Hey! Thanks for reading! Just a reminder that I wrote this some years ago, and may have much more complicated feelings about this topic than I did when I wrote it. Happy to elaborate, feel free to reach out to me! 😄
🎵 The song for this post is Fodlan Winds, by Rei Kondoh for Fire Emblem: Three Houses. 🎵
Put down blogging for a bit — work really picked up on me, and, well, talking about random things on my mind felt shallow and depressing in light of the police violence this last c̶e̶n̶t̶u̶r̶y̶ week. We're still marching: the police have learned that committing violence on innocent people during protests about how you commit violence against innocent people doesn't send the message you want; it looks like most departments accepted the Pepsi and are trying to run out the clock, confident the politicians/unions will work to ensure nothing substantive happens, as they have forever. Keep marching, donating, calling, and letting your politicians (local and federal) know that you're not forgetting.
Nostalgia for one's formative years is cheap and overplayed but it still works, man. I smiled at this.
My brother always played Leonardo (Lawful Good, leader-type) and I played Michaelangelo (I loved the goof-off persona, and his utter joy at eating pizza). While it felt like we were a pretty progressive household on gender (my mom made very sure we saw how she was treated differently than my dad), it was the early 90's, and we made Annalisa play April lol 😫.
Getting what you measure
I read a few things that I liked on this theme, one is this short article by Jessica Joy Kerr: Measuring Effort Gets You Effort. The entire article is good and worth reading, but the title states it well enough. The idea that rewarding outward, performative displays of effort fosters a culture which cultivates it is so obvious, but absent the deliberate choice to do otherwise, that's what most companies and managers do. If you lead people, be conscious of this and try to do otherwise.
It ties a bit to this thread by Camille Fournier on rewarding people who claim to enjoy working a billion hours:
The entire discussion is a great read, but I've observed what she's describing. In my entire career, I've only met two engineers who regularly worked long hours and still produced shippable work. It wasn't always fantastic! But it was shippable, with a standard-or-fewer number of defects. These two were absolute unicorns. Meanwhile, I've met dozens upon dozens of others who demanded promotions on shoddy work that always required bugfixes and cleanup that they produced in off-hours.
I wrote previously about engineering working hours. There's no simple narrative for exceptional results, but tons of simple narratives for subpar ones.
On another "get what you aim for" point, Saurya wrote a post I liked about skylines and urban development. I'll hit this note over and over again in subsequent blogposts, but Saurya's blog is delightful, click around it please.
Crosswords, data formats
I liked this; it goes down easy.
I should do a formal write-up or talk on ScrabbleCheat, which grew me tremendously: without meaning to undertake such a major project (was supposed to be a weekend thing), I wrote a Scrabble solver in Erlang (Scrabble is actually pretty hard to write a bot for!), using a compact binary data structure I generated with C code, the client was a Ruby wrapper around ncurses. It was naked Erlang to start, and later taught me OTP.
I thought of using it later to learn AI: having a "player" in place, I could have it play itself to generate millions of games, and train the model to optimize to victorious states.
I might still one day! But it keeps getting hard to go back to lol.
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