Havoc's Blog

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Configuring the Typesafe Stack

Update: see also this post on JSON-like config formats. My latest work project was a quick side-track to unify the config file handling for Akka 2.0 and Play 2.0. The result is on GitHub and feels pretty well-baked. Patches have now landed in both Akka and Play, thanks to Patrik and Peter. I can’t make […]

Task Dispatch and Nonblocking IO in Scala

TL;DR Modern application development platforms are addressing the related issues of globally-coordinated task dispatch and nonblocking IO. Here’s my definition of the problem, an argument for why it matters, and some suggestions for specific standard library features to add to Scala in particular. The same ideas apply to any application development platform, though. It’s rapidly […]

It has to work

Often when our minds turn to design, we think first of cosmetics. With all the talk of Apple these days, it’s easy to think they’re successful because of shiny aluminum or invisible screw holes. But this is a side issue. The Steve Jobs quote that gets to the heart of product development might be: So […]

Callbacks, synchronous and asynchronous

Here are two guidelines for designing APIs that use callbacks, to add to my inadvertent collection of posts about minor API design points. I’ve run into the “sync vs. async” callback issue many times in different places; it’s a real issue that burns both API designers and API users. Most recently, this came up for […]

Update: Health insurance credits and penalties

In a post a couple months ago I argued that a given financial effect on an individual could be called a “tax increase plus a tax credit for doing XYZ,” or a “tax penalty for not doing XYZ,” and that the two are identical in terms of how many dollars all parties involved end up […]

Some personal finance answers

I contribute to money.stackexchange.com sometimes; the site doesn’t get a ton of traffic yet, sadly. Some of the stuff I’ve written over there is as good (or bad) as my blog posts over here, so I thought I’d link to some highlights. Where to start with personal finance: my take was, don’t start with investing. […]

Book Review: Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

Despite the title, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, the “why you should have more kids” part feels tacked-on. The interesting part of the book reviews twin and adoption studies, making the case that parenting style doesn’t matter much in the long run. The book’s argument in brief is: in twin studies and adoption studies, […]

Keith Pennington

My Dad died from cancer one year ago, today I’d like to write something about him. Dad liked animals, (certain) children, the woods, hunting, fine guns and knives, books, history, sharing his knowledge, strong coffee, and arguing about politics. He grew up partly at my grandparents’ summer camp in Michigan called Chippewa Ranch, and partly […]

Individual mandate and the power to tax

I happened to stumble on this Yale Law Journal Online article yesterday. I hadn’t realized what the court cases about the individual mandate were (at least in part) arguing. Credits and penalties The individual mandate is structured as a tax penalty (i.e. an extra tax hike) if you don’t have health insurance. Those of us […]

Some stuff I like

As you may have noticed, this blog is a big old grab-bag of random topics. In that spirit, here are some products I enjoyed lately, that people may not have heard of. In several cases these products are from small companies and I think they deserve a mention for their good work. I’m going to […]