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Ask HN: What unknown technical blogs or sites do you read?
294 points by llambda on Dec 16, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 80 comments

Scott Aaronson's blog is so awesome. I would be reading it now if I still had room in my head for the whole 'rationalist' thing (along with Overcoming Bias, etc.) Check out his "Favorite Posts" in the right-hand column.

Lambda the Ultimate is also a rare gem of a community on the internet and likewise I'd still be reading it if I wasn't trying to care less about design and more about hustle right now. I'm really interested in dataflow programming and I've learned a lot by searching through previous discussions on the concept at LtU.

I find Planet blog aggregators a useful and surprisingly unknown resource. Great way to get a view into the blogs of a whole project community without having to follow a pile of them individually; I recommend following the Planet for any project you regularly use or have a strong interest in. I personally follow these planets regularly (via a bookmark folder that I open into tabs):

Planet Debian: http://planet.debian.org/

Planet Freedesktop: http://planet.freedesktop.org/

Planet GNOME: http://planet.gnome.org/

Kernel Planet: http://planet.kernel.org/

Planet Mozilla: http://planet.mozilla.org/

I also follow:

- Planet Python: http://planet.python.org/

- Planet Django: http://www.planetdjango.org/

The following are interesting if you're user of the Linux distribution and sometimes overlap with other planets (ie. Gnome):

- Planet Fedora: http://planet.fedoraproject.org/

- Planet Ubuntu: http://planet.ubuntu.com/

EDIT: formatting


- Planet Perl Iron Man: http://ironman.enlightenedperl.org/

- Planet Lisp: http://planet.lisp.org/

- Planet Clojure: http://planet.clojure.in/

Planet Emacsen is a good aggregator of all things Emacs, lots of neat tips: http://planet.emacsen.org/

Planet Arch Linux: https://planet.archlinux.org/

Planet Node.js: http://planetnodejs.com/


It's not a blog, but a collection of weekly email newsletters.

At the risk of sounding like a shill (because I'm pretty sure Mr Cooper posts to HN), I have to say these are each brilliantly done. There are separate newsletters for JavaScript, Ruby, HTML5, and Dart (but sadly no Python).

Great way to keep up with changes in these areas once a week, and pretty much the only third-party emails I not only look forward to receiving, but actually open and read.

I do! :-) Thanks for the mention, you would be a great shill to hire if I were looking.

With regards to Python, I believe http://www.pythonweekly.com/ was inspired by my newsletters. I don't run it but have seen a few issues. There is also http://pycoders.com/ and I know those guys too. Both have a similar structure and approach to mine. Hopefully I can buy/partner with one of them someday rather than launch my own ;-)

Statuscode and Javascript weekly are good for picking up technical news (new stuff, version increments) that you may have missed via Hackernews.

http://newspacewatch.com/ - Newspace sector news. Clark Lindsey knows what's going on. If you want to set into context what SpaceX does, this is the place: Usually it's something that other companies have already done on a smaller scale.

http://www.43rumors.com/ - Micro four thirds camera news, only interesting if you have one or are going to buy one.

http://www.greencarcongress.com/ - Automotive sector technologies. This is the engineering style site: just mostly text and more in depth press releases. No fancy word plays or car show girls. I do wonder though, why we are not in a better position as a new massively improved cheap battery technology is discovered every week...

http://planet3.org/ - Climate scientists write thoughtfully. Also in the comments. It's not as massive as realclimate and it's much less formal.

Jonathan's Space Report (http://www.planet4589.org/jsr.html) is an exhaustive accounting of human activity in space (manned or unmanned), with a focus on recent launches. Released every few weeks. Back issues run to 1989 and continue to the present day.

Emily Lakdawalla writes some very good explanations of space science for the Planetary Society - very accessible, but with more detail and intelligence (IMHO) than you get from other media outlets. http://www.planetary.org/blogs/emily-lakdawalla/

Fringe energy and "science" type stuff...



By following the links and discussions, you can get pretty deep into it; down to the published papers in respectable journals and granted patents. But be warned, there are a lot of crack pots that pollute the matters (as expected for this category). So you have to take what's good, and throw away what's bad. But it does give you a different perspective on things.

