I first read about the notion of a mature developer in the blog post On Being a Senior Engineer by John Allspaw, way back in 2012. A lifetime in the tech industry, but this simple idea has stuck with me and hasn’t been bettered.
The thrust of this post is that being a mature engineer (or developer) should be valued much more highly than being a senior engineer.
You should really take the time to read that post—I’m not going to
try to repeat it here as it’s long and detailed and worth reading
What follows is just some random, less relevant information from my own life.
Continue reading “Become a mature developer, not a senior developer”
In my previous post I talked about why consent matters when it comes to privacy; and yet, privacy is only one of the areas where tech companies take advantage of users without their consent. Recently, tech companies have come to a troubling consensus: that they can change your computer, remotely (and often silently) without your knowledge or permission.
Some examples of this include:
Below you will find the origins of this mentality, the risks and harm that arise from it, and what it says about who really owns a computer.
Continue reading “Consent Matters: When Tech Takes Remote Control Without Your Permission”
Cryptography engineers have been tearing their hair out over PGP’s deficiencies
for (literally) decades. When other kinds of engineers get wind of
this, they’re shocked. PGP is bad? Why do people keep telling me to use
PGP? The answer is that they shouldn’t be telling you that, because PGP
is bad and needs to go away.
There are, as you’re about to see, lots of problems with PGP. Fortunately, if you’re not morbidly curious, there’s a simple meta-problem with it: it was designed in the 1990s, before serious modern cryptography. No competent crypto engineer would design a system that looked like PGP today, nor tolerate most of its defects in any other design. Serious cryptographers have largely given up on PGP and don’t spend much time publishing on it anymore (with a notable exception). Well-understood problems in PGP have gone unaddressed for over a decade because of this.
Continue reading “The PGP Problem”
Note: This is part of the “Composing Software” series (now a book!)
on learning functional programming and compositional software
lot more of this to come!
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functional and imperative programming paradigms we use today were first
explored mathematically in the 1930s with lambda calculus and the
Turing machine, which are alternative formulations of universal
computation (formalized systems which can perform general computation).
The Church Turing Thesis showed that lambda calculus and Turing machines
are functionally equivalent — that anything that can be computed using a
Turing machine can be computed using lambda calculus, and vice versa.
Continue reading “The Forgotten History of OOP”
Perhaps the biggest complaint about tech companies today is that they do not respect our privacy. They gather and store data on us, and in some cases, such as Facebook, they charge companies for the ability to send targeted ads to us. They induce us to self-reveal on the internet, often in ways that are more public than we might at first expect. Furthermore, tech data practices are not entirely appropriate, as for instance Facebook recently stored user passwords in an insecure, plain text format.
Continue reading “The economics of privacy”
Plenty of parents fret over their children’s undying love of video games. Do interactive games like Fortnite and World of Warcraft
inhibit kids’ ability to hold normal human conversations? Do aggressive
games foster an unnatural desire to wield guns and destroy things? Or
does gaming help kids develop a crucial suite of 21st-century skills?
A new study
from Norway investigates these questions by tracking the relationship
between time spent gaming and social competence in a group of 873 kids,
starting at age six and checking in every two years until age 12. The
results showed that more gaming did not generally predict worse social
outcomes in boys, but did have a negative impact on girls: 10-year-old
girls who played more games had less social competence at 12.
Continue reading “Video games probably aren’t bad for boys, but it’s a different story for girls”
Incredible as it may seem, the end of March marks 20 years since the release of the first film in the Matrix franchise
directed by the Wachowski siblings. This “cyberpunk” sci-fi movie was a
box office hit with its dystopian futuristic vision, distinctive
fashion sense, and slick, innovative action sequences. But it was also a
catalyst for popular discussion around some very big philosophical
The film centers on a computer
hacker, “Neo” (played by Keanu Reeves), who learns that his whole life
has been lived within an elaborate, simulated reality. This
computer-generated dream world was designed by an artificial
intelligence of human creation, which industrially farms human bodies
for energy while distracting them via a relatively pleasant parallel
reality called the “matrix.”
Continue reading “The Plato-infused philosophy of “The Matrix” still feels timely 20 years later”
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