I have been reading Fogus’s year end blogs where he highlights the best things and stuff he encountered every year. Inspired by the consistency & quality of the content, I am starting with this post (which hopefully becomes a running series) listing great things I read, watched, used, discovered in 2023.
- A decade of discontent is coming: In what seems like a response to Marc Andreessen’s “manifesto” (which ticked me off to no end), this article details our collective slow realization of the economic, social, and environmental challenges intertwined with technology and potential backlash after years of accumulating discontent.
Making God: ~9000 words of brilliance on AI and techno-futurism. It has so many great quotable lines.
Effective obfuscation: I was introduced to concept of
Effective Altruismwhile following SBF’s FTX saga. This article simplified it for me how many immoral / unethical actions can be easily justified by exploiting this philosophy.
- How the Elon Musk biography exposes Walter Isaacson: Even one of the most popular authors couldn’t stay away from chasing more book sales. Instead of a neutral potrayal, Walter Isaascon portrays Elon as a quirky genius. 2023 was surely the year I was completely disillusioned by Elon.
Favorite Journalists / Newsletters / Podcasts
Molly White: Molly’s coverage on the FTX trial was thorough and amazing. Her newsletter on web3 is awesome. She had multiple great articles on state of crypto, venture capital, effective altruism and many more. A fantastic journalist to follow.
Money Stuff by Matt Levine: I was introduced to Matt Levine only in 2023. He was already a rockstar and I now understand why. His articles on seemingly complex Finance topics are explained so simply and elegantly.
The Vergecast: The verge has been killing it lately with their podcast. Its opinionated and fun.
Favorite Tech Talks
- The Economics of Programming Languages by Evan Czaplicki
- Plain Text by Dylan Beattie
- Stop Writing Dead Programs by Jack Rusher
- A long strange loop by Alex Miller :(
In Google, my team works on C++. Though I don’t actively program, I try to keep up with new developments.
- Software Engineering Languages by Titus Winters
- Am I A Good Programmer? by Kate Gregory
- Tragedy of C++ by Sean Parent
- Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse: It was visually dazzling and had good emotional heft in the second half.
- The creator: Production value of this movie was off the charts especially considering the relatively low budget.
Favorite TV Shows
- Andor: Its simply anti-fascist art. Pace, dialogue, direction it’s all perfect.
- Slow Horses, Season 3: This british spy show continues to be unique and thrilling.
- The Bear, Season 2: Despite being in season 2 (where the uniqueness is lost), the show reached new peaks. It had so many brilliant episodes.
- Beef: A thriller that starts with a road rage and ends up exploring anger, anxiety and existentialism. Also, Steven Yeun is perhaps the greatest working actor today.
- Barry, Season 4: This season had some misses, but overall still was one of the best shows ever created. Who knew Bill Hader had so many talents.
- The Rheahersal: Most bizzare TV series I have seen. I don’t even know how to describe it. Nathan Fielder is a mad man and should be institutionalized :)
- Dad’s View On Bullying by Lynn Ferguson
- Amsterdam Just Got Awesomer: Biggest cycle parking garage in Amsterdam! Other videos on the channel about urban city design are excellent too.
- Starcraft games: In 2023, I became even more addicted to watching Starcraft 2 gamplays. I perhaps watched 100s of hours of content. So, instead of listing each of my favorite games, checkout the linked playlist. If you have time to watch just 1 game, let it be this one - Serral vs Clem, ESL 2023 Semi-finals.
- RedLetterMedia: Stumbled upon this review channel after watching Twin Peaks. Its one of the most wonderful things I discovered on YouTube. Reviews are methodical. Calm discussion amongst friends.
- ZSH powerlevel10k: Started using this zsh theme. My terminal now looks fresh and inviting.
In an effort to find more joy and fulfillment in life, I am planning to diversify how I spend my time. An aspirational list of all the things I plan to do in 2024. Strong emphasis on aspirational :)
Speaking of given up hobbies, I would love to resume photography again. I enjoyed it while it lasted. After a ton of research I settled on buying Fujifilm XS-20 camera and Viltrox 27mm f1.2 or Fuji 18mm f1.4 lens. With an upcoming trip, I am hoping there is a spark of creativity. I would love to someday afford Hasselblad X2D and 90V lens. The sharpness is unparalleled.
Its been 4 years since I have consistently posted to YouTube. I posted couple of videos on NoSQL 2 years ago and stopped due to lack of traction. Had I kept creating video over the last 4 years, this YouTube gig could have become a good self-employment option. With the pause, my desire for learning also reduced. I want to re-experience the joy of learning and YouTube seems to be right artificial push. There are tons to topics I want to create videos on. Though, this time instead of putting pressure on myself, I am planning to create less polished videos just to get the train off the platform.
I also want to setup the site defogtech.com to host the same YouTube videos with search. The aim is to have redundancy for the YouTube channel and lay foundation for potential future platform.
Papers to read
- Towards Modern Development of Cloud Applications: Its about revisiting Microservices architecture. By folks at Google.
- Distributed Transactions at Scale in Amazon DynamoDB: It will be interesting to compare it with Spanner DB’s transaction mechanism.
- Metastable failures in the wild: Wonder if this is same as gray failures
- Lifting the veil on Meta’s microservice architecture: Meta’s scale and decade plus of architecture evolution should lend to some good learnings.
- On-demand Container Loading in AWS Lambda: Marc Brooker is one of the co-authors, and like his articles I am looking forward to some pearls of pragmatic engineering.
Things to explore
- WASM: The direction WASM is heading is promising! It has the potential to change development in many areas starting with web.
- Zig: Rust is overwhelmingly complex for me, similar to C++, despite being a much newer language. I saw few Zig videos and it seems like a well designed under-the-radar language. It looks simple, run by a non-profit. With 1.0 release approaching, it might be a good time to dip the toes in the water.
- Java Virtual Threads: Feature that will change Java’s concurrency dramatically. I have been waiting for this to be stable for 5+ years now.
I plan to read atleast 10 books next year. My TODO list has been accumulating for months now. A random sampling:
- 3 Body Problem by Liu Cixin
- The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K Le Guin
- The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
- A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
- Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir
- Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Gerald Jay Sussman, Hal Abelson, Julie Sussman
- Crafting Interpreters by Robert Nystrom
- Code by Carles Petzold
- Anatomy of Lisp by John Allen
Over the last 2 years, I learned bit of ASL through Google sponsored courses. Its been an awesome experience and I plan to continue undertaking more advanced courses in 2024.
Onward to 2024!