Some Things I Learnt This Past Week

— 3 minute read

Here are some things I learnt this past week:

Programming:

The purpose of visualization is insight, not pictures"

Ben Shneiderman (1999)

  • Information visualisation should have a purpose. Always start with a question, and in making your visualizations, aim to answer it. Form follows function, and always aspire to illuminate, teach and learn.

From this insightful piece: The Information Visualization Manifesto.

  • In JavaScript, replacing values with variables inside template literals is called interpolation.
  • Metaphors are important, when properly used they reveal a lot about the world. When Galileo saw the pendulum he did not see it as the Aristotelians did, and so too did Einstein, Copernicus, Newton and others. By changing the mental models we have, we change the things we see. From the brilliant Code Complete
  • The Kernel does process scheduling, memory management, device management, creation and killing of processes and provides the system call API that allows other processes to request the kernel to do other things. Also when learning any new tool/framework etc read the documentation- Kerrisk, in The Linux Programming Interface.
  • The biggest bottleneck in the delivery of fast web applications is latency. This is a difficult problem, since it is governed by the physical limitations of the materials we use, i.e. optical fibers. From _High Performance Browser Networkin_g (free to read online).
  • Node has a mechanism that allows modules to be reused without knowing their location in the filesystem. Basically searches for the file in the same folder, or looks for Node Modules folder, then goes a directory up and repeats. But there are caveats - as with all things.
  • Using Markdown, the markup language created by John Gruber.

From Seeking Wisdom:

  • Always have a checklist
  • Use filters to block out some things using predetermined rules
  • Have goals and plans.
  • Are we not likely to hit the mark when we have a target?” - Aristotle
  • Consider second order effects, the effects of effects.
  • In the department of economy, an act, a habit, an institution, a law, gives birth not only to effects, but to a series of effects.” - Bastiat, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen
  • Trust evidence. Disregard superstition and opinion.
  • Science leads to knowledge,” says Hippocrates and, “Science is the antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.” - Adam Smith
  • Seven things that guarantee a miserable life, including drugs, resentment, being unreliable and insisting on finding out everything for yourself. Just read the whole speech by Charlie Munger, given at Harvard in 1986

Other

  • Have a bias towards action. Reminded me of the advice in Designing Your Life
  • Good books change your life because they leave you a different person. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.” Thought about this after finishing Seeking Wisdom
  • From Ben Kuhn’s post on being impatient, the OODA loop and why it’s important not to let yours be disrupted.
  • I learn best when I take breaks

This Week I’m reading:

  • The Psychology of Money by Morgan Houssel
  • Various Programming Books ( NodeJS in Action, The Linux Kernel, High Performance Browser Networks)
  • The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Thanks to Tari and Tafadzwa for going through this, and for the helpful advice.