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Resilient Management | A book for new managers in tech

I got a preview copy of this book and, my oh my, it is superb!

If your job involves dealing with humans (or if it might involve dealing with humans in the future), you’ll definitely want to read this.

Ways to think about machine learning — Benedict Evans

This strikes me as a sensible way of thinking about machine learning: it’s like when we got relational databases—suddenly we could do more, quicker, and easier …but it doesn’t require us to treat the technology like it’s magic.

An important parallel here is that though relational databases had economy of scale effects, there were limited network or ‘winner takes all’ effects. The database being used by company A doesn’t get better if company B buys the same database software from the same vendor: Safeway’s database doesn’t get better if Caterpillar buys the same one. Much the same actually applies to machine learning: machine learning is all about data, but data is highly specific to particular applications. More handwriting data will make a handwriting recognizer better, and more gas turbine data will make a system that predicts failures in gas turbines better, but the one doesn’t help with the other. Data isn’t fungible.

Metaballs

Metaballs, not to be confused with meatballs, are organic looking squishy gooey blobs.

Here’s the maths behind the metaballs (implemented in SVG).

Let’s talk about usernames

This post goes into specifics on Django, but the broader points apply no matter what your tech stack. I’m relieved to find out that The Session is using the tripartite identity pattern (although Huffduffer, alas, isn’t):

What we really want in terms of identifying users is some combination of:

  1. System-level identifier, suitable for use as a target of foreign keys in our database
  2. Login identifier, suitable for use in performing a credential check
  3. Public identity, suitable for displaying to other users

Many systems ask the username to fulfill all three of these roles, which is probably wrong.

Approximate Text Search Made Easy

A step-by-step explanation by Henrik on how he implemented fuzzy search on his music site—something I could do on The Session. He even talks about expanding this to work with ABC notation.

PURL: A Portable Content Store - Not Enough Neon

I need to wrap my head around the details of this approach, but it sounds like it might be something I could do here on my site (where I feel nervous about my current dependency on a database).

I Dreamed of a Perfect Database | New Republic

A really nice piece by Paul Ford on the history of databases and the dream of the Semantic Web.

Sometimes I get a little wistful. The vision of a world of connected facts, one big, living library, remains beautiful, and unfulfilled.

One thing though: the scrolling on this page is sooooo janky that I had to switch off JavaScript just to read these words comfortably.

Paris Review – “One Murder Is Statistically Utterly Unimportant”: A Conversation with Warren Ellis, Molly Crabapple

Molly Crabapple interviews Warren Ellis. Fun and interesting …much like Molly Crabapple and Warren Ellis.

Abandonedography

Armchair travelling to Ballardian locations.

How to support full Unicode in MySQL databases · Mathias Bynens

Some good database character-encoding advice from Mathias.

ID card database destroyed - a set on Flickr

For once, I’m happy to see data being destroyed.

Akihabara

A framework for creating old-school arcade games in the browser, using HTML5.

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS)

You can now store (and scale) MySQL databases with Amazon. Handy.

Surfin’ Safari - Blog Archive » WebKit Does HTML5 Client-side Database Storage

I just learned from Kelly that Webkit is supporting local storage and database queries, as proposed in HTML5. Kinda like Google Gears. Potentially excited for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

xkcd - A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language - By Randall Munroe

Yes, you have to be a bit of a database geek to find this funny but if you are, this is very funny indeed.

Dopplr Blog » Importing your social network from other sites

Portable social networks are no longer just theory: Dopplr makes it a reality.

Mysql database migration and special characters | Orthogonal Thought

This article is a life-saver for me. I'm constantly having trouble with special characters when I'm backing up databases for local copies of my sites.

The Mystery of Dinner for One - How an obscure British skit has become Germany's most popular New Year's tradition. By Jude Stewart

This is all true. When I lived in Germany, nobody there believed me when I told them that this skit wasn't shown on television... on New Year's Eve... Every. Single. Year!