The Recap #4

A regular recap of my journey through life and towards financial independence. Contains my notes, community feedback, and a few scattered links. Subscribe to get those in your inbox.


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The Recap #4
cover image credit: Foone

As you know, last week a ship got stuck in the Suez Canal. And by the time you read this, it will most probably remain stuck (UPDATE: It was finally re-floated again). Whatever the circumstances that led to it, the story quickly received an Internet meme status.

Some among us bearing the title "software engineers" were quick to react:

Developer says he can fix the Suez canal problem by adding more containers onto the ship
A quarter-mile-long, Japanese-owned container ship en route from China to Europehas been stuck in the Suez canal for several days. It is blocking more than ahundred other ships, halting a vital global commerce route. The engineers arestill struggling to propose a solution to the crisis. However,…

Some were even brave enough to "suggest ways" for saving the day:

Check out Twitter users’ amusing suggestions for clearing the Suez Canal
The container ship blocking a crucial Middle Eastern trade route has flooded social media with memes

Unfortunately, the story stopped being funny once you realized that the world of trade is currently losing around $9.6 Billion daily from this incident.

This situation made me think about the real world and how we programmers see it from our filter bubble. We had long been taught that software mistakes are inevitable but fundamentally easy to go around. A simple restart or getting a spare instance up, and our system is almost as good as new. That is until we either fix the underlying issue or having to "un-clog" our system once again.

Back in the early days, software was very much tied to the hardware it ran onto. That is no longer the case. Virtualization, containerization, and lately, serverless have turned hardware into vapor. In a large portion of cases, where and how software gets executed has become irrelevant, as long as it runs. Slow CPUs, network hiccups, a failing SSD drive? That's what you have the Cloud for. A faster, beefier alternative and redundant backups are one click away.

We learned to take it for granted that most physical objects are robust enough to consider their failure as something akin to a rounding error. Of course, I am vastly exaggerating here - there is an entire segment of our industry ensuring systems reliability. However, that's usually the last thing you or I think about when launching a new website or a mobile app.

And yet, machines fail.


Links

Twitter

What if the purpose of making software wasn't writing clean and clever code? A Twitter thread I wrote on the last day of my job last week. I will soon repost it on this blog.

Podcast

Tech reviewer Marques Brownlee (a.k.a, MKBHD) sat down with Beeple to discuss his career as an artist and how things led to him selling an NFT for $69 million a few weeks ago.  It's easy to look at this sale as an isolated event and attribute it to the current hype without looking at how much methodical effort Beeople has put into his work over the last close to 15 years. Every single day. It's a super insightful interview, and I warmly recommend it to everyone.

‎Waveform: The MKBHD Podcast: The Beeple Interview: Creating Online & the Future of NFTs on Apple Podcasts
We’re ridiculously lucky to have the super-talented Beeple on Waveform this week. In a 45-minute interview, he discusses how he’s grown as an artist/creator, what kind of equipment he uses to create his art, and his thoughts on the future of NFTs beyond the current hype train. You definitely don’t w…

Quote

The insider/outsider problem: One of the biggest barriers to good financial regulation is the fact that the specialists who are in the best position to understand Big Finance (and therefore regulate it) are all insiders with conflicted relationships where a lot of money is at stake. The same is true in machine learning.
On the problem of regulating artificial intelligence
An overview and some recommendations

Random

Related to the cover image of this newsletter, I found this funny generator of in-game death/start messages. You can see it in action below 👇🏼

The Death Generator
The Death Generator