Simply Jonathan

Cloudflare on Terminating Daily Stormer 

This is an incredibly thoughtful response to a very delicate issue.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a Cloudflare customer, but this post makes me confident they take their responsibility seriously.

I have exactly zero sympathy for The Daily Stormer and their ilk, but I think it is very positive that Cloudflare see the gravity of their decisions. Kicking Neo Nazis off is relatively uncontroversial, but it might not be as clear cut in the future, and it is not a decision that should be taken lightly.

International Media Are Obsessed With FC Midtjylland

I am dumbfounded of the international media’s obsession with Danish football club FC Midtjylland. The latest is a story in The Set Pieces about defensive midfielder Tim Sparv, but previously The Guardian, De Correspondent and Outside of the Boot have also covered them.

I mean, sure, Midtjylland have an owner – Matthew Benham – whose Smartodds system is apparently a revolutionary way to assess football players. But Benham is English and owns Championship club Brentford too; surely they would make more sense to write about, and easier to get to too, at least for the English media?

And it’s not as though Midtjylland’s approach has been an out-and-out success. Aside from the aforementioned Sparv and a few others, their signings have been unimpressive since Benham’s takeover, and an amusingly large portion of them have grown up in the peninsula of Jutland, where Midtjylland are based. They signed a clearly over-the-hill Rafael van der Vaart, who has been ineffective in the few games he’s been picked this season. They did win the championship – the first in their history – in Benham’s first season (2014/15), but the season before that they finished second (and were top for a long time) and in the seasons since they haven’t really been in contention, finishing 3rd and 4th, 12 and a whopping 30 points after champions FC Copenhagen respectively.

None of this is too damning; Copenhagen have been magnificent, especially in this season, and they have a far larger budget than the rest of the league, so finishing behind them is to be expected.

As far as signing local players goes, it is certainly admirable, and every club in the world signs players who don’t work out. It is also a common tendency for sports directors in clubs in smaller footballing nations to sign players who on paper are impressive signings (like van der Vaart), but who are only available because they’re very much past their best.

But the promise of Midtjylland’s system is they would be insulated from such shortcomings, finding players who actually perform, from all over Europe, not just well-performing players from smaller clubs in nearby leagues or fringe players from bigger clubs.

And in light of all of this, I continue to be amazed at why media outside Denmark care. Midtjylland talk a big talk, but they’re a football club with the same problems as any other club in their position, and they certainly haven’t found the holy grail with their analytical approach.

Ras Kass & RZA – the End

My metaphors are meta-fives.

Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War 

An in-depth look at the relationship between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. This bit has been making the rounds on Twitter:

In 2008, according to “Dark Territory,” a history of cyberwar by Fred Kaplan, Russian hackers accomplished a feat that Pentagon officials considered almost impossible: breaching a classified network that wasn’t even connected to the public Internet. Apparently, Russian spies had supplied cheap thumb drives, stocked with viruses, to retail kiosks near NATO headquarters in Kabul, betting, correctly, that a U.S. serviceman or woman would buy one and insert it into a secure computer. In the past decade, cyber tactics have become an essential component of Russia’s efforts to exert influence over its neighbors.

The Elements of Python Style 

A proposed style guide for Python, not quite as specific as PEP8, but dealing with some things that PEP8 doesn’t.

I agree with most of this, but this one in particular stood out to me because it echoes what I said in my first impressions of Clojure:

No one wins any points for shortening “response” to “rsp”.

(Via Python Bytes, episode #14)

Birds

Because I’m the world’s worst instagrammer, this is my illustration of a lovely holiday in Thailand: the gathering of a legion of birds in wires, creating an absolute cacophony. (The sound doesn’t come through so well with the traffic noise, but it was deafening.)

It really was a lovely trip, though.

CSS Shorthand Syntax Considered an Anti-pattern 

I tend to go for the background shorthand, and certainly the font one, but in general, implicitly setting values is something one should avoid, in CSS as in most other programming languages.

Big Tablets Are Coming 

Permanent location of 'Big Tablets Are Coming'

Evan Miller on an in his opinion obviously imminent future with big tablets as the form factor of choice for professionals, primarily focussing on the shortcomings of mouse pointers:

The mouse pointer was designed for a 9″ screen, not a 29″ one.

It’s an intriguing argument, especially the serious considerations of styli (cue “They blow it” quote from Steve Jobs). I think there could be something here. (Even if I have historically been swayed by Apple’s arguments about the tiring of arms, the angle at which you can use a Surface Studio should help with that.)

Change

Change, shit
I guess change is good for any of us

– Tupac Shakur

Yesterday, I returned from NIPS 2016. It’s the world’s preeminent machine learning conference.

What was I doing there? To be fair, it was probably not the conference I would have picked, but it was a very interesting conference to attend (the first of its kind I’ve ever been to, to boot). The reason I was there was because on 1 November I started a new job, working for Danish startup Sportcaster. This also means that after almost four years, I have left PDC, where I started working when Ovivo was acquired. (I realise I’ve been horrible at updating the blog with this information, but better late than never, I suppose.)

Working for PDC has been a great experience. I’ve felt welcome in all my years there, even though I got into the company by untraditional means, and even though – as I have joked many times over the years – I would never have been able to land a job there by sending a regular application. (The company values educational credentials very highly, so my B.A. in English and Communication & Rhetoric is basically useless as an engineer.) I would encourage anyone wanting to work with Microsoft technologies or, especially, Prolog in Copenhagen to take a look PDC’s way, it’s a great place to work.

For me, however, Sportcaster presented the complete package: The company’s goal is making a product aimed at filming grassroots association football, and I will be doing their web platform. This allows me to combine my interest (OK, let’s just call it ‘obsession’) with football as well as doing web development in Python. If someone had asked me what I wanted to do that would basically have been it.

My first month there has been excellent, and I look forward to spending a long time there, and I’ll try to make an effort updating this space with news of development.

A 4-bit Calculator Made in Cardboard and Marble 

This is amazing.

One of my favourite books is Charles Petzold‘s Code. This seems like something straight of the early chapters, it’s fantastic.

This is Simply Jonathan, a blog written by Jonathan Holst. It's mostly about technical topics (and mainly the Web at that), but an occasional post on clothing, sports, and general personal life topics can be found.

Jonathan Holst is a programmer, language enthusiast, sports fan, and appreciator of good design, living in Copenhagen, Denmark, Europe. He is also someone pretentious enough to call himself the 'author' of a blog. And talk about himself in the third person.