Smerity (n):

Saving the world one byte at a time.

The default for computing is data loss

Most recent update: 22nd July 2022 - 05:08:26

We should likely warn time travelers as we present them the wonder that is the modern mobile phone not to get their hopes up. They're still likely to lose text documents.

Texting Robots: Taming robots.txt with Rust and 34 million tests

Most recent update: 28th March 2022 - 15:10:11

A well working `robots.txt` parser is the first step in any web crawling enterprise, small or large, and yet it’s surprisingly difficult to get a battle tested implementation. Texting Robots is a Rust library written combining units tests from multiple other robots.txt parsers and stress tested against all of Common Crawl's robots.txt files.

Of the Ancient Romans and public infrastructure

The city of Rome was a colossal undertaking. At peak the city of ancient Rome had an estimated one million people. We'll use this grand stage as a thought experiment about the requirements for modern society and how they're provided.

Imperfection and community creation

Most recent update: 7th August 2021 - 10:17:23

A key ingredient in creative tooling for a productive community? The inability to achieve perfection.

Zero dependency images (of chaos) in Rust

Generating an image of chaos (the bifurcation diagram) in Rust with parallel computation, PGM image export, and zero dependencies

Crawling in three stories

Most recent update: 8th February 2021 - 02:56:03

Inspired by A Facebook crawler was making 7M requests per day to my stupid website (Hacker News), I thought it worth revisiting my history with web crawlers. This will take place from a few specific stories. For multiple stories the names of the companies have been removed.

Chasing a ball of linguistic yarn as it rolls around a thousand dimensional space

Half a century ago the indexes in books were manually written. A quarter of a century ago search engines began to automate this index. Today language models burn through that sequence of abstract symbols.

Extracts from Vannevar Bush's "As We May Think"

"The world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it."

Notes from a16z's "TikTok & Beyond: The Algorithm Question" with Eugene Wei

TikTok avoids the cold start problem by having creators have a set of known challenges that they build upon and focusing on an interest graph rather than follower graph

Of writing and starting pistols

Most recent update: 16th July 2020 - 00:14:41

The most free I'd ever felt writing was when the result was intended to be small, free, and a fun exploration of my own thinking. It's time for that to make a return.

Extracts from a 1985 Steve Jobs Playboy interview

Most recent update: 10th June 2020 - 17:25:41

"If for some reason, we make some giant mistakes and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter sort of a computer Dark Ages for about 20 years."

Summarizing Tomasz Tunguz's S-1 analyses: Zoom, Slack, Salesforce, and Atlassian

Most recent update: 29th May 2020 - 14:52:28

S-1 filings are a key resource in understanding both private and public companies.

Deconstructing Bret Victor's "Inventing on Principle"

Most recent update: 29th May 2020 - 14:32:22

"It took me like a decade, ten years, before any real understanding of my principles solidified."

Notes From Kevin Systrom of Instagram on Seizing the "Aha" Moment

Most recent update: 29th May 2020 - 14:11:51

How do you divine your way to the key differentiators for Instagram: limited format, instant upload, filters, and distribution?

Notes on Seth Godin's "Your Job is to Make Art"

Most recent update: 29th May 2020 - 14:00:13

"The person who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck"

An introduction to SIMD and ISPC in Rust

Most recent update: 28th May 2020 - 17:03:33

SIMD isn't easy but it is endlessly fascinating. There's an odd sense of joy gained from peering high level to low through the lens of the compiler and raw assembly.

NPR's How I Built This on Luis von Ahn and reCAPTCHA / Duolingo

Most recent update: 27th May 2020 - 12:42:19

Luis von Ahn was a pioneer in the space of crowdsourcing, building ideas into companies that helped shape the digital world.

Adam Wathan's Nailing your First Launch

Adam recounts lessons learned from creating and selling half a million in digital products over two years.

Notes from Douglas Crockford's "Programming Style & Your Brain"

Strict rules can prevent ambiguities and errors from ever occurring in both natural language and programming.

Notes from Patrick McKenzie's "Leveling Up"

Most recent update: 3rd April 2020 - 22:05:08

How do you, as a solo entrepreneur, build your own skillset and business such that you have a sustainable and long term future?

Notes on Alan Kay's "Rethinking Design, Risk, and Software" (2016)

Kay explores the link between traditional engineering and software engineering as well as questioning whether all the existing complexity is necessary.

Notes on Alan Kay's "Power of Simplicity" (2015)

Xerox PARC was the home for invention - five years, 25 researchers, and $12 million per year - for the PC, GUI, WYSIWYG, ..., and Internet. How does simplicity and vision help you achieve that?

Notes on a Steve Jobs interview from 1988

Most recent update: 31st March 2020 - 16:01:59

"This is field where one does not write a Principia which holds up for 200 years—this is not a field where one paints a painting that will be looked at for centuries."

Notes on Alan Kay's "The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create It. But Is It Already Too Late?" (2018)

Most recent update: 31st March 2020 - 13:50:21

Kay rewrites his own quote "the best way to predict the future is to invent it" to "the best way to predict the future is to empower the children who will invent it"