Programmer, editor, tinkerer.
21 stories

Comic: Kuarantine

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New Comic: Kuarantine
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6 days ago
Seattle, WA
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Kari Hunter #2 is COMING!

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Hello from COVID-19 Ground Zero in the U.S.! I hope everyone is staying safe and washing their hands. Is this the point in our relationship when we open up about bathroom habits and find which of you stockpiled all the toilet paper?

Indiana Jones Toilet Paper

Hopefully, you weren’t compelled to do that. Keep calm and bidet on! Or something.

The Spouseditor and I are doing our part to stay safe and maintain social distancing, and we’re staying connected to everyone via video conferencing. But we aren’t staying completely sequestered or we may go crazy. This weekend, we took a nice walk in the park together for a little fresh air and sun. We just tasered anyone who tried to hug us. (Kidding.)

We’re also working on wrapping up Kari Hunter book #2, The Necromancer’s Knives! Despite some setbacks, we’re on track to get this book out and in your (sanitized) hands at the end of the month! That’s less than two weeks away! Are you READY?


Necromancer Kari Hunter is now one of the world’s most wanted. To protect her, her sacrificial knives have decided to take matters into their own hands.

Their plans might’ve had a chance if they actually had hands.

The tour for Kari’s comeback album is brought to a screeching halt when a serial killer starts targeting her fans. Kari returns home to discover her necromancer alter-ego is one of the most wanted fugitives in the world. To stay alive, all she has to do is lay low and pretend she’s not the necromancer everyone’s looking for.

Unfortunately, nothing about Kari screams subtlety.

Her friends and family aren’t helping, either. When her cousin casts a spell that’s never been seen before, Immortal Intelligence connects the dots. They break into Kari’s house and give her an ultimatum: become a weapon of the Immortal State or die.

Kari was never good at taking orders.


I can’t wait for you to read it.

While all this is happening, I’m making great progress on the Mikelis novella. This is a prequel to the Kari Hunter series told from necromancer Mikelis Priedis’s point of view. In this story, you’ll see when Kari and Mikelis come face to face for the first time. I’m quite excited.

As promised, this story will be free for all my newsletter subscribers. If you’d like a copy, sign up to get alerts on new books and receive extra freebies like Mikelis’s story.


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22 days ago
Seattle, WA
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Bottlerocket – Open Source OS for Container Hosting

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It is safe to say that our industry has decided that containers are now the chosen way to package and scale applications. Our customers are making great use of Amazon ECS and Amazon EKS, with over 80% of all cloud-based containers running on AWS.

Container-based environments lend themselves to easy scale-out, and customers can run host environments that encompass hundreds or thousands of instances. At this scale, several challenges arise with the host operating system. For example:

Security – Installing extra packages simply to satisfy dependencies can increase the attack surface.

Updates – Traditional package-based update systems and mechanisms are complex and error prone, and can have issues with dependencies.

Overhead – Extra, unnecessary packages consume disk space and compute cycles, and also increase startup time.

Drift – Inconsistent packages and configurations can damage the integrity of a cluster over time.

Introducing Bottlerocket
Today I would like to tell you about Bottlerocket, a new Linux-based open source operating system that we designed and optimized specifically for use as a container host.

Bottlerocket reflects much of what we have learned over the years. It includes only the packages that are needed to make it a great container host, and integrates with existing container orchestrators. It supports Docker image and images that conform to the Open Container Initiative (OCI) image format.

Instead of a package update system, Bottlerocket uses a simple, image-based model that allows for a rapid & complete rollback if necessary. This removes opportunities for conflicts and breakage, and makes it easier for you to apply fleet-wide updates with confidence using orchestrators such as EKS.

In addition to the minimal package set, Bottlerocket uses a file system that is primarily read-only, and that is integrity-checked at boot time via dm-verity. SSH access is discouraged, and is available only as part of a separate admin container that you can enable on an as-needed basis and then use for troubleshooting purposes.

Try it Out
We’re launching a public preview of Bottlerocket today. You can follow the steps in QUICKSTART to set up an EKS cluster, and you can take a look at the GitHub repo. Try it out, report bugs, send pull requests, and let us know what you think!



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30 days ago
Hey, I helped!
Seattle, WA
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What Happened to the Company That Raised Minimum Wage to $70k/yr?

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Remember a few years ago when the owner of a credit card payment processing company based in Seattle raised the minimum wage of his employees to $70,000/yr while taking a huge pay-cut himself and capitalists the world over, afraid of their beloved & apparently suuuuper delicate system collapsing from such madness, flipped out?1 The BBC recently checked in with Gravity Payments and its owner Dan Price to see how things were going. Pretty damn well, as it turns out:

The headcount has doubled and the value of payments that the company processes has gone from $3.8bn a year to $10.2bn.

