Generally interesting links – Jul 2021


  • Stone age art “in a new light”

    Torches work best on the move, as their flames need motion to stay lit and produce a lot of smoke. Though torches cast a wide glow, they burn for an average of just 41 minutes, the team found. That suggests several torches would have been needed to travel through caves. Concave stone lamps filled with animal fat, on the other hand, are smokeless and can offer more than an hour of focused, candlelike light. That would have made it easy to stay in one spot for a while. And while fireplaces produce a lot of light, they can also produce a lot of smoke. That type of light source is best suited for large spaces that get plenty of airflow, the researchers say.


  • “What Termites and cells have in common”

    … created a life-like proto-cell energized by chemical potential, which is capable of translating external signals into shape changes in dependence on its own self-organized morphology. With this, the team has revealed how the collective dynamics of nanometer-sized macromolecules self-organize into micrometer patterns that affect the cellular perception of shape-changing extracellular cues in our own cells.


  • Gartner looking back on their predictions for past hype cycles
    • ‌The most hyped technology in 1995 was Intelligent Agents
    • ‌I think of the Gartner Hype Cycle as a Hero’s Journey for technologies. And just like the hero’s journey, the Hype Cycle is a compelling narrative structure.
    • Missed big trends like “x86 virtualization” and “Open Source” (!!) and NoSQL



  • Andrew Sullivan on the “turn against liberalism” (as an old Obama fan, I find myself agreeing … and as someone who also lived in New York around the same time (the Bloomberg era), I find myself agreeing with this take on Eric Adams)
  • Looking back at an old pessemistic study
  • Slavoj Zizek on how we’re in a pre-WW1 time

Software engineering

  • The “IDE divide
    • language features vs tool features
    • Another view (had to track this down, since it was a broken link that wasn’t captured by either)
    • Further digression, into a meta-view:

      “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who believe there are two kinds of people in the world and those who don’t”.

    • Anyway, like all such divides, the final answer to “which one” is “both”
  • A look ahead at computing performance by Brendan Gregg
  • On “Portable and stable software”


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