Five short links


Photo by Morgan

Starivore Extraterrestrials? – Are some of the strange binary star systems we’re discovering actually evidence of a strange form of life? Almost certainly not, but it’s worth reading just for the sheer audacious imagination of the idea.

Want to API enable your COBOL applications? – Over the years I’ve developed tremendous respect for the depth of subtle requirements that have been baked into legacy applications through countless undocumented changes. When I was younger my first instinct was always to rewrite them, but after discovering by painful experience that the complexity of the old software almost always reflected the poorly-articulated complexity of the users needs, I learned to love shims like these. By wrapping modern web APIs in a layer that looks like the file system that COBOL programs understand, you can keep the knowledge embedded in them.

Bad Attitude – The motivational-speaker framing will drive you crazy, but there’s truth and real research buried in this analysis of how your attitude affects you at work. It might explain why I often struggled in corporate jobs where I didn’t have as much of a personal connection to the bigger goals, but “true believers” in a company’s mission are rewarded over skeptics, regardless of talent.

Getting real about distributed system reliability – We’ve spent man-months dealing with Cassandra setup and maintenance at Jetpac. It’s a massive investment for a small startup, and I struggled to avoid it for exactly the reasons Jay brings up. The real cost is the amount of time it takes to keep things running reliably, and if DynamoDB had been available when we started it would have been my technology of choice. I even considered using my S3-as-a-database approach to keep the maintenance time minimal!

JSON parser as a single Perl regex – Terrifyingly cool. Coolly terrifying.

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