Archive of posts with tag 'weekend reading'

Weekend Reading: Readwise's Next Chapter, Reviewing Revolt of the Public, and the Helicopter State

September 17, 2021 • #

📚 The Next Chapter of Readwise: Our Own Reading App

Great to see this evolution of Readwise to enter the “read-later” app space. None of the options out there seem to be thriving anymore (Pocket, Instapaper, etc.), but some of us still rely on them as essential parts of our reading experience.

The Readwise team has been moving fast the last couple years with excellent additions to the product, and I can’t believe they were also working on this for most of 2021 along with the other regular updates....

Weekend Reading: Robotic Bricklaying, Medici and Thiel, and Airtable, Roblox of the Enterprise

August 13, 2021 • #

🧱 Where Are the Robotic Bricklayers?

Brian Potter wonders why work as taxing and seemingly-mechanically simple as brick masonry is difficult to automate:

Masonry seemed like the perfect candidate for mechanization, but a hundred years of limited success suggests there’s some aspect to it that prevents a machine from easily doing it. This makes it an interesting case study, as it helps define exactly where mechanization becomes difficult - what makes laying a brick so different than, say, hammering a nail, such that the latter is almost completely mechanized and the former...

Weekend Reading: DeFi Yields, Cloudflare's Internet, and Standards in Logistics

July 2, 2021 • #

📈 How Are DeFi Yields So High?

This is a great primer on yield farming in DeFi from Nat Eliason. Seeing the insane 1000% APYs on some DeFi products, you have to wonder if it’s a Ponzi scheme (hint: sometimes it probably is). But there are plenty of legitimate and relatively reliable projects growing right now that look fascinating for the movement.

☁️ Cloudflare’s Intelligent Design

Cloudflare has such an interesting approach to building the “pipes and wires” of the internet, a...

Weekend Reading: DeFi, Worldbuilding and Antifragility, and Shiny Exteriors

June 25, 2021 • #

🏦 Understanding Financial Institutions

Arnold Kling has an interesting point this week in reference to decentralized finance. He argues that for DeFi to work, we need folks that understand the moving parts on two complex fronts: crypto and the financial system. Many folks on each side don’t deeply understand the other:

Marvin Ammori understands more than I ever will about decentralized finance (DeFi). Indeed, there are thousands of young techies who understand DeFi better than I do.

But I bet that in order for DeFi to work, you need...

Weekend Reading: Bubbles, the Magic of Hobbies, and Legitimacy

June 18, 2021 • #

🗯 Well-Behaved Bubbles Often Make History

Byrne Hobart wrote this piece in the inaugural edition of a16z’s new publication, Future. On bubbles and their downstream effects:

Bubbles can be directly beneficial, or at least lead to positive spillover effects: The telecom bubble in the ’90s created cheap fiber, and when the world was ready for YouTube, that fiber made it more viable. Even the housing bubble had some upside: It created more housing inventory, and since the new houses were quite standardized, that made...

Weekend Reading: American-Dream-as-a-Service, Content Marketing, the Fifth Column Reading List, and More

March 20, 2021 • #

👨‍🎓 The American-Dream-as-a-Service

Antonio Garcia-Martinez interviews Austen Allred, founder of Lambda School. Lambda charges no tuition and builds its program on the ISA (income sharing agreement), in which you only pay when you get a salaried position in your field of study.

The cool thing about the incentive alignment is that we’re not going to train you to be a sociologist, because it just doesn’t work. A common critique of the ISA model is: oh, now people aren’t going to study poetry anymore. And my response to that is: yeah, we’re not a university, we’re...

Weekend Reading: Liberal Science, Roam42, and JTBD Examples

February 6, 2021 • #

🧠 In Defense of Being Offensive

Jonathan Rauch on pluralism and the necessity of disagreement in the search for truth.

His book Kindly Inquisitors was first published in 1993, but is as relevant today as ever. The book is a defense of what he calls “liberal science”, our decentralized process for knowledge discovery that relies on relentless-but-gradual error correction:

Liberal science, by its very nature, has little tolerance for fundamentalism; conversely fundamentalism is a threat to liberal science. Fundamentalism, defined by Rauch as...

Weekend Reading: Digital Librarians, Tech Trees, and Alternate Histories in Maps

November 22, 2020 • #

📑 Chief Notion Officer

Julian Lehr is onto something here. All modern organizations are plagued with a problem of managing internal documentations. We have ample tools and keep squishing the problem from one place to another: wikis, search, tasks — it’s a game of whack-a-mole to find the right version of a document. He ponders at what size it makes sense to invest in a “digital librarian”:

A friend at Stripe recently suggested – half-jokingly – that we should hire a librarian to organize all our internal data and documentation. The more I think...

Weekend Reading: Non-Experts, Non-Linear Innovation, and We Were Builders

October 24, 2020 • #

👨‍💻 The Rise of the Non-Expert Expert

Vicki Boykis on the impossibility of true breadth and depth of technical expertise:

What used to distinguish senior people from junior people was the depth of knowledge they had about any given programming language and operating system.

What distinguishes them now is breadth and, I think, the ability to discern patterns and carry them across multiple parts of a stack, multiple stacks, and multiple jobs working in multiple industries. We are all junior, now, in some part of the software stack. The real trick...

Weekend Reading: American Growth, JTBD, and Dissolving the Fermi Paradox

October 17, 2020 • #

📉 Summary of The Rise and Fall of American Growth

Concise summary of Robert Gordon’s book on Roots of Progress.

👨🏻‍🏫 Guide to Jobs to be Done Interviews

A solid comprehensive, step-by-step overview of how to conduct JTBD interviews.

🛸 Dissolving The Fermi Paradox

A pointer somewhere on Twitter led to this post from the Slate Star Codex archives, discussing a paper that supposedly debunks the Fermi paradox:

Imagine we...

Weekend Reading: NBA Bubble, Digital Homesteads, and Amateurs vs. Professionals

October 10, 2020 • #

🏀 What I Learned Inside the NBA Bubble

A good piece giving an inside look of what life is like for a journalist inside the bubble.

I’ve missed most of the playoffs this year during this strange time for sports. It’s been impressive that the NBA could pull this off and still put together a compelling end to the season when everyone assumed that it’d be an asterisk-ridden result with players and teams lost to COVID. It’s turned out to be incredibly well executed. The finals have nearly the same energy...

Weekend Reading: Collaborative Enterprise, Algorithms, and Fifth-Gen Management

October 3, 2020 • #

💼 Collaborative Enterprise

Elad Gil describes the trend of continuing consumerization of enterprise software.

🤖 Seeing Like an Algorithm

Part 2 in Eugene Wei’s series on TikTok. See part 1.

🏫 Fifth Generation Management

Venkatesh Rao’s Breaking Smart podcast is always a must-listen.

Weekend Reading: Guide to SaaS, a Few Rules, and Starting a Company Now

September 26, 2020 • #

📕 Stripe’s Guide to SaaS

Stripe Atlas has a great batch of guides on various parts of company-building.

📜 A Few Rules

Some great random clippings from Morgan Housel. I’m currently reading his latest, The Psychology of Money, which is great so far.

📈 The 10x Advantage of Starting a Company Now

In many markets during COVID, startups have a host of advantages over their incumbent competitors:

Consequently, growth and innovation efforts are quickly deprioritized or even fully...

Weekend Reading: Software Builders, Scarcity, and Open Source Communities

September 19, 2020 • #

👨‍💻 We Need More Software Builders, Not Just Users

On the announcement of Airtable’s latest round and $2.5b valuation (!), founder Howie Liu puts out a great piece on the latest round of changes in pursuit of their vision.

