It’s tough to forecast the weather, but easy to spead fear

I think Dan Gillmor nailed it with this. Not that I blame CNN alone for the school closings and long lines at the grocery store. Fear spreads fast. Last night I spent a silly amount of time refreshing multiple web pages, looking for any kind of clear consensus as to what we’d wake up to, but other than it being bad today, snow totals ranged from the boring to the world shaking. There has to be a financial cost to something like that as parents stay home for their children, who are told to stay home from school. And there isn’t even a decent hill to sled on.

Dan Gillmor Tweet

Using git for authoring papers

I’ve been exploring plain text formats for keeping notes and authoring papers. Kieran Healy wrote a fantastic post on the subject that I won’t attempt to replicate, read it.

Just over a year ago I posted to Facebook a small PDF that contained a collection of aphorisms, some personal, some collected over many years, that I try in keep in mind. I figured today would be a good day to convert this to Markdown and upload to Github for evolving and growing. Feel free to check it out, correct any misattributions, or just poke full of holes.

– https://github.com/kmartino/lessons

One of the things I need to get corrected in that doc is fixing its citations.

Blogging is far from dead

Last year I started to drive this old car around the block a few times and realized it still has it where it counts. This year, time permitting, it will feature some experiments and renovations with some serious fun along the way. The great thing is, I know I’m not alone feeling that keeping a personal blog still has value. So expect me to share lots of links to others doing the same, because that’s what we do, we link, we connect.

I’ve been doing this for so long, I can’t remember when I stared exactly, but I can remember, because I still have them, the many close relationships I’ve formed over the years having a corner on the Web.

To that end I’ve restarted the Philly Blogger Meetup. A long time ago it was a regular event that enabled our small community in Philly to meet one another face to face, and maybe form friendships. In the past few years I’ve tried to find other folks to keep the Meetup going, but failed miserably. Seeing this languish was killing me.

It’s true that there are many, many professional and fun Meetups across Philly that pack a lot of value in this space now, so we’re going to do something different, we’re going to share them with one another. And we’re not going to feature professional talks. Not going to have a regular time or place. We’re not going to have a set organizer (if I can encourage you to join in – please do!!!). What we are going to do is be a little different, and meet across the city and suburbs, in coffee shops and diners, and offer a chance for people that might not normally venture from behind the keyboard, a friendly way to do so.

When our hyperlinks become personal connections, amazing things can happen.

I hope to see you around.

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The thing I treasure about science fiction is its utility as a toolkit for thinking about the relationship between technological change and human beings. This is why I value “design fiction” so much: an architect might make a visualization that flies you through her as-yet-unbuilt building, an engineer might build a prototype to show you what he’s thinking of inventing, but through design fiction, a writer can take you on a tour of how a person living with that technology might feel. That’s the kind of contribution to the discussion about which technology we should make, and how we should use it, that can make all the difference.

Cory Doctorow, at Locus Online, on “Cold Equations and Moral Hazard”. Read it.

“Distributed big balls of mud”

Read Simon Brown’s post about how microservices are not the Silver Bullet some are promoting them to be.  As always, pick the right tool for the problem *and* for who will be solving it (the team and organization matters!!!). Sometimes, yes, that’s microservices. Sometimes it’s not. Pick your poison, but do so with open eyes and a level of clarity.

 

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Consider a system to be made up of procedures, some of which are stateful and others which aren’t. We have already discussed the difficulties of understanding the bits which are stateful, but what we would hope is that the procedures which aren’t themselves stateful would be more easy to comprehend. Alas, this is largely not the case. If the procedure in question (which is itself stateless) makes use of any other procedure which is stateful — even indirectly — then all bets are off, our procedure becomes contaminated and we can only understand it in the context of state. If we try to do anything else we will again run the risk of all the classic state- derived problems discussed above. As has been said, the problem with state is that “when you let the nose of the camel into the tent, the rest of him tends to follow”.

As a result of all the above reasons it is our belief that the single biggest remaining cause of complexity in most contemporary large systems is state, and the more we can do to limit and manage state, the better.

“Out of the Tar Pit”, Ben Moseley and Peter Marks, 2006

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The means by which we live are marvelous indeed. And yet something is missing. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.

King Jr, Martin Luther (2012-11-06). A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings (King Legacy) (pp. 76-77). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.

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The “software crisis” was first identified in 1968 and in the intervening decades has deepened rather than abated. The biggest problem in the development and maintenance of large-scale software systems is complexity — large systems are hard to understand. We believe that the major contributor to this complexity in many systems is the handling of state and the burden that this adds when trying to analyse and reason about the system. Other closely related contributors are code volume, and explicit concern with the flow of control through the system.

“Out of the Tar Pit”, Ben Moseley and Peter Marks, 2006