Rule #1: There are no rules.

Items of Interest #1

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  • The Longest Way 1.0 — time lapse video of Christoph Rehage’s 4500km walk through China. Impressive.
  • chairigami — a set of functional furniture made exclusively from folded cardboard. A bit pricey (for what it is), but a great example of what can be done with a simple material. Recyclable, flat-folding, awesome—and you can draw all over it.
  • The Dash/Plus System (video) — I really, really dig this lightweight, paper-based metadata notation from Patrick Rhone. I use some similar consistent notations in my own notebooks. This is a nice, clear set of annotations, well presented.
  • Over the weekend I spent some time trying to wrap my head around a complex sync process (which logically comprises a distributed system), and I wanted to get a bit more of a theoretical understanding of the problem:
    • Eventually Consistent (2008) by Werner Vogels was a fantastic introduction to the ideas, terminology, and tradeoffs of reliable distributed systems.
    • Coda Hale’s You Can’t Sacrifice Partition Tolerance made me significantly less ignorant on the CAP theorem. TL;DR: less knowledgable engineers will tell you that you can have any two of Consistency, Availability, and Partition tolerance, but “For a distributed (i.e., multi-node) system to not require partition-tolerance it would have to run on a network which is guaranteed to never drop messages (or even deliver them late) and whose nodes are guaranteed to never die. You and I do not work with these types of systems because they don’t exist.” You can’t not choose partition tolerance, so really we just need to decide on tradeoffs between consistency and availability.
    • If you still haven’t had enough distributed systems, read Kyle Kingsbury’s Call Me Maybe series. I doubt there exists a better exposition of realistic distributed computing challenges faced by everyday engineers. What an asset this is for the community.
  • Smart Guy Productivity Pitfalls — I really liked the anecdote about John Carmack’s CD player (and it brings to mind, again, the value of dedicated devices), and I’m intrigued by the idea of committing to getting something done each day, even if that means you have to stay late (literally or figuratively) to do it.
  • Goal Factoring presentation notes by Ben Kuhn — I stumbled across these notes via Sacha Chua’s blog regarding (re)factoring goals to make them more focused, concrete, and strategic. I’ve not yet run through the method (I just found it tonight), but it looks like it could be a useful way to hone a process that is rarely optimal when performed intuitively.