No matter how much technology has shaped our lives, the skills it takes to build software are still only available to a tiny fraction of people. When most of us face a problem that software can answer, we have to work around someone else’s...

Weekend Reading: Options Over Roadmaps, Ghost, and Spaced Repetition

September 12, 2020 • #

🛣 Options, Not Roadmaps

An option is something you can do but don’t have to do. All our product ideas are exactly that: options we may exercise in some future cycle—or never.

Without a roadmap, without a stated plan, we can completely change course without paying a penalty. We don’t set any expectations internally or externally that these things are actually going to happen.

I know Basecamp is always the industry outlier with these things, but the thoughts on roadmaps are probably more true for many companies in reality than we’d all like...

Weekend Reading: Notes Meta Layer, PG, and the Trump Era

September 5, 2020 • #

📝 A Meta-Layer for Notes

Julian Lehr raises an interesting idea on taking notes: the importance of spatial context.

💬 PR Interviews Paul Graham

Antonio Garcia-Martinez’s newsletter kicks off with an interview with Paul Graham.

🏛 The Trump Era Sucks and Needs to Be Over

Matt Taibbi is always good for cutting to the chase.

Donald Trump is so unlike most people, and so especially unlike anyone raised under a conventional moral framework, that he’s perpetually...

Weekend Reading: The First Corporation, Palantir, and Designing APIs

August 29, 2020 • #

💼 Birth of the Business Corporation

Anton Howes looks back to the 1500s and connects Sebastian Cabot’s planned search for a Northeast Passage to China to the birth of the first joint-stock corporation.

🔮 Palantir: On Business, Cults, and Politics

Sharp analysis of Palantir from Byrne Hobart as it seeks a public offering. What an odd company.

🔌 Eagerly Discerning, Discerningly Eager

Comparing what “eager” and “discerning” developers are looking for in an API.

Weekend Reading: A New Web, Future of Higher Ed, and a Ford Concept Car

August 22, 2020 • #

🔗 A Clean Start for the Web

Tom MacWright with some ideas for cleaning up ever-creeping morass of web technology:

I think this combination would bring speed back, in a huge way. You could get a page on the screen in a fraction of the time of the web. The memory consumption could be tiny. It would be incredibly accessible, by default. You could make great-looking default stylesheets and share alternative user stylesheets. With dramatically limited scope, you could port it to all kinds of devices.

And, maybe most importantly,...

Weekend Reading: Raising Less, the Adjacent Possible, and Fire and Motion

August 15, 2020 • #

🧰 There Are More Uses For A Screwdriver Than You Can Calculate

Biologist Stuart Kauffman on biological functions and the “adjacent possible”:

The unexpected uses of features of organisms, or technologies, are precisely what happens in the evolution of the biosphere and econosphere, and the analog happens in cultural evolution with the uses of mores, cultural forms, regulations, traditions, in novel ways. In general, these possibles are novel functionalities, in an unbounded space of functionalities, and so are not mathematizable and derivable from...

Weekend Reading: Commercial Imagery, Proof Mechanisms, and Cinematic Universes

August 8, 2020 • #

🌏 The Commercial Satellite Imagery Business Model is Broken

My friend Joe Morrison’s latest is an extended rant on the commercial satellite imagery market, and a plea to that industry to rethink how they might improve their go-to-market approaches for selling to commercial businesses.

I can vouch for his account of what it’s like to work with a commercial provider first-hand. Their business models make it challenging to go direct-to-customer, even at fairly high price tags. Until they can lower the barrier to entry into the two-...

Weekend Reading: Timeful Texts, Sumo Startups, and Canva Backlinks

August 1, 2020 • #

🕰 Timeful Texts

A new piece from Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen (beautifully illustrated by Maggie Appleton). Can we make reading a more engaging and interactive learning experience? This builds on previous ideas from the authors on spaced repetition.

🤼‍♂️ Software, Full-Stack, and Sumo Startups

Interesting take from one of Byrne Hobart’s recent newsletters. Contrasting a typical “full-stack” model of company-building and VC funding to a “sumo” model:

The amount of VC funding has been rising steadily, and returns are skewed by a few positive...

Weekend Reading: Disintermediating Media, Boring Tech, and DIY Lights

July 25, 2020 • #

📨 Disintermediating the media with… Substack?

Jerry Brito writes about the growth of independent writing on Substack, prompted by a Mike Solana tweet:

From a technical perspective, Substack does not belong on Solana’s list next to Bitcoin and Signal. Signal is a company, but they have almost no information about their users—no names, no messages. Bitcoin is not a company, but instead a permissionless decentralized network, and “it” can’t decide who can use it or for what. Substack, on the other hand, is a centralized service that permissions who’s allowed on and...

Weekend Reading: Looking Glass Politics, Enrichment, and OSM Datasets

July 18, 2020 • #

🐇 Looking-Glass Politics

On private emotions being thrown into the public sphere:

People escape the Dunbar world for obvious reasons: life there appears prosaic and uninspiring. They find a digital interface and, like Alice in Through the Looking-Glass, enter a new realm that glitters with infinite possibilities. Suddenly, you can flicker like a spark between the digital and the real. The exhilarating sensation is that you have been taken to a high place and shown all the kingdoms of the world: “These can be yours, if. . . .” If your video goes viral. If...

Weekend Reading: Quarantine Talks

July 11, 2020 • #

🛠 Attitudes, Aptitudes, and Progress

Joel Mokyr’s talk on the most recent session of The Torch of Progress series.

🧠 How to Be a Neo-Cartesian Cyborg

A recent talk from Maggie Appleton on the “building a second brain” concept.

👋🏼 Take a Tour of HEY

Great example of how to do a product demo. Informal style, clearly prepared but not “scripted,” and deep care and attention to the product.

Weekend Reading: Honeycode, Imagery for Utilities, and BigQuery in Google Sheets

July 4, 2020 • #

🍯 Amazon Honeycode

AWS is making its entrance into the low-code app platform space.

🌲 Using satellite imagery to prioritize vegetation management for utilities

Geoff Zeiss on combining satellite imagery and spatial analysis to identify tree encroachment in utilities:

Transmission line inspections are essential in ensuring grid reliability and resilience. They are generally performed by manned helicopters often together with a ground crew. There are serious safety issues when inspections are conducted by helicopter. Data may be collected with cameras and analyzed to detect...

Weekend Reading: Children of Men, Google Earth at 15, and Slate Star Codex is Gone

June 27, 2020 • #

📽 How Children of Men Became a Dystopian Masterpiece

I didn’t realize until reading this piece that this movie was a commercial flop. $70m gross on a $76m budget. I remember seeing this several times in theaters, and many times after. This retrospective (from 2016) brought the film back to mind and makes me want to rewatch.

🌍 15 Years of Google Earth and the Lessons That Went Unlearned

Brian Timoney:

Google Earth led us to...

Weekend Reading: The Hour of the State, Location AI, and Mapillary Acquired

June 20, 2020 • #

💬 The Hour of the State or Explosion From Below?

Martin Gurri is one of the best minds we have for the current moment. Make sure to subscribe to his essays on the Mercatus Center’s “The Bridge.”

The American people appear to be caught in the grip of a psychotic episode. Most of us are still sheltering in place, obsessed with the risk of viral infection, primly waiting for someone to give us permission to shake hands with our friends again. Meanwhile, online and on...

Weekend Reading: Invading Markets, Sleep Deprivation, and the Observer Effect

June 13, 2020 • #

🎖️ Commandos, Infantry, and Police

Jeff Atwood on Robert X. Cringely’s descriptions of three groups of people you need to “attack a market”:

Whether invading countries or markets, the first wave of troops to see battle are the commandos. Woz and Jobs were the commandos of the Apple II. Don Estridge and his twelve disciples were the commandos of the IBM PC. Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston were the commandos of VisiCalc.

