I’m Jamie Thingelstad, and this is the Weekly Thing. One of the delights of sending this email is hearing from you! Hit reply and say Hi…
Cyberweek 2022 arrived this week and for everyone in and around retail technology it was a big week to focus on making sure everything hummed along as smooth as possible. This is when you get to see systems adapting to dynamic volume, scaling up and down as needed with incredible amounts of automation at work, and observability that allows people to see everything that matters and know exactly how systems are performing. It is a pretty cool thing, almost magical! 🪄
Listening: A combination of increased drive time and difficulties getting to sleep created some extra podcast time. Both of these podcasts were long, but very insightful. Tobi Lütke: Calm Progress on The Knowledge Project touches on so many topics that I won’t even attempt to enumerate them. Lütke is a deep thinker. Also, Making Sense with Cal Newport was better than the average Cal Newport interview. Newport is known for Deep Work, but this discussion was broader and particularly his analysis of how Twitter, TikTok, and something like Reddit differ helped me see that space a little differently. He also makes the case for Harris to leave Twitter, which he was successful with as he terminated his account a few days later.
I love revisiting memories of the past when we put ornaments on the Christmas Tree. 🎄
Nov 25, 2022 at 5:06 PM
OpenAI this week launched ChatGPT. I want to play with this more, and my early experiments have been both great and still show the limits. I find this even more interesting than the image generators.
I figured I should let ChatGPT introduce itself in the Weekly Thing.
write a short paragraph about ChatGPT appropriate for a newsletter highlight
ChatGPT is a state-of-the-art language model developed by OpenAI that is capable of generating human-like text. It can be used to improve the performance of natural language processing systems, such as chatbots and virtual assistants. ChatGPT is trained on a vast amount of text data, which allows it to generate highly coherent and realistic responses to a wide range of inputs. This makes it an excellent tool for enhancing the user experience of natural language interfaces.
write a short paragraph about ChatGPT by a CTO
As a CTO, I am always looking for ways to improve the technology that we use at our company. Recently, I have been impressed by ChatGPT, a state-of-the-art language model developed by OpenAI. This technology has the potential to significantly improve the performance of our natural language processing systems, such as chatbots and virtual assistants. ChatGPT is trained on a massive amount of text data, which allows it to generate highly coherent and realistic responses to a wide range of inputs. I believe that incorporating ChatGPT into our technology stack will help us provide an even better user experience for our customers.
Larson reflecting that you must thing about the humans in mix, and what brings them energy, as you think about the priority of the work that you tackle.
Back to the main topic: correctness and humans mix in complex ways. The most important lesson I’ve learned as I’ve become a better manager is that there is almost always a correct answer, but applying that answer to your specific situation will always be nuanced and messy. Further, the correct answer is almost always different if you’re taking a short-term or long-term perspective. You should always be in the longest-term perspective that you’re certain you can reach, but sometimes that’s only next week.
The focus on what provides energy is a good one.
Reading makes you a better writer. Writing is thinking.
But if you need to solve a complicated, ill-defined problem, it will almost always help to write about it. Which in turn means that someone who’s not good at writing will almost always be at a disadvantage in solving such problems.
Reading will make you a better thinker, if augmented with writing.
This is one of the reasons I blog and write the Weekly Thing.
The title of this article caught my eye. Dietrich combines an array of experiences and highlights the patterns that he has seen “highly overrated” people exhibit.
- Be Bossy and Critical
- Shamelessly Self Promote
- Distract with Arguments about Minutiae
- Time It So You Look Good (Or Everyone Else Looks Bad)
- Plan Excuses Ahead of Time
- Take Credit in Non-Disprovable Ways
Many of these things would be easy to spot, but a good read particularly for managers to keep an eye out for some practices that are meant to mislead and obfuscate.
These numbers continue to trend down, and none of this seems like it can be good for us.
By 2019, the average American was spending only four hours per week with friends (a sharp, 37 percent decline from five years before). Social media, political polarization and new technologies all played a role in the drop. (It is notable that market penetration for smartphones crossed 50 percent in 2014.)
I was a little shocked to see that none of this now unused time is going to those we love either.
On average, Americans did not transfer that lost time to spouses, partners or children. Instead, they chose to be alone.
We humans have a profound need to connect with others, which I totally think is a fact. We are also so anxious and avoidant of that need that it seems that little glowing piece of glass can overrid that fundamental need entirely. Related reading, Bowling Alone.
Bernoff assesses the current state of social and asks the important question:
I wonder if it is even possible to have a mode of social media interaction that…
He enumerates a few objectives, but the main point is can you really have a big social media platform that works.
I think the answer to this is no.
I had a few breakfast debates on this with Lee Zukor years ago and it helped form my opinion that the problem with social media isn’t the specific implmentation of Facebook or Twitter, but is instead the thing itself. You can’t optimize and improve it, because the core thing is no good. It’s like smoking cigarettes. There is no version of it that isn’t bad for you.
Bray offers an optimisic perspective on using algorithms to display content to people, however with a very huge caveat. I have added the bold.
An algorithm is not intrinsically bad. As long as we understand that it represents the interests of whoever paid to have it constructed. I think an algorithm with human values that simply wanted to enrich experience is perfectly possible.
