Friday, January 22, 2021

Friday Links

2020 Game
I have been catching up with my podcasts. The environment section is probably here to stay. It will be one of the things of 2021 when people get bored of the virus. 

Management 

TBM 2/52: Start by Counting Things - how to start with metrics

TBM 3/52: Help Your Team Find Its Own Way - definitely worth looking into why these companies prefer six weeks. We tried it too and it wasn't a good fit at the time.

Does Pay-For-Performance Perform? - I am highly sceptical of individual bonuses and instead prefer team or department bonuses to avoid some of the gaming that is otherwise possible

The Beautiful Mess 2020 - the whole TBM collection for 2020. So many good management and product tips. 

I Was Told There Would Be Biscuits - what job training is and what it should be 

6. Innovation is managed chaos, w/Eric Schmidt of Google/Alphabet [Podcast] - Eric Schmidt about the beginning and strategies used at Google 

Improve Team Performance and Turn Around Underachieving Engineering Teams [Podcast] - quite anecdotal, but still some good points 

How Do You Accelerate Product Decision Velocity? [Podcast] - how different companies fight decision paralysis

Engineering

How Fast is Ruby 3 on Rails? - not fast at all

Git clone: a data-driven study on cloning behaviors - nice research on git cloning performance, jump to the end for tips

Food on the table while giving away code - curl creator about living from open source

Sophisticated Watering Hole Attack - the whole Project Zero research results are well scary 

TDD in a React frontend  - I am personally am looking forward to a time when React separates the view from the code and stops looking like PHP from the 90s  

I told you so, 2021 edition - JWZ is unhappy about the state of Linux screensaver security.  

Fast commits for ext4 [LWN] - I love LWN's deep dives into kernel improvements  

Red Hat / CentOS Saga continues

Elasticsearch license change saga

Environment 

Wo die Luft in Europa am gefährlichsten ist [German] - where the air is most dirty in Europe

ISGlobal - Ranking Of Cities - ranking cities by how many deaths are caused by pollution. Barcelona makes itito the top ten.

Limiting air pollution 'could prevent 50,000 deaths in Europe' - at some point we will look at this and be utterly ashamed  

Barcelona 2020 pollution levels reach historic lows due to pandemic - back to normal again now obviously

Revival of Trans Europe Express 'key to EU's carbon neutrality' - I don't think they will be quite as chic as in the past, but I would love to take a train from Barcelona to Berlin. 

Does Africa have a voice on climate? [Podcast] - nice story about Vanessa Nakat's journey of climate activisim.

Urbanism

Speeding Toward A Car-Free, Post-Covid Future? - long read, but worth it. Looking into the history and challenges of a car free Barcelona

Ahead of Confirmation Hearing, Buttigieg Explains Transportation Goals - oh no, he is one of the electric and autonomous car guys.

In South Bend, Pete Buttigieg challenged a decades-old assumption that streets are for cars above all else - looks like it isn't just about cars for him though

I won’t make the same mistakes again: Milan mayor on his green Covid recovery plan  - looking towards a more liveable city for recovery from the crisis

Streets Ahead Meets The War on Cars [Podcast] - The US and UK urbanism podcasters meet 

Climaphobia - The B-Movie We're Forced to Watch [Podcast] - the fear of "extreme" weather

Random Games

2020 Game - 2020 was more fun than I rememberd 

2021 Social - Ron's take on the divided USA 

Post Reports: Four Hours of Insurrection [Podcasts] - on the ground reports from the Capitol mess 

Wikipedia at 20: last gasp of an internet vision, or a beacon to a better future?  - don't forget about Open Street Map! They are right not much of the fun internet is left

Goals Survey Results: What Can We Learn From 2020? - 2020 certainly has been a year to rethink your goals 

Why You Should Stop Using Facebook Messenger After Privacy Backlash - all messengers are a bit shit. I do like messenger. For people on facebook already it isn't much worse then not using it. 

Mobility network models of COVID-19 explain inequities and inform reopening - cool research about the effect of opening / closing certain businesses  

Rapid Response: Ten months of pain and hope, w/restaurateur Danny Meyer [Podcast] - another interview with the NYC restauranteur. Cool to listen to the decision they are making and about the learnings

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Friday Links

Oriol Ferrer Mesià
Good stuff on management and random stuff today. And a new section "Environment", which is just depressing.

Management

Optimize Your Time with The Balanced Calendar - good tips on creating free space or focused time 

Meeting Rooms Are Now Free -  but meetings are still expensive

Summarized – Tech and business books I read in 2020 - Daniel Bartholomae's book tips

Recommended Engineering Management Books - good collection. I probably should write one of these lists at some point

Leadership Principles  - Amazon leadership principles 

Crafting a Support Network as a Founder and CEO - I think this is true for all leaders, just so bloody hard.  