Grouping offshore as the commandos do their work is the second wave of soldiers, the infantry. These are the people who...

Weekend Reading: Dracones, Calendars, and Science 2.0

June 6, 2020 • #

🐉 Hic Sunt Dracones

Adam Elkus with a great essay on the current moment:

“Is this as bad as 1968?” is an utterly meaningless question precisely for this underlying reason. People do not invoke 1968 because of the objective similarities between 2020 and 1968. They do so because we have crossed a threshold at which basic foundations of social organization we take for granted now seem up for grabs. This is an inherently subjective determination, based on the circumstances of our present much as people in 1968 similarly judged...

Weekend Reading: Post-Truth, Knowledge, and Game Graphics

May 30, 2020 • #

⚖️ The Way Out of Post-truth

Another razor sharp analysis from Gurri:

The collapse of trust in our leading institutions has exiled the 21st century to the Siberia of post-truth. I want to be clear about what this means. Reality has not changed. It’s still unyielding. Facts today are partial and contradictory—but that’s always been the case. Post-truth, as I define it, signifies a moment of sharply divergent perspectives on every subject or event, without a trusted authority in the room to settle the matter. A telling symptom is that we no...

Weekend Reading: Two Elites, DOS in VR, and Personal Brainstorming

May 23, 2020 • #

🏛️ A Tale of Two Elites

Martin Gurri on the growing similarities between west and east coast elites:

The effect, I suspect, will be the exact opposite of the reactionary dream. In wild and seedy digital gathering-places, far from any pretense of idealism, political discussion will inevitably grow more unfettered, more divisive, more violent. The attempt to impose Victorian standards of propriety on the information sphere will end by converting it into a vicious and unending saloon brawl. No matter how revolting the web appears at present – it can always get...

Weekend Reading: Optionality, Pangaea, and Regulatory Disappointment

May 16, 2020 • #

⚖️ The Trouble with Optionality

A 2017 commencement address from Mihir Desai, critiquing the phenomenon of infinite optionality and lack of commitment pushed by modern universities:

I’ve lost count of the number of students who, when describing their career goals, talk about their desire to “maximize optionality.” They’re referring to financial instruments known as options that confer the right to do something rather than an obligation to do something. For this reason, options have a “Heads I win, tails I don’t lose” character—what those in finance lovingly describe as a “nonlinear payoff structure.”...

Weekend Reading: American Production, On Bikeshedding, and Glyphfinder

May 9, 2020 • #

🏭️ Why America Can Make Semiconductors But Not Swabs

Dan Wang on American industrial production:

Learning to build again will take more than a resurgence of will, as Andreessen would have it. And the U.S. should think of bolder proposals than sensible but long-proposed tweaks to R&D policies, re-training programs and STEM education.

What the U.S. really needs to do is reconstitute its communities of engineering practice. That will require treating manufacturing work, even in low-margin goods, as fundamentally valuable. Technological sophisticates in Silicon Valley would be wise to...

Weekend Reading: Beastie Boys, Links, and Screencasting

May 2, 2020 • #

🎥 Beastie Boys Story

We watched this a couple nights ago. It’s hard to tell how objectively good it was, but I loved the heck out of it as a decades-long fan.

🔗 Linkrot

I’ll have to try out this tool that Tom built for checking links. When I’ve run those SEM tools that check old links, I get sad seeing how many are redirected, 404’d, or dead.

📹 Screencasting Technical Guide

This is an excellent walkthrough on how to make screencasts. I’ve done my own tinkering...

Weekend Reading: COVID Edition

April 25, 2020 • #

⚗️ COVID and Forced Experiments

Benedict Evans looks at what could return to normal after coronavirus, and what else might have accelerated change that was already happening.

“Every time we get a new kind of tool, we start by making the new thing fit the existing ways that we work, but then, over time, we change the work to fit the new tool. You’re used to making your metrics dashboard in PowerPoint, and then the cloud comes along and you can make it in Google Docs and everyone always has the latest version....

Weekend Reading: The State and the Virus, Future of Work, and Stephen Wolfram's Setup

April 18, 2020 • #

🏛 The Individual, the State, and the Virus

I agree with most of Kling’s takes here on the role the state should play in the coronavirus crisis.

👩🏽‍💻 Mapping the Future of Work

A nice comprehensive list of SaaS products for the workplace, across a ton of different categories. Great work by Pietro Invernizzi putting this database together.

⌨️ Stephen Wolfram’s Personal Infrastructure

Mathematician and computer scientist Stephen Wolfram wrote this epic essay on his personal productivity...

Weekend Reading: Virtual Oncology, Waymo Data, and the Future of Programming

April 11, 2020 • #

🧪 Virtual Oncology

A discussion among physicians on how oncology is changing and will likely continue to evolve in the wake of the coronavirus. Testing, chemo, and other treatment steps currently considered to be standards of care will change, and things like telemedicine will change what options doctors have in working with patients.

I’ve got a set of scans and a follow up this week, so will see how Mayo Clinic has adapted their approach in response to this crisis.

🚙 Using automated data augmentation...

Weekend Reading: Readwise with Roam, WWI Naval Intelligence, and Interaction Density

April 4, 2020 • #

📖 Readwise2Roam

I’m liking so far the process of manually typing notes in Roam from highlights in my books. Something about it feels more efficient and leaves me with more meaningful, succinct notes. This could come in handy, though, if I want to pull all highlights directly from Readwise (which I’m still loving, use it every day).

How computational power—or its absence—shaped World War naval battles

How the battlecruiser in the early 20th century gave the British a birds-eye view of their fleet before the...

Weekend Reading: Cloud Services, Cities After the Virus, and Corona Care Map

March 28, 2020 • #

☁️ Value of Cloud Based Services in Times of Crisis

Bryan wrote this post about how Fulcrum is supporting the COVID response efforts.

🏙 Cities After Coronavirus

I speculated a bit about this sort of thing earlier this week. How might urban design change?

One of the most pressing questions that urban planners will face is the apparent tension between densification – the push towards cities becoming more concentrated, which is seen as essential to improving environmental sustainability – and disaggregation, the separating out...

Weekend Reading: Chess, COVID Tracking, and Note Types

March 21, 2020 • #


Tom MacWright on chess. Reduce distraction, increase concentration

Once you have concentration, you realize that there’s another layer: rigor. It’s checking the timer, checking for threats, checking for any of a litany of potential mistakes you might be about to make, a smorgasbord of straightforward opportunities you might miss. Simple rules are easy to forget when you’re feeling the rush of an advantage. But they never become less important.

Might start giving chess a try just to see how I do. Haven’t played in years, but I’m curious.


Weekend Reading: LightSpeed, Kubernetes, and a Car-Free Market Street

March 14, 2020 • #

📱 Project LightSpeed: Rewriting the Messenger Codebase

A technical piece describing the goals for Facebook’s rewrite of the Messenger app. Interesting to see them avoiding their own React Native for this, and doing things in native iOS/Android.

🔩 “Let’s Use Kubernetes!” Now You Have 8 Problems

A humorous post, but has a point. There’s pressure to add new tools that don’t do much but add moving parts and complexity. There’s nothing wrong with Kubernetes, but there’s a place for it (and your small team probably doesn’t need it).

The more...

Weekend Reading: Tagging with Turf, Mars Panorama, and Kinds of Easy

March 7, 2020 • #

🗺 turf-tagger

Bryan put together this neat little utility for merging point data with containing polygon attributes with spatial join queries. It uses Turf.js to do the geoprocess in the browser.

