Box Kite Machine is a personal project where I write about what I want to write about. Topics include but are not limited to human factors in engineering leadership, history, writing, reading, and Mac automation and scripting.
The purpose of writing here is to improve my own understanding and force myself to think rigorously and precisely, so that I can arrange my thoughts coherently. It’s easy to think you understand something until you try to explain it to someone else.
David MacIver explains it well:
If you want to understand something better, write about it. … Why? Because you can think things while writing that you cannot think while not writing, and you can use those thoughts to improve your understanding.
While this project is primarily for my use, it’s not that I don’t want readers. (Hello! Glad you’re here!) Writing for others, publicly, is a forcing function to make me do the work. And I hope that work proves useful to others.
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and are not my employer’s or anyone else’s. Any stories are fictional and have no relationship to anyone real.
My name is James Sulak and I lead humans who build things from bits, currently as VPE at FlightAware. My hobbies include photography, running, reading history, and keeping up with my three small children. My preferred editor is Emacs, although I’ve been known to use VS Code.
I’m always happy to hear from folks. Drop a note!
What is a box kite machine?
On December 26, 1903, the New York Times ran the headline
Airship After Buyer
Inventors of North Carolina Box Kite Machine Want Government to Purchase It
The article is of course talking about the Wright brothers’ airplane, but the word “airplane” hadn’t been invented yet.
When building new things, especially in software, it’s a reminder that things are always in transition, and sometimes the right words—or ways of thinking—have yet to be found.