Category Archives: Internets of interest

A short form potpourri of links of note.

Internets of Interest #11: Yesterday’s Computer of Tomorrow: The Xerox Alto

How did personal computing start? Many credit Apple and IBM for this radical shift, but in 1973, years before the Apple II and IBM PC, Xerox built the Alto, a computer its makers thought could become the “computer of tomorrow.” The Alto embodied for the first time many of the defining features of personal computing that seem natural now, over forty years later: individual use; interactive, graphical displays; networking; graphical interfaces with overlapping windows and icons; WYSIWYG word processing; browsers; email; and the list goes on. The birthplace of this pioneering machine was Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), which assembled a remarkable collection of computer scientists and engineers who made real their idea of “distributed personal computing.”

Internets of Interest #8: Todd Fernandez on the manufacturing of modern semiconductors

Every since I started giving my High Performance Go workshop I’ve been fascinated with the physics of semiconductors. This presentation from Hope Conference ’09 doesn’t cover the latest EUV shenanigans, but does an excellent job of detailing the difficulties in semiconductor manufacturing ten years ago. The problems have only become more complicated as semiconductor fabs attempt to push feature sizes into the single digits.

Internets of Interest #7: Ian Cooper on Test Driven Development

As the tech lead on non SaaS product I spend a lot of my time worrying about testing. Specifically we have tests that cover code, but what is covering the tests? Tests are important to give you certainty that what your product says on the tin is what it will do when people take it home and unwrap it, but what’s backstopping the tests? Testing lets you refactor with impunity, but what if you want to refactor your tests?

This presentation by Ian Cooper takes a little while to get going but is worth persisting with. Cooper’s observations that the unit of the unit test is not a type, or a class, but the API–in Go terms, the public API of a package–was revelatory for me.

Bonus: Michael Feathers’ YOW ! 2016 presentation; Testing Patience.

Internets of Interest #4: Niall Murphy’s Polemic Against On-Call

The interaction between career development and on-call is actually really, really, bad. Bluntly, the profession takes on-call seriously, tries to be good at it, yet it is very very rare for this to be rewarded in any meaningful way. In 11 years at my previous employer, I never saw anyone get promoted for on-call performance.

Not once.