Polymath Engineer Weekly #20
Nice links to distract you from boring meetings.
Hello again, trying out a new visual identity in this week’s cover image.
Links of the week
“Even if Excel is not as powerful as the languages professional developers use, and even if most of its users do not consider themselves programmers by trade, it’s hard to argue that working in Excel isn’t programming. When you layout formulas in cells in Excel, you are working with a kind of functional language. (…)
So if working in Excel is programming, why is it so much more accessible than other languages?“
“By induction, the only programmers in a position to see all the differences in power between the various languages are those who understand the most powerful one. (This is probably what Eric Raymond meant about Lisp making you a better programmer.) You can't trust the opinions of the others, because of the Blub paradox: they're satisfied with whatever language they happen to use, because it dictates the way they think about programs.”
“Maybe even more crazily, FTX relies on just a handful of engineers. How many?
No, that's not a typo, but the actual dev headcount shared by an FTX employee.
A platform that moves hundreds of billions in volume every month is built and maintained by a crew the size of an ice-hockey first team.”
“An observability “event” is a hop in the lifecycle of an end-to-end request. If a request executes code on three services separated by network hops before returning to the user, that request generated three observability “events”, each packed with context and details about that code running in that environment. These are also sometimes called “canonical log lines“. If you implemented tracing, each event may be a span in your trace.”
“Percentiles matter for monitoring server response times, and they matter to several 9s in the vast majority of server applications. The fact that your measurements or data stores only provided you with common case latencies (and yes, 95% is still common case) is no excuse. You may as well be monitoring a white board.“
“In this spirit, I’m going to ask: What is programming? At the most basic level, programming is about telling the computer what to do. “Take the contents of memory address x and add it to the contents of the register EAX.” But even when we program in assembly, the instructions we give the computer are an expression of something more meaningful. We are solving a non-trivial problem (if it were trivial, we wouldn’t need the help of the computer). And how do we solve problems? We decompose bigger problems into smaller problems.“
Book of the week
Do you have any more links our community should read? Feel free to post them on the comments.
Have a nice week. 😉