Three Electric-Jaguar Years · This month marks three years of driving an electric car, a 2019 Jaguar I-Pace. I’ve written a lot about this, the research that went into it, what it feels like to own and operate, and the experience of driving it 1725km across Canada and back. All this on the theory that EV’s are an important tool in our best climate-emergency strategy. Like basically 100% of people who’ve gone electric, there’s no going back. In 2022, the requirements niche where a fossil-powered car makes sense is narrow and shrinking fast ...
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Pulp Fiction · A dozen years ago, our growing family created a problem: Too many books! So after I finished ripping our thousand CDs, we repurposed the CD rack into a bookcase, stuffed it with our genre paperbacks, and put it in the guest room. A few years later, the guest room became our son’s room and the pulp fiction went into boxes. But just now after another bout of domestic reorganization, they’re back out among us. I find their dingy colorful presence cheering. Check out the picture! ...
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New Year’s Day · In Vancouver, we have a tradition of going for a walk on New Year’s Day, no matter how foul the weather, if only to prove to Other Canadians that the thing is possible. 2022 too, despite its being an extremely low-expectations year. And it wasn’t the worst New Year’s Day beachwalk ever, so maybe it won’t be the worst year ever. And it leaves me with advice for the world. But first… ...
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Long Links · For a while there I was posting a Long Links early in each month, recommending long-form pieces that I’d had the time to read, acknowledging that people who aren’t semi-retired wouldn’t have time for all of them but perhaps one or two would add value even for the busy. I fell out of that habit but now it’s 2022 and there are plenty of tabs I meant to write about, some dating back to early 2021. So… Welcome, everyone, to 2022, and let’s go long! ...
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Locally Optimal · It’s six months since my second Covid shot (team AZ/Moderna) and thus booster time. Which I found out this morning via SMS from my local (BC, Canada) Centre for Disease Control. The registration process was fast and painless. This is exactly the sort of thing we thought we were building the Internet for, and has lessons to teach ...
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2021 Series Survey · What with Covid and being semi-retired, I had plenty of reading time in 2021. In particular, I got to the final volumes of multiple long-running literary franchises. (Some of those final volumes had been published years before.) I think that every series listed here is a good investment of your time. Two warnings: It’s mostly pretty mainstream, and kind of sci-fi heavy. Quick table of contents: Broken Earth, The Expanse, Merchant Princes/Empire Games, Neapolitan Novels, The Sandman, Sandman Slim, Trickster Trilogy ...
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Listening to re:Invent · This is the week that AWS owns the tech news cycle because anyone who cares about it is watching the stories coming out of the re:Invent conference. I watched Adam Selipsky’s keynote this morning and it looks like AWS is moving in a very traditional direction for tech companies: Away from tech-first, towards business-first. Which is inevitable but also dangerous ...
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CL XLII: Picture Hugs · Out on a walk with Lauren, we stopped in a park and I noticed she was holding an evergreen branch with one hand, stroking it with the other. “Sometimes, you just got to hug a tree” she said. No lie. Especially when times are shitty. I can’t put you next to a tree but at least I can take you out in the woods photographically. It’s dark now and we can use all the help we can get ...
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Filtering Lessons · Last week, AWS announced (docs, blog) event filtering for Lambdas reading from SQS, DynamoDB, and Kinesis. Lambda’s new filtering is consistent with EventBridge’s. Also announced was faster, slicker, cheaper S3/EventBridge integration. These features rely on software I helped write. The problem turns out to be more interesting than you might expect, by a factor of 10¹² or so. I think it’d be really great if the code were open-sourced ...
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Overtorqued · I don’t write much about really personal stuff, but in recent years there have been mild-to-serious mental-health issues affecting my immediate and extended family. As a consequence I have uneducated ideas about evolution and mental health to offer. And with them, for comfort, photographs of a beautiful garden ...
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Blah, Blah, Blah, Boom · COP26 is winding down, and I think nobody can seriously disagree with Greta Thunberg’s take: “Blah, blah, blah.” And then she continued “The real work continues outside these halls. And we will never give up, ever.” I wonder: What form does that “real work” take? Well, I just finished reading How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm, which doesn’t include instructions for blowing up pipelines but argues that that Real Work should include infrastructure destruction. It’s a good book, and if you (like me) are horrified at the onrushing climate catastrophe and enraged at our leaders’ incapacity and unwillingness to take actions that might seriously mitigate the devastation, you might want to read it ...
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Diablo Immortal · I tried out Diablo Immortal on my Galaxy Tab 7+ and, well, it’s pretty convincing off the top. But I wonder if it’s ethical to play anything from Blizzard, these days? Protip: At the moment you can’t get into the closed beta unless you’re on Android in Canada ...
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URI-based Integration · At the end of September, AWS announced a big new feature for its Step Functions product, and my tweet noting the announcement got a shocking number of impressions for something way out at the geeky end of Cloud tech. In retrospect, a design choice we made back in 2016 turns out to be working very well, and there’s a lesson to be learned here: If you need to integrate an arbitrarily large and and diverse set of software capabilities, URIs are the best integration glue ...
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Worst Case · Suppose you’re running your organization’s crucial apps in the cloud. Specifically, suppose you’re running them them on AWS, and in particular in the “us-east-1” region? Could us-east-1 go away? What might you do about it? Let’s catastrophize! ...
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Catharsis · It was just a minor story in the business section, nothing front-page. But when I heard (earlier in the day, from an insider), the news was cathartic; I had to stand up and take a walk. Summary: Amazon was about to find itself in court with the US National Labor Relations Board over the firing of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa; the event that caused me to walk away from the best job I ever had and a whole lot of money. On September 29th, Amazon avoided that trial by signing a humiliating out-of-court settlement. Which is to say, that particular firing spree was not only unethical and stupid, it was probably illegal ...
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Rock Decades · On Saturday September 25th, 2021, we went to a concert by Cousin Harley featuring Paul Pigat. The last live indoor music we’d seen was March 8, 2020, which is to say a gap of 566 days. Speaking of gaps, 2021 marks, more or less, both seventy years of Rock ’n’ Roll and 50 years of my loving it ...
 
Blueskid Demo · I’ve been in the conversation around Twitter’s @bluesky project, and last December I posted @bluesky Identity, a proposal for mapping between social-media identities based on public keys and signatures. Recently @bluesky announced the Satellite contest, whose goal is to take identities on three or more online properties and “Link them in a way that anyone can verify you are the author/owner of all.” Which is more or less what @bluesky Identity is all about. So I pulled together a working demo called “Blueskid” (GitHub). This is a quick walk-through of Blueskid ...
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Saving þ · Herewith a lost-pet story with (spoiler) a happy ending, starring a real bloodhound. Soon to be a major motion picture, I bet ...
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LG C1 · What happened was, our TV is ten years old and (following on some renovations) we could use one at the cabin for rainy winter evenings. So I bought a 48" LG C1 4K OLED screen (48" is the smallest in the C1 line), which is kind of this year’s hot TV. It’s not a life-changer, but the world of TV has shifted some in a decade, so here’s a dispatch from the front. Includes a pointer to a truly great TV stand ...
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CL XLI: Forest Stories · Recently I’ve had the joy and privilege of time spent walking in the Pacific Northwest forest, on a small island where we engage in Cottage Life.. Walking in the forest provides a fine opportunity to think, although the raw beauty of the forest pouring in through your eyes and ears will regularly interrupt. While forest-walking, I thought about pictures, modern mapping technology, strangers’ identities, and The Green Knight movie ...
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