Landon Fuller is a great read, although not as active in the past year or 2. Have seen a few posts trickle through recently, as high caliber as ever.

Hacker News

If it's good enough it will make it's way on here. If not, there's no point in me repeatedly checking their site or collecting it into a big RSS dump where I have to wade through 99% crap to get to the good bits.

Hacker News does a great job of giving me the HREFs I like to click on and that's one of the reasons I keep coming back.

Many truly interesting technical posts never make it to the front page. Instead it's mostly self-help/anti-procrastination garbage, reviews of the latest tablets and posts about how shitty U.s. math education is.

You could probably start with a simple filter. Blacklist certain words and websites for a start. If the cruft is truly repetitive, it shouldn't be particularly difficult to filter it out.

Except when I am offline for a minute, then I have to do some digging. Are you aware of this news.ycombinator.com/best though? I find it helpful

I proudly present:



You might find my http://hackernewsletter.com project useful...

Since it hasn't been mentioned yet - The Risks Digest - http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks

See just how wrong things can, and do, go.

May I suggest my friend Tim's blog? I'm pretty sure it's unknown, it seems he writes it mostly for himself. But there are some great technical articles on it:


Reading the top blog entry, looks like a very useful blog to me. No big fancy talking about how he scaled up to 4 million users, but a down-to-earth story about FTP and versioning that I can relate to. Thanks for the link :)

Edit: I forgot to mention another thing: It made a positive impression by being a dark blog with a good design. I don't entirely like my own blog's design, and I thought white-on-black just wasn't a good setup. This shows it can be great. I also like the lack of "recommended articles" and pop-ups (javascript ones) to keep me on the site.

Shameless plug to my own blog: http://blog.vjeux.com

Awesome blog!

Nice to see some people from EPITA doing cool stuff :-)

Another shameless plug: http://izbicki.me

I have both technical AI type posts and also a bit of religion.

Since this appears to be the dedicated thread for self promotion, http://bbot.org/blog/

Shameless plug to my own: http://hassankhan.me

Probably the most unknown area I read and/or hear about today are private G+ circles. For example, much pre-publication PL/compilers work is mentioned in "limited" posts. I've heard similar things are happening in ML areas, though I have no personal insight into them.

That's not cool.

Well, I've been enjoying Joey Hess' build log of git-annex assistant [1], and I like Julien Danjou's [2] too, even though he writes more about Emacs, while I'm a VIM user.

Then there's Old New Thing, LtU and John Resig's blog, but those are less obscure.

[1]: http://git-annex.branchable.com/design/assistant/blog/

[2]: http://julien.danjou.info/blog/

I like Chris Siebenmann's blog. He writes daily about unix sys admin on a university network, mainly using Solaris, RHEL and ZFS.

It's interesting to see the tools he uses and the problems he encounters, useful when you do some amount of admin on your VPS.


I try to keep my subscription to an absolute minimum since I like to leave some time for reading books. After a lot of culling, I'm currently subscribed to some popular feeds:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/ (general web design / dev)

http://www.alistapart.com/ (long form web design / front-end)

http://dailyjs.com/ (Javascript / node.js)

http://createdigitalmusic.com/ (digital music / software)

http://www.creativeapplications.net/ (new-media art)

And a handful of unpopular ones:

http://www.ribbonfarm.com/ (absolutely my favorite blog in the world – self-describes as "refactored perception)

http://www.tempobook.com/blog/ (same author as above, posts related to his last book)

http://worrydream.com/feed.xml (not really a blog, but Bret Victor writes some of the best long-form articles on interaction design around – read all of them)

http://www2.technologyreview.com/rss/video_rss.aspx (Tech Review videos, sparsely updated – mainly because the editor's interviews are awesome/hilarious)

http://idlewords.com/ (breathtaking travel blog from the founder of Pinboard)

http://www.loper-os.org/ (awesome / hilarious posts by a software heretic on the general terrible state of things in technology – keeps me in touch with Alan Kay-esque thinking)

http://we-make-money-not-art.com/ (the only contemporary art blog I like from a very dedicated Italian writer)

http://vagueterrain.net/ (occasionally published digital art magazine, themed topics, guest curated)

http://theixdlibrary.com/ (occasional classic UX articles)

http://www.markboulton.co.uk/ (occasional forward-thinking posts on web design, focus on layout and grids)

http://informationarchitects.net/ (same as above, but focus on typography)

All of these feeds have been selected for a very high signal to noise ratio and most of them are updated only occasionally (which I prefer), with the exception of Smashing and DailyJS.

