September 2016 Articles


Randall Munroe · xkcd ·

A web comic that I love; all about the James Webb Space Telescope. I worked as part of the JWST team at Northrop Grumman for five years and know folks who will be operating the telescope (mentioned in the comic) and who are working on a starshade. Super cool!

BRUNETTE: Space telescopes could see exoplanets better if they used free-floating opaque discs to block the star’s glare.

BRUNETTE: They thought about including one with the Webb Telescope, but cut it to save money.

BLOND: Well…does it have to be their disc?

BRUNETTE: What do you mean?

BLOND: Like if I Kickstart a starshade for them.

BRUNETTE: Um. Would you at least warn them?

BLONDE: Eh. Whatever.

[Scene: NASA, 2018]

MALE OPERATOR: Initiating Webb calibrat…

AAAAA! What the hell is that!?

FEMALE OPERATOR: Hey look, exoplanets!

Hover Text: The New Worlds Mission is already trying to get funding for this, but NASA sponsored their proposal, so it will be hard to catch the telescope people by surprise with it.

How to Recruit

Michael Lopp · Rands in Repose ·

On the list of work you can do to build and maintain a healthy and productive engineering team, the work involved in discovering, recruiting, selling, and hiring the humans for your team is quite likely the most important work you can do. The humans on your team are not only responsible for all the work; they are the heartbeat of the culture. We spend a lot of time talking about culture in high technology, but the simple fact is the culture is built and cared for by the humans who do the work. Your ability to shape the culture is a function of your ability to hire a diverse set of humans who are going to be additive to that culture.

A timeline of Earth’s average temperature since the last ice age glaciation.

When people say “the climate has changed before”, these are the kinds of changes they’re talking about.

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom.

…Many people think that force-quitting these apps will at the very least do no harm since “they aren’t running anyways.” The logic of “…you might as well quit, just in case” comes into play. The problem is that force-quitting apps that are Suspended, and not taxing the battery, produces negative effect and can do quite the opposite of the intention.

If you force-quit an app, it’s removed from memory, its state is instead saved to disk, and the app is closed or quit. This event triggers a multitude of tasks from disk i/o, to memory swaps, and even cpu cycles processing data. If the app is relaunched, additional resources are required to open it from a closed state as opposed to the faster Suspended state. Since the OS manages purging apps when memory is already low there is no benefit to force-quitting suspended apps, unless of course they are misbehaving and need to be relaunched.

…The only time you need to force-quit an app is if it is frozen, or otherwise misbehaving – beyond that the best battery life can be attained by not force-quitting any apps.

…the basic rule of wine pairing says that you should have a red wine with beef and white wine with chicken or fish. But what about a spicy meal? And spicy includes both highly spiced foods and those hot and spicy foods. These foods can easily overwhelm a wine. But pairing options with hot and spicy foods may surprise you because it’s not going to be the big bold wines that work best.

One food and wine pairing that works with almost any meal is a sparkling wine. And it works especially well with spicy foods.

If you’re a spicy food fan, take note.

Great article on iOS (iPhone) battery issue and properly diagnosing them:

I worked on the Genius Bar for almost two years, and the most difficult issue to solve was short battery life. It was extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why someone’s battery was draining.

I made it my mission to discover the specific reasons for iOS battery drainage. This article is a product of my years of research and anecdotal evidence I gathered in the hundreds of Genius Bar appointments I took during my time as a Genius and iOS technician, as well as testing on my personal devices and the devices of my friends.

This is not one of those “Turn off every useful feature of iOS” posts that grinds my gears. My goal is to deliver practical steps to truly solve your iOS battery woes.

My dad loved watching Dodger games with the TV sound muted and the radio in the background, playing Vin Scully’s voice to complement the moving pictures on the screen. Scully could commentate a baseball game like no-one else.

His last game calling the action with the Dodgers will be on October 2, 2016 as they face the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.

ESPN put together a some memories from Scully’s 67 season career.

Sandy removes his cap … wipes his index finger across his left brow, dries it off on his left pant leg, readjusts the bill of his cap. I imagine that the mound at Dodger Stadium must be the loneliest place in the world. There are 29,000 people here … and about a million butterflies.

At lunchtime on a Saturday in early June, in the south Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts, the temperature tipped up over the 90-degree mark. Locol, a fast food restaurant at the corner of 103rd and Anzac Avenue, was full of customers. Twenty or so people sat on wooden blocks that lined the dining room wall like oversized baby toys, eating fried chicken nuggets studded with bits of fermented barley, “burgs” made from beef mixed with grains and tofu, and for dessert, ice cream sundaes topped with candied kumquats and banana cream. Locol’s co-founders, chefs Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson, were up in the Bay Area to fine-tune the burgeoning chain’s weeks-old second location in Oakland, and here in Watts, things were running smoothly without them, order numbers ringing out over the soundtrack of old-school Gang Starr and classic R&B jams like “All Night Long.” One of the most powerful Black women in Congress was holding court in the restaurant; later that day, a former US president would do the same.

Cate Huston on key questions to ask if you’re interviewing with a team to become the team’s lead or manager.

In summary:

  1. How long have you been at [company]?
  2. What were you doing before?
  3. What do you think your biggest contribution to the team is?
  4. What do you think the team needs right now?
  5. What’s your next career goal (if you have one)?
  6. What do you most want to learn?
  7. Did you have a manager you really liked? What kind of things did they do for you?
  8. Is there anything you think would make a big difference to your happiness at work?
  9. Is there anything you think would make a big difference to your ability to do your job?


MIT Trancik Lab ·

A fun, interactive graph that allows you to play with different parameters as they relate to overall vehicle carbon emissions. From the MIT News Release:

You might think cars with low carbon emissions are expensive. Think again. A newly-published study by MIT researchers shows that when operating and maintenance costs are included in a vehicle’s price, autos emitting less carbon are among the market’s least expensive options, on a per-mile basis.

Theo Epstein is the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs; a team headed to the playoffs with best record in baseball this season. He presided over two World Series titles in Boston (2004 and 2007) as GM of the Red Sox.