Random stuff I learnt

  • Evolution of the English Alphabet

    A simple chart showing how the English alphabet evolved and how we ended up with what we have. It is particularly interesting how the Roman alphabet changed to become the English alphabet. Links Evolution of the English alphabet

  • Explaining distributed systems

    I love the way this article explains some of the key issues with designing distributed systems and how to solve them. It uses the illustration of a theme park and the rides - very clever and a fun read, which is unusual for a distributed systems article! Links Maximizing fun (and profit) in your distributed systems

  • MacBook touchscreen for $1

    I don’t own, and have no intention of owning, a MacBook as I own a touchscreen Windows laptop however this approach to make it support touch is genius. They use a mirror at the top of the screen and some image processing to work out where the finger is. They can determine if the finger is actually touching the screen by whether it is touching its reflection - very clever lateral thinking.

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  • Just

    It is very easy to make assumptions about a subject you know well and others may not. You will have knowledge you have learnt over time that you perceive is so simple or obvious that others should just know it - forgetting that once you too had to learn it. This article sums it up really well with the word … “just”. Links Just

  • Missing payment

    I was due to be paid for some work earlier this month and the payment was from a foreign bank account into my account in GBP. The payment was made two weeks ago but never turned up in my account. After numerous phone calls with my bank and a lot of help from the CFO of the company I am working for (thanks Mario) we eventually managed to locate the payment.

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  • Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard P. Rumelt

    I’ve had this book a while but never got around to reading it properly. One of my colleagues at work was listening to the audio version of it and recommended it. This was an excellent read and very relevant to what is happening at the company I am working at at the moment. For me the key takeaway was that what most people call strategy is not actually strategy but vision or goals.

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  • Privacy is choice

    A great quote from this podcast by 23andMe Co-Founder and CEO Anne Wojcicki … “Privacy is not about not sharing, it is about choice” Links Driving Discovery and Disruption

  • Pi

    This page is devoted to maths and in particular pi. The answer to the second question on this page is unexpected and I love the energy the maths teacher brings to the class in the video. I had maths teachers but never one quite like this. Links Can you solve it? The Pi Day party starts here

  • Four minute mile

    I had never seen the original footage of Sir Roger Bannister running the first four minute mile. His narration of the race really adds to it as well. Links First Four Minute Mile

  • 'Blockchain' is meaningless

    There seems to be no single clean definition of what “Blockchain” actually means. There are a lot of woolly statements, several of which are clearly either wrong or too narrowly focused. This article goes into some of the different definitions and why they are wrong and then the implications of this from a business but also a legal perspective. I personally think the definition by Mike Gault, CEO of Guardtime, is the closest:

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