Synapses, Volume 2

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Hey, it’s a second volume and I haven’t gotten bored yet!  I had intended to post one yesterday but I was painting.

5 Reasons Web Speed Is in the Eye of the Beholder

I would actually disagree with all 5 of the reasons.  Slow web apps suck, there are no two ways about it.  I don’t care if I’m doing a hyper complex OLAP query if the site is not responsive.

But I totally agree with the title.  I have been saying this for years that performance is irrelevant.  It is the “perception of performance” that is important.  Does your app take 10 seconds to load?  It doesn’t really matter as long as the user is able to interact with it quickly.  As long as the user’s perception of the apps speed is that it is fast, it does not matter how long it takes to render… from the user’s perspective.  It probably matters to Google Page Rank, though.

Anyway, I posted this because there’s a chart that shows various websites and their render times with, what is most important, the First Paint time.  The first paint time would be the first time that someone can see or interact with content from the app.  THAT is the most important number.

Breaking the Build is Not a Crime

I liked this article not so much because I like hearing stories about what people do when they “break the build” but things that you can do so that your mainline code doesn’t get foobarred in the first place.

Performance of Graph vs. Relational Databases

Another day, another X vs Relational Databases post.  I’m just waiting for a “Why NoSQL, Big Table, Columnar, Distributed, Sharded, Memory Resident databases are faster than SQLite” post.  But I posted this article because graph databases are a good solution to looking for connected, not just related, data.  Social is “the now” and so connected data often is as important as related data and relation databases just don’t do this well.  The performance difference documented in this post makes me want to spend some time actually learning a graph DB.

Optimization, suboptimization, and staggering toward education improvement

John Carmack posted this on Twitter.  The author is talking about something Bill Gates said about improving education.  He said something along the lines of having to measure things in order to figure out what to do.  While Pournelle didn’t disagree, but noted that while measurement is important knowing what to measure and what measurements you determined to be important can mean vastly different things.  He gave the example of WWII Britain having the problem of their supply vessels being sunk by German subs.  So they used a tactic whereby they would maximize the number of subs sunk.  The problem was that it was done at the cost of British ships being sunk as well.  The problem that Britain had was not that they needed to sink German subs, but that they needed to feed their supply lines.  They changed tactics and while the number of sunk subs went down the tonnage of supplies getting through went up.

Focus is hugely important for any organization.  Focus on what is important by way of the goals of the organization first.

That’s enough for today.

<edit>Adding another

DevTools: Visually Re-engineering CSS For Faster Paint Times

Ran into this post after publishing the post.  But given that it pertains to article #1 I added it hear.  Very interesting info on diagnosing poor render times for browsers.

Synapses, Volume 1

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That word is a combination of synopsis and synapse.  Technically it’s the plural of synapse but in my case it’s intended to be a combination of the two words since I’m combining short commentary (synopsis) with witty commentary (synapse, or brain activity).

The reason I am doing this is because I do a lot of reading during the day.  A lot.  Much of it is technical but there is much that is not.  As I am shutting down my company and pursuing gainful employment I figured that I might benefit humanity somehow by providing a quick synopsis of the interesting, and pertinent, things that I’ve read.  It won’t be all of them, and I will omit various pieces that might be interesting and pertinent, but contentious.  The reason for this is that items of contentiousness should be discussed in person, where you have to face your opponent (who can also be your friend), and not on the Internet.  If someone uses the word “hater” to describe your position then it’s likely that they don’t understand your position and arguing with them over the Internet will be fruitless.

I am going to try and do this on a daily basis… until i get bored with it.  🙂

How to Optimize Every Decision in Your Life and Accomplish Nothing

I got this link from Linked in and I found it interesting because I have some distrust over decision making made purely on data.

“Fear of missing out is a paralyzing force”  I have found this quote to be true as I’m going through the search for employment.  I have several very good opportunities in front of me.  I am in a scenario that is quite enviable.  I actually get to choose the best option for me.  But one of my big problems is that I have so many options for which there are so many variables that I was (until yesterday) quite paralyzed to indecision.

“done is better than perfect”  Apparently this is written on Facebook’s walls.  I am the creative type.  One of the handicaps of the creative type is that we are interested in creating, not completing.  When working on a large(ish) project I need to intentionally focus my mind on the end product.  It can be done, but it takes discipline.

HAProxy and Varnish comparison

Doing some work on a system administrator’s course.  Found some useful lists here.  Basically, HAProxy is a load balancer, Varnish is a cache.  That does not mean that they don’t have features in common.  But “focus” is often important when making a determination about which software to use.

Why Michael Dell Really had to Take Dell Private

Let me start off by saying that I am a fan of the stock market.  The stock market has created tremendous wealth and expanded the middle class like nothing else.  Where else can moderately talented people who have moderate means earn a kingly living?

But that said, if you are publicly traded and you seem to have stagnated people get very nervous, very quickly.  Someone smarter than me one told me that it was the institutional investors, not the general trading public, that tend to dump a stock in a hurry.  They are the most impatient.

And I can understand this.  If you have $10 million invested in a company and you expect to make $2 million in two years why wouldn’t you dump that stock if you found an opportunity to make $3 million?  That’s not greed.  Greed is when you forsake things that are truly more important, such as friends, family or people in general, in the name of making money.  Dumping stock in a company for a company with better returns isn’t greed (though it can be).

But it can be really problematic if you need to take a risk that will take longer than a few quarters to implement.  If Michael Dell has some place interesting that he wants to take Dell it would seem to be a good move to buy out the people who would dump the stock on the slightest bad news while he executes his plan.

Or it may be ego, or greed.  We’ll see.

The one thing I can guarantee is that there will be tons of “analysis” on this move which will amount to a bunch of half-assed guesswork.

The Worst CEOs of 2012

I could have made this list.   RIP, App Happy.


There is one reason why I posted this link and it is this quote.

“What I often see in organizations struggling with changes are 3 things: 1/ When I ask five different people what the aim of the company is and what their role is in getting there, I’ll get five completely different answers”

This made me think of an important question you need to ask your boss.  “What is the aim of the company and what is my role in getting there?”  If the answer has more than three points to it you might need to look at how you might re-align or define your job more succinctly.

“Purpose” is incredibly important for an organization to succeed.


That’s it for today.