Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Year, New Beginnings

We’re almost at the start of a new year and saying it is a great time to reflect is such a cliche. But cliches have a great deal of truth to them, that’s why they persist.

I wanted to post the following for those entering the new year, and might be wondering, what’s next, what should I do, or what is my place.

Rahul Bijlani: “You Are Not Running Out of Time or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Began Enjoying Infinity”:

Ironically, when I started to cross some of my own personal benchmarks, I discovered that something was very wrong – I kept moving the goalposts.

I think I have the ultimate business plan, and nobody is running out of time any time soon.

Bill Watterson: “Kenyon College Commencement”:

Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. In a culture that relentlessly promotes avarice and excess as the good life, a person happy doing his own work is usually considered an eccentric, if not a subversive.

Roz Duffy: “here and now”:

So if I said the other day to just show up, today I’m suggesting (mostly to myself), enjoy the present moment. Take it all in, look at it, laugh at it, and just be all up in it.

NYTimes: Tara Parker-Poke: “Laws of Physics Can’t Trump the Bonds of Love”:

“There is something a lot greater than energy. There’s something a lot greater than entropy. What’s the greatest thing?”

YouTube: zefrank: “An Invocation for Beginnings”:

Favorite Reads for 2012

Following is a list of books, essays, and articles I read (or re-read) which feel worth sharing or re-sharing on on New Years Eve:

Books

“Thinking in Systems: A Primer”, by Donella H. Meadows

“Release It!”, by Michael T. Nygard

“Language in Thought and Action”, by S.I. Hayakawa, Alan R. Hayakawa, and Robert MacNeil

“The Stars My Destination”, by Alfred Bester

“One, Two, Three: Absolutely Elementary Mathematics”, by David Berlinski

“Information Diet”, by Clay Johnson

“The Great Stagnation”, by Tyler Cowen

“One Way Forward: The Outsider’s Guide to Fixing the Republic”, by Lawrence Lessig

“The Waste Land”, by T.S. Eliot

“Race Against The Machine”, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee.

Software Engineering Related Essays, Posts and Papers

“Up and Down the Ladder of Abstraction”, by Bret Victor

“Analogy as the Core of Cognition”, by Douglas R. Hofstadter

“On Being a Senior Engineer”, by John Allspaw

“Quality With a Name”, by James Shore

“Out of the tar pit”, by Ben Moseley

“Paxos Made Moderately Complex”, by Robbert van Renesse

“How Yahoo Killed Flickr and Lost the Internet”, Gizmodo

“The Future is Hypermedia APIs”, by Mike Taczak

“Ubiquitous Programming with Pen and Paper”, by Awelon Blue

“Leverage Points: : Places to Intervene in a System”, by Donella Meadows

“Unicorns and Strong Typing”, by Michael Bevilacqua-Linn

“Big Ball of Mud”, by Brian Foote and Joseph Yoder

“Intrinsic and Incidental Complexity”, by Noah Sussman

“An Introduction to Graphviz via R. Kelly’s ‘Trapped in the Closet’ Hip Hopera”, by Rob Rhinehart

“Damn Cool Algorithms: Log structured storage”, by Nick Johnson

“The Humble Programmer”, by Edsger W. Dijkstra

“Simple Made Easy”, by Rich Hickey

“The Long Tail of Technical Debt”, by Michael Feathers

“The Carrying Cost of Code: Taking Lean Seriously”, by Michael Feathers

“No Silver Bullet”, by Fred Brooks

Making A Difference with Software Engineering

“Homegrown Computer Science for Middle Schoolers”, by Tess Rinearson

“Blue Collar Coder”, by Anil Dash

“Government As A Platform”, by Tim O’Reilly

“How Do Committees Invent?”, by Mel Conway

“Anyone can do it. Data journalism is the new punk”, by Simon Rogers, The Guardian

“I believe a computer program can stand in…”, by Lisa Williams

“How Team Obama’s tech efficiency left Romney IT in dust”, Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica

