Collection: Fundamental ways I think about things

12 Mar 2010, 8:05 a.m.

Cautiously Opening That Door

A few weeks ago, another Indian-American and I were talking and agreed on one benefit of that particular childhood: if your parents are well-off enough to drag you to India & back a few times, …

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09 Feb 2013, 13:07 p.m.

Recent Books

I know I'm missing some, but here are some books I've read in the last few months. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson. SO GOOD. READ …

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16 Nov 2013, 21:58 p.m.

A Little Design Thinking Can Go A Long Way

I was playing with stdin/argv because Leonard suggested I improve Missing from Wikipedia to make it more Unixy and interoperable with other scripts and systems present and future. Right now it demands that you tell …

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06 Apr 2014, 14:51 p.m.

Yes, It Sucks And Is Not Your Fault

Last night I was talking with some folks at Subcontinental Drift (open mic for South Asian-ish folks) who are paratechnical but find learning to program frightening or intimidating. It's not their fault; we (technologists and …

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06 Apr 2014, 15:18 p.m.

Points of View

I'm noodling around, thinking about vision, perspectives, and leadership. In a 2012 interview with MIT Technology Review (in their compilation Twelve Tomorrows), Neal Stephenson spoke about science fiction's role in innovation (pp. 5-6): ... a …

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21 Apr 2014, 22:20 p.m.

It's Nice To Have Some Things Cached

The other day, our friendly performance engineer Ori, who loves to teach, whiteboarded Wikimedia's caching layers for me. Varnish, memcached, MariaDB's query cache, the browser's native cache, LocalStorage, and so on. I took notes and …

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06 Jul 2014, 11:23 a.m.

A Brief Foray Into Amateur Litcrit

Some things I like in fiction: closely observed characters going through uncomfortable changes in life and identity (China Mountain Zhang by Maureen McHugh is great at this; also see "Tomorrow Is Waiting" by Holli Mintzer) …

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14 Jul 2014, 11:24 a.m.

Why Job Titles Matter To Me

A friend asked for help in thinking about job titles and job descriptions, and said she was specifically interested in how to think about them and whether they matter at all. I gave her some …

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21 Jul 2014, 8:56 a.m.

The Art Of Writing In The Dark

Wordsworth tells us that his greatest inspirations had a way of coming to him in the night, and that he had to teach himself to write in the dark that he might not lose them. …

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07 Aug 2014, 13:36 p.m.

Ways To Be

I just reread Rita Mae Brown's Rubyfruit Jungle, the classic lesbian coming-of-age novel that screams from page 1 and never forgets the intersections of class, gender, and sexuality. I just reread the bit where Molly …

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16 Aug 2014, 19:35 p.m.

On Insecurity

I was catching up on Tales of MU, and I read a passage that particularly caught me. For context: A working group needs help making some objects look appealing, and three women are the ones …

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16 Aug 2014, 22:24 p.m.

Choosing to Leave, Stay, or Listen

I've recently been thinking about the power not to care -- the power to dismiss, to decide that someone else's opinion doesn't matter to you, and act accordingly, to act entitled. I've been thinking about …

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17 Aug 2014, 14:21 p.m.

One Way Confidence Will Look

The personal narrative in this NYT piece reminded me that we often socialize men to think that the absence of a NO implies a YES*, and that we often socialize women to think that the …

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11 Sep 2014, 15:25 p.m.

Excerpt From Another Conversation

I moved around way too much as a kid and I often couldn't figure out What Was Going On, and was oblivious, and missed opportunities. Thus discoverability is a Big Deal to me. And you …

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15 Sep 2014, 8:57 a.m.

The next Tor, role models, and criticism: the future I want

I'm writing these words while I ride the New York City subway. I love the subway because my fellow riders look like the world. I'm rarely the only woman and I'm never the only nonwhite …

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17 Sep 2014, 9:14 a.m.

On Troubleshooting

Nothing is built on stone; All is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone. -- Jorge Luis Borges Goddammit why won't this work OK, fine, screw the venv, I'll …

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28 Nov 2014, 18:48 p.m.

Normal's Just A Setting On The Dryer

(Title from some lost-to-the-ages sage, I think.) I recently said to a friend that I'm pretty on-board with "Labels are for mailing things" and "Normal's just a setting on the dryer" (also said as "Normal: …

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01 Feb 2015, 17:28 p.m.

Obedience, Akrasia, Hypocrisy, Resistance

So, let's say you have some dominant ethical norm, or law. For instance: copyright law, as it currently exists in the US and Europe. Some people demonstrate obedience. They mean to follow this rule, and …

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21 Feb 2015, 11:37 a.m.

New Loves And New Joys

Over the last several years I've started getting into hobbies, skills, or activities that I had assumed I would not like or wouldn't get, or that I had dismissed due to initial impressions, such as …

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10 Dec 2015, 9:55 a.m.

On Meditation And Other Training Exercises

Last night, as I do most Wednesday nights, I went to my local mindfulness meditation group. It was a very distracted meditation for me, and as we ended, a voice in me judged, failure. And …

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21 Mar 2016, 16:58 p.m.

What Is Maintainership?

