Learning, Plenty of Room at the Bottom, Auto Software, Software Tools, and other things I’ve been reflecting on this week

Lifelong Learning

From 42 Joseph Campbell Quotes:

“We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.”

Powerful advice.  You can’t control the rate of change and innovation in the world.  You can only decide to accept it and enjoy the ride for your time here.

Plenty of Room at the Bottom

Vlad pointed some of us to this great article on using metamaterials to dramatically reduce the overall size of lenses, very cool.  I am fascinated by metamaterials and our increasing abilities to fabricate things at the nanometer scale — in silicon as well as in bio fields.

One paper I have reread at various points in my education is Feynman’s “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”.  We are still working at relatively crude levels relative to Feynman’s articulation.   We still assemble computers using huge chunks of silicon crudely arranged, moving stupid amounts of electrons around.  But we are making great progress.  

Now I will abuse the metaphor. We have seen so much energy and innovation at the cloud and enterprise level.  There are innumerable IAAS/PAAS/SAAS offerings, the AWS product line all by itself is now huge.  You can sign up at AWS and spin up 10,000 machines to work on vision processing in a few minutes, it is ridiculously easy.  (Tho it is also complex as there are now a kajillion choices for storage, compute, database, stream processing, ML in the cloud).  If you want to apply a massive amount of compute to a problem, it has never been easier.

But at the “bottom” of the compute marketplace, it is a bit of a desert.  At the edge — iot devices, embedded computing, ambient computing — the tools and solutions are not robust, the number of players on the ground is small, it is still very hard to create and deploy software out in the world.  Getting even 5 cameras to work in sync in an edge computing environment is ridiculously hard.  Getting 100 installs of this in different places is very hard.  And we’ve had a fraction the brainpower and innovation applied to the edge that we have had applied to the cloud.  

Sam recently reintroduced me to the hubitat, they are doing a great work in the edge space.

Auto Software

How software is eating the car.  A useful read.  The incumbents are not really prepared for this.  I wonder when we will see the same article for buildings, the home.

Software Tools

Teach yourself programming in 10 years — I love the advice in here on how to become a progammer — take the initiative to program, talk to other programmers, work with other programmers, read the code of other programmers.  Excellent advice for any field.

Javascript and the next decade of data programming — at least 10 interesting ideas in here about data programming, javascript, webasm, webgpu.  It is not a time to cling to the tools you are comfortable with.

Do Execs Use Their Own Products, Episode 426

I’ve installed the Liftmaster iPhone app so i can open my garage door from outside the house. Not something I do every day, but super useful at times.  But because I don’t use it every day, I forget the name of it.  No problem, I will search for it on my phone — certainly if I search for Garage or Lift or Door I will find it.  Nope.  OK certainly if I quickly scan all my icons, I will see something that looks like a garage door.  Nope.  Finally Google tells me the app is called MyQ .   Why would you throw away a recognizable brand name for MyQ with an icon that is super generic?  No one will find or remember your app.  If they see it they will assume it is for QFC or Qdoba or Qantas or Quaker Oats.   


I didn’t really know what a fog-trap was and here they are getting better, thanks to some clever materials science.

Some day I aspire to host a salon.

gravity park seems like a lot of fun or a great way to break bones.

I love tube amps.