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Polyrepo-ism

In a world of warring Monorepo-ists and Microrepo-ists… there is a Middle Path: Polyrepo-ism. Microrepo-ism ordains that each service composing a total system shall have a repo unto itself. In Microrepo-ist cultures, a single conceptual change to the system requires a coordinated update across multiple repositories. Complex, arduous, and error-prone. Visit https://www.npmjs.com to study Microrepo-ism in the…

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Book Review: The Anatomy of Self by Takeo Doi

This is a fascinating book. I recommend reading it. It’s small and short and provides a framework for understanding the social world we all inhabit. It explain things that you know are true but didn’t recognize until reading it. After traveling to Japan, a number of my friends said that as much as I love…

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Statistical Thinking: Overkill

One of my homes in San Francisco was a nice, sunny little studio. On one warm day, some ants crawled up through the wall from the trash cans a story below, and searched my apartment for food. Gross. Seeing a line of ants crawling turned my stomach. I took a paper towel, wiped them up,…

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What is a Probability?

The world is a big place. With airplanes and the internet, we can now see all of it. This is something new in recent human history. We aren’t hard-wired to process the huge amounts of information that describe our modern world. This quote sums it up pretty well: A single death is a tragedy; a…

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How to Never Get Locked Out of Your House

When I was in college everyone got locked out of their dorm room. The first time you called Public Safety to unlock your door it was free. Then they started charging you $10 or $20 bucks. I resolved to never let this happen. So I designed a system to avoid getting locked out. It works…

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Manners Propaganda

A couple weeks ago I presented at BIL LA on some nicely-engineered aspects of Japanese society that I noticed when I was in Tokyo, recently. One thing from the trip that really struck me was what I call “manners propaganda”. Tokyo subways are full of this stuff. Friendly messages encouraging people to observe good manners.…

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Everyone Plays Their Part

The warehouse worker packs the alarm clock. The postal worker delivers it. The barista sets it for 6:00. So they get to work on time. To serve coffee to the auto repair guy. So he’s alert when he gets to work. To replace the train worker’s tires. So they can drive to the depot. To fix the train. That the quant rides to work. To build the derivative model. That the finance exec uses. To do the deal with the food company and the farm company. To make a new food product viable. So the cook can make it for the grad student. Who eats it for energy to stay…

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Tatemae and Honne

I went to Japan recently. After my trip, a few people mentioned I might not love the individual’s place in Japanese society. I bought a book on the topic. The Anatomy of Self by Takeo Doi, a psychiatrist. So far, it’s fascinating. (Update: see my full review.) He introduces the dual concepts of “tatemae” and…

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Optimizing Performance is a Moral Imperative

I have an app that some people use. It talks to a web server. That web server responds to different URLs. (I call them “endpoints”.) One of those endpoints was slow. It used to take 113ms (median) to finish. 113ms is pretty quick on the scale of human thought. But 113 was more milliseconds than…

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