Yesterday, at my first LibrePlanet conference, I delivered a somewhat impromptu five-minute lightning talk, "What is maintainership? Or, approaches to filling management skill gaps in free software". I spoke without a script, and what follows …

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21 May 2016, 17:39 p.m.

Inessential Weirdnesses in Open Source Software (OSCON 2016)

"Inessential Weirdnesses in Open Source Software": written version of a speech I delivered at the OSCON conference, Wednesday, 18 May, 2016, Austin, Texas. O'Reilly will be posting the video behind a paywall sometime in June …

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30 Jun 2016, 11:19 a.m.

Ambition And Failure

People who are trying to make stuff often feel like we're failing. Ira Glass's articulation of the gap between taste and skill gets at this. He suggests making more stuff, for deadlines, for others, as …

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13 Aug 2016, 12:40 p.m.

Habit, Identity, Self-Care, and Shame

Lately I've been working to acknowledge and honor the difference it makes to me to invest in various activities and habits when they do make a difference to me. Exercising every day, and setting out …

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03 Apr 2017, 12:41 p.m.

A Small Language Note

I try not to say "don't get discouraged," because to me that sounds like telling someone not to cry or telling someone to calm down. It's a way of saying "stop feeling what you're feeling." …

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05 Apr 2017, 17:49 p.m.

The Rumpelstiltskin Fallacy

I sometimes sum up the lesson of a liberal arts education as: socially constructed things are real, too. And you are not immune from their effects, no matter how smart you are or whether you've …

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07 Apr 2017, 9:08 a.m.

Changing How I Deal With Those Humiliating Teenage Memories

When I was in high school in Lodi, California, I worked on the school newspaper. It came out every two weeks; we gave it to the printer on Tuesday night or early Wednesday, I think, …

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26 Aug 2017, 13:37 p.m.

Choice, Habit, and Sunlight

Years ago, when advising me on how to change a habit, Mel Chua told me about the stages of behavior-rewiring. And the first step is noticing. Mindfulness. Not just about the reflex, but about whatever …

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18 Sep 2017, 11:01 a.m.

On Noticing That Your Project Is Draining Your Soul

I was talking with a fellow consultant about what to do if you have a gig getting you down. Especially when you realize that the client isn't being helpful, and there's a bunch of learning …

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06 Feb 2018, 8:48 a.m.

The Ambition Taboo As Dark Matter

PyCon just rejected my talk submission,* so I'll try to finish and post this draft that I've been tapping at for ages. My current half-baked theory is that programmers who want any public recognition from …

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11 Mar 2018, 10:14 a.m.

Not Teetotal, But Teemostly

Here's something I'm really embarrassed to write, but want to mark, and maybe it'll help someone. I've cut way down on drinking alcohol and am very glad I have done so. Quick context: when I …

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12 Apr 2018, 10:29 a.m.

On Online Advice

I'll be speaking on a panel, "Social Media in Theory and Praxis: What is at Stake Now?" at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center, in New York, NY, on Wednesday, April 18, …

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25 Oct 2018, 12:03 p.m.

The Concision-Nuance Tradeoff In One-To-Many Documents

It's tough to balance the need for concision with the need for spelled-out nuance in factual documents. Dating profiles, CVs, job descriptions, release announcements, grant proposals, values statements, codes of conduct, service notifications, news stories, …

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07 Feb 2019, 8:17 a.m.

Socratic Questioning, Devil's Advocacy, and Conversational Power Tools

"Devil's advocate" was a job. In order for someone to perform the role of Devil's advocate, someone else had to appoint them to that position. And the Devil's advocate performed a bounded task within an …

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21 Mar 2019, 10:42 a.m.

It's Not Just You

Malka Older writes: here's the thing about "adulting": so much of it is entirely unnecessary. I have spent so many hours on health insurance and I only know because I lived in another country that …

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19 Apr 2019, 11:00 a.m.

Design, and Friction Preventing Design Improvement, in Open Tech

This month a Recurser I know, Pepijn de Vos, observed a concentration of high-quality open source software in the developer tools category, to the exclusion of other categories. With a few exceptions. I understood where …

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12 Jun 2019, 10:43 a.m.

Hey, You Left Something Out

Of course not all the responses I get to my work are positive. Sometimes I get criticism. And a subset of that criticism says more about the person giving it than about the quality of …

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16 Dec 2019, 12:29 p.m.

An Annotated Bibliography of the Inside of My Head

A friend suggested: You know those books that you can’t stop thinking about, won’t shut up about, and wish everyone around you would read? The ones that, if taken in aggregate, would tell people more …

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03 Sep 2020, 11:27 a.m.

On Accepting Nonzero Criticism, Even Hate

I'm thinking about how acceptance is not the same as resignation. I was talking with a friend many, many months ago, and race stuff came up. He and I talked about a shared experience of …

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16 Jun 2023, 1:10 a.m.

My Current Approach To Reducing My COVID Risk

I follow a few main principles to reduce my risk of catching COVID-19:

  1. Avoiding sharing unfiltered air with people outside my household
  2. Noticing how safe I am and raising precautions accordingly
  3. Focusing on protecting myself over protecting unmasked people (in general)
  4. Spending money

In this post, I detail those principles as well as my specific protocols (masking, ventilation, self-testing, and so on), including links to examples and product vendors.

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