Long Links · Welcome to the June 2021 issue of Long Links, in which I curate long-form works that I enjoyed last month. Even if you think all these look interesting, you probably don’t have time to read them assuming you have a job, which I don’t. My hope is that one or two will reward your attention ...
 
Testing in the Twenties · Grown-up software developers know perfectly well that testing is important. But — speaking here from experience — many aren’t doing enough. So I’m here to bang the testing drum, which our profession shouldn’t need to hear but apparently does ...
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LP Victory · Some readers may remember a February 2019 blog post describing how I inherited 900 or so used LPs, mostly classical. As of this week, I’ve listened to all of them (or rejected them out of hand), and kept 220 or so (counting methods were imperfect). Herewith lessons and reconfigurations. Also there’s a companion piece on sixteen albums I especially liked ...
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Sixteen Classics · I just finished writing about the process of, and lessons from, processing 900 inherited LPs into my collection. I thought it wouldn’t be fair to stay meta, so here is a handful of my favorites from among the new arrivals. Yes, they are all music by dead white men, performed by other dead white men (and a couple of women). Sorry. They were released between 1953 and 1978 ...
 
It’s Bad · As we’ve slogged through Trump and carbon-loading and Covid, I’ve managed to remain more or less un-depressed and find enough gratifications in day-to-day life to keep the black dog of despair at a distance. But this morning I woke up early and, while the household slept, read most of the May 15th issue of The Economist. And folks, with a very few exceptions, it was pretty well all bad news. I feel an obligation to pass this summary along with a plea: As we relax slowly into post-Covid, maybe try to find a bit of extra energy and put it into politics or philanthropy or some other way to mitigate the awfulness. Our children deserve it ...
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Hydrofoiling · I was standing on a floating dock on a Pacific-ocean inlet, a place where it’s obvious why motorboats are such an environmental disaster. Fortunately lots of other people have noticed too and it looks increasingly that more people will be able to enjoy Messing About In Boats without feeling like they’re making Greta Thunberg justifiably angry at them ...
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Decarbonization · We’re trying to decarbonize our family as much as we can. We’re not kidding ourselves that this will move any global-warming needles. But sharing the story might, a little bit. [Updated mid-2021 with a bit of progress: No more gas vehicles, heat pumps in production.] ...
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Long Links · Welcome once again to Long Links, a monthly curation of long-form pieces that pleased and educated me and that being semi-retired gives me time to enjoy; offered in the hope that one or two might enrich the lives of busier people ...
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Amazon Q1 2021 · Amazon announced their financial results for the January to March quarter last Thursday. I was reading them when an email popped up asking if I wanted to talk about them on CNBC Squawk, which I did. In preparation, I re-read the report and pulled together a few talking points; here they are ...
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Multimodality · My Wednesday consisted mostly of running around and moving things. I used five transport modes and now I can’t not think about environmental impact and practicality and urban futures. Hop on board the car-share, boat, electric car, bus, and bike, and come along for the ride ...
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Twilights · I went out for a walk well into twilight time, put the camera in see-in-the-dark mode, fitted a fast friendly lens, and pointed it at pretty things ...
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Algorithm Agility? · What happened was, I was fooling around with zero-knowledge proof ideas and needed to post public keys on the Internet in textual form. I picked ed25519 keys (elliptic-curve, also known as EdDSA) so I asked the Internet “How do you turn ed25519 keys into short text strings?” The answer took quite a bit of work to find and, after I posted it, provoked a discussion about whether I was doing the right thing. So today’s question is: Should these things be encoded with the traditional PKIX/PEM serialization, or should developers just blast the key-bits into base64 and ship that? ...
 
How to Interchange Ed25519 Keys · Herewith pointers to Java 15 and Go code that converts Ed25119 public keys back and forth between short text strings and key objects you can use to verify signatures. The code isn’t big or complicated, but it took me quite a bit of work and time to figure out, and led down surprisingly dusty and ancient pathways. Posted to help others who need to do this and perhaps provide mild entertainment.
[Update 04/23: “agwa” over at YCombinator showed how to simplify the Go with x509.MarshalPKIXPublicKey and x509.ParsePKIXPublicKey.]
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Spring Flowers, 2021 · 48 hours ago I got my first Covid-19 vaccine dose, and today I took the camera for a stroll, hunting spring flowers. What a long strange trip it’s been ...
 
The Sacred “Back” Button · Younger readers will find it hard to conceive of a time in which every application screen didn’t have a way to “Go Back”. This universal affordance was there, a new thing, in the first Web browser that anyone saw, and pretty soon after that, more or less everything had it. It’s a crucial part of the user experience and, unfortunately, a lot of popular software is doing it imperfectly. Let’s demand perfection ...
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Long Links · Welcome to the monthly “Long Links” post for March 2021, in which I take advantage of my lightly-employed status to curate a list of pointers to good long-form stuff that I have time to savor but you probably don’t, but which you might enjoy one or two of. This month there’s lots of video, a heavier focus on music, and some talk about my former employer ...
 
Topfew+Amdahl.next · I’m in fast-follow mode here, with more Topfew reportage. Previous chapters (reverse chrono order) here, here, and here. Fortunately I’m not going to need 3500 words this time, but you probably need to have read the most recent chapter for this to make sense. Tl;dr: It’s a whole lot faster now, mostly due to work from Simon Fell. My feeling now is that the code is up against the limits and I’d be surprised if any implementation were noticeably faster. Not saying it won’t happen, just that I’d be surprised. With a retake on the Amdahl’s-law graphics that will please concurrency geeks ...
 
Topfew and Amdahl · On and off this past year, I’ve been fooling around with a program called Topfew (GitHub link), blogging about it in Topfew fun and More Topfew Fun. I’ve just finished adding a few nifty features and making it much faster; I’m here today first to say what’s new, and then to think out loud about concurrent data processing, Go vs Rust, and Amdahl’s Law, of which I have a really nice graphical representation. Apologies because this is kind of long, but I suspect that most people who are interested in either are interested in both ...
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xmlwf -k · What happened was, I needed a small improvement to Expat, probably the most widely-used XML parsing engine on the planet, so I coded it up and sent off a PR and it’s now in release 2.3.0. There’s nothing terribly interesting about the problem or the solution, but it certainly made me think about coding and tooling and so on. (Warning: Of zero interest to anyone who isn’t a professional programmer.) ...
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