What Ukraine flag signifies

What the Ukraine flag signifies. A golden field of grain (Ukraine is the world’s 4th largest exporter of barley and corn, and the 5th largest exporter of wheat) beneath clear blue skies. Sky above grain, or freedom above bread (source1.) Subscribe to the newsletter, the RSS feed, or follow @nicolaiarocci on Twitter The story of Ukraine’s flag is rich and controversial. It appears to be true, however, that “blue sky over sunflowers” forms Ukrainians’ conception of their flag. »

Author image Nicola Iarocci on #ukraine,

Parameter null-checking added to C# 11 Preview

The first preview of C# 11 is out, and well, I think I like what I see. I dig the new List patterns and am a fan of allowing newlines in the “holes” of interpolated strings. Parameter null-checking is a bit contentious, and it’s good that they are releasing it in preview one and asking for feedback. In a nutshell, they want to spare us a lot of boilerplate. Code like this: »

Book Review: Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil

This book is not about the famous, daring, and in some ways fortunate capture of Eichmann in Buenos Aires in 1960, nor about the covert transfer of the Nazi officer to Israel. Instead, the volume recounts the 1961 trial in Jerusalem, which ended with the defendant being sentenced to death. Hannah Arendt followed the trial as a correspondent for The New Yorker. She took notes, studied the papers, and reconstructed the many witnesses’ personal stories. »

Jonny Greenwood pretended to play the keyboard when he first joined Radiohead

Kottke reports this juicy excerpt from Jonny Greenwood’s interview at npr: Thom [Yorke]’s band had a keyboard player — [whom] I think they didn’t get on with because he played his keyboard so loud. And so when I got the chance to play with them, the first thing I did was make sure my keyboard was turned off … I must have done months of rehearsals with them with this keyboard, and they didn’t know that I’d already turned it off. »

How recycling pee could help save the world

Chelsea Wald in Nature: Scientists say that urine diversion would have huge environmental and public-health benefits if deployed on a large scale around the world. That’s in part because urine is rich in nutrients that, instead of polluting water bodies, could go towards fertilizing crops or feed into industrial processes. According to Simha’s estimates, humans produce enough urine to replace about one-quarter of current nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers worldwide; it also contains potassium and many micronutrients (see ‘What’s in urine’). »

Google Search is Dying

Reddit is currently the most popular search engine. The only people who don’t know that are the team at Reddit, who can’t be bothered to build a decent search interface. So instead we resort to using Google, and appending the word “reddit” to the end of our queries. […] Why are people searching Reddit specifically? The short answer is that Google search results are clearly dying. The long answer is that most of the web has become too inauthentic to trust. »

Work in progress on Eve 2.0

I’ve been back at the forge working on Eve 2.0. Version 2 will support Python 3.7+ and drop Python 2.7, 3.5 and 3.6. It will bring support for PyMongo 4+ as well, along with several other minor fixes and improvements (changelog). It would be nice if you guys and gals, users of Eve, would give it a spin before the release. I know. I recently stated that Eve was in maintenance mode. »

The curious origins of Bluetooth's name

When Giulia came home from school today, she was anxious to tell me what she learned about a Viking King and his legacy. She told me the story of King Harald Gormsson, who ruled Denmark and Norway from c. 958 to c. 986. Harald is mainly known for introducing Christianity to Denmark and consolidating his rule over most Jutland and Zealand. However, what sparked my interest is that Harald was nicknamed “Bluetooth”, and, in 1997, the Bluetooth wireless specification design was named after him. »

Modulations - History of Electronic Music

I stumbled upon Modulations, a documentary on “the evolution of electronic music and its many genres. How the wide range of styles and scenes formed through experimentations on sound formation.” This short film (75 minutes) is packed with guest stars of all calibers1, some of them genuinely pivotal to the evolution of electronic music. Indeed, the uninitiated mind gets to know a lot of details and amenities on the first decade or so of electronic music. »

A historian perspective on blockchain technology

One of my recent discoveries is A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry by Bret Devereaux, an historian who’s been posting great content over the years. His Fireside Fridays, for example, provide intriguing musings on varied topics. In this week instalment, professor Devereaux takes on the different applications of blockchain technology as seen from a historian’s perspective. Really, this is less about the technologies themselves and more about the nature of states. »