🚀 Mars Curiosity High-Res Panorama

Amazing photography of the Mars surface:

NASA’s Curiosity rover has captured its highest-resolution panorama yet of the Martian surface. Composed of more than 1,000 images taken during the 2019 Thanksgiving holiday and carefully assembled over the ensuing months, the composite contains 1.8 billion pixels of Martian landscape. The rover’s...

Weekend Reading: Figma's Typography, Xerox Alto, and a Timeline of CoVID

February 29, 2020 • #

⌨️ I Pressed ⌘B, You Wouldn’t Believe What Happened Next

An entertaining talk about the complexity of typography, from Marcin Wichary at Figma’s recent Config conference.

🖥 Restoring Y Combinator’s Xerox Alto

An technical piece on restoring Alan Kay’s Xerox Alto he donated to Y Combinator. Amazing piece of technology history, and inspired so many future developments in computing — graphical user interfaces, WYSIWIG text editing, bitmapped graphics, the mouse, and Ethernet for connectivity.

Xerox built about 2000 Altos...

Weekend Reading: Landgrid, Quantified Self, and Tesla Teardown

February 22, 2020 • #

🏘 Landgrid

This is a product from Loveland Technologies, with a cohesive dataset of parcel boundaries provided as an API for application builders.

More on their parcel data and how they do it here.

🤳🏽 My Quantified Self Setup

My goal tracking efforts pale in comparison to what Julian Lehr is doing. I might give a try to Airtable for mine, also. I’ve been in Google Sheets since mine’s pretty basic, but AT might make it more mobile-friendly for editing.


Weekend Reading: Universe Sandbox, Mapping Math, and Japanese Companies

February 15, 2020 • #

🌌 Universe Sandbox

This is a physics simulator that replicates the physics of interstellar objects. You can simulate massive planetary collisions or supernovae in the Earth’s solar system, in case you want to see what would happen.

🧮 The Map of Mathematics

A neat catalog “map” of mathematics, with visualizations of things like prime numbers, symmetry, calculus, and more. Quanta Magazine does fantastic work.

🇯🇵 Why So Many of the World’s Oldest Companies are in Japan


Weekend Reading: Software Dependencies, Conversational AI, and the iPad at 10

February 8, 2020 • #

🛠 Dependency Drift: A Metric for Software Aging

We’ve been doing some thinking on our team about how to systematically address (and repay) technical debt. With the web of interconnected dependencies and micro packages that exists now through tools like npm and yarn, no single person can track all the versions and relationships between modules. This post proposes a “Dependency Drift” metric to quantify how far out of date a codebase is on the latest updates to its dependencies:

  • Create a numeric metric that incorporates...

Weekend Reading: The Anti Portfolio, Downlink 2, and nucoll

February 1, 2020 • #

📂 The Anti-Portfolio

Bessemer maintains this page of companies they passed investing on. I like the idea of publicly acknowledging your big misses or errors as an organizational accountability tool. Some big names here like eBay, Airbnb, Google, and FedEx.

Almost a year ago I shared a link to the first version of Downlink. The main feature added here is you can create your own custom views by putting a bounding box around your area of interest. Then...

Weekend Reading: Enemies of Writing, Wealth, and the Superhuman Inbox

January 25, 2020 • #

✍🏼 The Enemies of Writing

A great piece from the Atlantic’s George Packer, a transcript of his acceptance speech for the Hitchens Prize.

At a moment when democracy is under siege around the world, these scenes from our literary life sound pretty trivial. But if writers are afraid of the sound of their own voice, then honest, clear, original work is not going to flourish, and without it, the politicians and tech moguls and TV demagogues have less to worry about. It doesn’t matter if you hold impeccable views, or which side of...

Weekend Reading: Internet of Beefs, Company Culture, and Secular Cycles

January 18, 2020 • #

🥩 The Internet of Beefs

Venkatesh Rao has assembled a most compelling explanation for how the internet polarization machine works:

The semantic structure of the Internet of Beefs is shaped by high-profile beefs between charismatic celebrity knights loosely affiliated with various citadel-like strongholds peopled by opt-in armies of mooks. The vast majority of the energy of the conflict lies in interchangeable mooks facing off against each other, loosely along lines indicated by the knights they follow, in innumerable battles that play out every minute across the IoB.

Almost none of these battles matter...

Weekend Reading: Soleimani, Prosperous Universe, and Roam

January 11, 2020 • #

🇮🇷 The Shadow Commander

This 2013 piece from Dexter Filkins gives an excellent background on Qasem Soleimani, an important figure now well known after his killing a couple of weeks ago, but prior to that hardly known by anyone other than experts, even with his massive influence in the region.

🌌 Prosperous Universe

I’m always intrigued by complicated simulation games. I remember a few of these “real-time” MMO games being popular in the early days of online gaming. Glad to see the genre still kicking in an era of low-attention-span gaming...

Weekend Reading: Bullets in Games, Lessons of History, and BrickLink

January 5, 2020 • #

🎮 How Do Bullets Work in Video Games?

A cool analysis of methods for rendering bullet physics in games.

🏟 Notes on “The Lessons of History”

Maksim Stepanenko’s notes on Will and Ariel Durant’s The Lessons of History. I’ve got this one on the shelf, and these nuggets make me want to pick it up now to read.

While working on some Lego sets with the kids, I wanted to know if some...

Weekend Reading: Tradeoffs, the Margins, and PR FAQs

December 21, 2019 • #

⚖️ Tradeoffs: The Currency of Decision Making

Farnam Street:

Time is our most fundamental constraint. If you use an hour for one thing, you can’t use it for anything else. Time passes, whatever we do with it. It seems beneficial then to figure out the means of using it with the lowest possible opportunity costs. One of the simplest ways to do this is to establish how you’d like to be using your time, then track how you’re using it for a week. Many people find a significant discrepancy. Once we...

Weekend Reading: Neutrinos and Math, Waymo Progress, and Freemium in SaaS

December 14, 2019 • #

🧮 Neutrinos Lead to Unexpected Discovery in Basic Math

As long as you consider linear algebra and eigenvectors “basic math”:

They’d noticed that hard-to-compute terms called “eigenvectors,” describing, in this case, the ways that neutrinos propagate through matter, were equal to combinations of terms called “eigenvalues,” which are far easier to compute. Moreover, they realized that the relationship between eigenvectors and eigenvalues — ubiquitous objects in math, physics and engineering that have been studied since the 18th century — seemed to hold more generally.


Weekend Reading: The Worst Year to Be Alive, Chinese Sci-Fi, and Slack Networks

December 7, 2019 • #

🌋 Why 536 Was the Worst Year To Be Alive

You may have thought the entire 14th century was pretty bad, or maybe 1918 with its flu pandemic and millions of war casualties, but how about the 6th:

A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine...

Weekend Reading: MiLB, Naming Public Transit, and Soccer Playing Styles

November 30, 2019 • #

Mapping the New MiLB Landscape

Combining baseball and maps? Sign me up. The MLB has a plan to “improve” the MiLB system costs, standards, compensation, and other things through shuttering 42 ball clubs around the country. In this piece for FanGraphs, the authors use some GIS tactics to analyze how this shakes out for baseball fans falling within those markets:

So how many Americans would see their ability to watch affiliated baseball in person disappear under MLB’s proposal? And how many would see their primary point of access shift from the...

Weekend Reading: Figma Multiplayer, Rice vs. Wheat, and Tuft Cells

November 23, 2019 • #

🕹 How Figma’s Multiplayer Technology Works

An interesting technical breakdown on how Figma built their multiplayer tech (the collaboration capability where you can see other users’ mouse cursors and highlights in the same document, in real time).

🌾 Large-Scale Psychological Differences Within China Explained by Rice Versus Wheat Agriculture

A fascinating paper. This research suggests the possibility that group-conforming versus individualistic cultures may have roots in diet and agricultural practices. From the abstract:

Cross-cultural psychologists have mostly contrasted East...

