Interesting Things #18 — AVIF


This is Beng Tan and welcome to Interesting Things, a curation of interesting stories and links from tech, work, biz, science, life and stuff.

Happy reading!


Decoding AVIF: Deep dive with cats and imgproxy — It is time to talk seriously about AVIF, what makes it different, and how to start using it today. (hn)

Three fundamental flaws of SIMD — The promise of increased data processing performance by executing several operations in parallel has problems.

Weaponizing Middleboxes for TCP Reflected Amplification — Censors pose a threat to the entire Internet. (hn)

Loaded in 600 milliseconds — Load your website super fast in less than a day of work and without much experience needed. (hn)

Google removed our 4M user Chrome Extension. This is what happened and how we fixed it. — We went through a small personal hell here. Here are some lessons learned.

How does Google Authenticator work? (Part 1) — A high level breakdown of how Time-based One-time Password (TOTP) works. (hn)

Better coordination, or better software? — Coordinate more explicitly, less often. (hn)

Code Smell of the Day: Type Keys — This is really about dependencies. Let’s compare the dependencies before and after our refactor.

DevOps Engineer Crash Course - Section 1 — The first crash course in how to successfully step into a DevOps role. (hn)

Why Observability Requires a Distributed Column Store — How distributed column stores work, why they’re so fast, and why they’re a requirement for observability. (hn)

Top Hacks from Black Hat and DEF CON 2021 — Tools, techniques, and (hybrid) procedures.

Writing Mobile apps in ClojureScript in 2021 — Still easy? Let’s find out what has changed in the last 4 years. (hn)

Casual Parsing in JavaScript — I’ve settled into a nice little pattern that I think is neat. It’s brought me joy and could be interesting for others. (hn)

your database connection deserves a name — Reduce time to debug, find root causes faster, differentiate apps and identify bad clients.

The story of the 20 million queries per hour — Here is a fun, weird, and curious performance issue I caused, and how I fixed it. (hn)

On Endianness (Jul 2021) — Is there really a clear advantage to one over the other? (hn)

Improving responsiveness in text inputs — When it’s slow to type into a text input, it drives me nuts.

My favorite papers — A curated list of great computer science papers that I’ve enjoyed reading and re-reading over the years. (hn)

A Bug’s Life: CVE-2021-21225 — Showcasing a vulnerability in V8’s Array.prototype.concat implementation that I discovered in April 2021. (hn)

Computer Scientists Discover Limits of Major Research Algorithm — Why the gradient descent algorithm cannot solve some kinds of problems quickly. (hn)

Adventures in WebRTC: Making Phone Calls from XMPP — A detailed technical breakdown. (hn)


Junior engineers need these non coding skills (Jun 2021) — Non coding skills which give you that cutting edge. (hn)

Amazon shouldn’t have hired me. Here’s how I became an SDE2. — How I went from university hire impostor to successful software engineer. (hn)

There Is No Benefit or Incentive for Developers to Create Quality Code on Software Projects — Speed is rewarded more than quality on software projects.

Upsides to unshipping: The art of removing features and products — What if teams were congratulated when they successfully deprecated features and products? (hn)

Good Meetings (Jul 2021) — Explore ways to keep meetings coordinated and well documented, and how to recognize and steer away from anti-patterns. (hn)


Writing for outlets isn’t worth it anymore — An author’s perspective on the “Great Unbundling” and the “death” of media. (hn)

This Company Sold More Than $4M of Product In June With Zero Ad Spend (Jul 2021) — When people rave about something but you can’t have it. It makes you want it more. (hn)

Why You Should Always Get Back Up If You Fail — Part 1 — A story of perseverance through adversity, and why you should be open to new ideas while not giving up. (hn)


A Deep Math Dive into Why Some Infinities Are Bigger Than Others — It turns out each infinite set is different, and they can be ordered by size. (hn)

New material breaks low-thermal-conductivity record — This inorganic solid conducts heat almost as poorly as air.

Lab-grown mini brains develop basic eyes that can “see” — These rudimentary eye structures can sense light and send signals to the rest of the brain.

What We Think We Know About Metabolism May Be Wrong — A new study challenges the idea that metabolism slows at middle age.

New poo, new you? Fecal transplants reverse signs of brain aging in mice — Transplants from young to old mice seem to turn back the clock on learning and memory degradation.

The Ingenious Ancient Technology Concealed in the Shallows — Fish traps have a long history. A Vancouver Island estuary reveals generations of ecological wisdom.

Mammoth’s epic travels preserved in tusk — Chemical analysis of an ice age woolly mammoth’s tusk reveals the huge distances it travelled during its lifetime. (hn)

Human remains in tomb are best-preserved ever found in Pompeii — Partially mummified remains, including hair, bones and a partially visible ear, have been found in the ancient Roman city. (hn)

Scientists Found a New and ‘Unique’ Flesh-Eating Plant on the West Coast — The latest member of a small but fascinating ecological guild of carnivorous plants.


Liquidity of skill (June 2021) — It’s easy to make the mistake of conflating how much money you can make with how valuable your skill is.

Solopreneurship — This has always been my dream and I’m living it. (hn)

6 Scientific Reasons Why Your Productivity Hacks Never Work — More often than not, it’s just banging your head against a wall. (hn)

The Link Between Happiness and a Sense of Humor — A little laugh goes a long way.

How many pets do you have? — I used to have too many pets. Then I learnt how to say goodbye. (hn)

Ephemeral Relationships — Anonymous online relationships are technically possible without a loss of functionality or convenience but they rarely exist. Why? (hn)

When Correlation is Better than Causation — A heuristic approach for using correlations to inform decisions. (hn)


Typos, tricks and misprints — Why is English spelling so weird and unpredictable? Look to quirks of timing and technology.

The little-known human stories behind emoji designs — Surprising stories of how some tiny characters ended up on billions of smartphone keyboards.


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Enjoy your reading and have a good day, Beng