Category Archives: Tech / Science

miscellaneous tech/science

Denver Internet Initiative

Who We Are
The Denver Internet Initiative is working to make sure that all Denver residents are able to get online at home so that they can participate and thrive in this new digital economy. In 2005, Colorado passed Senate Bill 152, a law which prevents municipalities from being involved with their own Internet. That means they can’t provide Internet, invest in Internet infrastructure, or create policies to make sure our Internet will be able to meet our future needs.

The Internet touches all aspects of daily modern life. It is education, banking, work, communication, health care and so much more. Our first goal is to opt-out of SB 152 so that we, the people of Denver, can play an active role in deciding what our Internet will look like, instead of leaving it up to Big Telecoms who are focused solely on financial returns.

We’re a group of Denver residents trying to make it happen and we need your help! Come volunteer with us and also join the conversation on Facebook to help us get the word out.
via r/denver

Software Development, Frustration Rollercoaster

What are the harshest truths of being a software engineer? from cscareerquestions

Sometimes you’ll encounter problems that seem impossible, and will take much longer than you’d expect to solve. If you let it, it will break your confidence for a while. Then you’ll finally figure it out, and feel amazing. It can be a self-confidence rollercoaster.

I struggle with this so much. Sometimes I feel like I know what I’m doing, other times I feel like I have an IQ of 55.

It’s like the IDE is stabbing the red squiggle right into my heart.

I pendulum between, “I am an absolute god at my job” to ” I am a fucking idiot” on a semi-daily basis.

Forecasts are fundamentally partisan – Steve Ballmer Quote

On how USAFacts shares information during a time where many aren’t trustworthy of facts that don’t line up with their opinions

“We do a couple of different things. Number one, we only use government data and we only use data about history. Now, some people would say, ‘Hey, I don’t agree with government data.’ It’s just the best we have. And if citizens don’t think they can rely on government data, then it’s incumbent on us, all of us, to push our government for better, more consistent and more complete data. And we certainly see opportunities to do that. But by and large, we believe that our government’s statistical agencies have good people who are doing good work.

The thing that we don’t do with that is try to do forecasts. Forecasts are fundamentally partisan. And I say that only in the sense that for every bright, smart economist that will say ‘X is going to happen,’ there’ll be another bright, smart economist that will say ‘not X is going to happen.’ So we think the thing that citizens need to know and deserve to know is what has happened, which is not partisan, which is not subject to debate, and then people can make their own guesses about where things are moving, where they will go and what they think should be done. And I think that’s fundamental. And we still live in this age of people throwing out words like fake news and alternate facts — and that’s just not OK. It’s never been OK.”

Here and Now, NPR

GUID – Explained Clearly

There are multiple GUID generation algorithms, but I’ll pick one of them for concreteness, specifically the version described in this Internet draft.

The first 60 bits of the GUID encode a timestamp, the precise format of which is not important.

The next four bits are always 0001, which identify that this GUID was generated by “algorithm 1”. The version field is necessary to ensure that two GUID generation algorithms do not accidentally generate the same GUID. The algorithms are designed so that a particular algorithm doesn’t generate the same GUID twice, but without a version field, there would be no way to ensure that some other algorithm wouldn’t generate the same GUID by some systematic collision.

The next 14 bits are “emergency uniquifier bits”; we’ll look at them later, because they are the ones that fine tune the overall algorithm.

The next two bits are reserved and fixed at 01.

The last 48 bits are the unique address of the computer’s network card. If the computer does not have a network card, set the top bit and use a random number generator for the other 47. No valid network card will have the top bit set in its address, so there is no possibility that a GUID generated from a computer without a network card will accidentally collide with a GUID generated from a computer with a network card.

Once you take it apart, the bits of the GUID break down like this:

  • 60 bits of timestamp,
  • 48 bits of computer identifier,
  • 14 bits of uniquifier, and
  • six bits are fixed,

for a total of 128 bits.

The goal of this algorithm is to use the combination of time and location (“space-time coordinates” for the relativity geeks out there) as the uniqueness key. However, timekeeping is not perfect, so there’s a possibility that, for example, two GUIDs are generated in rapid succession from the same machine, so close to each other in time that the timestamp would be the same. That’s where the uniquifier comes in. When time appears to have stood still (if two requests for a GUID are made in rapid succession) or gone backward (if the system clock is set to a new time earlier than what it was), the uniquifier is incremented so that GUIDs generated from the “second time it was five o’clock” don’t collide with those generated “the first time it was five o’clock”.

Raymond Chen,

Tacit knowledge and IT

Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge (as opposed to formal, codified or explicit knowledge) is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it. For example, that London is in the United Kingdom is a piece of explicit knowledge that can be written down, transmitted, and understood by a recipient. However, the ability to speak a language, knead dough, play a musical instrument, or design and use complex equipment requires all sorts of knowledge that is not always known explicitly, even by expert practitioners, and which is difficult or impossible to explicitly transfer to other people.

– Wikipedia.

How much of working in an IT environment is tacitly learned? How much of that can be made explicit?

A common one – learning how the existing software works is often tacit. You get a ticket to modify some existing functionality. How it currently works, how it’s supposed to work, how to run it, what problems are known vs what problems are new. How often is all that directly explained?

Lighthouse – Google Site Evaluation Tool

Lighthouse is an open-source, automated tool for improving the performance, quality, and correctness of your web apps.

When auditing a page, Lighthouse runs a barrage of tests against the page, and then generates a report on how well the page did. From here you can use the failing tests as indicators on what you can do to improve your app.