Weekend Reading: Darwinian Gastronomy, Humboldt, and Taxes

November 16, 2019 • #

🌶 Darwinian Gastronomy

Turns out cultures from warmer climates evolved a taste for spicy foods to combat the presence of more diverse bacteria:

Alas, nothing in nature turns out to be that simple. Researchers now suggest that a taste for spices served a vital evolutionary purpose: keeping our ancestors alive. Spices, it turns out, can kill poisonous bacteria and fungi that may contaminate our food. In other words, developing a taste for these spices could be good for our health. And since food spoils more quickly in hotter weather, it’s only natural that warmer climates...

Weekend Reading: Blot, Hand-Drawn Visualizations, and Megafire Detection

November 9, 2019 • #


Blot is a super-minimal open source blogging system based on plain text files in a folder. It supports markdown, Word docs, images, and HTML — just drag the files into the folder and it generates web pages. I love simple tools like this.

🖋 Handcrafted Visualization: Precision

An interesting post from Robert Simmon from Planet. These examples of visualizations and graphics of physical phenomena (maps, cloud diagrams, drawings of insects, planetary motion charts) were all hand-drawn, in an era where specialized photography and sensing weren’t always options.


Weekend Reading: Strasburg Tipping, RapiD, and TikTok Investigation

November 2, 2019 • #

⚾️ How the Nationals Fixed Stephen Strasburg and Saved Their Season

Strasburg tipping his pitches almost ended the Nats’ run:

He remembered the game Strasburg pitched in Arizona on August 3. The Diamondbacks pounded Strasburg for nine runs in less than five innings. The D-Backs knew what was coming. The Nationals broke down the tape and discovered Strasburg was tipping his pitches by the way he reached into his glove to grip the baseball near his waist, just before he raised his hands to the set position.


Weekend Reading: Ancient Text, StarLink, and Chinese Origins

October 26, 2019 • #

📜 Restoring ancient text using deep learning: a case study on Greek epigraphy

A project from DeepMind designed to fill in missing text from ancient inscriptions:

Pythia takes a sequence of damaged text as input, and is trained to predict character sequences comprising hypothesised restorations of ancient Greek inscriptions (texts written in the Greek alphabet dating between the seventh century BCE and the fifth century CE). The architecture works at both the character- and word-level, thereby effectively handling long-term context information, and dealing efficiently with incomplete word representations (Figure 2). This...

Weekend Reading: Baseball Graphics, the Mind Illuminated, and the Crucial Century

October 19, 2019 • #

⚾️ How Many Outs? Baseball Graphics Compared

Some top-notch baseball geekery, with Jason Snell comparing the graphics overlays from Fox, MLB Network, and ESPN’s telecasts. I’ve thought about this, too, but have to give it to the ESPN one, with Fox right up there.

🧘🏽‍♀️ Book Review: The Mind Illuminated

Scott Alexander’s review is an excellent in-depth look at this book on meditation. I’m still making my way through it, but it’s definitely a fantastic soup-to-nuts guide so far.

🇬🇧 The Crucial Century


Weekend Reading: Kipchoge's 2 Hours, Future Ballparks, and the World in Data

October 12, 2019 • #

🏃🏾‍♂️ Eliud Kipchoge Breaks 2-Hour Marathon Barrier

An amazing feat:

On a misty Saturday morning in Vienna, on a course specially chosen for speed, in an athletic spectacle of historic proportions, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran 26.2 miles in a once-inconceivable time of 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds.

⚾️ What the Future American Ballpark Should Look Like

An architect’s manifesto on how teams can rethink the design of baseball stadiums:

Fans want to feel that the club has bought into them, and a bolder model of...

Weekend Reading: Attention, Hill Climbing, and Enforcing Culture

October 5, 2019 • #

🧠 To Pay Attention, the Brain Uses Filters, Not a Spotlight

For a long time, because attention seemed so intricately tied up with consciousness and other complex functions, scientists assumed that it was first and foremost a cortical phenomenon. A major departure from that line of thinking came in 1984, when Francis Crick, known for his work on the structure of DNA, proposed that the attentional searchlight was controlled by a region deep in the brain called the thalamus, parts of which receive input from sensory domains...

Weekend Reading: Signaling, Busyness, and Magic Ink

September 28, 2019 • #

👏🏼 Applause Lights

This is from 2007, but is still a very astute observation in how politicians and activists use rhetoric to signal rather than recommend a real, actionable way forward on issues:

The substance of a democracy is the specific mechanism that resolves policy conflicts. If all groups had the same preferred policies, there would be no need for democracy—we would automatically cooperate. The resolution process can be a direct majority vote, or an elected legislature, or even a voter-sensitive behavior of an artificial intelligence, but it has to be something. What does it...

Weekend Reading: Ted Chiang, Renewable Energy, and ColorBox

September 21, 2019 • #

✍🏼 Ted Chiang Uses Science to Illuminate the Human Condition

I enjoyed this interview with author Ted Chiang. It covers his recent short story collection Exhalation: Stories with nice context and background on the ideas behind each one. I just finished the book last week, and would have to say that The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling was my favorite. A story about the fallibility of memory and what it would be like if our memories were recorded...

Weekend Reading: Iceland, the Use of Knowledge, and CLI Search

September 14, 2019 • #

⚖️ The Use of Knowledge in Society

I’ve been reading some of Hayek’s famous articles this week. This one is all about what he probably considered one of the most important concepts, since these basic ideas form a central thesis for most of his works. His argument was for bottoms-up, decentralized systems of decision-making instead of centralized, top-down systems:

The peculiar character of the problem of a rational economic order is determined precisely by the fact that the knowledge of the circumstances of which we must make use never exists in...

Weekend Reading: Observable Edition

September 7, 2019 • #

This week’s links are all interactive notebooks on Observable. Their Explore section always highlights interesting things people are creating. A great learning tool for playing with data and code to see how it works.

⌨️ The Enigma Machine

Easily the most impressive interactive notebook I’ve ever seen. This one from Tom shows the electromechanical pathways of the German Enigma machine at work — enter a character and see how the rotors and circuits encrypt text.

🚲 A Bicycle Drivetrain Analyzer

Another great example of the power...

Weekend Reading: Intellectual Humility, Scoping, and Gboard

August 31, 2019 • #

🛤 Missing the Light at the End of the Tunnel

Honest postmortems are insightful to get the inside backstory on what happened behind the scenes with a company. In this one, Jason Crawford goes into what went wrong with Fieldbook before they shut it down and were acquired by Flexport a couple years ago:

Now, with a year to digest, I think this is true and was a core mistake. I vastly underestimated the resources it was going to take—in time, effort and money—to build a launchable product...

Weekend Reading: tracejson, Euclid, and Designing at Scale

August 24, 2019 • #

🛰 tracejson

An extension to the GeoJSON format for storing GPS track data, including timestamps. GPX has been long in the tooth for a long time, but it works and is supported by everything. This approach could have some legs if application developers are interested in a new, more efficient, way of doing things. I know I’d like to explore it for Fulcrum’s GPS-based video capability. Right now we do GPX and our own basic JSON format for storing the geo and elapsed time data to match up video frames with location. This could...

Weekend Reading: Terrain Mesh, Designing on a Deadline, and Bookshelves

August 17, 2019 • #

🏔 MARTINI: Real-Time RTIN Terrain Mesh

Some cool work from Vladimir Agafonkin on a library for RTIN mesh generation, with an interactive notebook to experiment with it on Observable:

An RTIN mesh consists of only right-angle triangles, which makes it less precise than Delaunay-based TIN meshes, requiring more triangles to approximate the same surface. But RTIN has two significant advantages:

  1. The algorithm generates a hierarchy of all approximations of varying precisions — after running it once, you can quickly retrieve a mesh...

