‘Flight rules’

I recently came across the concept of Flight rules which is summarised thus:

Flight Rules are the hard-earned body of knowledge recorded in manuals that list, step-by-step, what to do if X occurs, and why. Essentially, they are extremely detailed, scenario-specific standard operating procedures. [...]

NASA has been capturing our missteps, disasters and solutions since the early 1960s, when Mercury-era ground teams first started gathering “lessons learned” into a compendium that now lists thousands of problematic situations, from engine failure to busted hatch handles to computer glitches, and their solutions.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life - Chris Hadfield

Which brought me to a 1974 report from the Apollo program containing this little nugget:

Throughout the Apollo Program, approximately 80 percent of all problems encountered in flight, both large and small, had been analyzed previously and a course of action documented before the flight. This analysis allowed the choice of a best course of action subsequent to most failures to be essentially automatic.

Apollo Experience Report: The role of Flight Mission Rules in mission preparation and conduct - Larry W. Keyser

Well worth a read.

Querying remote APIs with RethinkDB

The latest version of RethinkDB has a pretty nifty new feature that allows you to make requests to remote APIs and query the result directly from the database server:

r.http('https://api.github.com/repos/rethinkdb/rethinkdb/stargazers')
    .pluck('login', 'id')
    .orderBy('id')

It includes parameters for authentication and pagination as well. This is really handy for ad-hoc analysis of API data, something I’ve used it for previously. I wrote a simple app that would request some data, insert it into the DB, then pull it back out according to my query. With this new method there would be a lot less back and forth.

You can learn more about r.http in the RethinkDB docs.

→ The internet of things

My grandfather could probably have told you how many electric motors he owned. There was one in the car, one in the fridge, one in his drill and so on.

My father, when I was a child, might have struggled to list all the motors he owned (how many, exactly, are in a car?) but could have told you how many devices were in the house that had a chip in.

Today, I have no idea how many device I own with a chip, but I could tell you how many have a network connection. And I doubt my children will know that, in their turn.

The internet of things – Benedict Evans

There is a lot of fluff around IoT at the moment, but Benedict Evans cuts through to the reality of these things very cogently.