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Moving to SUSE

After 3.6 years at Amazon, I’ve decided to move to another company to work on open source software. The company is SUSE, they make a Linux distribution and sell cloud computing services, among other things. At Amazon I worked on AWS Elemental’s Live (video streaming software), a small video encoding device, and the Amazon Scout robotics project. At Scout I built software that controls the robots when autonomy fails, and I worked on safety features and performance optimization of a distributed application that ran on a cluster of servers managed by AWS Fargate.

Book Review: Where's My Flying Car?

This book has two parts, one looks back and asks why flying cars never came to market, and the other looks forward to what possibilities lay ahead. The author has a background in chip design and nanotechnology, and even became a pilot so he could better evaluate the feasibility of flying car designs. The autogyro, developed in the 1930s by Juan de la Cierva, was a promising candidate for a flying car.

Book Review: Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital

This book develops a theory of a cyclical pattern in the economy. The pattern describes how certain new technologies spread to become a whole new way of structuring society. The author Carlota Perez calls this a technological revolution and it’s associated “techno-economic paradigm”. In this review I want to summarize her theory using less jargon. Even though the book reads like an academic text, and the jargon is used consistently, I want to dig into the idea in more common language.

Book Review: Working in Public

The story of open source software most of us believe is wrong. The production of open source software isn’t like some egalitarian commune, it’s driven mostly by a few individuals. Through analyzing git commit frequency distributions and interviewing prominent open source contributors and maintainers, Nadia Eghbal captures the living history of open source software. In addition, she also analyses the main problems of maintenance that threaten the long term sustainability of open source software.

Borders on the Internet

In the beginning, the internet was borderless. The first example of inter-netting, in 1977, connected computers in the U.S. the U.K. and Norway. In 1991, Tim Berners Lee created the first web page along with all the supporting protocols to make it easy for anyone to access the internet by just pointing and clicking. The web was created as a research project at CERN, the physics research institution in Switzerland.

Black Lives Matter

This should not be controversial, but some people read too much into this sentence. If people read it as “only black lives matter”, then they are reading it wrong. Read it literally. No one should dispute that all lives matter. The problem is that police, and some civilians, treat black lives as if they don’t matter. If Chinese Communist party officials are abusing, brainwashing and sometimes killing Uighurs in Eastern China, it’s appropriate to say “Uighur lives matter!

Dunbar's number, Random Graphs and Sapiens

Why is human society so flexible? In 1000 years, we have had the Great Schism of 1054, the Norman Invasion of 1066, the Magna Carta (1215), the Mongol Empire, the Ming Dynasty in China, the Portuguese and Spanish maritime empires, the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) and the creation of the idea of “Sovereign Nation-States”, the Dutch Empire, the British Empire and the creation of joint-stock companies. The Reformation led to new religions.

The Twenty-Tens, a decade in review

I think New Year is the best holiday, for two reasons. First, everyone celebrates it, and second, I love clocks rolling over. Something about numbers going up is really satisfying too (2020, it’s the highest year ever!). This New Year is also the start of a new decade, so I’m feeling more like reminiscing and want to wrap up the last decade into something like a sensible story I can file away in my memory.

The Dream of the 90s is alive in WebAssembly

The year is 1996, Bill Clinton is president, the World Wide Web is 7 years old, and Sun Microsystems releases Java 1.0. Sun Microsystems markets Java to the world as the ultimate in software portability, so that programmers can Write Once, Run Everywhere. Assuming, of course, that you have first downloaded the Java Runtime, and enabled the Java plugin in your browser. The dream is that Java will enable people to create portable programs, so that a person with a web browser could download a new application without having to wait for a CD to arrive in the mail.

The Long Now Foundation

The world is changing fast, the last 100 years saw the creation of a global network of airplanes, computers, the internet, nuclear energy, and the discovery, sequencing and editing of the genome. The tendency of politics is to focus on the next election (at least in democracies). The tendency of business is to focus on the next quarter. The engines of our fast-changing modern world tend to focus our attention on the narrow world of right now.

Armistice Day

One hundred years ago today, the armistice was signed that ended World War 1. Now is a good time to reflect on the last century and get some perspective. Below is a chart of all the combat deaths per 100,000 people going back to the year 1900. One of the things that stands out about this is the sheer scale of WW1 and WW2 compared to every other war during that time.

History of Domain Names

In trying to understand DNS better, I stumbled upon this little bit of history in RFC 1034: RFC 1034 Domain Concepts and Facilities November 1987 2.1. The history of domain names The impetus for the development of the domain system was growth in the Internet: Host name to address mappings were maintained by the Network Information Center (NIC) in a single file (HOSTS.TXT) which was FTPed by all hosts [RFC-952, RFC-953].