Weekend Reading: nvUltra, Progress, and

August 10, 2019 • #


This is a new notes app from Brett Terpstra (creator of nvALT) and Fletcher Penney (creator of MultiMarkdown). I used nvALT for years for note taking on my Mac. This new version looks like a slick reboot of that with some more power features. In private beta right now, but hopefully dropping soon.

⚗️ We Need a New Science of Progress

Progress itself is understudied. By “progress,” we mean the combination of economic, technological, scientific, cultural, and organizational advancement that has transformed...

Weekend Reading: Universal Laws, Tandem, and Computers That Can See

August 3, 2019 • #

📚 Universal Laws of the World

A list of broad laws that apply to all fields. Thoughtful stuff as always from Morgan Housel:

6. Parkinson’s Law: Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

In 1955 historian Cyril Parkinson wrote in The Economist:

IT is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Thus, an elderly lady of leisure can spend the entire day in writing and despatching a postcard to her niece at Bognor Regis. An hour will be spent...

Weekend Reading: Brain MRI, Flash Cards, and Movie Maps

July 27, 2019 • #

🧠 7 Tesla MRI of a Human Brain

This is one of the highest resolution scans ever performed on a human brain, at 100 micrometer resolution. Scroll down to see some awesome images.

👨🏻‍🏫 Anki

Anki is an open source framework for creating your own flash cards. A neat system for helping your kids with classwork, or even just testing yourself on topics.

Anyone who needs to remember things in their daily life can benefit from Anki. Since it is content-agnostic and supports images, audio, videos and...

Weekend Reading: Rhythmic Breathing, Drowned Lands, and Fulcrum SSO

July 20, 2019 • #

🏃🏻‍♂️ Everything You Need to Know About Rhythmic Breathing

I tried this out the other night on a run. The technique makes some intiutive sense that it’d reduce impact (or level it out side to side anyway). Surely to notice any result you’d have to do it over distance consistently. But I’ve had some right knee soreness that I don’t totally know the origin of, so thought I’d start trying this out. I found it takes a lot of concentration to keep it up consistently. I’ll keep testing it out.


Weekend Reading: Atlas of Moons, Opendoor and Redfin, and Thinking While Walking

July 13, 2019 • #

🌕 The Atlas of Moons

This is an absolutely phenomenal project showcasing each of the major satellites in the Solar System. The full interactive maps of each one are incredible. It shows how much data we’ve gathered about all of these bodies with imagery on each one and thoroughly mapped with place and feature names.

🏠 Opendoor and Redfin Partner

A cool piece of news here. We bought our house with Redfin and had a great experience with it, after using the website heavily during the house search...

Weekend Reading: Summer Solstice, Zoom Learnings, and TeachOSM

July 6, 2019 • #

📺 5 Learnings from Zoom

Zoom is one of those admirable SaaS companies built on solid product and amazing execution. I love this — not relying on anything sexy or super inventive, just solving a known problem better than everyone else. My favorite bit is their retention; it proves what can be done even in SMB with lock-tight product market fit:

Zoom has 140% net revenue retention. This is similar to RingCentral from our last analysis and other leaders. Zoom also shows that yes, this can be done with smaller customers too, not...

Weekend Reading: Satellites, Antilibraries, and Libra

June 29, 2019 • #

🛰 How to Profit in Space: A Visual Guide

Fantastic visualizations from the WSJ team. Shows the history of satellite expansion divided by country, year, and orbits, both LEO and geosynchronous. A great use of maps for storytelling.

📚 The Antilibrary: Why Unread Books are the Most Important

This is a concept pulled from Taleb’s The Black Swan, which I recently enjoyed. As he notes, the antilibrary can function as a reminder of how much...

Weekend Reading: Term Sheets, Customer Loyalty, and Epictetus

June 22, 2019 • #

📑 Opening Up the Atlassian Term Sheet

This is great to see from a company like Atlassian with “openness” as one of their core values. Their take is that the standard M&A process affords too few protections for the company doing the selling and too many for the big buyer. Most importantly, to me, these M&A engagements are one-sided by nature: the buyer has likely done it before (often many times) and the seller it’s likely their first time around.

M&A is a key part of our strategy – over our...

Weekend Reading: The Next Mapping Company, Apple on Pros, and iPadOS Workflow

June 15, 2019 • #

🗺 (Who will be) America’s Next Big Mapping Company?

Paul Ramsey considers who might be in the best position to challenge Google as the next mapping company:

Someone is going to take another run at Google, they have to. My prediction is that it will be AWS, either through acquisition (Esri? Mapbox?) or just building from scratch. There is no doubt Amazon already has some spatial smarts, since they have to solve huge logistical problems in moving goods around for the retail side, problems that require spatial quality data...

Weekend Reading: Real Time Analytics, Georeferencing, and Fulcrum Code

June 1, 2019 • #

📉 Whom the Gods Would Destroy, They First Give Real-time Analytics

I thought this was a great post on how unnecessary “real-time” analytics can be when misused. As the author points out, it’s almost never necessary to have data that current. With current software it’s possible to have infinite analytics on everything, and as a result it’s irresistable to many people to think of those metrics as essential for decision making.

This line of thinking is a trap. It’s important to divorce the concepts of operational metrics...

Weekend Reading: Data Moats, China, and Distributed Work

May 25, 2019 • #

🏰 The Empty Promise of Data Moats

In the era of every company trying to play in machine learning and AI technology, I thought this was a refreshing perspective on data as a defensible element of a competitive moat. There’s some good stuff here in clarifying the distinction between network effects and scale effects:

But for enterprise startups — which is where we focus — we now wonder if there’s practical evidence of data network effects at all. Moreover, we suspect that even the more straightforward data scale effect has limited...

Weekend Reading: Rays on a Run, Apple's Pivot, and Mapping Grids

May 18, 2019 • #

⚾️ The Rays are a Surrealist’s Delight

Love to see the Rays getting some deserved attention in the mainstream sports media. They’ve put together a great, diverse lineup of consistent hitters that have performed well all season:

The Rays emphasize power now, but in a different way: Through Monday, their hitters had the highest exit velocity in the majors, at 90.1 miles per hour, and their pitchers — who specialize in curveballs and high fastballs — allowed the lowest, at 86.3. Hard-contact rates enticed them to trade for Pham from St....

Weekend Reading: Product Market Fit, Stripe's 5th Hub, and Downlink

May 11, 2019 • #

🦸🏽‍♂️ How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product/Market Fit

As pointed out in this piece from Rahul Vohra, founder of Superhuman, most indicators around product-market fit are lagging indicators. With his company he was looking for leading indicators so they could more accurately predict adoption and retention after launch. His approach is simple: polling your early users with a single question — “How would you feel if you could no longer use Superhuman?”

Too many example methods in the literature on product development orient around asking...

Weekend Reading: Human Leverage, Alan Kay, and Mapping the NBA

May 4, 2019 • #

🏋🏽‍♀️ Finding the Point of Human Leverage

Automation is penetrating every industry, but still heavily reliant on human behavior and feedback to make it effective. In this piece, Benedict Evans talks about identifying the point in a workflow where the optimum point of leverage sits for human interaction:

This means that a lot of the system design is around finding the right points of leverage to apply people to an automated system. Do you capture activity that’s already happening? Google began by using the links that already existed. Do you have...

Weekend Reading: Gene Wolfe, Zoom, and Inside Spatial Networks

April 27, 2019 • #

📖 Gene Wolfe Turned Science Fiction Into High Art

Wolfe’s work, particularly his Book of the New Sun “tetralogy”, is some of my favorite fiction. He just passed away a couple weeks ago, and this is a great piece on his life leading up to becoming one of the most influential American writers. I recommend it to everyone I know interested in sci-fi. Even reading this made me want to dig up The Shadow of the Torturer and start reading it for a...

