Jackson

SDE @amazon | independent consultant @block_one_ | sjkelleyjr.com

[Roundup] GitHub Buys Semmle, Vitalik's Time Machine Visit, and Condolences to the Facebook Engineer

Vitalik’s Time Machine Visit

Vitalik tweeted out screenshots of some of the Python EVM code he wrote 5+ years ago when Ethereum started. I suspect this tweet storm from Vitalik started due to Igor Lilic tweeting the first commit to Ethereum from 2013.
I particularly like this tweet, as it illustrates a “code first, think later” approach to software development I myself take in the early stages of a project. This may sound crazy, but, there isn’t anything wrong with coding something that isn’t useful or doesn’t make any sense. It’s almost like grappling somewhere unsafe temporarily so you can use the momentum or position to grapple somewhere else and thus arrive at your final destination. Inelegant or illogical code can often lead to elegant solutions when it shifts your perspective. The benefit of illogical code is, you wouldn’t have considered the elegant solution without first landing on shaky ground and surveying what this new illogical position has gotten you.
I know this approach can annoy other developers, but it can be effective approach to producing code that solves a problem.* Too much can get mixed up between words, or even design documents, and the implementation of a project. In this approach, the implementation should drive the project and not the reverse, but to enact this approach you must have the ability to implement without painting yourself into a corner, and few developers are capable of doing this. Design reviews are effective for teams of software engineers at various skill levels who may not be able to avoid corner-painting, but I digress.
*notice the problem is of principle interest, and not the code. The code is simply produced in this approach.

DOJ Sues Snowden to Freeze Memoir Revenue

What fantastic PR for Snowden. I thought it was common knowledge that the quickest way to ensure people will read a book is to try and stop people from reading a book. This does highlight how much power the US has over the current financial system. I would wager the majority of Snowden supporters won’t have any trouble getting around the revenue freeze though.

Facebook Software Engineer Commits Suicide

I’ve been hearing colleagues talk about the terrible work life balance of Facebook engineers lately. The rumors made it sound like Amazon circa 2016. I’m sad to hear the rumors anecdotally confirmed. This comes on the heals of a prominent YouTuber getting fired from Facebook for having a YouTube channel (according to him of course).

GitHub Acquires Semmle

I’ve noticed GitHub has been sending emails with the security vulnerabilities present in repositories lately. This is a good direction and acquisition for GitHub. I would imagine the amount of code present on GitHub also has the potential to make Semmle a more effective product so this seems like a natural fit for both parties.
I hadn’t heard of Semmle before this news broke, but their software sounds super interesting. Semmle has written a query language you can run against your code base for vulnerability detection, and companion software for the query language. You can actually query through open source projects using https://lgtm.com/. I did, and found a few small bugs in a project I’m currently working on.

Bill Gates Continues to Hold 60% Equities

I’m starting to sense an unintended theme in this newsletter. I shouldn’t be so brash about my pontification given the future is highly probabilistic. However, the wealthiest men on the plan are still holding larges chunks of equities in their portfolios. If you aren’t leveraged and can weather the bumps, continue holding your equities. 
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