George V. Reilly

Weirdest Birthday Ever

When I said that Emma and I would be spending 2020 in Dublin, I could not possibly have an­tic­i­pat­ed what would be happening in Seattle while we were gone.

Today is my 55th birthday and it’s the weirdest birthday ever, in what must be the weirdest week that most of us have lived through. (So far.)

COVID-19 is all that anyone can talk about: where it’s spreading, how it’s being handled, what comes next.

I started working from home on Tuesday, March 10th. Emma’s general health and immune system are not good. My parents, who live nearby, are now both 80 years old and neither is in great health. It seemed prudent to minimize my continue.

Dublin for 2020

I left in the Eighties; I’m going back in the Twenties.

I am trans­fer­ring to a Dublin-based team at Stripe for a one-year rotation. Emma and I will be moving to Dublin just before Christmas. Emma has never lived in Ireland and I haven’t lived there since January 1989. After 30 years in the US, I’m about to spend a year in my hometown.

I grew up in Dublin, earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin in 1987, and moved to the US in 1989 to get a Master’s degree in Comp Sci at Brown University in Providence, RI. Microsoft moved me to Seattle, WA in 1992, where I’ve continue.

A Use for Octal: Calculating Modulo 36 from Modulo 9

(I posted an earlier version of this in December 2004 on my old technical blog. A discussion at work last week about 36-bit computers at the Living Computers Museum prompted me to write an updated post with improved ex­pla­na­tions and much better typography.)

I’ve been pro­gram­ming in C since 1985 and C++ since 1991, but I’ve never found a use for octal rep­re­sen­ta­tion until [2004], aside from the per­mis­sions argument for chmod. Octal has always seemed as vestigial as a human appendix, a leftover from the early days of computers, when word sizes were often a multiple of three: 6-, 12-, 24-, or 36-bits wide. All modern computers use word continue.

Decrypting Blackbox secrets at build time with Paperkey

“Security is 1% technology plus 99% following the procedures correctly” — Tom Limoncelli

Having dealt with GPG last week at work, I remembered that I had intended to write a blog post about how we used GPG, Blackbox, and Paperkey to store secrets in Git at my previous job.

We used Blackbox to manage secrets that were needed during de­vel­op­ment, build, deployment, and runtime. These secrets included AWS cre­den­tials, Docker registry cre­den­tials, our private PyPI cre­den­tials, database cre­den­tials, and cer­tifi­cates. We wanted these secrets to be under version control, but also to be secure.

For example, we had a cre­den­ that exported en­vi­ron­ment variables, which was managed by Blackbox:

# Save current value of xtrace 

Review: Fire and Blood

Title: Fire and Blood
Author: George R.R. Martin
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Bantam
Copyright: 2018
Pages: 736
Keywords: fantasy
Reading period: 28 December, 2018–1 January, 2019

I’ve been waiting longer than most for George R.R. Martin to finish the A Song of Fire and Ice series: I read the first book when it was newly published in paperback in 1997. Fire and Blood is a new addition to the series, but it is a prequel and does not advance the plot at all. This book is a history of the first half of the three hun­dred–year reign of the Targaryen dynasty, the dragon riders who conquered Westeros with their fire­breath­ing dragons. The Game of continue.

Review: Watership Down (miniseries)

Title: Watership Down (miniseries)
Director: Noam Murro
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Released: 2018
Keywords: animation
Country: UK
Watched: 30 December, 2018–1 January, 2019

Two years ago, just after the death of Richard Adams, I reread the book of Watership Down for the first time in many years, having originally discovered it when it was new in the mid-1970s. There’s a beautiful new adaptation, an animated miniseries made by the BBC and Netflix.

This adaptation is largely faithful to the original book: The brave young rabbits striking out on their own before their home warren is destroyed; creating a new warren on Watership Down; the war with the to­tal­i­tar­i­an warren of Efrafa; the peaceful aftermath. One short­com­ing is that although the voices continue.

2018 ends

2018 was a mixed year for Emma and me.

At the start of the year, I was the principal engineer at MetaBrite. The year started out well initially, as we had moved to much larger offices at the end of 2017. In late January, a number of people were laid off, when it became apparent that the old business plan would no longer work. In late March, the company died abruptly when we lost our principal source of funding. I spent April looking for a job and received several offers.

I joined Stripe‘s Seattle office in June, where I work on the Edge team, which is "ensuring Stripe’s continued existence on the Internet". It’s been a continue.

Review: The Heart's Invisible Furies

Title: The Heart’s Invisible Furies
Author: John Boyne
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ½
Publisher: Hogarth
Copyright: 2017
Pages: 592
Keywords: fiction, gay, irish
Reading period: 30 October, 2018

Before I begin to describe The Heart’s Invisible Furies with abundant spoilers, let me say two things. Despite what I describe below, the book is very funny, as Cyril recounts his frequent fuckups. You would never know, from reading the back cover or the excerpted reviews inside, that Cyril is gay. Yet Cyril’s sexuality is the central theme of the book. I can only assume that this is a marketing decision, with which I strongly disagree.

16-year-old Catherine is forced out of her Cork village by the parish priest, when continue.

Election Day 2018

In 2016, I threw an Election Night victory party for Hillary Clinton. It turned into a wake.

In 2016, it was obvious to me and to millions of others that Trump was unfit to be President. There were weak excuses that he might turn out to be more pres­i­den­tial after the campaign was over. Instead, we got the worst president we’ve ever seen in the US. Morally unfit. Tem­pera­men­tal­ly unfit. Ethically unfit. A patho­log­i­cal liar. A shatterer of alliances. A demagogue, stoking the flames of right-wing violent extremism.

In 2018, there are no excuses for not seeing how dangerous Trump is. Trump himself is not on the ballot, but this is nonethe­less a referendum on Trump. The Republican continue.

Brilliant Jerks in Engineering

Brendan Gregg’s Brilliant Jerks in En­gi­neer­ing is an excellent discussion of the "No Asshole Rule" applied to software engineers.

He posits two kinds of brilliant jerks, the selfless and the selfish. You might call them unempathic and so­cio­path­ic, re­spec­tive­ly. The former, if they develop some emotional in­tel­li­gence, are worth saving. The latter are simply toxic and probably need to be fired.

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