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 ...
[1 comment]  
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]  
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 ...
[28 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]  
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]  
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]  
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]  
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]  
AWS’s Share of Amazon’s Profit · I’ve often heard it said that AWS is a major contributor to Amazon’s profitability. How major? Here’s a graph covering the last nine quarters, with a brief methodology discussion: ...
[3 comments]  
Anti-Monopoly Thinking · I recently read The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition by Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn. For a decade or two now I’ve felt the economy is over-concentrated and in recent years I’ve been super-concerned about concentration of market power in the Big-Tech sector where I’ve earned my living. Reading this book has reinforced that concern and been very helpful in introducing new angles on how to think about monopoly. The issue is central to the travails and triumphs of 21st-century Capitalism and if you care about that, you might want to read it too ...
[7 comments]  
At CRAB Park · On an errand, we felt the need to be outside near the sea. The closest opportunity was CRAB Park (see here). We hadn’t planned on visiting a homeless encampment but did that too. I seriously recommend the experience. Also I got pleasant pictures to accompany the story ...
 
Topfew Fun · This was a long weekend in Canada; since I’m unemployed and have no workaday cares, I should have plenty of time to do family stuff. And I did. But I also got interested in a small programming problem and, over the course of the weekend, built a tiny tool called topfew. It does a thing you can already do, only faster, which is what I wanted. But I remain puzzled ...
[8 comments]  
Meta Blog · My recent Amazon-exit piece got an order of magnitude more traffic then even the post popular outings here normally do. Which turned my mind to thoughts of blogging in 2020, the why and how of the thing. Here they are, along with hit-counts and referer data from last week. Probably skip this unless you’re interested in social-media dynamics and/or publishing technology ...
[3 comments]  
Responses · Boy, when your I’m-outta-here essay goes viral, do you ever get a lot of input. A few responses came up often enough to be worth sharing. This was via email, Twitter DMs, blog comments, and LinkedIn messages. All of which went completely batshit ...
[6 comments]  
Bye, Amazon · May 1st was my last day as a VP and Distinguished Engineer at Amazon Web Services, after five years and five months of rewarding fun. I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of Covid-19 ...
[645 comments]  
Mac Migration Pain · What happened was, my backpack got stolen with my work and personal Macs inside. The work machine migrated effortlessly but I just finished up multiple days of anguish getting the personal machine going and thought I’d blog it while it was fresh in my mind. This might be helpful to others, either now or maybe later at the end of a Web search. But hey, I’m typing this ongoing fragment on it, so the story had a happy ending. And to compensate for its length and sadness, I’ll give it a happy beginning; two, in fact ...
[3 comments]  
author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
Random image, linked to its containing fragment
When? (5045 fragments)
What? (341 categories)

By .

The opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.