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Welcome to Chris's blog

New technology is not embraced by all

posted: July 23, 2017

tl;dr: Sometimes the field failure really is the customer’s fault...

A gold watch day: thoughts on John D. MacDonald’s The Girl, the Gold Watch & Everything

posted: July 16, 2017

tl;dr: He inherited the power to stop time, and that’s when life began...

Early book review: Python Testing with pytest, by Brian Okken

posted: July 10, 2017

tl;dr: A great introductory guidebook to get you up and running with pytest...

The higher the tech, the lower the margins

posted: July 2, 2017

tl;dr: Often low tech is a better way to make money...

The first rule of marketing

posted: June 25, 2017

tl;dr: Rule #1: Be in a good market...

The CARFAX + insurance company conspiracy

posted: June 18, 2017

tl;dr: How CARFAX and insurance companies (in this case, Sentry) conspire to cost crime victims thousands...

Book review: Building Microservices, by Sam Newman

posted: June 11, 2017

tl;dr: Guidebook to implementing a microservices architecture, with many battle-tested tips and warnings...

The end of fluorescent lights (I hope)

posted: June 5, 2017

tl;dr: LED lighting will hopefully not only eliminate incandescents but also fluorescents...

This post will get 0 likes on Facebook

posted: May 29, 2017

tl;dr: Five primary reasons why I’m not on Facebook...

Book review: The Peripheral, by William Gibson

posted: May 21, 2017

tl;dr: A technically astute futuristic thriller with much to say about where humanity may be headed...

Learning by grading

posted: May 15, 2017

tl;dr: You can learn a lot by grading dozens of answers to the same programming problem...

A modest proposal to end the patent troll crisis

posted: May 7, 2017

tl;dr: Tighten up the definition of “peers” in “trial by a jury of one’s peers”...

Why I am a drone skeptic

posted: April 30, 2017

tl;dr: Camera drones have their uses, but what goes up must come down...

X: The under-appreciated Boolean logic state

posted: April 23, 2017

tl;dr: X can help reduce complexity by eliminating states that just don’t matter...

Book review: The Best American Short Stories 2016, ed. by Junot Díaz

posted: April 16, 2017

tl;dr: I preferred 2016's O. Henry Prize short story anthology, as a few too many of Díaz’s selections fell flat for me...

Obamacare broke TurboTax

posted: April 9, 2017

tl;dr: When you couple two complex systems, complexity increases more than additively...

White Sox or Cubs: my choice was clear

posted: April 1, 2017

tl;dr: It was easier to make my choice than to explain why I did, which I try to do here...

Impressions of Mammoth Mountain

posted: March 25, 2017

tl;dr: Appropriately named Sierra ski mecca is well worth the challenges of getting there...

Book review: The Best American Essays 2016, ed. by Jonathan Franzen

posted: March 17, 2017

tl;dr: A collection of intense, soul-baring, personal essays, almost all of which concern the author’s most difficult life experience...

Book review: Full Stack Python, by Matthew Makai

posted: March 11, 2017

tl;dr: A thorough, curated guide to on-line information about the Python webapp stack...

My one lucky travel delay

posted: March 5, 2017

tl;dr: A once-in-a-lifetime (so far) lucky travel delay led to my only day ever at Spring Training...

An early lesson in performance under pressure

posted: February 26, 2017

tl;dr: I learned pretty early that pressure has a huge impact on performance...

The best technical interview question ever

posted: February 18, 2017

tl;dr: To find out what the candidate knows, ask them about something they know...

Book review: Fluent Python, by Luciano Ramalho

posted: February 12, 2017

tl;dr: A great book to level up your Python knowledge and coding skills...

A case study in FCC price setting

posted: February 5, 2017

tl;dr: Strange things happen when the Feds (the FCC in this case) set prices...

Book review: The O. Henry Prize Stories 2016, ed. by Laura Furman

posted: January 29, 2017

tl;dr: The short story is not dead, as this anthology series proves annually...

Best (non-extreme) Steamboat trails

posted: January 22, 2017

tl;dr: Steamboat offers variety, as these seven memorable runs prove...

Favorite family ski vacation destination: Steamboat

posted: January 14, 2017

tl;dr: Powder, terrain variety, uncrowded beauty, and a friendly town keep my family coming back...

Book review: Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

posted: January 8, 2017

tl;dr: Epic science fiction tale about the survival of humanity and life on Earth...

Inside the belly of a unicorn

posted: December 26, 2016

tl;dr: Real estate can have a real impact on startup companies...

Help! The FCC eliminated my broadband Internet connection!

posted: December 20, 2016

tl;dr: Don’t ever expect the FCC to know all that much about communications technology...

The End of Windows (for me)

posted: December 12, 2016

tl;dr: A burden has been lifted...

My $0/month, ad-free, tracking-free, censorship-free, screaming fast website

posted: December 5, 2016

tl;dr: Behind the scenes of this website...

Reflections on Studs Terkel's Hard Times

posted: November 27, 2016

tl;dr: Poignant firsthand personal accounts of the impact of the Great Depression...

Hotmail: the first cloud-based webapp

posted: November 20, 2016

tl;dr: Newbie olds use AOL, cool olds use Hotmail...

Oregon’s Two Fundamental Flaws

posted: November 13, 2016

tl;dr: Both are man-made, which means in theory they could be fixed...

Observations from GraphConnect SF 2016

posted: November 6, 2016

tl;dr: (person {first_name: ’Chris’})-[:WENT_TO]->(event {name: ’GraphConnect SF 2016’})

Lessons from Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49

posted: October 30, 2016

tl;dr: In case you didn't think communication systems are important, read some Pynchon...

Python, for productivity

posted: October 23, 2016

tl;dr: Five reasons why you should be using Python...

Book review: Lost in the Funhouse, by John Barth

posted: September 30, 2016

tl;dr: Slim volume of dense fiction as Barth experiments with the short story form...

Graduating 1871

posted: August 21, 2016

tl;dr: There comes a time to leave the nest...

Book review: Foundation, by Isaac Asimov

posted: August 14, 2016

tl;dr: Asimov's writing is more impressive for its quantity than its quality...

On reading Thomas Pynchon’s V. in 2016

posted: July 24, 2016

tl;dr: Still as powerful a novel as the day it was published...

Elegant simplicity in software

posted: June 25, 2016

tl;dr: Elegant simplicity can serve you well as a design philosophy...

On Code, by Charles Petzold

posted: June 19, 2016

tl;dr: Inspirational explanation of how simple technology evolved into modern-day microprocessors and software...

Coding simplicity

posted: May 12, 2016

tl;dr: KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid

Book review: Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson

posted: October 31, 2015

tl;dr: A fun, visionary science fiction thriller that succeeds in both the virtual world and the real world...

Book review: Think Python, First Edition, by Allen B. Downey

posted: October 11, 2015

tl;dr: Definitely recommended as a great way for experienced programmers to quickly learn Python, or as a textbook for a first college-level computer science course (or advanced high school)...

Why I am a smartwatch skeptic

posted: September 24, 2015

Been there, done that.

I get a tinge of nostalgia as I watch Apple's efforts to market the Apple Watch, a revolutionary device that brings highly personalized information to one's wrist...