Borderless Is Inevitable


The world is shrinking, and some people are upset. Today I read on article on Hacker News “What does a world without Airbnb look like?” which talks about the negative sentiment against long-term tourists in Barcelona, and it corroborated the discussion I saw on the Digital Nomad subreddit yesterday “Cancel Barcelona Trip?”.


When I was a kid, my family moved from China to Canada. The ease of it all seemed normal to me. Make a life in a new country? No big deal. As I grew up, I realized this wasn’t far from the truth for most of the developed world. If you’re in a Western country and dead set on becoming a citizen of another, is it really that hard? Not really.

This is the world we created after World War II. We asked for peace and open borders. Now we’re surprised when people use them?

Use Your Potions and Scrolls


I find that when I play RPG games, I often hoard single-use items like potions and scrolls, saving them for some future critical moment. I finish games like Skyrim with a backpack full of unspent resources, reserved for a crisis that never actually arrives. What’s the point, then, of all these items?

Just like I save items in games, in real life I too am reluctant to ask for favors or promote my own projects. (Sometimes I even save all my favourite treats and I never eat the last one). I treated these social and professional resources as if they were single-use “magical items”, not to be wasted but reserved for some important-yet-undefined future magnum opus event.

Recently I played Baldur’s Gate 3 and I decided to try something new: I would actually gasp use my items as needed, as they were intended, without undue reservation. Not only was it actually fun to use my fireball scrolls and blow stuff up, but I also discovered new layers and hidden quests. For instance, using a ‘Speak with the Dead’ scroll on a certain suspicious corpse unveiled a questline I would have otherwise missed.

How to Talk to Your Date versus Your Customer



When I was younger, I thought dating was primarily about “impressing” someone enough that they would somehow find you attractive. After discussing this with my therapist, I now understand that my lack of self-confidence led me to feel like I had to “deceive” others to be liked because I didn’t like myself. Thus, inauthenticity.

That line of thinking and mindset led me to be single for a long time, and since then I’ve always paid attention to how I communicate and how I might communicate better. Coming from a nerdy, introverted, engineering background, it has taken me some time to reach my somewhat adequate level of socialization, but I’m enthusiastic to inform the reader that a psychologist friend recently dubbed me “almost certainly not autistic” 😎👍

No More Code Monkeys

In the fast-paced world of software engineering, an industry characterized by an average tenure between 1-2 years1, the notion of seniority has always been somewhat fluid. It is an environment where you’re expected to go from “new grad” to “senior” within 36 months, which presents a pace much faster than in most other professions. But this swift movement through ranks, and perhaps the structure of seniority itself, faces disruption at the hands of emerging technologies, namely Language Learning Models (LLMs) like Copilot and ChatGPT.

The Changing Dynamics of Workflow

To understand the seismic shift that’s underway, you only need ask the seasoned engineers in your team: has Copilot or ChatGPT had an impact on their workflow? Anecdotal evidence2 will tell you that in a vast majority of cases, these tools have indeed been game-changing, despite the shaky early criticisms of Copilot. LLMs have the potential to churn out low-level code, provide debugging insights, and even advise on high-level architecture, amplifying productivity in an unprecedented way.

The immediate repercussion is a trend toward hiring fewer interns and junior engineers. In a world where an LLM can provide most of the heavy lifting and augment the efforts of a mid-level or senior engineer so effectively, the traditional utility of the junior engineer as a “code monkey” diminishes.

Therefore, as a young engineer you may be worried about your career prospects, especially considering the spate of recent layoffs in big tech companies.3 4 5

How Naming Shapes Our Conversations

At dinner the other day my Chinese dad brought up whether English had a term for the Chinese word 鲜. In fact, there is: umami. But it’s not a word common for English learners, and I think even native speakers may not use the word frequently or have encountered it at all, unless they have an interest in cooking.

The word itself, as you may be able to tell, is loaned from Japanese, which leads me to speculate that it wasn’t a concept that anglophones thought much of until more recent times.

But does that mean the taste didn’t exist? Presumably those taste buds were there the whole time. And yet, before I knew of the word umami I would kinda just round to the nearest concept, approximately “saltiness” or “savoriness”, and my understanding is that others do the same.

But that’s less than ideal.

Fish are very umami and salty, but a food doesn't have to be both