There’s as a scarcity of themes for this edition: just (not counting miscellaneous stuff, sure) SRE and how to learn things
I have neglected a bit too much my readings lately. I’ll try to fix it!
SRE (Site Reliability Engineering)
The possible meltdown (so far very mild) of Twitter has made SRE pop up more and more on my adjacent readings. I found of particular interest The Mystery Blips, which highlights very well how we used to run monitoring at one of my previous jobs. We’d investigate any metric blip, and most of them made us learn something about the system, in prod, at load.
Talking about at load, here’s a tale of how Google managed scaling Google Meet to its current levels during the early days of work-from-home in 2020. There is a lot to learn here.
Not fully related to SRE, but related to Google and to legend is the New Yorker feature The Friendship that Made Google Huge, about how Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat shaped Google to be at the scale and resiliency it is at now.
This is a subject (effective and efficient learning, as part of self-improvement) I have been interested on-and-off during most of my adult life. For reasons that may come apparent sooner or later I’ve had to get to proficiency quickly in some areas I was not, and trying to be efficient at learning has been helpful.
From Cedric Chin’s blog you have the… possibly not inspiring Get Numb Before You Get Good. The gist of it is something we all may have experienced (particularly in music or sports), which is that to get good at anything you get to do it so much it becomes second nature. Related, you get to Connor Swenson’s (in turn from olympian Alexi Pappas) The Rule of Thirds. Spoiling the whole link, When you’re chasing a big goal, you’re supposed to feel good a third of the time, okay a third of the time, and crappy a third of the time… and if the ratio is roughly in that range, then you’re doing fine.”.
A stock was part of a tally, a small strip of hazelwood or willow upon which a borrower and lender, or a buyer and seller, would have distinctive notches cut across the grain to denote how much money was at stake.
The piece of wood was then split lengthwise, with the grain, so both pieces still bore part of all the notches.
Each party kept one of the two pieces: The buyer or borrower held the smaller, thinner part of the tally. It was called the foil, counterfoil or counterstock.
The seller or creditor kept the larger, heavier portion of the tally. It was called the stock.
At final payoff, the two pieces would be rejoined to make sure the notches lined up or “tallied”— the medieval equivalent of entering a PIN or password.
So, the owner of the debt could sell his or her stock because it would be the only one to match the debtor.
This is important to be aware of, regardless of which field you work in:
I work in the field of Data Science and one upsetting reality has started to sink into my mind over the last year.
In a business there is top line and bottom line. There are a lot Statistics/ML/Data Science jobs that are about moving that bottom line. You build something to optimize something to reduce costs.
The value provided by the bottom line people is less visible than the value of top line people. The easiest way to move the move the bottom line is by just getting rid of people. So when the axe falls the bottom line people get cut and it’s hard to understand why.
It’s the same thing as people say about fires. When you put out a fire you are a hero. When you prevent the fire in the first place, everybody thinks it’s business as usual and nobody understands why you are needed.