You Have to Write As Though Your Parents Are Dead

The Literary Hub has a great short interview with Ian McEwan. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? When I was living in London at the start of my career in the mid-1970s, I became friends with Philip Roth, who took an avuncular interest in my work. Where many others thought my writing was wild and weird, he thought I wasn’t being wild enough. He once came to my apartment and spread the typescript of my first novel (The Cement Garden) over the floor. »

Cleaning Up Your Postgres Database

I am an application/backend developer who has to quibble with databases more often than desired. I can get my way around Postgres pretty well, but I can always use a hint or two, especially when it comes to fine-tuning and performance. I stumbled upon Cleaning Up Your Postgres Databases. It offers useful advice on spotting performance bottlenecks in your Postgres database. Take the cache and index hit queries, for example. »

Semantic Versioning Will Not Save You

The always brilliant Hynek recently posted Semantic Versioning Will Not Save You. Primarily targeted at consumers of SemVer-versioned packages, it is full of insightful advice. From my perspective as an open-source maintainer, I can tell you that versioning is hard. Judging when a new release is going to break backward compatibility is not as simple as it might seem on the surface, and Hynek does a great job explaining why. Sometimes it is also hard for me to tell if a change in a codebase classifies as a new feature, small improvement, or fix—subtle differences. »

Reverse engineering an obfuscated codebase and fixing it in the process

Today’s mandatory reading is How I cut GTA Online loading times by 70%. As someone who’s been fighting the protection/obfuscation cat & mouse game for twenty+ years, let me tell you one thing. The way this guy reverse-engineered parts of the GTA5 codebase and then proceeded to single-handly triage and fix a long-standing (7+ years) performance issue is simply mindblowing. All he had to work with were heavily obfuscated dlls. This also shows how we, the protectors, are always playing a losing game. »

On the CEO and founder of Signal

Last weekend’s reading list also included Taking Back Our Privacy, yet another1 New Yorker piece but this time signed by Anna Wiener. This article is a long-read on Moxie Marlinspike, co-founder and CEO of Signal. Moxie is a childhood nickname. That alone signals (pun intended) an original personality. I mean, how many times have you heard of a CEO going by his childhood nickname? Indeed the personal story of Marlinspike, along with that of the ascent of Signal, is fascinating. »

The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power

Today, my Sunday long-reading list included New Yorker’s The Activists Who Embrace Nuclear Power by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow. Can nuclear power possibly be a viable solution for climate change? Twenty or even ten years ago, my answer would have been a big fat No. Today? Not so sure anymore. Today, the looming disruptions of climate change have altered the risk calculus around nuclear energy. James Hansen, the NASA scientist credited with first bringing global warming to public attention, in 1988, has long advocated a vast expansion of nuclear power to replace fossil fuels. »

Five Minutes to Make You Love Classical Music

I already mentioned what background music (or sounds) I like when I am coding. In that list, I included classical music. I know classical is not exactly a favorite. Not in my field, at least. I suspect the vast majority of people disregard it in advance, not really knowing what they’re missing out on, just because, well, you know, it’s dinosaurs stuff. If you are among them, you should reconsider and repent your sins. »

The Lasting Lessons of John Conway's Game of Life

In March 1970, Dr. John Conway sent the “fatal” (as he later referred to it) letter to Martin Gardner. He was submitting ideas for Gardner’s Mathematical Games column in Scientific American. The New York Times features a good article on the fifty-year parable of The Game of Life. What’s appreciable, they asked some of Life’s most steadfast friends to reflect upon its influence and lessons over half a century. Among them, Brian Eno, who, being Brian Eno, has some smart things to say: »

Author image Nicola Iarocci on #links,

When Homebrew breaks your Python virtual environment

Ever had your old, trusty Python virtual environment fail on you? I sure did. Sometimes, when I activate or switch between virtual environments, I get the following error: $ workon eve dyld: Library not loaded: @executable_path/../.Python I never really took the time to look into it. When this happens, because I am in a rush (and because I am a lazy old fart), I shrug it off, recreate the virtual environment on the spot, and get back to work. »

Strong opinions on software development

After six years in the field, Chris has shared his strong opinions on software development practices, languages, and methodologies. I like his attitude. Willingness to continuously put one’s personal views under scrutiny, eventually adapting or even changing them as needed, is not a common trait. Not in our field. While I generally agree with most of his opinions, I feel the urge to comment on a few of them. Typed languages are better when you’re working on a team of people with various experience levels »

The Great Unbundling according to Benedict Evans

As a non-native English reader, I had to look up the true meaning of “Unbundling” as a neologism. According to Wikipedia Unbundling is a neologism to describe how the ubiquity of mobile devices, Internet connectivity, consumer web technologies, social media and information access in the 21st century is affecting older institutions (education, broadcasting, newspapers, games, shopping, etc.) by “break[ing] up the packages they once offered (possibly even for free), providing particular parts of them at a scale and cost unmatchable by the old order. »

The unreasonable effectiveness of simple HTML

We’ve seen other articles pointing the finger at unnecessarily bloated websites. Terence Eden’s On the unreasonable effectiveness of simple HTML deserves mention, I think, for two reasons. First, the delivery is incredibly effective. Second, it is effective because of the storytelling. By enveloping the message into an original short, touching story, he achieves two goals. First, he captures the reader’s attention; second, he makes the experience memorable. Please, go and read it; I’ll wait here. »

On the short, tormented life of Phil Katz

Bless the Internet Archive and its Wayback Machine. With it, we can go back in time and read The short, tormented life of computer genius Phil Katz, an unusually detailed and accurate article published in the April 14, 2000 issue of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. When he was found dead April 14, Phil Katz was slumped against a nightstand in a south side hotel, cradling an empty bottle of peppermint schnapps. »