Get it at Chrome Web Store
Or check out it’s home page

Here’s some feedback from Lighthouse on this here site:



Practice of Programming, From Preface

Have you ever…

  • Wasted a lot of time coding the wrong algorithm?
  • Used a data structure that was much too complicated?
  • Tested a program but missed an obvious problem?
  • Spent a day looking for a bug you should have found in five minutes?
  • Needed to make a program run three times faster and use less memory?
  • Struggled to move a program from a workstation to a PC or vice versa?
  • Tried to make a modest change in someone else’s program?
  • Rewritten a program because you couldn’t understand it?

Was it fun?

These things happen to programmers all the time. But dealing with such problems is often harder than it should be because topics like testing, debugging, portability, performance, design alternatives, and style—the practice of programming—are not usually the focus of computer science or programming courses. Most programmers learn them haphazardly as their experience grows, and a few never learn them at all.

Kernighan, Brian W.. The Practice of Programming

S-Bend – Modern public sanitation

50 Things That Made the Modern Economy

If you live in a city with modern sanitation, it’s hard to imagine daily life being permeated with the suffocating stench of human excrement. For that, we have a number of people to thank – not least a London watchmaker called Alexander Cumming. Cumming’s world-changing invention owed nothing to precision engineering. In 1775, he patented the S-bend. It was a bit of pipe with a curve in it and it became the missing ingredient to create the flushing toilet – and, with it, public sanitation as we know it.

Telehealth – Freakonomics

Thanks to the pandemic, the telehealth revolution we’ve been promised for decades has finally arrived. Will it stick? Will it cut costs — and improve outcomes? We ring up two doctors and, of course, an economist to find out.

ELLIMOOTTIL: Up until March 2020, less than 1 percent of Medicare patients have ever used a telehealth service.

ELLIMOOTTIL: We’re seeing patients from all over the state who sometimes travel four hours just to have a 15-minute consultation about their kidney stone. And to be honest, I probably knew the answer about how I was going to manage that patient when I looked at their C.T. scan.

CUTLER: It is amazing. We went from essentially no visits for medical care being telehealth to now between 10 and 15 percent of visits for medical care are telehealth. And we did it virtually overnight.

The Doctor Will Zoom You Now (Ep. 423)

Frequency Illusion / Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, Example of

Welcome to the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, otherwise known as frequency illusion or recency illusion. This phenomenon occurs when the thing you’ve just noticed, experienced or been told about suddenly crops up constantly. It gives you the feeling that out of nowhere, pretty much everyone and their cousin are talking about the subject — or that it is swiftly surrounding you. And you’re not crazy; you are totally seeing it more. But the thing is, of course, that’s because you’re noticing it more



When I moved I noticed all the other people moving, such as the people who got this UHaul. Now I’m settled in, either people are moving less or I’m just not noticing as much.

Rubber Duck Debugging

In software engineering, rubber duck debugging is a method of debugging code. The name is a reference to a story in the book The Pragmatic Programmer in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug their code by forcing themselves to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck. Many other terms exist for this technique, often involving different (usually) inanimate objects, or pets such as a dog or a cat.

Many programmers have had the experience of explaining a problem to someone else, possibly even to someone who knows nothing about programming, and then hitting upon the solution in the process of explaining the problem. In describing what the code is supposed to do and observing what it actually does, any incongruity between these two becomes apparent. More generally, teaching a subject forces its evaluation from different perspectives and can provide a deeper understanding. By using an inanimate object, the programmer can try to accomplish this without having to interrupt anyone else.

See also:
Code review
Pair programming
Socratic method
Software walkthrough
The Aha! effect
Think aloud protocol


What are things from the early days of the internet that you don’t see much of anymore?

What are things from the early days of the internet that you don’t see much of anymore? from r/AskReddit

Website visit counters.

Especially ones that look like analog car odometers. I added one to my practice’s web site in 1996, and the doctors thought I was a genius.

“Under construction” GIFs and “Web rings”

And an animated gif of a guy with a jackhammer, with an “Under Construction” sign.

Active chat rooms.


What YouTube channels are genuinely worth watching? AskReddit

What YouTube channels are genuinely worth watching? from r/AskReddit

LEMMiNo is a personal favorite of mine.
Documentaries and list videos narrated by a 20-something Swedish guy.

Dead Meat. Even if you’re not a horror movie fan. They’re funny and solid reviews so I get to be informed and not have to sit through a 90 minute movie.
A horror movie channel celebrating everything great and awful about the genre. Home of the Kill Count series by James A.

Explaining things in an OverSimplified way

Bon Appetit! Especially their Gourmet Makes series.
Bon Appétit is a highly opinionated food brand that wants everyone to love cooking and eating as much as we do. We believe in …

Ask A Mortician. Really anything by Caitlin Doughty IMO.
Mortician in Los Angeles. You got death questions, we got death answers. Mortality + Culture. …

Crash course
Tons of awesome courses in one awesome channel! Nicole Sweeney teaches you sociology, Carrie Anne Philbin teaches you …

my mechanics.
It’s a dude restoring old rusty items to perfect condition without any talking! There are other channels like that, which are just as good, but he has to most subscribers. Very relaxing to watch before bed.
Hello and welcome to my channel. I’m uploading videos all about mechanical stuff, new creations and also restorations. I love to …

TheOdd1sOut. Amazing and very funny contect from every day life. He talks about situations e all know.
What I use: I draw my pictures on Paint Tools Sai and I edit it all in Adobe Premiere. (Really? You don’t use any animation …

Daily dose of Internet!
Welcome to your Daily Dose of Internet where I search for the best trending videos, or videos people have forgotten about, and put …

Ed Hawkes – (My personal recommendation)
3BlueOneBrown – Math and science stuff explained remarkably clearly
3blue1brown, by Grant Sanderson, is some combination of math and entertainment, depending on your disposition. The goal is …