Duly noted

March 2020

ERP for engineers gives a fascinating overview and history of ERP (enterprise resource planning) and the company that pioneered the industry, SAP. Like the development and adoption of GDS, ERP plays a significant part in the history of computerisation and the field of software engineering.

Why the GOV.UK Design System team changed the input type for numbers. The number input type in HTML (<input type="number=">) has always been problematic.

Magenta isn’t a real color and what this says about how our brains work and how we perceive color.

January 2020

NHS Digital has some great resources, such as how to write good questions for forms and a guide on inclusive language.

Mark Dominus: The least common divisor and the greatest common multiple.

How you can better at picking creative ideas. A realistic first idea might not be as creative as an abstract second one, new research shows.

December 2019

What’s wrong with DateTime anyway? A meticulous dive into why dates and times are tricky, by the author of NodaTime.

November 2019

You (probably) don’t need Kubernetes.

You know those old “Hello world according to programmer skill” jokes that start with printf(“hello, world\n”) for a junior programmer and end with some convoluted Java OOP design pattern solution for senior software architect engineer? This is kind of like that.

October 2019

Will you survive the Tech Drought? Lucas McGregor suggests the lack of access to software engineers now limits businesses more than the lack of funds, and organisations are wasting this precious resource through mismanagement, “anti-work” (supporting legacy code and tech debt), and confusing agility with strategy.

September 2019

New Republic: How Boeing’s managerial revolution created the 737 MAX disaster.


the tendency to interpret vague stimuli as something familiar.

NPR: A bitter end for regular joe? scientists engineer a smooth, beanless coffee.

The difference between UUIDs and ULIDs.

‘Gaming disorder’ officially on World Health Organization’s list of diseases.

How is the internet still obsessed with Myers-Briggs?

MIT Technology Review: Gene-edited cattle have a major screwup in their DNA.

August 2019

Fresh produce, brought to you by robots. The cost of human labor required for indoor hydroponic farms has made their produce infeasibly expensive. Robotics and AI can cut down these costs by 80 percent. More significantly, these farms also use 90 percent less water than outdoor farms, require no arable land and alleviate the need for herbicides and pesticides.

Why washing machines are learning to play the harp. “Appliance makers believe more and better chimes, alerts, and jingles make for happier customers. Are they right?”

While not the general gist of the article, I wanted to note two points. On the influence that sound can have on us:

A wealth of studies in consumer psychology attests to the power of sound to affect our decision making. In one famous experiment from the ’90s, British wine shoppers bought five times as many French bottles as German bottles when French accordions played in the store; when an oompah band sounded, German wine outsold the French. Still other studies have suggested that slot-machine noises, often high-pitched and in major keys, can nudge gamblers to keep playing and can even encourage riskier bets.

But then there’s the tragedy of commons of sound:

Too many sounds, carefully designed though they may be, runs the risk of turning into an irritant, or worse. Dexter Garcia, a co-founder of Audio UX, pointed me to a 2010 article in The Boston Globe describing “alarm fatigue.” Nurses at Massachusetts General Hospital had become so bombarded by constant alerts, they ignored the critical beeps signaling a dying patient. The problem is pervasive: In a study at Johns Hopkins Hospital, nearly 60,000 alarms were recorded over 12 days—that’s 350 alarms per patient, per day, hammering staff ears.

Logo mashups of fast food rivals. Some interesting brain teasing going on there.

Have you been soul-mined? 10 new terms for dating behavior that’s driving us crazy. My favourite is “textual chemistry” — definitely had that happen.

Pseudonymous op-ed: The Agile methodology makes no sense in banking.

July 2019

It’s not that we’ve failed to rein in Facebook and Google. We’ve not even tried. “The logic of surveillance capitalism begins with unilaterally claiming private human experience as free raw material for production and sales.”

“As one data scientist explained to me: ‘We can engineer the context around a particular behaviour and force change that way … We are learning how to write the music, and then we let the music make them dance.’”

June 2019

The Telegraph interviews Andrew Yang: The 2020 presidential hopeful who plans to give every American $1,000 a month by taxing big tech.

The Johari window is a technique that helps people better understand their relationship with themselves and others.

May 2019

Erik Bernhardsson: Why software projects take longer than you think — a statistical model.

