Polymath Engineer Weekly #69
Open up and collect a couple more tabs: Pidgeons, SLOs, Databases, WASM, Observability, Optimism and ADHD
Links of the week
Brandon Turner, a psychology professor at Ohio State, said researchers found "really strong evidence that the mechanisms guiding pigeon learning are remarkably similar to the same principles that guide modern machine learning and AI," according to the release.
Let’s face it, nobody loves to fail. But failures are our best teachers, and if we let them, can turn into great opportunities for learning, so we can be successful in the future.
Today we’ll be walking back from failure to reliability by using service-level objectives, also known as SLOs, using examples from three recent outages that affected many of us.
XTDB, the database that Biff uses by default, is still fairly niche. Why not go with Postgres? Datomic is another relevant option since it has a lot in common with XTDB and has been around longer. I’ve used and like all three databases, but XTDB is my personal preference. I’d like to explain that here, especially for anyone who’s considering using Biff and is wondering if XTDB is a good fit for them.
When you recompile a VM in a traditional port you get the exact language you expect, since you’re running familiar code that implements that language. That’s a major advantage! In comparison, with a WasmGC port you may end up considering compromises in semantics in return for efficiency. That is because with WasmGC we define new GC types—structs and arrays—and compile to them. As a result, we can’t simply compile a VM written in C, C++, Rust, or similar languages to that form, since those only compile to linear memory, and so WasmGC can’t help with the great majority of existing VM codebases.
Late one evening, Sofia received an urgent call from the operations team. Panic tinged their voice as they explained the chaos that had unfolded. The operations team had decided to implement a new approach to alerting — an approach that involved creating an overwhelming number of alerts for every single server in their vast infrastructure.
Because here is the other thing the greybeards in 2044 will tell you: Can you imagine how awesome it would have been to be an entrepreneur in 2014? It was a wide-open frontier! You could pick almost any category X and add some AI to it, put it on the cloud. Few devices had more than one or two sensors in them, unlike the hundreds now. Expectations and barriers were low. It was easy to be the first. And then they would sigh, “Oh, if only we realized how possible everything was back then!”
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. 😉