Simon Willison’s Weblog

Quotations

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Slack’s not specifically a “work from home” tool; it’s more of a “create organizational agility” tool. But an all-at-once transition to remote work creates a lot of demand for organizational agility.

Stewart Butterfield # 26th March 2020, 12:21 pm

I called it normalization because then President Nixon was talking a lot about normalizing relations with China. I figured that if he could normalize relations, so could I.

Edgar F. Codd # 7th March 2020, 11:12 pm

I’ve really come to appreciate that performance isn’t just some property of a tool independent from its functionality or its feature set. Performance — in particular, being notably fast — is a feature in and of its own right, which fundamentally alters how a tool is used and perceived.

Nelson Elhage # 24th February 2020, 2:32 pm

So next time someone is giving you feedback about something you made, think to yourself that to win means getting two or three insights, ideas, or suggestions that you are excited about, and that you couldn’t think up on your own.

Juliette Cezzar # 21st February 2020, 1:04 am

A group of software engineers gathered around a whiteboard are a joint cognitive system. The scrawls on the board are spatial cues for building a shared model of a complex system.

Eric Dobbs # 13th February 2020, 6:48 pm

We write a lot of JavaScript at Basecamp, but we don’t use it to create “JavaScript applications” in the contemporary sense. All our applications have server-side rendered HTML at their core, then add sprinkles of JavaScript to make them sparkle. [...] It allows us to party with productivity like days of yore. A throwback to when a single programmer could make rapacious progress without getting stuck in layers of indirection or distributed systems. A time before everyone thought the holy grail was to confine their server-side application to producing JSON for a JavaScript-based client application.

David Heinemeier Hansson # 8th February 2020, 8:10 am

I used to tolerate and expect complexity. Working on Go the past 10 years has changed my perspective, though. I now value simplicity above almost all else and tolerate complexity only when it’s well isolated, well documented, well tested, and necessary to make things simpler overall at other layers for most people.

Brad Fitzpatrick # 30th January 2020, 5:17 pm

Code is made of pain, lies, and bad ideas, all so we can pretend that electrified sand will do what we tell it to

Yoz Grahame # 18th January 2020, 7:04 am

There is enough wood; Green estimates that it takes about 13 minutes for 20 North American forests to collectively grow enough wood for a 20-story building

David Roberts # 15th January 2020, 4:03 pm

I’ve found, in my 20 years of running the site, that whenever you ban an ironic Nazi, suddenly they become actual Nazis

Richard “Lowtax” Kyanka # 8th January 2020, 4:11 pm

Come version 80, any cookie without a SameSite attribute will be treated as “Lax” by Chrome. This is really important to understand because put simply, it’ll very likely break a bunch of stuff. [...] The fix is easy, all it needs is for everyone responsible for maintaining any system that uses cookies that might be passed from an external origin to understand what’s going on. Can’t be that hard, right? Hello? Oh...

Troy Hunt # 3rd January 2020, 4:22 pm

For creative work, you can’t cheat. My believe is that there are 5 creative hours in everyone’s day. All I ask of people at Shopify is that 4 of those are channeled into the company.

Tobi Lutke # 26th December 2019, 7:06 pm

Let’s agree that no matter what we call the situation that the humans who are elsewhere are at a professional disadvantage. There is a communication, culture, and context tax applied to the folks who are distributed. Your job as a leader to actively invest in reducing that tax.

Michael Lopp # 3rd December 2019, 1:34 pm

In general, reviewers should favor approving a CL [code review] once it is in a state where it definitely improves the overall code health of the system being worked on, even if the CL isn’t perfect.

Google Standard of Code Review # 28th November 2019, 5:40 am

With a sufficient number of users of an API, it does not matter what you promise in the contract: all observable behaviors of your system will be depended on by somebody.