Weekend Reading: Running Maps, Thinking, and Remote Work

April 20, 2019 • #

🏃🏻‍♂️ On the Go Map

Found via Tom MacWright, a slick and simple tool for doing run route planning built on modern web tech. It uses basic routing APIs and distance calculation to help plan out runs, which is especially cool in new places. I used it in San Diego this past week to estimate a couple distances I did. It also has a cool sharing feature to save and link to routes.

🔮 As We May Think

I mentioned...

Weekend Reading: Brains and Language, Hillshading in Blender, and Antifragility

April 13, 2019 • #

🧠 Your Brain Needs 1.5 MB of Storage to Master Your Native Language

“It may seem surprising but, in terms of digital media storage, our knowledge of language almost fits compactly on a floppy disk,” the authors wrote in the study. In this case, that would be a floppy disk that holds about 1.5 megabytes of information, or the equivalent of about a minute-long song as an Mp3 file. [3D Images: Exploring the Human Brain] The researchers estimate that in the best-case scenario, in a...

Weekend Reading: T Cells, Creating Proteins, and SNI Awards

April 6, 2019 • #

🦠 T is for T Cell

After reading The Breakthrough, I’ve been doing more reading on immunotherapy, how it works, and what the latest science looks like. Another book in my to-read list is An Elegant Defense, a deeper study of how the immune system works. The human defensive system of white blood cells is a truly incredible evolutionary machine — a beautiful and phenomenally complex version of antifragility.

🧬 Engineering Proteins in the Cloud with Python


Weekend Reading: Hurricanes, Long Games, and AirPods

March 30, 2019 • #

Hurricane Season 2017: A Coordinated Reconnaissance Effort

The NSF StEER program has been using Fulcrum Community for a couple of years now, ever since Hurricane Harvey landed on the Texas coast, followed by Irma and Maria later that fall. They’ve built a neat program on top of our platform that lets them respond quickly with volunteers on the ground conducting structure assessments post-disaster:

The large, geographically distributed effort required the development of unified data standards and digital workflows to enable the swift collection...

Weekend Reading: Remote Work, Autonomous Behaviors, and AirPods 2

March 23, 2019 • #

👨🏽‍💻 Why Naval Ravikant Thinks Remote Work is the Future

Anyone that works in a successful company with a large distributed staff can attest to remote-first being the future for knowledge work organizations. The more we expand our remote team at our company, the better we all get at realizing all of its benefits. It seems like an inevitability to me that there’ll be a tipping point where all new tech companies begin as remote-centric groups. Naval, the founder of AngelList (which is a key...

Weekend Reading: Mental Models, Git History, and Notion

March 16, 2019 • #

🧠 A Latticework of Mental Models

This is an excellent archive on Farnam Street with background on 109 different mental models — first principles, Occam’s Razor, probabalistic thinking, and many more. So much great reading material here to study different modes of thinking. Like writer Shane Parrish puts it, this latticework helps you “think better”:

The quality of our thinking is proportional to the models in our head and their usefulness in the situation at hand. The more models you have—the bigger your toolbox—the more likely you are to have the right models to see...

Weekend Reading: Calculator, SaaS Metrics, and System Shock

March 9, 2019 • #

💻 Open Sourcing Windows Calculator

Seems silly, but this kind of thing is great for the open source movement. There’s still an enormous amount of tech out there built at big companies that creates little competitive or legal risk by being open. Non-core tools and libraries (meaning not core to the business differentiation) are perfect candidates to be open to the community. Check it on GitHub.

📊 The Metrics Every SaaS Company Should Be Tracking

An Inside Intercom interview with investor...

Weekend Reading: Build or Buy, OKRs, and Employee Onboarding

March 2, 2019 • #

🖥 When to Build and When to Buy: The Lure of Building Software

This was one of my favorite reads this week, on the topic of “build vs. buy” in IT organizations. In SaaS, this is one of the most common conversations you run into, particularly with medium to large sized companies. With large enterprises the lure of building their “own IP” is so attractive so frequently (because they have some resources), yet most of the time they have no real clue what they’re convincing themselves to do. Building something great...

Weekend Reading: Private DNS, Opportunity, and Millennial Socialism

February 23, 2019 • #

🔌 Announcing Privacy-First DNS

This is an old announcement, but new to me. CloudFlare now hosts privacy-centric DNS at, available to all:

We talked to the APNIC team about how we wanted to create a privacy-first, extremely fast DNS system. They thought it was a laudable goal. We offered Cloudflare’s network to receive and study the garbage traffic in exchange for being able to offer a DNS resolver on the memorable IPs. And, with that, was born.

🛰 Opportunity is No...

Weekend Reading: Business Applications, Rays Prospects, and the Florida Panhandle

February 16, 2019 • #

👨🏽‍💻 Okta Businesses @ Work 2019

Interesting data here in Okta’s annual report. It’s clear that the way customer’s buy SaaS is very different than the “single-vendor” purchasing preferences from years past. SaaS allows businesses to buy and integrate the best-fit tools for any jobs:

We also looked at whether companies who invest in the Office 365 suite — the top app in our network — end up committing to a Microsoft-only environment, and the answer was clearly “no.” We found that 76% of Okta’s Office 365 customers have one or more...

Weekend Reading: LiDAR, Auto Generated Textbooks, and Paleo Plate Tectonics

February 9, 2019 • #

🛣 Creating Low-Cost LiDAR

This is a great breakdown of the different elements of LiDAR technology, looking at three broad areas: beam direction, distance measurement, and frequencies. They compare the tech of 10 different companies in the space to see how each is approaching the problem.

📚 An Algorithm to Auto-Generate Textbooks

Taking off of the Wikibooks project, this team is aiming to generate books from Wikipedia content using ML techniques.

Given the advances in artificial intelligence in recent years, is there a...

Weekend Reading: Fulcrum in Santa Barbara, Point Clouds, Building Footprints

February 2, 2019 • #

👨🏽‍🚒 Santa Barbara County Evac with Fulcrum Community

Our friends over at the Santa Barbara County Sheriff have been using a deployment of Fulcrum Community over the last month to log and track evacuations for flooding and debris flow risk throughout the county. They’ve deployed over 100 volunteers so far to go door-to-door and help residents evacuate safely. In their initial pilot they visited 1,500 residents. With this platform the County can monitor progress in real-time and maximize their resources to the areas that need the most attention.


Weekend Reading: Shanghai, Basecamp, and DocuSaurus

January 26, 2019 • #

🇨🇳 195-Gigapixel Photo of Shanghai

Shot from the Oriental Pearl Tower, the picture shows enormous levels of detail composited from 8,700 source photos. Imagine this capability available commercially from microsatellite platforms. Seems like an inevitability.

🏕 How Basecamp Runs its Business

I, like many, have admired Basecamp for a long time in how they run things, particularly Ryan Singer’s work on product design. This talk largely talks about how they build product and work as an organized team.

📄 Docusaurus

This is an open source framework for building documentation sites, built with React. We’re...

Weekend Reading: CES 2019, Tips for Satellite Imagery, and Shortcuts Archive

January 19, 2019 • #

📱 CES 2019: A Show Report

This year’s excellent report from the show floor from Steven Sinofsky. It’s extensive and covers the products a-to-z, breaking down the trends by category. I’d also recommend the companion podcast conversation between Sinofsky and Benedict Evans.

🗺 Satellite Image Guide for Journalists and Media

A helpful guide with tips and factoids on satellite imagery. Includes a primer on the various sensor platforms, differences in resolution, color correction, infrared, and more. There are also a...

