Oliver Gilan

A stream of my random, half-baked, bite-sized ideas inspired by my friend Jason.

Simplicity Over Complexity

Aug 27, 2023

I have been taught repeatedly by the universe that life’s most important questions always have simple answers. I must not confuse complexity with wisdom and I must not mistake simplicty for easiness. Sometimes the simplest solutions are the hardest to implement. Losing weight, finding love, being happy, being successful. We search hoping to find a new answer that is complex enough to solve our problem but knowing the solution doesn’t ever solve the problem. We often have the answer and that answer is usually simple. The rest is just doing the work.

Experience Changes Reality

Aug 22, 2023

When I watch a football game today I see a different game than what I watched when I was younger. Understanding formations, strategies, skillsets, and the nuances of the game at a deeper level means each snap and each second between plays contains more information than what I could previously see. Similarly when my friends watch Baseball they are seeing something I simply do not. What looks boring to me is rich with information and nuance to them.

With all things in life your knowledge and experience shapes the way your perceive reality. Whether it’s programming, business, love, sports, music, etc. The more you know the more you can understand the nuances of an experience in a way that fundamentally changes it.

Application Architecture

Mar 14, 2023

Apps have 4 main layers:

  1. the infra
  2. the core
  3. the platform
  4. the interface

Infrastructure is all hardware and software necessary to run the app. The Core is the main business logic. The Platform wraps the Core and productizes it with features like auth, subscription tiers, auditability, etc. The Interface is how the user interacts with the platform whether it’s a GUI, CLI, API, etc.

Only the Core and to a lesser extent the Interface provide value but most of the time spent in enterprise software development is on the Infra and the Platform.

Power Law

Mar 1, 2023

The Pareto principle might be the key to everything.

Know What Game You're Playing

Feb 19, 2023

The above tweet is correct but so is the quoted tweet it mocks. The lesson is simply to know what game you are playing.

Work Harder

Feb 5, 2023

A recent common narrative is creative geniuses and experts in various fields work a maximum of 4 hours a day. Recently at work I spent a week slogging through the refactoring of one of our core features only to realize at the end that all my hard work was the wrong approach and there was a simpler implementation that was better in every way. I threw away my code changes and implemented the better pattern in a day. The unfortunate truth is as a junior engineer I wouldn’t have arrived at the optimal solution had I not grinded through the unoptimal one. Four hours per day might be the upper limit of truly creative, intense work but junior engineers are not experienced or efficient enough to even know how to spend those hours in an optimal fashion. Those experts and geniuses weren’t masters because they only worked four hours a day; they only worked four hours a day because they were masters. The grind through inefficiency leads to the 10,000 hours required to become a master.