The Night Watch

In this article James Mickens writes about being a systems programmer. The writing is witty and funny. It’s not new, but it is new to me. A few choice quotes:

One time I tried to create a list<map>, and my syntax errors caused the dead to walk among the living. Such things are clearly unfortunate.

Indeed, the common discovery mode for an impossibly large buffer error is that your program seems to be working fine, and then it tries to display a string that should say “Hello world,” but instead it prints “#a[5]:3!” or another syntactically correct Perl script

However, when HCI people debug their code, it’s like an art show or a meeting of the United Nations. There are tea breaks and witticisms exchanged in French; wearing a non-functional scarf is optional, but encouraged.

Do you see the difference between our lives? When you asked a girl to the prom, you discovered that her father was a cop. When I asked a girl to the prom, I DISCOVERED THAT HER FATHER WAS STALIN.

Empathy is a Technical Skill

Andrea Goulet writes an interesting article about empathy. The takeaway is that technical-minded folks should think of empathy as a skill that can be learned, and used effectively to achieve your aims. From experience, I can attest that increasing your empathy is like having a super power.


This project looks really promising. It formats the output of Postgres EXPLAIN ANALYZE as a flame graph, which can help in figuring out which parts of your queries are worth digging into.