The first thing that’s new is… this post! I’m going to try to do at least a weekly post on the blog now, just a general update and some links. This will hopefully help me get back into the habit of writing on the blog regularly, and maybe inspire me to write a bit more in general.
I was off work this week for the Thanksgiving holiday, and traveled Michigan to visit my parents and my brother’s family. My mom has been struggling with some pretty major health issues this year, so it was really wonderful and reassuring to get to spend some time with her and my dad. I also finally got to meet my brother’s three-year-old son, who was born right before the pandemic started, and who I hadn’t managed to meet up until now.
On the tech-related front, I used this week to take a break from Twitter (mostly), and to be honest… it was kinda refreshing! I had developed a pretty bad Twitter habit this year, doomscrolling for more time than I like to admit. While I really like Twitter and I’ve had some nice career boosts from it, it was also a time sink that was not entirely healthy.
Admittedly, that time was somewhat replaced by playing around on the Fediverse / Mastodon. But with the lack of algorithmic suggestions, quote tweets, and other means of virality, that network so far feels a lot quieter and less time-consuming than Twitter. Tim Bray has a good post up which discusses some of the advantages and pitfalls of federated social media, and I can highly recommend reading that. I’m still a bit skeptical that it will be a practical “Twitter replacement” for most people, but so far I’m finding it pleasant.
What I’m reading
- Nonfiction book: Code, Second Edition, by Charles Petzold. This book walks through the process of building a working computer, starting with ideas like Morse code, then working up from logic gates on up. This is technically a re-read, as I read the first edition… 10+ years ago? But I’m getting a lot more out of it this time around, and really enjoying it.
- Fiction book: The Spare Man, by Mary Robinette Kowal. A cozy murder mystery on a luxury cruise to Mars. I’m only a few chapters in, but already greatly enjoying myself.
- “Hiding theory in practice”, by Fred Hebert. I’ve been reading a lot about safety engineering and its application to computing lately, but that community can sometimes get off into the weeds about points of theory that don’t have consensus in the broader computing community. This post has a good discussion of how to use the theory of safety engineering to guide decisions, without requiring that everyone working with you be handed a reading list.
- “Paper: Repentance as Rebuke: Betrayal and Moral Injury in Safety Engineering”, also by Fred Hebert. A discussion of a paper by Dekker et al which looks at the aftermath of the 737 MAX air disasters, and the public repentance of some of the engineers who were involved. Go read the post, it’s great. And I’m planning to read the original paper this week.
- “Cannon Lake: Intel’s Forgotten Generation”, from Chips and Cheese. Really I’ve been reading a bunch of the technical posts from Chips and Cheese lately, and they’re doing pretty good analyses of recent hardware. They’ve definitely earned that spot in my RSS reader.
- Glenn K Lockwood’s “SC’22 Recap”. I was sad to miss Supercomputing this year, though enough folks have come down with COVID that I don’t really regret the decision. But Glenn wrote up a really interesting recap post, with an interesting new viewpoint now that he’s working at Microsoft Azure. Among other things, he included a whole section titled The underwhelming, with the opening line “The biggest deal appears to be that exascale is here, and it turns out that it’s not that big of a deal.”
Because it was Thanksgiving, I did a lot of cooking this week! I’m not going to list everything I made, but a few of my favorites were:
- Cheesy Garlic Butter Rolls from Delish: Nothing special, but really tasty.
- Challah Stuffing from Smitten Kitchen: This recipe was a huge winner, with most of the family coming back for seconds, and then having more the next day for leftovers. It was really good, and is probably what I’ll make if I ever do stuffing again.
- Best Challah from Smitten Kitchen: I baked the bread that went into the stuffing, and it was really tasty on its own! This recipe makes two loaves, and I only needed one for the stuffing. So I also made french toast with it, which worked really nicely.
Gotta have those pet photos.