Author Archive

Sometimes building the better product isn’t what you need for success. Sometimes all you need is a little gimmick that works well enough to get users in the door, and then let the product keep them there. Read about Google Maps’ origin story, and how it took some luck and a fun gimmick to make it a success.

A mentor-in-a-book for developers of all levels that provides insight into those day-to-day, non-technical challenges and questions.

Netflix performance engineer Brendan Gregg gives a great talk on tunings they make to their EC2 instances to squeeze every ounce of performance out of them.

Happy Friday!

Michael Jordan, who co-authored the first paper on Latent Dirichlet Allocation, talks about the relationship between frequentist and Bayesian statistics.

The New Yorker’s bio of Yitang Zhang, who recently proved the Bounded Gaps Conjecture — the most important mathematical discovery so far this decade.

Tali Garsiel’s “How Browsers Work” is an epic exploration of the internals of modern web browsers, and the culmination of years of research (including reading the Webkit and Gecko codebases). While almost 4 years old now, it is still super-relevant for any front-end developer. The web browser is your platform — get to know it better!

Feeling a little older? Maybe the universe didn’t start 13.8 billion years ago, maybe it was hanging around forever as a quantum potential waiting to make a big bang.

Alvaro Videla schools us on the origin of harmful gotos and other programming myths.

Happy Friday!


Schrodinger’s unlucky Cat can be alive! The Cat has been used to represent possible quantum states of a particle. In Schrodinger’s conceptual model, the unlucky Cat is placed in a container with a vial of cyanuric acid that breaks open if the container is opened. It is thus assigned both dead and alive states since we are unable to observe it’s state without opening the container. Similarly, quantum particles are assigned multiple states, represented by probabilities, and cannot be determined because the act of measuring perturbs the state. Berkeley researchers have in part been able to tease out this uncertainty in part by accurately predicting quantum particle trajectories. Synopsis here.

Tired of manually choosing mates through Tinder? By analyzing a small set of previous decisions about which people he liked, Justin Long constructed an averaged face that met his tastes and automatically liked/disliked future pictures. With this tool, you can rest easy knowing that no more potential booty calls will slip through your fingers.

Happy cursed Friday everyone!

Don’t Use Bandits. Multi-armed bandit testing is very popular these days, but it’s critically important that it be applied correctly. Chris Stucchio does a great job of summing up some of the caveats that needs to be kept in mind when applying bandit algorithms.

Jeff Carter postulates that large banks can and should be replaced by smaller companies and give he gives several examples of startups that are doing finance much better than most of the big players.

The best computer vision algorithms can classify objects in real world imagery with impressively high accuracy. But what if you were to feed them carefully crafted garbage? Researchers used evolutionary algorithms to concoct a set of abstract images that tricked the best computers. (Read the summary at KDnuggets if you don’t have time for the paper.)

Happy Friday!



Chartbeat Engineering internally came up with a set of best practices on naming things (watch for a future blog post on this!). Here’s a follow up that points out that tests need sane names too.

SoundCloud published details on their open-source service monitoring system, Prometheus, which is doing some interesting stuff with multi-dimensional querying.

The folks at Atlassian have come up with a better pull request: compare changes against the tip of master and see conflicts as they occur. File that in the department of “duh why weren’t we doing that before?”

Good to know that simple, easy to guess passwords are tapering off. Still shocking to see passwords such as “12345” or “qwerty” are still common.
This is the weekly puzzle at io9. They ask a couple variations of the “two jugs sizes 3 gallons and 5 gallons, and you want to measure out 4 gallons exactly”.  (You know, like in Die Hard 3.)
Baidu has supposedly topped Google in Image Classification. Their approach is “better” data and training their nets via GPU (speed improvements).
Happy Friday!

Think of the boy bands when scheduling your developer conference.

Really awesome overview of different TCP implementations.

‘Why Clojure?’ answered by a Pythoneer. Immutability encourages pushing application state to the db, the REPL and clojure class loader, and benefits of the JVM. Chartbeat has traditionally been predominantly a Python shop, but we’re introducing Clojure in certain parts of our code base, so this is particularly interesting to us.

Rendezvous Hashing accomplishes the same goal as consistent hashing and was developed independently around the same time. The algorithm is intuitively simpler and has a straightforward implementation, though its performance characteristics are dependent on object size. That said, it might be a good replacement for some consistent hashing use cases.

Happy Friday everyone!

Welcome back! This Weekliest Links is a doozy, including some things we read over break. Get yourself a cistern of coffee and cozy up to a blazing fire if you’re getting the same chill we are in NYC and check ’em out:

“[Haskell] is the most advanced of the obsolete languages,” starts Gerald Sussman in We Really Don’t Know How To Compute. And then he promptly shames the expressiveness of our tools as compared to biology.

Sometimes “boring” can be a strength. The Boring Front-End Developer specifically targets the Frontend but its concepts can be applied to a much wider audience. As Chartbeat continues to grow, it will be increasingly important to find the correct balance between “cool” and “boring” when it comes to our engineering practices.

Michael Nielsen answers, from the technical perspective, how the Bitcoin protocol actually works. This long read debunks the “anonymous myth”, reveals what miners are actually doing, and explains “double spending”.

Medium’s CSS is actually pretty f***ing good. @fat tells a good story about medium’s evolution of how they write css. Oh, and while he was evolving it he created a new font.

Researchers are now taking leaps towards building an robotic chemist. Using a combination of software, robotics, and lots of data teams are trying to solve some fundamental questions about how to build a chemical brain.

We’ve been ramping up our use of Riak, so coming across Charlie von Metzradt of Graphite telling us How to use Riak Incorrectly was incredibly useful.

ECMAScript 6 modules! Looking forward to the future of JavaScript?  So are we!  Take an early look at what the module syntax will look like in ES6.  Get prepared early, and maybe even start playing around!

$1,000,000 isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Distributed systems. Murat Demirbas tells us about ZooKeeper and convenient patterns for distributed coordination.

Happy Friday!