Hyrum's Law # 21st November 2019, 10:45 pm

I have sometimes wondered how I would fare with a problem where the solution really isn’t in sight. I decided that I should give it a try before I get too old. I’m going to work on artificial general intelligence (AGI). I think it is possible, enormously valuable, and that I have a non-negligible chance of making a difference there, so by a Pascal’s Mugging sort of logic, I should be working on it.

John Carmack # 14th November 2019, 1:18 am

Microservices are about scaling teams, not scaling tech

Petrus Theron # 28th September 2019, 4:23 pm

If you’re a little shy at conferences, speaking is The Best way to break the ice. Nobody talks to you before the talk. Everybody want’s to talk to you afterwards, largely because they have a way in. As such, public speaking is bizarrely good for introverts.

Andy Budd # 26th September 2019, 3:15 pm

People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystem are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?

Greta Thunberg # 23rd September 2019, 8:28 pm

Anyone with solid knowledge of both SQL and genetic engineering want to write me an UPDATE query to turn me into a dinosaur?

@simonw # 19th September 2019, 4 pm

Y’all decided you could send 6x as much script because the high-end could take it...but the next billion users can’t. There might have been budget for 2x, but not 6x. Not by a long shot.

Alex Russell # 9th August 2019, 6:53 am

This is when I pull out “we don’t do that here.” It is a conversation ender. If you are the newcomer and someone who has been around a long time says “we don’t do that here”, it is hard to argue. This sentence doesn’t push my morality on anyone. If they want to do whatever it is elsewhere, I’m not telling them not to. I’m just cluing them into the local culture and values.

Aja Hammerly # 5th August 2019, 3:59 pm

Documentation needs to include and be structured around its four different functions: tutorials, how-to guides, explanation and technical reference. Each of them requires a distinct mode of writing. People working with software need these four different kinds of documentation at different times, in different circumstances—so software usually needs them all.

Daniele Procida # 3rd August 2019, 8:29 am

There’s a spectrum on YouTube between the calm section — the Walter Cronkite, Carl Sagan part — and Crazytown, where the extreme stuff is. If I’m YouTube and I want you to watch more, I’m always going to steer you toward Crazytown.

Tristan Harris, former design ethicist at Google # 9th June 2019, 6:22 pm

Practical campaign security is a wood chipper for your hopes and dreams. It sits at the intersection of 19 kinds of status quo, each more odious than the last. You have to accept the fact that computers are broken, software is terrible, campaign finance is evil, the political parties are inept, the DCCC exists, politics is full of parasites, tech companies are run by arrogant man-children, and so on.

Maciej Cegłowski # 30th May 2019, 12:03 pm

Imagine if you were really into the group Swervedriver in the mid-’90s but by 2019 someone was on CNBC telling you that Swervedriver represented, I don’t know, 10 percent of global economic growth, outpacing returns in oil and lumber. That’s the tech industry.

Paul Ford # 15th May 2019, 3:44 pm

... the overall conclusion I reach is that we have so much to gain from making Django async-capable that it is worth the large amount of work it will take. I also believe, crucially, that we can undertake this change in an iterative, community-driven way that does not rely solely on one or two long-time contributors burning themselves out.

Andrew Godwin # 10th May 2019, 2 am

We don’t like limits on discrimination and lending, so we’re gonna use machine learning, which is a form of money laundering for bias, a way to blame mathematical algorithms for desires to simply avoid rules that everybody else has to play by in this industry.

Maciej Ceglowski # 8th May 2019, 11:11 pm

One of the standards you have to have demonstrated to being able to reach Principle Engineer inside Amazon is “Respect what has gone before”. It’s very likely you don’t know the why, what or how of it. Often what was written was the best that could be done to the constraints.

Paul Graydon # 25th April 2019, 5:52 pm

Lots of people calling for more aggressive moderation seem to imagine that if they yell enough the companies have a thoughtful, unbiased and nuance-understanding HAL 9000 they can deploy. It’s really more like the Censorship DMV.

Alex Stamos # 21st April 2019, 4:36 pm