quit my job and launch a sideline in activism. The book is over a thousand pages long and mostly composed of a single sentence, an endless flow of phrases many introduced by , the fact that… I enjoyed it a whole lot! While most people won’t be eager to wade into something this big and complicated, the fact that it’s OK to take months and months to wander through it may make the idea less intimidating. I hope to tempt you further. Also a few notes about me and books ...
[3 comments]  
Yalochat · There’s financing news today: Yalochat closed a $15M B Round from B Capital, with follow-on from Sierra Ventures. The reason I’m writing this is that I’ve signed on as an advisor to Yalo; they’re a fun outfit and it’s an interesting story. Also, they’re hiring ...
 
Welcome to the Podcast · I was wondering if podcasting is still a thing, so I tweeted “When do people listen to podcasts, now that nobody is commuting? Housework? Exercise?” Newsflash: Yes, it is. The tweet got lots of traction and only very few of the responses said they were listening less. Given that, I decided to make an audio version of what you are reading and call it a podcast. Turns out to be pretty easy ...
[4 comments]  
Cloud Traffic · I recently watched Build an enterprise-grade service mesh with Traffic Director, featuring Stewart Reichling and Kelsey Hightower of GCP, and of course Google Cloud’s Traffic Director. Coming at this with a brain steeped in 5½ years of AWS technology and culture was surprising in ways that seem worth sharing ...
[2 comments]  
Long Links · Back in early July I posted ten links to long-form pieces that I’d had a chance to enjoy because of not having one of those nasty “full-time-job” things. I see that the browser tabs are bulking up again, so here we go. Just like last time, people with anything resembling a “life” probably don’t have time for all of them, but if a few pick a juicy-looking essay to enjoy, that’ll have made it worthwhile ...
[2 comments]  
Not an Amazon Problem · The NY Times profile quotes me saying “We don’t really have an Amazon problem. What we have is a deep, societal problem with an unacceptable imbalance of power and wealth.” But the URL contained the string “amazon-critic-tim-bray” and the HTML <title> says “Tim Bray Is Not Done With Amazon”. I feel like I’m being pigeonholed and I don’t like it ...
[11 comments]  
Polishing Lawrence · I edit Wikipedia as a hobby, and recommend that hobby. (Fifteen or so years ago I was an early defender in the days when many scoffed at the Wikipedia idea.) I spent much of this past weekend on a long-running editing project, the entry for T.E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. When I finished up on Monday I felt like a milestone had been passed so I decided to share, because the story behind it seemed worth telling ...
[2 comments]  
Safari Tabs Are Weird · Recently I switched from Chrome to Safari because on a 2019 16" MacBook Pro, Chrome has nasty video glitches; apparently Apple and Google are blaming each other for the problem. My first impression of Safari is decent, subjectively it feels faster than Chrome. But browser tabs act in ways that that feel somewhere between “weird” and “badly broken”. Here are a few of the issues I’ve encountered ...
[10 comments]  
Long Links · Having recently quit my job, I have more spare time than I used to. A surprising amount of it has been dedicated to reading longer-form articles, mostly about politics and society, but only mostly. I miss my job but I sure have enjoyed the chance to stretch out my mind in new directions. There are plenty of things in the world that need more than a thousand words to talk about. Anyhow, here is a set of lightly-annotated links that people who still have jobs almost certainly won’t have time to read all of. But maybe one or two will add flavor to your life ...
[1 comment]  
Just Too Efficient · On a Spring 2019 walk in Beijing I saw two street sweepers at a sunny corner. They were beat-up looking and grizzled but probably younger than me. They’d paused work to smoke and talk. One told a story; the other’s eyes widened and then he laughed so hard he had to bend over, leaning on his broom. I suspect their jobs and pay were lousy and their lives constrained in ways I can’t imagine. But they had time to smoke a cigarette and crack a joke. You know what that’s called? Waste, inefficiency, a suboptimal outcome. Some of the brightest minds in our economy are earnestly engaged in stamping it out. They’re winning, but everyone’s losing ...
[30 comments]  
More Topfew Fun · Back in May I wrote a little command-line utility called Topfew (GitHub). It was fun to write, and faster than the shell incantation it replaced. Dirkjan Ochtman dropped in a comment noting that he’d written Topfew along the same lines but in in Rust (GitHub) and that it was 2.86 times faster; at GitHub, the README now says that with a few optimizations it’s now 6.7x faster. I found this puzzling and annoying so I did some optimization too, encountering surprises along the way. You already know whether you’re the kind of person who wants to read the rest of this ...
[7 comments]  
Oboe to Ida · What happened was, I was listening to an (at least) fifty-year old LP, a classical collection entitled The Virtuoso Oboe; it’s what the title says. The music was nothing to write home about but led into a maze of twisty little passages that ended with me admiring the life of a glamorous Russian bisexual Jewish ballerina heiress who’s famous for… well, we’ll get to that ...
[1 comment]  
Break Up Google · It’s easy to say “Break up Big Tech companies!” Depending how politics unfold, the thing might become possible, but figuring out the details will be hard. I spent the last sixteen years of my life working for Big Tech and have educated opinions on the subject. Today: Why and how we should break up Google ...
[7 comments]  
A-Cloud PR/FAQ · I’d like to see AWS split off from the rest of Amazon and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. So to help that happen, I’ve drafted a PR/FAQ and posted it on GitHub so that it can be improved. People who know what a PR/FAQ is and why this might be helpful can hop on over and critique the doc. For the rest, herewith background and explanation on the what, why, and how ...
[2 comments]  
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