On the Decline of Zipcar

zipcar

I haven't owned a car in twelve years. Since I moved to San Francisco, I've exclusively relied on public transit, taxis/Uber, and the occasional rental car to get me where I'm going when I need to go somewhere. In general, this has worked well for me — I can get where I need to go, and most of the time I'm not emitting 300g of CO2 per person-mile the way an individual car does. On the rare occasions that I need to drive somewhere by myself (often to the vet, since rabbits really aren't good at public transit), my …

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Crime Happened

Today we got a nasty surprise in the form of an email from my next-door neighbor informing me that somebody had attempted to break into our home1! An hour later (while I was on my way home from work), we got another email indicating that the suspect had been arrested.

Apparently, someone was messing around with the lock on the gate to our backyard and my next-door neighbor yelled at them. They hopped the fence, so he called the police and yelled at them some more. They fled. The police came2 , patrolled the neighborhood, and caught the guy …

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Fall; or, Dodge in Hell

Over my recent vacation, I read Neal Stephenson's latest book Fall; or, Dodge in Hell, which is a rough sequel to 2011's REAMDE. I thought I'd write up some brief thoughts I had on it and maybe some questions for a hypothetical future reader. Like all of Stephenson's work from the last couple of decades, this book is a meandering combination of science fiction, philosophy, political commentary, and mythical fantasy. The Kindle edition I read is 880 pages long, and went pretty quickly over four three-hour flights.

In general, I'd give it ★★★☆☆. It's got lots of interesting ideas, but it's shot through with too much ridiculous libertarian ideology, and it tries to tell too way too many stories in parallel. If you liked Cryptonomicon, you'll probably like this book, but I would be surprised if anyone likes it enough to plod through it twice.

WARNING: This post will contain significant spoliers for both Fall and REAMDE; don't keep reading untless you've either read both or are highly confident you aren't going to read either.

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Dark Mode

Small update: this website now supports "Dark Mode" on macOS 10.14+ iOS 13+, and the forthcoming Android Q, all using the prefers-color-scheme CSS media selector. Let me know if you see anything that looks janky!

Ode to a Pager

pager

I've been on-call for most of the last 11 years. I was on-call for the CS Department at Mudd1. I was on-call at Yelp, in a rotation that at times contained as few as three people. I was on-call at Uber in rotations ranging from one to twenty people. And I've been on-call at EasyPost — initially in a rotation with one other person2, and currently with two other people. I have responded to tens of thousands of pages. I have been woken up in the middle of the night hundreds3 of times. For the last seven or …

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Ditching Gmail After 15 Years

Gmail Logo

Everyone who even casually follows the tech industry knows, intellectually, that Google builds an enormous dystopian profile of everything you do in order to sell ads1. But I think there's a difference between knowing that Google Analytics is a shameless back door to do cross-site tracking and actually coming face-to-face with your own profile. Yesterday, CNBC featured a story about a new Google UI which shows you a list of every purchase that you've made in the last few years: https://myaccount.google.com/purchases. For me, wide variety of commercial activity — every purchase I've ever made at a …

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