W4D4 - The only intro you'll need


I was preparing slides on WebAssembly today when I came across Lin Clark's cartoon intros. It's spectacular. I wished it was the first thing I read on the topic; it appears l'esprit de l'escalier is a thing for content too.

The background articles also provide helpful context and an easy read.

It's amazing how Google, Mozilla, Apple and Microsoft actually got together and agreed on the specs. The project has now expanded beyond the browser, with wasmtime as an independent runtime and WASI as the unified interface. In addition to its own foundation, called the Bytecode Alliance.

I do wonder, more broadly, if the technology will further consolidate the dominance that large tech companies have, or will a thousand startups bloom? Will there be a lot of end users who like it but only few love? What will the killer app be (or will there actually be one)? I was late to notice iPhones and bitcoin as platforms. I'm ecstatic at being able to follow the WebAssembly life cycle from an early stage, and see where it goes from here.


I woke up in the middle of the night, had trouble going back to sleep and actually looked up why Julia is 1-indexed (or rather, why most languages are 0-indexed). I came across this post which had the following quote.

So: the technical reason we started counting arrays at zero is that in the mid-1960’s, you could shave a few cycles off of a program’s compilation time on an IBM 7094. The social reason is that we had to save every cycle we could, because if the job didn’t finish fast it might not finish at all and you never know when you’re getting bumped off the hardware...

Intuitively it sort of make sense - if you start from zero it's a no-op vs having to do an `add immediate`. Fascinating.

Content: Dev Ops

This week's feature is Increment's post on cloud migration; it fits in nicely with a friend joining Stripe this week. I enjoyed reading how Netflix introduced planned instance failures so the on-call team can to deal with it during business hours. What's particularly impressive is the decision to implement this workflow at a time of rapid growth, forcing adoption of industry best practice at the same time as battling other fires.


A hat tip to the marketing team who coined the term 'chaos engineering' from 'chaos monkeys'.