This page shows recent posts from all categories. It will probably be fancier later.
Debugging Social Interactions (2021/10/17)
In programming communities, a recurring problem is that social things go wrong, and no one knows how to do anything about this. What particularly frustrates me is that these are all people who know how to debug things, but are not aware that social interactions which Are Not Working As Expected are subject to many of the same basic principles as debugging software. [read more...]
Building a live steno display (2021/09/18)
I finally finished a small project I started about five years ago, that being a steno display for my keyboard. The idea is that my keyboard allows me to support stenography input using software like Plover, but I found it frustrating not to have better feedback, and my keyboard is programmable, so I thought I’d implement that. It was more work than I expected. [read more...]
Trolling case study: HCQ (2020/08/09)
There is a fascinating thing which I noticed recently in online discourse, and I have found what is, at least until they notice it, possibly a reliable way to distinguish between people who hold a perhaps surprising position, and people who are trying to spread misinformation.
The context of this particular thing was discussions of hydroxychloroquine, henceforth “HCQ”, an anti-malarial drug which some people thought might be an effective treatment of some sort related to COVID-19. [read more...]
Triplebyte laid off a lot of their interviewers (including me) in April, not long after laying off essentially their entire writing and talent-manager teams. The practical effect is that every single US-based interviewer got laid off, while the non-US-based interviewers remain for now. There was, perhaps unusually, no severance pay. I find myself in a novel situation; I’m actually disgruntled about losing a job. I’ve been hit by layoffs quite a few times before, and this is the first time I’ve felt like it was handled badly. As it happens, a solid majority of the other affected interviewers were also disgruntled about it. Long story short: We talked things out and reached an agreement everyone was happy with, but I think that could have happened a lot sooner.
Since then, Triplebyte has gotten discussed again on Hacker News, for what commenters there seem to feel is poor handling of a transition in their business model, and there’s some similarities between the problems there and the problems I was writing about here. They’ve also reversed the previous decision and posted/emailed an apology about it.
I think that the ways in which people were upset, in both of these situations, reflect a recurring pattern, especially in the tech industry. The pattern is that people do a thing that seems reasonable to them, other people become angry about it, and it seems surprising or mysterious. I don’t think it should be surprising, and I don’t think it’s mysterious. So I’m looking in more detail at this, in the hopes that explaining why I’d consider it reasonably obvious that people would be mad might help some readers figure out why people are sometimes mad for no obvious reason.
(This whole post was pretty much written in May, and then Events Happened and I’ve been too busy to come back and finish the draft. Oops.) [read more...]
Fractally Wrong: Counting GUIDs (2020/02/06)
I was recently pointed at some code, and the more I looked at it, the more impressed I was by how wrong it was. I think this may be the highest density of errors I’ve ever seen in a single line of code, in fact. The stated goal: Listing all GUIDs. This can’t be done, but this is more wrong than that.
If the underlying task were at all possible, the other bugs would probably get noticed, but since they all prevent each other from being relevant, we ended up with… This. [read more...]
RMS, Minsky, and the Search for Truth (2019/09/21)
Richard Stallman stepped down from the FSF recently. I don’t think it was necessarily 100% voluntary. This came about in part because of a highly critical article about his behavior, pointing out ways in which he has behaved poorly.
One of the complaints people have had persistently about his behavior is a tendency to offer what seem to be defenses of extremely bad behavior. In recognition of his influential leadership in the field of self-referential acronyms (e.g., “GNU’s Not Unix”), I’m going to write a perhaps self-referential piece in which I argue that the actual behavior he engaged in is not necessarily the same as the behavior he is accused of. But because I have studied and considered human emotions and behavior, I’m also going to try to do a better job of clarifying what I am defending, and also what I am not defending. [read more...]
About Blogging (2019/02/18)
So, historically, I haven’t compartmentalized my life much. Maybe I should have; certainly, it’s a widely recommended tactic to separate your personal and professional life. It makes sense. People might find stuff distressing. But I am also coming to think that it is a dangerous model of the world. You can’t divide people like that. Maybe you can, but it’s not healthy. It’s also sort of pointless. Consider the common argument: What happens if a prospective employer reads my blog and finds out I talk about abused kids a lot? [read more...]
Life Updates (2019/02/16)
It’s been a long time, partially because I ended up with my blogging software in a state where I didn’t feel like interacting with it, so I switched over to Hugo and such, and now I’m gonna try to get back in the habit of posting things here. Where was I? Well, mostly I was on tumblr, but then they performed the Cartesian product of all acrobatic maneuvers and all sharks, so now I’m not. [read more...]
The Zak Update (2019/02/14)
So, just a followup, since people probably wonder: Yeah, I saw the Zak thing, in which Mandy Morbid, his erstwhile girlfriend, accuses him of long-term abuse. Yes, I believe it. Ironically, I was told repeatedly during the drama that Mandy was a bad person and I shouldn’t believe her accusations, but you know what? Fuck those people. The accusations are credible. During the whole thing, and thereafter, I talked to Zak a fair bit in email. [read more...]