Interesting Things #3 — JavaScript optimizing compiler

Welcome to the third edition of Interesting Things, a curation of interesting stories and links from tech, indie business, science, and adjacents.

These are things I came across during my Internet wanderings. I find them interesting, and I hope you do too. Enjoy!


A JavaScript optimizing compiler — Transpiling from javascript to C++, optimising it and transpiling back to javascript resulted in faster performance.

Scaling monorepo maintenance — Modularising an internal git index increased speed by 6 times.

Experiences working with an Outsourced Dev Shop — If there was one constant from all of their failures, it was their utter refusal to take responsibility for any of it.

Applications from the Future — An exploration of what future web applications could evolve to.

Why programmers don’t write documentation — We don’t write documentation because writing clearly is extremely hard.

Evolution of random number generators — Prime powers have a kinda chaotic pattern in their bits. We bootstrap this idea into a good random number generator, recapitulating history.

Rethinking the JavaScript ternary operator (Mar 2021) — Lots of people treat the ternary operator with suspicion. What if there’s more to ternaries than meets the eye?

The Pains of Path Parsing — A semi-deep dive into the finer points of path parsing and rendering in web applications

Build a giant live scrolling tickertape display from WS2812B Neopixels and an Arduino Uno — Display live scrolling sports scores, crypto prices, or hot tweets on the side of your favorite newspaper building.

Problem space. Shipping space. — I’ve always made it a point to have one meeting a week focused on production.

How much traffic comes from the front page of Hacker News? — Hopefully this post will shed some light on this topic.

Open-sourcing Remotebear, a remote jobs aggregator — See how someone else built their app.

Easy and Ethical Traffic Monitoring with GoAccess — If you’re looking for an easy solution and you’re conscious of user privacy, try one of these.

CSS Generators — CSS generators can avoid some time-consuming tasks.

Linear Clock: Solar — A clock that shows a progress bar measuring the percentage of the day elapsed since sunrise.

Branchless Coding in Go — Why does this matter? Performance and security.

Putting an old digital clock (with an outdoor thermometer) on steroids — Reverse engineering a thermometer sensor and replacing it with modern hardware.

The art of solving problems with Monte Carlo simulations — Using the power of randomness to answer scientific questions.

Competitive Analysis For Product Engineers — One of the most useful skills that an engineer can have.

The Process is not the Product (Feb 2021) — The Software Methodology Anti-Manifesto. Leading not Managing. Dialog not Dictation

Marketing and sales intelligence with Elixir at PepsiCo (Apr 2021) — A case study of how Elixir is being used in production.

Why Every Developer Should Start Programming With C — Let me explain why learning C is the best choice.

The compiler will optimize that away (Apr 2021) — Industry best practices still revolve around object oriented programming which does not perform well on modern hardware.

Migrating From Python to Kotlin for Our Backend Services — We needed to find a new tech stack. Learn how we compared all the options and chose Kotlin.

A SQL database and an interactive grapher in a single HTML file — Generate stand-alone HTML files embedding everything from the database to the query engine and grapher.

TCP/IP Fingerprinting for VPN and Proxy Detection (Mar 2021) — TCP/IP fingerprinting becomes interesting again from a security perspective.

Six years of professional Clojure development — Listing some of the strengths and weaknesses in everyday real-life use of the language and its ecosystem.

#indie biz

My Startup Failed Six Years Ago. I’ve Been Hiding from My Shame Ever Since. — Millions of people listened to my startup’s story. This is what happened after everything fell apart.

Is a computer science side project worth the effort? — You spend most of your day in front of a screen already. Why start a side project?

We need a career path for invention — While science and business have functioning career paths, invention does not.

Counterintuitive Lessons on How to Get Better as You Scale — Twilio CEO and co-founder Jeff Lawson shares a set of unconventional company building lessons.

Creators are making bank selling Google spreadsheets — Indie makers are generating tens of thousands of dollars by selling info products built on Google Sheets, Notion, and Airtable.


Dozens of viruses seem to use a different DNA base — Odd form of DNA helps viruses resist their host’s defenses.

‘Plain of Jars’, one of the most mysterious archaeological sites, reveals its true age

Internal Combustion Engine — A stunning explanation of how these everyday, yet intricate, devices work. Lots of beautiful interactive diagrams.

What We’re Learning About Ingenuity’s Flight Control and Aerodynamic Performance — The helicopter relies on a set of flight control algorithms that were developed before Ingenuity was even launched to Mars.

Researchers Recycle Lithium-Ion Batteries via Simple Electrolysis — Batteries can be restored to almost new condition without the need to crush, dissolve, or melt their materials.

How Humanity Gave Itself an Extra Life — Between 1920 and 2020, the average human life span doubled. How did we do it?

Persuading the Body to Regenerate Its Limbs — Deer can regrow their antlers, and humans can replace their liver. What else might be possible?


What Makes Music Universal — Music brings us together to show us how different we are.

The Man Who Put His Head Inside A Particle Accelerator While It Was Switched On — At first, he felt no pain. He knew what had happened, as he had seen a light “brighter than a thousand Suns". Remarkably, he did not die.

Can you make yourself sound more attractive? — Many nationalities recognise that there is a tone of voice that is instantly alluring, but do some speakers have an unfair advantage?

80/20 is the new Half-Ass — Don’t spend your life spraying 20% effort all over the place only to look back and wonder why you never hit 100% on anything.

The Incredible, Underrated Allen Wrench — Six contact surfaces means less chance of slipping and stripping. This may also be why an Allen wrench feels strangely more satisfying.

On Wasting Time — To come up with great ideas, one has to waste a great amount of time.

The company where colleagues decide your salary — A software firm in Argentina is trying a radical experiment in employee transparency and democracy.

On the Link Between Great Thinking and Obsessive Walking — Why does walking help us think?


Hand-drawn world map of borders

Mazette — Mesmerizing mazes. Let the maze decide for you.


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