New Hires: Learn how the system breaks

I hope I remember this advice when I next start a new role:

Onboarding into mature systems often can be an extremely daunting, many month (or year) process. This is true for both managers and [engineers]. Failure streams are a short circuit to understanding the system, because failures are where the system is interesting and nuanced. Failures are where the heart of complexity, entropy, and flux in the system are.

Understanding failure modes helps you understand a system more quickly while simultaneously revealing high impact areas to work in. What a great piece of advice on how to start building trust with a new team.

Journal: Helix, Kitty, ClickHouse

I thought I’d take a stab at quick-fire journal entries.

First, we return to Helix and take a look at Kitty.

Then, a note about ClickHouse. Getting hands on with ClickHouse has helped me understand in practice what I previously only understood in theory (column-orientated datastores). In doing so, it’s expanded my horizons of what’s possible.

Read More…

Morning sunshine as a flower

The beauty of the flower and its leaves in the morning light was enchanting. But what I really liked was the grain on the petals, taking down the brashness of a typical sunflower just the right number of notches.

Link: Protect Elders! Ban Television!!

Fifteen years ago I read a lot of what danah boyd wrote. I enjoy her research themes, and still find them important in understanding the world of teens and tech. But I lost track of her work some time ago.

So I was pleased to come across her new home, and to read Protect Elders! Ban Television!!

The piece is a piercing reminder that:

  • Our evidence generally shows that social media use is, at best, correlated with — rather than the cause of — problems children might have.
  • Banning kids from social media is dumb and misguided, but looks good to voters because one is Taking Action on an Issue Of The Day.

There was something reassuring about the piece, that technology isn’t destroying the young, but also not-reassuring, because the problems have deeper causes that have everything to do with the wider state of the world. I’m not sure that I agree with one of the ideas presented, that the laws are based on removing children from political discourse, but I’m also not sure that I disagree either given the state of politics in the US right now. There’s a lot in the piece to unpack, and to think about, over weeks and months.

And, everyone notices the example they are set:

When I was spending lots of time with teenagers, one of the things that they always told me was that parents were the real addicts. They couldn’t let go of their phone (or Twitter or … ). I looked around and realized how true this is. Go to a kids’ sports game or playground and you’ll see a bunch of parents staring into their devices.

Pray for delay

Red neon signs with skulls are not typically charming. At the Brewdog bar in Edinburgh airport, however, I found this example. It is, I think, charmingly customised to its location. Further, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the only airport bar in the world with a decent alcohol-free beer on tap.