Issue #230

21 May 2021

Issue #230
A Reading Club For Software Developers - Sign Up Here
tl;dr: A discussion with Hashicorp's Chief of Staff, Kevin Fisher, reveals that early systems in a company's life set explicit norms - e.g. How do decisions get made? How are meetings structured? These are easy to build when the company is small, but very hard to change as the company scales. Kevin runs through guiding principles to establish these systems.
Clarity Is An Underrated Skill
- Tom Gamon
#Management #Leadership
tl;dr: When talking about code, you'll generally refer to hundreds of lines of code so clarity is key. Some tips: (1) make the implicit explicit - avoid words like "clearly" and "obviously", (2) Be succinct, (3) Avoid ambiguous pronouns.
Crazy New Ideas
- Paul Graham
#Startup #ThoughtPiece

tl;dr: "Most implausible-sounding ideas are in fact bad and could be safely dismissed, but not when they're proposed by reasonable domain experts." Paul advises us to listen and pro-actively encourage these ideas.

Programming and Writing
- Salvatore Sanfilippo
tl;dr: Writing a novel is actually similar to writing quality code - "sentences must be well written, but the overall structure and relationship between parts is crucial." A novel is immutable whereas code evolves over time, and is an endless stream of changes. Salvatore's hypothesis is that the initial design of the novel will greatly inform what happen later.
#AI #Google
tl;dr: Google researchers have published a proposal that could change search. Instead of leveraging Pagerank - Google's search algorithm - the new interface would allow users to ask questions and have a language model trained on all pages and answer questions directly.

"Rarely is anyone thanked for the work they did to prevent the disaster that didn't happen."

- Mikko Hypponen
tl;dr: Includes (1) Brainfuck, the most famous Esoteric language with a compiler of 240 bytes, (2) Shakespeare, a language designed to look like a Shakespeare play, (3) Piet, a visual programming language in the truest sense: every Piet program is an executable picture.
Announcing Coinbase’s Successful Transition To React Native
- Harry Tormey
tl;dr: "We want to share our deliberate and methodical process of testing and observing results, then upping the stakes with increasingly more impactful trials, as this approach was critical to the migration’s success." Harry discusses the transition from native development to React Native.
tl;dr: Khan Academy migrated their backend from a Python 2 monolith to services written in Go, and Kevin reflects on what's been learnt.

The Importance Of Humility In Software Development
- Eric Potter


tl;dr: Edsger Dijkstra cited humility as one of three qualities to delivering high quality software. "The competent programmer is fully aware of the strictly limited size of his own skull; therefore he approaches the programming task in full humility, and among other things he avoids clever tricks like the plague."

tl;dr: Is it okay to criticize tools? Hidde answers that it's important to, "as long as it is aimed at the tool, not the person that created it, it is better to share criticisms than not." Good standards require diverse perspectives.