But there are other metrics that Price is more proud of.

“Before the $70,000 minimum wage, we were having between zero and two babies born per year amongst the team,” he says.

“And since the announcement — and it’s been only about four-and-a-half years — we’ve had more than 40 babies.”

More than 10% of the company have been able to buy their own home, in one of the US’s most expensive cities for renters. Before the figure was less than 1%.

“There was a little bit of concern amongst pontificators out there that people would squander any gains that they would have. And we’ve really seen the opposite,” Price says.

The amount of money that employees are voluntarily putting into their own pension funds has more than doubled and 70% of employees say they’ve paid off debt.

When Price made the announcement about raising wages, two senior employees quit because they thought the junior employees would become lazy and the company would suffer. Spolier alert: didn’t happen.

Rosita Barlow, director of sales at Gravity, says that since salaries were raised junior colleagues have been pulling more weight.

“When money is not at the forefront of your mind when you’re doing your job, it allows you to be more passionate about what motivates you,” she says.

Senior staff have found their workload reduced. They’re under less pressure and can do things like take all of the holiday leave to which they are entitled.

The thing about the increased number of babies is astounding. Some of that has to be demographic (employees getting older and entering prime family-starting years) but having a baby in the United States is expensive and that has to factor into many people’s decision on whether to have a child, especially if it’s a second kid or if you’re a single parent.

But the most interesting observation is this one by Price equating the freedom of his employees to their capability:

“We saw, every day, the effects of giving somebody freedom,” Price says.

He thinks it is why Gravity is making more money than ever.

Raising salaries didn’t change people’s motivation — he says staff were already motivated to work hard — but it increased what he calls their capability.

Employees that worry less about debt, healthcare, or where their next meal is coming from are happier, more productive employees. Imagine that.

  1. Have you noticed that when hardcore capitalists talk about plans to raise corporate taxes or re-institute a more progressive income tax scheme or regulate businesses, they seem deathly afraid that these changes are going to completely derail capitalism in America, as if capitalism were this super weak thing instead of one of the most powerfully unstoppable inventions that humans have ever created? Your great engine of change is indeed mighty! Have some confidence in your beliefs, man!

Tags: Dan Price   economics   Gravity Payments   working
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40 days ago
Seattle, WA
41 days ago
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1 public comment
41 days ago
I would bet these guys played a role in depressing performance:

“When Price made the announcement about raising wages, two senior employees quit because they thought the junior employees would become lazy and the company would suffer. Spolier alert: didn’t happen.”
Washington, DC
41 days ago
Right. I'd imagine their leaving did wonders for morale. People who are over-worried about whether others are carrying their weight are miserable to work with.

Flatulence, Crystals, and Happy Little Accidents

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The recording of my Rust Conf talk on algorithmic art and pen plotters is up on YouTube!

Here is the abstract:

Sometimes programming Rust can feel like serious business. Let’s reject the absurdity of the real world and slip into solipsism with generative art. How does Rust hold up as a paint brush? And what can we learn when our fantasy worlds bleed back into reality?

I really enjoyed giving this talk, and I think it went well. I want more creative coding, joy, surprise, and silliness in the Rust community. This talk is a small attempt at contributing to that, and I hope folks left inspired.

Without further ado, here is the video:

And here are the slides. You can view them below, or open them in a new window. Navigate between slides with the arrow keys or space bar.


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203 days ago
Seattle, WA
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Kari Hunter Book 2 Cover Reveal and Q&A!

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The cover for the second Kari Hunter book is here! Behold, The Necromancer’s Knives:

Oooooh! Aaaaah! WHOOOOOOAH!

Okay, the third word is supposed to be “OH,” but if I spell it out correctly, it just looks like the “ooh.” Ooh, ah, ooh? That doesn’t make any sense. You get WHOA! We’ll all channel our inner Keanu for a moment.

Anyway, The Necromancer’s Knives will be out in the next few months and I. Can’t. Wait! You know, so I can start the whole rigamarole with the third book. We’re currently in the beta feedback stage and then it will go through edits. I honestly don’t know how long that will be, but I’ll keep you peppered with teasers and information until we get there.

So, here’s a Q&A about The Necromancer’s Knives:

  1.  What will this book be about?

Three months after the events of The Fourth Channel, the tour for Kari’s comeback album is brought to a screeching halt when a serial killer starts targeting fans. When he sets his sights on Kari, the FBI wants her to play the bait.

