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Niall Murphy
1,387 followers -
Site Reliability Engineering, Google. Instigator of SRE book.
Site Reliability Engineering, Google. Instigator of SRE book.

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NEW! "The Under-7s Fire Service was one of several compulsory children's emergency services in Scarfolk..." More info: https://scarfolk.blogspot.com/2018/02/under-7s-fire-service.html
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"I bought my boss two copies of The Mythical Man Month so that he could read it twice as fast." - @rkoutnik
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What I’ve been doing all day:

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Well worth it
If you want a really good, long read for your weekend: Anat Deracine has captured the experience of being a woman in tech really, really, vividly. She writes from experience — we used to be colleagues! — and also with a remarkable ability to bring things to life. I stopped to "just check what it was" and was 10,000 words in before I remembered that I was supposed to be running errands.

(She also apparently has a YA novel coming soon — one which sounds quite promising in its own right. https://www.amazon.com/Driving-Starlight-Anat-Deracine/dp/1250133424)
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The linked document (from the post) is worth reading.

"The idea of trying to alter a company's culture all by yourself is almost as stupid as the myth of meritocracy the tech industry is so in love with," Altheide told Gizmodo. "The only way to even begin to attempt to create positive change inside an organisation purpose-built exclusively for the task of providing value to shareholders is through collective action."

(I notice that there is already a comment from some pseudonymous male saying "I hate to be that guy but the timing of this seems awfully convenient" or words to that effect. I marvel at his failure to grasp causality. When an event happens, people discuss history related to that topic; and when people discuss stuff, seemingly some well-meaning individual always tips the press. No one ever leaks my documents since they are about "how to be (or become) a good person"; and if people were actually interested in that they would be reading Aristotle or something, and not tech news.)
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Reliability Engineer thoughts on Amtrak situation
Google's 3D mapping stuff produces this amazing view of the approach to the curve on which an Amtrak train derailed yesterday:

* Coming out of a long straight-line section rated for 80mph into a sudden sharp curve rated for 30mph
* With trees on both sides of the line restricting the driver's sight lines
* 7:30 in the morning so in twilight (one of the most dangerous times for visibility-related accidents, especially combined with those trees)
* First day of a new service so the driver had probably only driven the route a couple of times on daytime route familiarisation trips (if at all - I have no idea what the rules are about driver route familiarity in the US)
* Train fitted with an ATP system but said system was not yet activated on that route..

Yeesh. Any two of those factors should be be considered a serious, non-ignorable safety risk, particularly for a passenger service. All of them at once? The consequences don't bear thinking about.

My prediction is that the driver will be hung out to dry because people love apportioning blame, but in reality it looks to this unqualified part-time train nerd as if there are multiple systemic safety failures here and the driver is not to blame - there were so many human factors issues stacked against them that eventually an accident like this would have been almost inevitable. Incidentally, this has nothing to do with the "safety concerns" local residents were raising during construction - that was to do with taking trains at the blistering (cough) speed of 80mph through town using level crossings rather than grade separation.
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