Links 2017-09-05

September 2017 · 2 minute read

What I’ve been recently reading.

The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe

I’m a sucker for space and stories of engineering from bygone eras. This article is an amazing dive into the world of long term engineering projects. Some projects need to last for decades so how do you even staff for that? I love the pictures of these modern day explorers in their drab cubicle. Both fascinating and a little sad.

Voyager Golden Record

While I’m patiently waiting on my own copy I found this article to be very interesting.

In case you didn’t know, each voyager includes a golden record with a representation of Earth and human culture. Or maybe it’s a map to help extraterrestrials destroy us.

Configuration Complexity Clock

In engineering (and maybe in life) there are no absolutes. When good principles are taken too far they can cause more problems than they solve. This is essentially “Give a Mouse A Cookie” but for software.

I reflect on this article anytime I need to touch any puppet code.

Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System

I’ve been researching complex systems theory. This has some overlap with my day job but is also generally interesting. This article gives a great overview of how using a systems view can provide more options for dealing with such a system.

When considering problems in a complex system (such as in a large piece of software), it is common to be stuck with a certain mindset about the solution space. “Oh, I just need to tune this kernel parameter” or “If only we could get the latency down 25ms”. It’s helpful to consider all the leverage points available. It might be better to change the rules of the game.

You should also read the book it comes from).