Kari returns home to discover her necromancer alter-ego is one of the most wanted fugitives in the world. To ensure her safety, all she has to do is lay low and pretend she’s not the necromancer everyone’s looking for. Unfortunately, nothing about Kari screams subtlety, and her friends and family aren’t helping.

When Immortal Intelligence breaks into her house and starts snooping around, they know who she really is. They give Kari an ultimatum: become a weapon of the Immortal State or die. But she can’t allow anyone to get hurt. She’ll need to get creative to stay alive.

2. Where did the title come from?

In this book, all three of Kari’s sacrificial knives get their chance in the spotlight. We’ll learn more about all of the knives, including Rambo, Kari’s creepy monotone knife…. I’m pretty excited about that!

3. Will my favorite characters be back?

Almost everyone from The Fourth Channel will make an appearance. It will definitely be a full cast. After all, Kari did leave a few loose ends that we’ll need to tackle…

4. Is this the last Kari Hunter book? Will there be more?

There will definitely be more Kari Hunter! There’s a broader story that I’d like to tell with this series and we’ll see more of that in the second book. I’m not sure how long it will take to wrap up the bigger story so I won’t commit to a number, but we’ll definitely have more books.

5. What keeps you motivated writing Kari Hunter’s story?

The beauty of writing Kari is that, when you think she should do something, she does the opposite… and all the while, her sacrificial knives are making comments. It’s hard to get tired of that.

6. Could you write the scene where Kari meets Mikelis?

Actually, I’ll do better than just a scene: I’ve been working on a novelette for my newsletter subscribers. It will be a prequel to the Kari Hunter series told from Mikelis Priedis’s point of view and will include the first time Kari and Mikelis come face to face. If you’re interested in reading it, just sign up for my email list. Coming very soon!

7. Can we see an excerpt from the book?


I took a deep breath. “Okay, I’m taking you outdoors, and you know the rules. When I touch you, don’t try to teach me anything, and say nothing until we’re back inside the house. One peep out of you…” I shook my head and gave the knife my most threatening glare. “I swear, I’ll devise a punishment so bad it will make the underwear drawer look like a vacation. Agreed?”

I agree! I’ll be even better than Stubby!

Not exactly setting a high bar, but I’d take it.

I reached for Longy’s handle. Black smoke and glittering particles floated up from the blade and swirled around my trembling fingers. The front of my skull vibrated from Longy’s excitement. Even Stubby and Rambo were silent with anticipation. My fingertips brushed the cool black handle for two seconds. I panicked and jerked my fingers away. But nothing happened. My mind was free of murderous details. I sucked in a deep breath and reached out again, slipping my fingers around the perfectly shaped handle. I held the knife up.

Yes! Now I am the resident stabber!

I let out a breathy laugh, releasing all of my tension. “Okay. If all goes well, when we get back you might get those presents I talked about.”

Don’t screw this up, Longy.

Yeah, we’re counting on you.

Before leaving the house, I created another protection spell so that Longy could learn the coordinates and help me if I needed it. Afterward, I wrapped Longy in a pair of hideous yellow granny panties and a couple of hand towels, and I stuffed the bundle into my bag. I was just wrapping up when Mikelis texted me to say he was waiting in the driveway.

I locked the deadbolt on the front door and started jogging down the porch steps. I hadn’t even reached the bottom when Longy let out a headache-inducing scream.


I was so startled that I tripped down the last stair and wiped out, face-first, into the grass.


After I righted myself, I whirled around, frantically looking for an intruder, but there was no one on my front lawn. Only Mikelis was in his car, idling in the driveway. Death Radar was otherwise clear, but Longy was still screaming louder than I’d ever experienced a knife scream before.


I did. I charged back up the wooden stairs, flew across the porch, jammed my key into the lock, and rushed into the house. I was so upset that I got halfway down the hall before realizing my keys were still dangling from the front door. I had to run back and grab them so I could open the lab.

“I can’t believe you! We weren’t even outside for thirty seconds before you were screaming your presence to the world!”

Yeah, my reaction time is amazing!

I was too furious to respond. I seethed all the way down to the panic room. Rambo and Stubby were completely silent while I opened the panic room door, pulled out the drawer, and opened the cutlery box. I let my expression say it all, tossing Longy inside without explanation. I left the box and the drawer open with a clear view of the dark television screen, just so they could all think about what Longy did. The latest season of Autopsy: Special Ops? Forget it.

8. When is the book release?

I don’t have a date, but it’s getting close. If you want to be notified as soon as the book is out, please sign up for my newsletter. I promise I’m not signing you up for spam — I only use this email list for new book releases. Please sign up here: Jen’s New Books

Did I miss anything? Leave me a comment if there’s a burning question that I didn’t answer. I love hearing from you.


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222 days ago
Seattle, WA
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