Weekend Reading: RoboSat, the State of Security, and the Equal Earth Map

January 12, 2019 • #

🛰 Buildings from Imagery with RoboSat

This excellent guide shows how to combine take imagery from OpenAerialMap and buildings from OpenStreetMap, and combine to train a model for automated feature extraction. It uses an open source tool from Mapbox called RoboSat combined to compare a GeoTIFF from OAM with a PBF extracts from OSM. Very cool to have a generalized tool for doing this with open data.

🔐 The State of Software Security in 2019

An excellent roundup (with tons of ancillary linked sources)...

Weekend Reading: How We Collect Data, Mapping the Camp Fire, and Earth's Great Unconformity

January 5, 2019 • #

🗺 How We Get Data Collected in the Field Ready for Use

My colleagues Bill Dollins and Todd Pollard (the core of our data team), wrote this post detailing how we go from original ground-based data collection in Fulcrum through a data processing pipeline to deliver product to customers. A combination of PostGIS, Python tools, FME, Amazon RDS, and other custom QA tools get us from raw content to finished, analyst-ready GEOINT products.

🔥 Mapping the Camp Fire with Drones

The 518 coordinated flights operation, by 16 Northern California emergency responder agencies, is one of...

Weekend Reading: Mastery Learning, Burundi’s Capital, and SRTM

December 29, 2018 • #

🎓 Mastery Learning and Creative Tasks

Khan Academy’s Andy Matuschak on tasks that require “depth of knowledge” versus those that have higher “transfer demand.” Both can be considered “difficult” in a sense, but teaching techniques to build knowledge need different approaches:

One big implication of mastery learning is that students should have as much opportunity to practice a skill as they’d like. Unlike a class that moves at a fixed pace, a struggling student should always be able to revisit prerequisites, read an alternative explanation, and try some new challenges. These systems...

Weekend Reading: Largest Islands, Linework, and Airline Mapping

December 22, 2018 • #

This week is some reading, but some simple admiring. I wanted to highlight the work of two cartographers I follow that is fantastic. We live in a great world that people can still make a living producing such work.

🏝 Hundred Largest Islands

A beautiful, artistic work from David Garcia sorting each island’s landmass by area. My favorite map projects aren’t just eye candy, they also teach you something. I spent half an hour on Wikipedia reading about a few of these islands.

🛩 On Airline Mapping

This is a project...

Weekend Reading: Ubiquitous Computing, Versioning SQL, and Video Game Maps

December 15, 2018 • #

🎙 Computing is Everywhere

A great interview with Bret Victor on the Track Changes podcast. His work has always been an inspiration for how to think about both creating things and teaching people.

📊 Git Your SQL Together

This post from Caitlin Hudon is a great reminder for anyone that works with data. Combining git versioning with your SQL is super helpful for archiving and searching previous analysis queries.

  1. You will always need that query again
  2. Queries are living artifacts that change over time
  3. ...

Weekend Reading: Railway Logos, Meditation, and the Next Feature Fallacy

December 8, 2018 • #

🔩 The Next Feature Fallacy

The vast majority of features won’t bend the curve. These metrics are terrible, and the Next Feature Fallacy strikes because it’s easy to build new features that don’t target the important parts.

This certainly rings true for me from experience over the years. It turns out that a single feature itself is far from the main problem halting people part way into on-boarding with a product. This falls into the category of focusing on what we know how to do already, rather than what’s important to do. What’s...

Weekend Reading: Exploring Zanzibar, Singapore of the Future, & Watching Basketball

December 1, 2018 • #

🇹🇿 Exploring Zanzibar with Mapillary

A fun travel post from the Mapillary team after FOSS4G in Dar es Salaam. A drive around Zanzibar collecting images for OpenStreetMap mapping. Also check out part 2 of the journey.

🇸🇬 City of the Future: Singapore

Singapore is an interesting experiment: a benevolent authoritarian government, small population, and limited geography to leverage and nurture. This documentary is a bit of a commercial for their plans for the future. Still some fun ideas that (if successful) other megacities could use to maintain quality of life with population growth.

Weekend Reading: Typing on iPad Pro, Climate Optimism, Visualizing GeoNames

November 24, 2018 • #

📱iPad Diaries: Typing on the iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio

I swung through an Apple Store a couple of weeks ago to check out the new hardware. The Smart Keyboard Folio has been hard to imagine the experience with in reviews without handling one. Same with the Pencil. I was particularly impressed with the magnetic hold of the Pencil on the side of the device — it’s darn strong. The current Smart Keyboard has some deficiencies, as pointed out in this article. No instant access to Siri or at least Siri Dictation, no system shortcut keys...

Weekend Reading: Wind Turbines, Bruce Sterling, and Economic Ideas

November 17, 2018 • #

⚡️ The US Wind Turbine Database

Ben Hoen from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab gave a lightning talk at Geo2050 about this project, a map and database of the operational wind generation capacity in the US. The map currently reports the country producing around 90 gigawatts of wind power. They also publish the raw dataset for download.

🧬 Interview with Bruce Sterling

One of my favorite science fiction authors. Talks about his work, industrial design, speculative architecture, and risk models.


Weekend Reading: CAC, Alexander Hamilton, and Flow

November 10, 2018 • #

🛒 What is Customer Acquisition Cost?

This is a great overview of the importance of CAC in a SaaS business.

One of the enjoyable things about SaaS is how much you can modify and optimize what you’re doing by measuring various parts of your process, especially in SMB-focused SaaS. Marketing, early-stage sales, late-stage sales, customer success — it’s like a machine with separate stages you can tweak separately to make incremental improvements.

📜 The Legacy of Alexander Hamilton

On the similarities between Hamilton and Edmund Burke:

“There are...

Weekend Reading: AV-Human Interaction, iPad Pro, and Buying Out Investors

November 3, 2018 • #

🚙 How Self-Driving Cars Could Communicate with You

Interesting work by Ford’s self-driving team on how robotic vehicles could signal intent to pedestrians. You normally think Waymo, Tesla, and Uber with AV tech. But Ford’s investment in Argo and GM with Cruise demonstrates they’re serious.

📲 The iPad Pro is a Computer

Jason Snell’s thoughts on the new iPad Pro release last week:

I love the new design of the iPad Pro models. The flat back with the...

Weekend Reading: Forecasting, Raster CV, Free University Courses

October 27, 2018 • #

🔮 Forecasting at Uber

The scale of the prediction problem Uber has is wild. This is an intro to a series on methods they use for forecasting demand for their marketplace.

🛰 raster-vision

A neat project from the Azavea team for computer vision applications with satellite imagery.

🎓 600 Free Online Courses

A great list from Quartz compiling a bottomless feed of content for self-teachers.

Weekend Reading: Terminals, Cryptography, and Products as Functions

October 20, 2018 • #

💻 Learning from Terminals to Design Future User Interfaces

Pieces like this often come off like geeks calling for a return to how it “used to be” — “HyperCard was the peak of dev tools”. But this author makes some excellent points about performance, responsiveness, and control. As a frequent terminal user, there’s a tactility to it that comes from its fast response to input, but it is true that consoles have lagged behind in other ways like media richness and user interface display.


Weekend Reading: Geocomputation, Customers, and Linear Growth

October 13, 2018 • #

🎛 Geocomputation with R

I’ve had R on my list for a long time to dig deeper with. A while back I set myself up with RStudio and went through some DataCamp stuff. This online book seems like excellent material in how to apply R to geostatistics.

☎️ Listening to Customers At Scale

Given where we are with Fulcrum in the product lifecycle, this rang very familiar on the struggles with how to listen to customers effectively, who to listen to, and how to absorb...