“How To Tell A Story With Code”, by Rob Spectre

“Urban Storytelling with Open Data”, by Mark Headd

“Making Philadelphia Better Together”, by Mark Headd, Programs & Technology, Office of the Managing Director, City of Philadelphia

Society, Governance, History, Health, Art and Music

“The Condition: Chronic Self-Disclosure”, by Bethlehem Shoals, The Awl

“The Busy Trap”, by Tim Kreider, NYTimes

“The Web We Lost”, by Anil Dash

“A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It”, by John Scalzi

“Laws of Physics Can’t Trump the Bonds of Love”, by Tara Parker-Pope, NYTimes

“What I’ve Learned About Learning”, by Reginald Braithwaite

“The Builders Manifesto”, by Umair Haque

“How Will You Measure Your Life”, by Clayton M. Christensen

“When They’re Grown, the Real Pain Begins”, by Susan Engel, NYTimes

“Sincerity, Not Irony, Is Our Age’s Ethos”, by Jonathan D. Fitzgerald, The Atlantic

“Young Worf”, GregOttawa, Reddit

“Believe You Can Change”, by Aaron Swartz

“Going Numb In The Summer Of The Gun”, by Jen Doll, The Atlantic

“Horatio Alger, RIP”, by Jim Tankersley, National Journal

“The 10 Doctors”, by Rich Comics

“Looking back at Star Trek: The Next Generation on its 25th anniversary”, by Brian Phillips, Grantland

“Babies Are Born Scientists”, by NSF.gov

“America, The Fixable”, The Atlantic

A letter from Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell on Republican Government

“Welcome to Hell: Philadelphia Has a Serious Case of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”, by Steve Volk, Philadelphia Magazine

“You Can Feel The Difference”, Nathaniel Popkin, Hidden City Philadelphia

“Poverty, College and A Dream Deferred”, by Chris Lehmann, Practical Theory

“Clinging to the Skin of this Tiny Little World (The TV Movie)”, by Philip Sandifer, TARDIS Eruditorum: A Psychochronography in Blue

Recent Python packaging reads

Python packaging options are so varied, so strongly disputed as to what is ‘best’ or ‘correct’ or ‘the past’ that they are as un-Pythonic as can be. I love Python, but when it comes to packaging, well lets say I understand how Armin Ronacher feels.

One tip: Never, ever, ever use easy_install (except to install virtualenv and pip). If you are going to install or define an .egg, do so with setuptools or distribute. Again: Don’t use easy_install.

Philly is getting some good reviews

Ryan Briggs in Next American City reports that families are staying put in Philly and Baltimore downtowns:

While urban revitalization is often stereotyped as dominated by young
professionals and retirees, Census data found that the Greater Center
City area had an even balance of all age groups. Data from the year
2000 indicated an average household size of 1.7 people in the eight
ZIP codes. That figure had ticked up to 1.75 by 2010 — a trend CCD
attributed to couples opting to raise children in the city.

And from Philly.com comes news that Philadelphia is listed in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 US Destinations for 2013:

Forget the cheesesteaks and tri-corner hat, Philadelphia is becoming
known as an art capital. In addition to the world renowned
Philadelphia Museum of Art, the formerly remote Barnes Foundation , a
once private collection of Matisse, Renoir and Cézanne, has a new
central location. And it’s not just the big museums – Philly’s gallery
scene is exploding with new venues like the Icebox garnering
international attention and turning the Northern Liberties and
Fishtown neighborhoods into the new hot arts hub. First Fridays , the
monthly gallery open house, long a tradition in Old City, has expanded
to the refurbished Loft District, where the party goes on in a host of
new bars, clubs and live music venues.

Greg Laden: “Is Python The New Basic?”

Greg Laden recently posted some thoughts about “Python for Kids”, a book by Jason Briggs. Recently I discovered the turtle module, which is heavily used in the book, is included in the standard Python distribution when I tripped upon a tutorial at the Open Book Project. I’m going to have to buy the book and give it a try with Emma.