Author: George Burgyan

A new low in code comments

A short one today… I’m looking around some of Amazon’s detail page code today. Much of Amazon runs on Perl + Mason, which isn’t a secret in any way… I ran into this gem. Not once, but several dozen times spread over multiple packages. Comments in Perl, if you’re not sure, start with a hash and everything beyond is a comment. # comments... No, nothing else — just code above and below. This is one of the shittiest examples of comments I’ve ever run across. If you ever, ever, consider writing a comment like that, please check yourself into someplace. You’re way past the Ballmer...

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Ultimaker 3

So the 3D printer — the Ultimaker 3 — arrived yesterday. Here’s it printing out a prototype of my slide scanner that I’ve been working on. This is mostly just testing the printer though. I put the model together when I was still learning Fusion 360, so I’m sure that I can make things a lot better...

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Documentation

There was a conversation today at work about docs. Amazon has a huge internal wiki where we basically keep all of our documentation. It’s a great help in certain cases. Certainly for our team it makes for a great place to have all of our docs. But the real killer feature would be when we’re interacting with other teams. However, like with anything, there are problems with this. I divide up the content on our wiki into a couple of different categories: Good, accurate information Incomplete, but helpful information Planning for future features Outdated information that used to be correct Aspirational documentation of things that were never built Outright wrong stuff 1 and 2 are helpful in various degrees. 3 can be helpful in engaging the other team. The rest are just garbage. The thing that isn’t as obvious is which category any page falls...

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Coolio

I saw this on my iMessage this morning… The word “coolio” is now underlined in iMessage. It links to the album by the same name. Apple, WTF? I don’t care about a 20-year-old album. I write “coolio” just because I want to. Don’t underline it. For things that are a bit more unique, like “AA 442,” the flight that En took from Dallas back to Seattle, yeah, go ahead and underline that. But you might not want to underline everything. Otherwise, you’ll wind up looking like the wiki version of We Didn’t Start the fire. Everything will have a freaking...

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Racism vs. Racist

There’s been a lot of talk about how racism is prejudice plus privilege. I think that statement is correct. I do take issue with the statement that if you don’t have privilege, ipso facto you can’t be a racist. I’ve had plenty of debates with friends of mine and was giving this a lot of thought. Hell, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now. But I think I’ve finally debugged the problem in my head. The “-ism” applies to a broader context; both for “racism” as well as many of the other “-isms.” The statement that “whites aren’t affected by racism in America” is correct. The context here being America. Racism is the broader sense of the set of disadvantages you get by, for example, being black in America. Context is still important, but I’ll gloss over it for now and leave things broad for this discussion. The action of doing something based on a racial prejudice is being racist. Racism, which is the more general cultural or social construct, can induce people to make racist actions. The word “racist” can describe a single action, or perhaps even thoughts. If someone does things consistently that are racist, that person can be described as racist. Similarly, a law that is prejudicial can itself be racist. Laws such as these can and do further racism in that they define the...

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Self-driving?

I was driving around Seattle yesterday (Holman road just north of 85th while driving south in case you’re playing along at home). I was going to make a right hand turn on 85th so I was in the right lane of the four-lane road. The vehicle in front on me was turning right before 85th. No problem. Until the Subaru I’m in decides to slam on the brakes. The collision avoidance is fucked. The road is curving to the left. The truck in front of me slows down to turn right. I’m turning left such that everything is copacetic. BRAKE!!! Coffee: spills. If someone would have been following too close behind: accident. To be overly clear, there was no chance that I would hit the truck. He had already pulled off onto a side street. Stuff like this makes me really hesitant about self-driving cars in general. I know what I’m capable of. But I don’t know what the computer is capable of. I work with computers all day long… I don’t much trust them (or the programmers) much....

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Science

There was the slew of science marches today. My understanding is that generally they weren’t targetted towards politics, but in the current political climate there have generally been many digs at the right. I think that while the right has a lot of anti-science so does the left. Republicans haven’t cornered the market on science denial. What about things like vaccine lunacy? What about the “risks” of GMO crops? What about the fallacy of organic being better in all ways than traditional? New age medicine with crystals and homeopathy? If you stretch “science” to evidence-based reasoning, you can also lump in the “all these new homes are making the city expensive” economics deniers. There are kooks all over despite how much you want to vilify your opponent. I think many folks on the right are plum off their rockers… But I also think the same about the folks on the left. Most anti-science seems to be based on wishful thinking and maintaining a flawed status quo or a hope for something that’s out of reach. That if I believe something hard enough it’ll happen. It’s like religion in many ways. And you can’t talk most people out of religion either. Painting with a broad brush is a way to demonize a group of people without engaging in a discussion with the non-crazy among them. I don’t think further polarization...

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Customer Support – Sena Bluetooth Fail

I have been using Sena Bluetooth headsets for my motorcycle travel for a while now. As the trip I’m about to go on is coming up I started to double-check things. And good that I did because I found that over the course of around three years or so the receiver that’s been mounted to my helmet broke. Helmets live a hard life and things attached to them do too. But that’s not the issue at hand. I ordered up a new one from Amazon and started to go through the setup process. It needed a firmware update like everything...

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