Successive Approximations

AUTHOR: Ben Berry

The Volt, Part 1: Lineage

My grandfather, James P. Berry, bought the first Chevy Volt sold in Rock Hill. Unveiled in 2007 (the same year as the iPhone) and taking 3 more years to come to market, the Volt was an odd car. An entirely electric drivetrain that had a 40 mile battery but could burn gas to power a generator to run the motors for unlimited maximum range. Commute on electricity, road trip on gas. The best of both

Craft vs Trade - Programming

I was having a conversation with a friend just starting out, later in life, on his journey as a software developer, and we were talking about code schools and college degrees.

There seems to be a paradox, that some companies hire code school graduates and have success when others don't, while at the same time not all companies have success hiring junior developers straight out of college. So what determines success?

One model that might

Grant Imahara, 1970-2020

Yesterday's post was not intended to be the first in the series, but here we are. The obstacle has become the way.

MythBusters premiered during my freshman year of high school, and slotted into the subscription list on our first-gen TiVo alongside Junkyard Wars, so in a way this hits me more like finding out about the death of a friend I lost contact with when I went off to college (not having a TV

K. Anders Ericsson, 1947-2020

I was saddened to hear that Anders Ericsson passed away recently, because his research and writings, primarily his book Peak has had a significant positive impact on my life.

His research into what distinguished effective versus ineffective practice was sadly taken out of context to become the cultural meme of the "10,000 hour rule," which I might consider a miscarriage if he hadn't had a chance to set the record straight in Peak, for

Palantiri and Social Media

Journal, 13 March 2020

So much of social media reminds me of Tolkien's palantirs. Dangerous and corrupting for mortals. Manipulated to show you what will redirect your will to someone else's aims. Seemingly a gift but more a temptation. Can lead even mighty kings to crazed suicide.

Is long-distance, many-to-many communication beyond a small forum always doomed to do this? It seems harmful every time it's been tried.

Incentives Matter - Google and Dark Mode

In conversation with a friend today, he made a passing remark:

How can Google's own emails look like crap when viewed in Gmail, on a Google phone, using Google's dark mode?

I think there are three things at play here.

The first is that Google isn't just one thing. It's thousands of groups, mostly working independently. Of course we know this, but it's easy to forget when we use the shorthand of talking about a

Winning is a Mirage

So, if most people who show up for an individual competition are losers and show up anyway, what's the point?

At least the guys who win are satisfied, right?

In my experience?


For the people who are interested in growing and developing their skills, winning at a certain level just means one thing: it's time to go to the next level.

Everyone climbing the mountain is looking up at the guy at the top

Staying Busy

Tonight was the toughest I've had this week.

I finished work, feeling drained. Steph and I walked around the neighborhood with the dog, I made dinner, we ate dinner. I had the whole evening.

I sat down to write another blog post like yesterday's, since it seemed to resonate and was really thrilling to write. It didn't work. I can't summon that on demand. I had good raw materials yesterday and bupkis today.

I puttered