I haven’t seen one, probably because nobody has ever had a financial incentive to construct it.
I shared in Weekly Thing #152, highlighting that any algorithm must have a goal.
Anytime that you are looking at content in something other than time order, ask yourself what the goal of the system behind it is.
Connect Bray’s point and mine, and you get the problem. Bray highlights good algorithms that help us filter through noise, and suggests a “Algorithms for the people by the people” kind of idea. It would be cool to see such a thing, but most place that isn’t possible. His idea of using Mastadon as a place for experimentation is a good one. Bray himself would hate my additional suggestion (he’s a strong critic of all things crypto), of using data held in public blockchains which require full open access to both the data and the function.
“Not your keys, not your crypto.” Many people I know in crypto didn’t fall for the FTX fraud because of a close aherence to that principle — they keep their crypto on their own and self-custody. FTX of course offered incredible interest rates and yield on assets you left with them, which was the other reason many people weren’t affected — it was simply too good to be true.
You don’t often get to see performance debugging down at the level of the JVM, but this is a pretty interesting read. The problem is framed up:
Although we confirmed fairly equal traffic distribution between nodes, CPU and latency metrics surprisingly demonstrated a very different, bimodal distribution pattern. There is a “lower band” of nodes exhibiting much lower CPU and latency with hardly any variation; and there is an “upper band” of nodes with significantly higher CPU/latency and wide variation. We noticed only ~12% of the nodes fall into the lower band, a figure that was suspiciously consistent over time. In both bands, performance characteristics remain consistent for the entire uptime of the JVM on the node, i.e. nodes never jumped the bands. This was our starting point for troubleshooting.
Ultimately comes down to how the cache is laid out in physical memory!
I found this essay from Buterin in a reference from Tobi Lütke in the Knowledge Project. Legitimacy as an asset that is built and withdrawn from is something that I think deserves more attention. Legitimacy also comes into play with software. What makes a system legitimate? These are interesting human system questions.
I reserved three Ethereum Name Service (ENS) names for Minnestar: minnestar.eth, minnebar.eth, and minnedemo.eth. Minnestar doesn’t have a need for them today, but I think they will in the future. I’ll have them over in my thingelstad.eth ENS collection in the meantime. 🤓
Some coffee to start your day? “Coffee is for closers.” Love this. 🤩 #TeamSPS
Cyber Monday 2022! Great day to show all the work our teams do to deliver amazing performance! #TeamSPS
We had a great Things 4 Good 2022 Fall Fundraiser. With the help of many friends and family we raised $5,217 to support four good causes.
Some notes from the event:
I’m already looking forward to the 2023 Fall Fundraiser! 🤩
The Things 4 Good 2022 Fall Fundraiser raised $5,217 to support good causes! That is a $460 increase over 2021. We had around 100 visitors as well as many email orders from people that couldn’t come in person. Today we distributed the proceeds to the four non-profits that we had selected.
As in previous years we shared the non-profits with each in-person visitor and they could select any number of the four organizations to support.
A huge thank you to everyone for being part of this fun event and help some organizations having a good impact in the world. 💛
We had a fun time at Cirque Dreams today at the Orpheum. There were very impressive acts with a fun Christmas theme. It was not as extravagant as a full Cirque du Soleil production, but still had plenty of WOW moments.
Made Toffee Bars this morning. Grandma Rose used to make sure these were around every time I was at the farm because she knew they were my favorite. Don’t suspect I’ll ever make them as good as she did. Miss you Grandma! 🥰
Witnessing Lewandowski’s first World Cup goal in four appearances! POL v KSA 2-0 ⚽️🎉🤩
It is great to see Google continuing to support Ukraine and the people of Ukraine in so many ways. 🇺🇦👏 → New ways we’re supporting Ukraine
What even is a transistor? 🤓 → How do transistors work, anyway? - lcamtuf’s thing
I’m a fan of the TRON world and its imagery. This different take, all created by AI, is wild. → Fantasy Jodorowsky Tron visualisations by Johnny Darrell | DJ Food
Tons of new records set for 2022 holiday season at Shoppify. 🛍️ → Shopify Merchants Set New Black Friday Cyber Monday Record with $7.5 Billion in Sales
I’m 100% with Malik on this. I’m happy to keep my focus away from the circus of Twitter and whatever the antics of the day are. → Musk overload – On my Om
Much needed new feature for S3 Multi-Regionality. The Replication visual is pretty cool looking. → Failover Controls for Amazon S3 Multi-Region Access Points | AWS News Blog
Good read to see a seasoned VC and Investor sharing how to think about long-term investing. 🤔 → The Buy And Hold Mindset - AVC
Here is your fortune…
Your aims are high, and you are capable of much. 🎯
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I’ve been an active blogger since 2004. I’ve been microblogging via Twitter and my websites since 2006. My link blog goes back to 2005. I think about the Internet and our use of it over decades and am focused on preserving the personal and non-commercial parts of the Internet as well as the corporate and governmental parts. I’m a long-time supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons and Internet Archive as well as other organizations that work on this.
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