Interesting Things #20 — Life before Unicode


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

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Life before Unicode — Unicode added a lot of complexity to string handling but the alternatives are far worse.

7 Reasons Why I use Lenovo Thinkpad Laptops (for Linux) — I’m just a very happy user of this brand over the years on multiple machines. (hn)

Your guide to Perceptrons — Before getting into Deep Learning, it’s a good idea to begin with a fundamental component. (hn)

What Makes a Good Changelog — Five decisions we made to make the best changelog we possibly could.

Software Crisis 2.0 — An essay on our industry’s core expertise: failed software projects. (hn)

Conductor: Why We Migrated from Kubernetes to Nomad — A leading cloud-based visual-effects rendering platform moved from Kubernetes to Nomad and how it turned out. (hn)

Latency Sneaks Up On You — The non-linear effect of utilization.

GraphQL is a slightly better REST — Do the same things as with REST, but more easily, faster and with better tooling. (hn)

The Numbers Hiding Behind That QR Code — The little black boxes added a second dimension to bar codes and holds exponentially more data. (hn)

7 VS Code Tricks Every Developer Needs To Know — Learn to get the most of your IDE and use it to speed up your development.

A description of how VaxiCode and VaxiCode Verif work. — Quebec’s vaccination passport. Maybe your jurisdiction will do something similar? (hn)

Access modern GPU features with WebGPU — High-performance 3D graphics and data-parallel computation on the web. (hn)

Should we stick to old patterns or sacrifice consistency? — Consistency is valuable. Evolving the way things are done is valuable. Having both has a cost.

The Deployment Fidelity Problem — Production is a low-fidelity version of your codebase. (hn)

On Variance and Extensibility — Making code reusable is not an art, it’s a job. (hn)

When Should I Not Refactor? — A few times when I think a refactor is worse than leaving the code as-is.

Linux/BSD command line wizardry: Learn to think in sed, awk, and grep — Do people really write these long, convoluted commands? In a word: yes. (hn)

Building solutions to problems that no one knows exist yet — How do you solve a problem that someone doesn’t know they have? (hn)


The Reality of Employee Surveillance Software for Remote Workers, Explained — Employers are using employee surveillance software to keep tabs on workers. Is it a temporary fad or permanent trend?

The Seniority Roller Coaster and Down-Leveling in Tech — Switching tech jobs usually comes with either a financial or a title upside but not both. (hn)

What’s it like to work at Big Tech? — As it turns out, it’s nothing like I had expected. (hn)

Agile Workplace — The new spirit of the software industry. (hn)

Why so many workers have lost interest in their jobs — For many, the pandemic has deteriorated our relationship with our jobs. Can you re-ignite the spark? (hn)


Sabotage-Proof Your Hiring — The danger of bringing the wrong team members on board is real, both for you and everyone on your team. (hn)

What I wish someone had told me before I became a Manager — How leaders burn out. (hn)

The Great Resignation is here and no one is prepared — Workers are quitting their jobs in record numbers and bosses are still scrambling to figure out how to keep them. (hn)


Dust-sized supercapacitor packs the same voltage as a AAA battery — Scientists in Germany have developed what they say is the smallest microsupercapacitor in existence. (hn)

How Steven Weinberg Transformed Physics and Physicists — When Steven Weinberg died last month, the world lost one of its most profound thinkers. (hn)

First ancient human DNA found from key Asian migration route — Sulawesi has some of the world’s oldest cave art. Now a fossil with DNA hints at a mysterious lineage of people. (hn)

Toshiba Makes Breakthrough Towards the Quantum Internet — Long distance quantum communication over 600 km of fiber unlocked! (hn)

New evidence shows this uranium cube is likely relic of Nazi A-bomb program — New methods could eventually be used to track illicit trafficking of nuclear material. (hn)

Floating wind turbines could open up vast ocean tracts for renewable power — Technology could help power a clean energy transition if it can overcome hurdles of cost, design and opposition from fishing. (hn)

Scientists Reveal World’s First 3D-Printed, Marbled Wagyu Beef — How would you like your Wagyu beef?

Female octopuses throw things at males that are harassing them — Footage of octopuses throwing silt and shells suggests that they deliberately target others.

Australia’s cane toads evolved as cannibals with frightening speed — The noxious pests have become so numerous, they’ve developed a taste for each other.

New species of ancient four-legged whale discovered in Egypt — Modern whales developed from deer-like mammals that lived on land over the course of 10 million years.

Danish Student solves how the Universe is reflected near black holes (Jul 2021) — Space is so warped around black holes that even light rays curve around them. (hn)

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope Has Completed Testing — It’s being prepped for shipment to its launch site. (hn)

The New Thermodynamic Understanding of Clocks — Studies of the simplest possible clocks have revealed their fundamental limitations — as well as insights into the nature of time itself. (hn)


Discovering ourselves — Descartes said we think, therefore we exist. But do we really know what we think?

Gresham’s Law of Time Management: When to Blow Up a Week — Decisions that are more routine and repetitive will tend to be made before the ones that are unique. (hn)

Why You May Have More Friends Than Your Friends Do Relax. It’s the quality of friendships that matter. (hn)

It’s Not in Your Head: The World Really Is Getting Worse — Since the 1970s, wages, infrastructure, and the pace of technology have all stagnated. Can it be reversed? (hn)

Why Modern Art is all about Memes — Seeing rock JPEGs being sold for millions made me reconsider a category of art which I call ‘laborless art’, or ‘craftless art’. (hn)

Golden Rules from Dale Carnegie’s Books — Positive thinking habits that will help you out. (hn)


The ‘wadokei’: the old way of measuring time in Japan — A day had 12 hours and the length of an hour changed with the seasons. (hn)


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Enjoy your reading and have a good day, Beng