January 3, 2019
2018 saw a shift in my reading habits. While I continued using Pocket heavily, I also started reading the news a lot more. At one point in the year, I was going through six news sources on a daily basis. As anyone could have predicted, I could not sustain it and slowly read less and less.
Reading the news from multiple sources was a fun experience though since you start noticing patterns in style and focus of each news source. I love how careful New York Times is with its phrasing. When something is uncertain, they hedge heavily to reflect that. FiveThirtyEight’s number focused approach is in stark contrast to the others. Most of the time, FiveThirtyEight would ignore the policies and people and focus only on strategies and numbers. SCOTUSBlog’s summaries of cases have a similar flavor as they are entirely focused on the legal technicalities at hand and usually ignore the non-legal impact of decisions.
Anyways, in this post I am not going to highlight any of the day-to-day news articles I read. Like last year, I will highlight interesting articles and blog posts I read through the year.
I will divide the articles in some categories so they are easier to go through!
- Spectre/Meltdown announcement resulted in many interesting articles:
- This year we saw many attacks by malicious users taking over authorized accounts that can publish modules/libraries/applications in various systems like NPM/GitHub.
- Early in 2018 it was found that displaying specific characters on an iPhone caused it to crash. This article analyses the crash and shows some of the complexity Unicode characters can have.
- Fun article about Microsoft fixing a vulnerability in an application they seem to have lost the source code for
- This year I started reading up and playing around with game development. It was a valuable experience since I learned a lot.
- This is an amazing talk about various camera movement strategies in popular 2D games.
- Porting games is hard. This article covers a funny bug caused by uptime timer behavior.
- A fun article about the author creating fractal visualizations. It is especially interesting reading about how the author is focused only on making things look cool and not on mathematical accuracy.
- I have read a lot about risks and issues with floating point numbers. This is a great article that covers the risks with relying on floating point determinism in multiplayer games.
- Linux coreutils are probably one of the most used tools so I was fascinated to read about how those tools are tested
- A lot of companies love talking about how many 9’s of uptime/durability they support, so its fun to read an article about how at some point other non-technical risks become a larger source of issues.
- FiveThirtyEight looks through ball-and-strike calls in long baseball games and concludes that refs start favoring calls that will end the game sooner!
- Fangraphs highlights some numbers to show how Mets home stadium is very anomalous in the total offensive production at the stadium.
- ESPN covers a hilarious baseball trick play where a base runner runs straight to the outfield instead of running to a base.
- Sounds like a crazy idea but FiveThirtyEight shows there are actual districts that voted overwhelmingly for Obama and Trump in the respective elections.
- In its court opinions, the Supreme Court is outputting a lot of data. So I love reading any article that analyzes the data. This article looks at number of dissenting opinions since 1980 to find the “dissentingest” Judge.
- This is SCOTUSBlog case summary about whether the National Park Service has rights over a specific river in Alaska to restrict hovercraft traffic. I am not personally invested in this issue but I was fortunate enough to sit in the Supreme Court’s while this case was being argued! I went in having read the article and I still couldn’t follow any of the discussion but it was a great experience nonetheless.
- A long Propublica essay about the lives of garbagemen working for private garbage companies
- A 2015 Nature article about dramatically increasing rates of shortsightedness/myopia around the world
- When CERN announced that they had recorded a neutrino traveling faster than light, the scientists involved found themselves in a tough position. They had their doubts about the finding but not reporting the data they recorded felt ingenious as well. This Nautilus article gives a great behind-the-scenes look at what went on during the finding.
- Wikipedia is great! Here are couple of articles I enjoyed reading on Wikipedia
- Amazon’s mechanical turk is apparently named after the Turk from the 18th century. The Turk was a mechanical system capable of playing chess and it toured for decades and played many chess masters of the time. Turns out it managed to do this by hiding a talented chess player inside the box that controlled the chess pieces!
- I wasn’t aware about Islam’s history in China so reading the History of Islam in China article was very eye opening.
- An interesting article about what managers should look for in one-on-one meetings.
- I only skimmed this botany study but I dug this up after someone claimed that the anesthetics we use can work on plants as well. I knew we didn’t completely understand how anesthetics worked but I figured it had to do something with our nervous system but plants don’t exactly have a nervous system! So I guess we have no idea what anesthesia is doing.