Ribbonfarm is truly top-notch, one of my absolute favorites as well.

I also like http://lesswrong.com/ but I think its pretty well known.

While I've found some nice ideas on Less Wrong, articles like this recent one: http://lesswrong.com/lw/frp/train_philosophers_with_pearl_an... go to show the tunnel vision of the "Rationalists" that haunt that part of the internet.

I think of Venkat Rao as a combination of that sort of scientific rationalism with the sort of old-school intellectualism that can only come from reading an epic quantity of literature and taking a truly skeptical attitude toward everything. Keeps the fanaticism in check and results in a much more subtle and interesting point of view.

I definitely agree about lesswrong being a mixed bag, that post you linked in particular was just... painful.

keeps me in touch with Alan Kay-esque thinking

Heck, keep in touch with Alan Kay and his minions: vpri.org/writings/

"I try to keep my subscription to an absolute minimum" says the guy who provided the single longest list.

To be fair, most of those are < 1 post per day, but still you point accurately a major issue of mine which is wanting to stay abreast of too many fields at a time. I hope I will be able to whittle-down my field of focus further in the coming years.

Mike Ash's Friday Q&A is easily one of my favorite technical blogs http://www.mikeash.com/pyblog/

http://blog.elphel.com/ image processing

http://hydraraptor.blogspot.com/ 3d printers

http://pipeline.corante.com/ pharmaceutical development

http://howtospotapsychopath.com/ all sorts of stuff


PS: Awesome thread! So many nuggets.


By far the most comprehensive, most underrated Python framework (actually, any web framework) that I know of. Incredibly complete library. Fantastic community. Most responsive project creator/manager-place is a dream.

http://theinvisiblethings.blogspot.com/ - blue pill company, etc. http://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/ - cambridge (uk) security group

It may not be living up to its name if it is popular, but NSHipster is a great blog on Objective-C

Link for the lazy: http://nshipster.com/

Not as much a blog as a repository of beautiful data visualizations, occasionally coupled to the story behind the visualizations' creation:


as for technical blogs, the only ones I get consistently useful information from are: http://blog.sanctum.geek.nz/, from which I've learnt a great deal about vim and also about some obscure but historically significant unix tools which otherwise I'd never have known of. http://archlinux.me/ Every now and then a good in depth article pops up pn this one. Dev blogs are great for learning about the nitty gritty details of a project aswell as getting a grip on the problems devs are facing right now.


Slava always has great live presentations and has a great blog.

My recent subscription: http://bartoszmilewski.com/ The blog in one sentence: Think in Haskell, code in C++ & multi-core to spice it all up.

Vanilla Java is a great book. The author is active on SO as well.


Mix of interesting technical articles (most related to search and information retrieval) and tech industry prognostication.

I really enjoy http://afreshcup.com/. It's mostly a linkblog, but Mike Gunderloy always finds interesting things to share.

Not sure if it's unknown but http://blog.cwa.me.uk/ is pretty good for MS technologies (and sometimes web in general)

http://www.bernd-leitenberger.de/blog/ <- a German blog focused on rockets and space techologie

I read http://www.blogeek.com.ar/ It's about Scala, Java, Ruby, Play mostly.

The Risks Digest is great http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks

They're not unknown to me...

"No known bugs" is a must have in all self-respecting Release Notes :)

well, there are known unknowns and...

a very smart physicist turned quant's take on many topics - always excited to see a new entry


im not sure how unknown it is but hackaday.com

I frequently see an interesting project posted on hackaday, then a few days later it has gone 'viral' on engadget, lifehacker, hn, ars etc...

a link aggregator called coder.io and articles on codeproject.com are too good.

Anyone got one for musicians?

What kind? Nothin' fancy, but I keep a snip.it for interactive/iOS music production here - http://snip.it/collections/1518-make-music


never ceases to have interesting, substantive content.


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