Saturday Randoms: 2015-09-19
3 min read

Saturday Randoms: 2015-09-19

I read a lot. I curate what I read into likes in instapaper and bookmarks in pinboard. It hit me the other day, as I was reading one of the many email newsletters I subscribe to for dev tips, that there is value in curated content. Here is my first attempt at dropping some stuff that I’ve found interesting of late.


Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.

Steve Jobs. So good. Snag one of the desktop backgrounds to remind yourself of this.

You look at some pictures from the Hubble Telescope and you snap out of it. I used to keep pictures of the Hubble on the wall of the writing room for Seinfeld. It would calm me when I would start to think that what I was doing was important.

Jerry Seinfeld. I think we all have a tendency to think that what we are doing is really important and get stressed out by it. This quote is a great reminder that what we are doing is not that big of a deal. Chill out.


How does a relational database work
If you work with databases at all, this is a must read. From O notation, to query execution, to WAL, this article covers it all in plain english.

the aim of this article is NOT to understand how to use a database

Sharding Pinterest: How we scaled our MySQL fleet
The tl;dr is they use MySQL as a key/value store with mapping tables to store relationships like user -> pin. This style of storing data is easy to reason about and highly cacheable. In a past life, I worked on Words with Friends and though we had real columns instead of blobs with serialized data, we ended up with effectively the same thing.

…I’ll tell you what you get for free: the thing just works. Good reliability through simplicity, and it’s pretty fast.

State of the State Part III
Catena is a time series storage engine written in Go. The post talks about WAL, data format on disk and in memory, and a few other time series related things. The author has a few other posts related to time series data and the code for catena is easy to peruse on github. Pre-requisite reading is Time-Series Database Requirements.

I wrote Catena from scratch. I think it’s the best way to understand things completely.

Apache Kafka, Samza, and the Unix Philosophy of Distributed Data
I’m a big fan of the unix philosophy. I’ve thought for a while that the kafka style of building applications/services compared well to the unix philosophy and this article explains that comparison well. Martin also has several good decks on SpeakerDeck.

As we’re in such a fast-moving field, we often have a tendency of dismissing older ideas as irrelevant – and consequently, we end up having to learn the same lessons over and over again, the hard way.

Scaling out PostgreSQL for CloudFlare Analytics using CitusDB
How cloudflare uses Kafka, Go, Postgres and CitusDB to build analytics for their customers.

Because CitusDB enables both real-time data ingest and sub-second queries across billions of rows, it has become a crucial part of our analytics infrastructure.


Million Dollar Products
My friend and former co-worker Kyle Neath sums up my thoughts on building products. Having seen what it takes to build a company like GitHub (where I work now; hint: it is A LOT OF WORK), I much prefer the small, family-style company Kyle describes.

I’ve grown to love the concept of a family business over the past few years. Operationally speaking, they’re the same as any other business. But philosophically, they’ve made decisions about how to run the business such that it benefits & reflects the values of the family running it.

A Miserable Debt Free Life
How to avoid consumerism, work less on things you care about more, and enjoy life more. He recommends reading Affluenza, which I’ve purchased, but not read yet. A related book, which I have read and would recommend, is The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy. The title is spicy, but the book is heavy on research to the point of being dry in a few spots. That said, it has a lot of good stuff and you can skim the dry parts.

Re money all you need is the ability to save and time.

What Poverty Does to Your Brain
Interesting read on how poverty affects the brain, even in children as young as few years old. It closes discussing some ways to reverse the “tool on brain development and behavior”.

Poverty is not deterministic. People do move out of it, and many people succeed in amazing ways

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