A Passage To Parenthood

A very touching Akhil Sharma in The New Yorker: Not long after we began dating, my now wife, Christine, and I started making up stories about the child we might have. We named the child—or, in the stories we told about him, he named himself—Suzuki Noguchi. Among the things we liked about him was that he was cheerfully indifferent to us. He did not wish to be either Irish (like Christine) or Indian (like me). »

Author image Nicola Iarocci on #links,

Lay Back and Keep Smiling

Tomorrow we’re releasing a major project on which we’ve been working non-stop for two and a half years. No matter how many years in the trenches, release day always makes me a bit nervous. Experience does help. I know there will be problems, and we will solve them. Some customers will complain, and those will be the most vocal. The vast majority of them will appreciate the effort, enjoy the features, and stay silent. »

Is Old Music Killing New Music?

I had a hunch that old songs were taking over music streaming platforms—but even I was shocked when I saw the most recent numbers. According to MRC Data, old songs now represent 70% of the US music market. Those who make a living from new music—especially that endangered species known as the working musician—have to look at these figures with fear and trembling. But the news gets worse. I can’t say I can relate as my kids of ages 21, 18, and 16 do their best to stay clear from the music I like, but anyways, Ted Gioia’s latest piece on recent music trends is super-interesting. »

Automatic deletion of older records in Postgres

We have a Postgres cluster with a database for each user. Each database has a table that records events, and we want this table to only record the last 15 days. If we were on MongoDB, we could use a capped collection, but we are in Postgres, which does not have equivalent functionality. In Postgres, you have to make do with something homemade. My first idea was to install a cron job in the system. »

Go James Webb

It’s now old news that the James Webb Telescope was successfully launched on Christmas Day. But last Saturday marked another historic moment for this incredible human artifact: After a quarter-century of effort by tens of thousands of people, more than $10 billion in taxpayer funding, and some 350 deployment mechanisms that had to go just so, the James Webb Space Telescope fully unfurled its wings. The massive spacecraft completed its final deployments, and, by God, the process went smoothly. »

Moxie on Web3

An excellent article on Web3 has just appeared on Moxie Marlinspike’s website. Being Moxie1, he’s not just speculating and rambling about stuff. In an attempt to learn more about the so-called Web3 and the technologies around it, he went all-in and built a couple of dApps himself. Then, he produced an NFT and put it up for sale. What he found is, well, to put it mildly, fascinating. Some of his insights on technology are also interesting. »

Book Review: Finnish Fairy Tales

Over the years, Iperborea, one of my favorite Italian publishers, has been publishing an unofficial Nordic Tales series. Their renowned nordic fiction series includes one fairy tale volume per year, usually published in December, just for Christmas. The first book was Lapland Tales in 2014, and then they continued with Danish, Icelandic, Swedish, Faroe, Norwegian, Greenlandic and then Finnish in 2021. I’ve been greedily reading each one of them, usually as my last book of the year. »

Three Good Books I Read in 2021

This year I’ve read twenty-one books or 5903 pages. That’s fewer books than last year (28 / 8064), the year before (25 / 8394), and the one before that (30 / 8447). Heck, I must look back at 2014 to score a win in my very own yearly reading challenge. What surprises me is not much the number of books but the pages I read, which constitutes a more relevant metric. »

Book Review: Consider the Lobster

I found a Consider the Lobster review on Goodreads that almost precisely matches my thoughts on DFW and the book. Hence, given the lazy Christmas-break mood I am in right now, I am conceding myself the right to copy-paste and edit David’s review right away. I know of nobody else who writes as thoughtfully and intelligently as DFW. That he manages to write so informatively, with humor and genuine wit, on almost any subject under the sun is mind-blowing – it’s also why I am willing to forgive his occasional stylistic excesses. »

System Shock is Back Home

When The Digital Antiquarian released his System Shock retrospective earlier this year, I was in awe. System Shock was one of my favorite games back in the day, and yes, in the quarrel between id Software’s DOOM and Looking Glass’s System Shock, I was siding with the latter. I was so much more for immersion and storyline than shoot ‘em-ups. The Antiquarian article is excellent. If you’re into gaming history or, really, into computer’s history, I urge you to read it all. »