How a Scottish naval engineer and his horse discovered solitons.

The monster blizzard that turned Kansas into a frozen wasteland.

Anki, Jibo, and Kuri: what we can learn from social robots that didn’t make it. A long read about an area of which I know little, but the lessons in failing to find product-market fit and not being design-led are interesting.

Hiten Shah: My billion dollar mistake.

April 2019

Bloomberg Businessweek: Germ-killing brands now want to sell you germs. I remember reading about David Whitlock’s experiments with ammonia-eating bacteria years ago and have been fascinated by this ever since. Exciting to see that it’s still progressing.

Tim Harford: How to solve the plastic packaging paradox. Lots of interesting accidental discoveries.

Rory Sutherland: Advertising is in crisis, but it’s not because it doesn’t work. How the dogma of efficiency fails to account for human nature.

“Time management” is not a solution — it’s actually part of the problem.

Being prolific is not about time management. There are a limited number of hours in the day, and focusing on time management just makes us more aware of how many of those hours we waste. A better option is attention management: Prioritize the people and projects that matter, and it won’t matter how long anything takes.

This reminds me of agreeing to a fixed scope: all emphasis is placed on delivering a set number of features irrespective of their value or quality. In fact, in this situation, the only thing that can give is quality.

March 2019

Wilfred Hughes: The siren song of little languages. “Sometimes a usable language struggles simply because it’s too much fun to write your own. Developers end up building their own implementation rather than actually using the language.”

We can teach women to code, but that just creates another problem.

The computing historian Marie Hicks can’t stand it when people tout coding camps as a solution to technology’s gender problem. “I think these initiatives are well-meaning, but they totally misunderstand the problem. The pipeline is not the problem; the meritocracy is the problem. The idea that we’ll just stuff people into the pipeline assumes a meritocracy that does not exist.”

CIO: Why employees don’t use collaboration tools. “G2 Crowd found that only four platforms could regularly boast adoption rates above 75 percent, and no product achieved 100 percent adoption.”

MIT Technology Review: A quantum experiment suggests there’s no such thing as objective reality.

The Atlantic: A lack of confidence isn’t what’s holding back working women.

Jacson Rawlings: The 17 cognitive biases that explain Brexit.

My favorite explanation of Jobs To Be Done involves a 7-year-old and swimming flippers.

Real Story Group: Your CMS vendor still wants to sell you services. Why you shouldn’t use a platform vendor as your integrator — more nuance in the “buy” side of the “build vs buy” argument.

Logic Magazine: An interview with an anonymous algorithmic trader. Some interesting points on how difficult it is to prove your algorithm works, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to: in order to sell your fund, you need a narrative, and simply saying you have AI can be enough.

Also, did you know that: “JP Morgan Chase employs 50,000 technologists, two-thirds of which are software engineers. That’s more engineers than many big tech firms; Facebook, for example, employs about 30,000 people total.”

Mozilla releases Common Voices, the largest to-date public domain transcribed voice dataset.

Accenture gobbles up innovation agency ?What If!.

February 2019

Google Translate is a manifestation of Wittgenstein’s theory of language. One of the points made in another way. Data Sceptic recently explained word2vec.

How AI will go out of control according to 52 experts.

ScienceDaily: How do genes get new jobs? Wasp venom offers new insights. Adaptions require new or changed functions of genes. One way this could happen is for a gene to be copied and the copy taking on a new function.

However, by studying tiny parasitic Jewel Wasps and their rapidly changing venom repertoires, the Werren Lab at the University of Rochester has uncovered a different process that may be widespread in other species as well.

The process involves co-opting single copy genes to take on new functions. In some cases, these genes appear to continue their previous function as well, in other parts of the wasp’s anatomy besides the venom gland.

“It is almost as if they are now moonlighting,” says John (Jack) Werren, professor of biology. “They’ve got a day job, and then take on a night job as well. Over time, if the night job works out, they may give up the day job and evolve as a venom specialist. However, in other cases we have found that they stop moonlighting as venom genes but appear to retain their day job.”

A trip behind the spectacle at Davos.

Rachel Andrew: HTML, CSS and our vanishing industry entry points.

DeepMind wants to teach AI to play a card game that’s harder than Go.

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