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2018 Holiday Newsletter

This is the 2nd installment of an email I sent to my Enthought colleagues just before the Christmas holidays. The other installment is 2017.

Hi everyone,

This is installment #2 of Alex’s annual Holidays newsletter. I decided to send it company-wide this year. It’s a collection of interesting reads/listens/watchs I “consumed” this year.

Programming & Technology

Getting better at it:

I found out what people meant by level up about three and a half years into my programming career when I played my first game of Dungeons and Dragons. […] It sounds like most folks picture leveling up as a little avatar of themselves advancing up a ladder of 20 levels, moving up to the next rung incrementally as they gain experience. This creates this visual of our skills improving linearly with our time spent in tech. I’ll henceforth call this the ladder interpretation.

I pictured, instead, what I will call the derivative interpretation. It comprises a series of maybe three levels.

  • Level One: Getting better, adding skills
  • Level Two: Improving at getting better/adding skills
  • Level Three: Getting better techniques for improving at getting better/adding skills

I think if there’s one technology we should be “concerned” or excited about, as Python users, it’s Javascript (there are many reasons to be afraid, I know). This year, Michael Droettboom compiled NumPy to WebAssembly. The project is called pyodide


As a newly minted manager, I read quite a few management books this year. Here are my favorites. I highly recommend reading Managing Humans, even if you’re not a manager.

  • First Time Manager: A high-level overview of what the new responsibilities are.
  • Managing Humans by Michael Lopp aka Rands. Now at Slack, previously at Palantir and Apple, he is an amazing storyteller. The story form also makes the lessons stick better.
  • High Output Management by Andy Grove, Intel CEO. Ian Tien wrote a good summary. It’s often quoted as the source of much of modern management in tech companies.
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. It’s a fable about management and leading a team. It’s a bit corny, and yet it was a page-turner.
  • It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by D. Michael Abrashoff. Don’t let the title (and the cover) fool you, it’s great. Not all lessons apply to the Enthought, but it’s amazing what he managed to do in the Navy.



You know, there has to be a section about podcasts!

  • This American Life - NUMMI: It’s from a few years back but it’s relevant to us, to what Enthought is doing with JSR/TEL/AK/Exxon. It’s the story of the NUMMI plant, a joint venture between GM and Toyota, of the transformative experience of the immersion process, and about what do to with the people who did not go through the immersion process.
  • New York Times - The Caliphate a fascinating story by Brokmini, who’s been following ISIS for years. It should be more widely known. It’s leaps and bounds better than Serial.
  • 99% Invisible - 330 - Raccoon Resistance on the design of Toronto’s raccoons-resistant compost bins. 99pi at its best. Funny and informative.
  • The Dollop - 342 - The John Paul Getty’s: a hysterical account of the Getty family (yes, the museum Getty’s).
  • The knowledge project - The Kids are Worth It with Barbara Coloroso. I’m not a parent, but if I were I’d probably re-listen to this once a week until my kids are 18.
  • Limetown, season 2, and 1! The best “radio-drama” I’ve listened to. Season 2 started on Halloween this year and it’s now over. You can binge listen to it while walking on dark Albuquerque streets at night and freak out!
  • Reply All - 131 - Surefire Investigations, a Yes-Yes-No that showcases Gritty, the new Philly Flyers’ mascot.
  • Reply All - 114 - Apocalypse Soon: 2018 started strong.


Things I learned

Don’t use sed to replace spaces with new lines, use tr instead. (tr ‘ ‘ ‘ ’ < input_file), and join newlines with paste (paste -s -d ‘ ‘ < input_file)

On macOS, increase your keyboard repeat speed with defaults write -g KeyRepeat -int 1 # normal minimum is 2 (30 ms)


  • Kakoune, code editor
  • Kitty, a terminal emulator
  • Feedbin, an RSS read that gives you a customer email to subscribe to newsletters. Game changer.


Highlight from Trainer reports

[…] led us to discover a bug in IE. The crux of the issue is that cowsay uses angle brackets in its speech bubble, leading to text that looks like:

< moo >
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

Internet Explorer interprets the “< moo >” as an unclosed html element, which breaks its rendering of the page. Both Firefox and Chrome ignore moo tags.

Both Firefox and Chrome ignore <moo> tags.

Happy Holidays!