What can you offer as a manager to Software Engineers that will last? - mostly about engineering ladder and career development 

#100 Matt Mullenweg: Collaboration Is Key [Podcast] - co-founder of WordPress talking about open-source, distributed teams and management 

Feedback Loops and Speed: How to Optimize for Learning and Build Efficient Teams with Farhan Thawar, Vice President of Engineering at Shopify [Podcast] - Shopify VPoE about still coding as a leader and how to build teams

Engineering

How well Rails developers actually test their apps - interesting survey. I still don't understand why Ruby people can't just use xUnit style testing like the rest of the world 

Introducing the In-the-Wild Series - six part series from Google about in the wild and zero day exploits. Six parts!


Introducing Google News performance report
- I think all of this was visible before, but now it is easier to access 

The Cost of Javascript Frameworks - cool research about performance and size of different frameworks

Urbanism

How America Bankrupted its Cities - The Growth Ponzi Scheme [YouTube] - will they notice? ever? 

Paris agrees to turn Champs-Élysées into 'extraordinary garden' - Looks like Paris will be the most liveable future European city

Environment

Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ more common in tap water than thought, report says - so I learned about PFAS ... another thing to worry about. It is apparently in a lot of greases and cleaning products for bicycles. Luckily not in the brand I am using: Muc-Off

2020, the hottest year in Catalonia since 1950 - it felt pretty warm. I also seem to have moved to an even hotter are than Barcelona

Biodiversity declining in Catalonia with 25% fall in animal populations in 18 years - this is fine

Random Computers

Modern Retro Computer Terminals - so pretty! I don't seem to have any use for these though, or a 3d printer

Wikipedia at 20: The encyclopedia in five articles - in case I needed to be reminded that I am old. There are many people alive now that don't know a world without Wikipedia. I am not contributing any more, because it is a silly fight with their moderators, especially in the German version. 

The Catalan cyclist who visited 43 countries during the Covid-19 pandemic - I am envious, but I probably wouldn't be up for this even if I had the time. 

The man who destroyed all his belongings - I was listening to a podcast about minimalism, which reminded me about this brilliant art

The Lies that can Undermine Democracy - Martin Fowler putting it into better words than I could 

Why it's time to stop pursuing happiness - I am getting more and more suspiscous about this whole well-being and happiness movements  

Kristen Bell Chooses Her Lane [Podcast] - "staying in your lane" or knowing what you are good at is a good idea for a lot of people

Permanent suspension of @realDonaldTrump - better late than never, no that isn't even true, it was way too late. And Jack is already backpeddling.

The Great Gatsby [Podcast] - I saw the movie, does that count? 

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2020 review

2020 was a bit unexpected to say the least. Here is a quick review from my perspective.

This is the second year we are living in the countryside and hour from Barcelona and over the year it turned out to have been a pretty good decision. 

January

Pretty uneventful. I mostly cycled indoors and met the BRCG crew once for a longer ride. A storm hit Spain and led to a bit of damage on our house. 

February

I started a project to hit every restaurant on Passeig de Sant Joan near our office. I would get too far. 

Beginning of the month I listened to an episode of the 80,000 hours podcast about the coronavirus. They are pretty reasonable people and I thought it was probably worth preparing a little bit. 

On our next shopping trip I bought a bit more pasta, canned food and hand sterilizer than usual. My girlfriend looked at me with the worry that I turned into a mad prepper.

March

Bill Bailey
3rd of March we saw Bill Bailey doing a show in Barcelona. It was brilliant. We were in a packed theatre and he was making fun about the virus. 

4th our CEO was in town for the week and I coaxed him into a deploy

In fact a lot of our team from the US office was in town and they planned to stay for a while. On the Friday we had a town hall meeting and I suggest we do a test run for the following week where everybody works from home. To my surprise this was accepted as a good idea. Little did we know that by that time the Americans scrambled to get back to the states as the US was closing borders for European flights. 

End of the week the supermarkets were emptied of toilet paper (surprisingly I didn't stock up on that, because we really had enough). 

We did a last trip to Barcelona to visit a Chinese supermarket and pick up stuff from the office. I haven't been in the city since then. 

This was also the day were the lock-down was really announced.

Lucas Hamilton
One highlight was a small virtual group ride with Lucas Hamilton from Mitchelton-Scott, which are my favourite team. It was pretty relaxed until everybody killed me in a sprint.  

April-June

This was a bit of a blur. 
I improved my workspace in preparation to working from home for a long time. 
The lock-down meant that I was not able to go for bike rides for a while.
We spent time on working in the garden and house. 
Enjoyed the nice weather.
Shopping habits also changed, before we went every couple of days and now we try to go maybe every three weeks.This also had the effect to go more vegetarian. You just can't keep animal meat fresh for a long time. 

July

I planned to cycle to Barcelona, but I only made it to my old village just outside for some ice-cream

picnic
My sister came with her daughther for a visit from Germany. For her it must have been like visiting a different planet. Germany didn't have any proper lock-down in 2020 and in Spain everybody was super careful and wearing masks.
 
We had a good time, with some road trips and picnics. All very social distanced. 


August

Devex has a company wide week off at the end of August. By some lucky chance some friends planned a cycling trip from Geneva to Nice . We would fly to Switzerland and then ride down to Nice and fly back. It would have been a brilliant trip with good friends and just cycling every days.
 
In the end I decided against it because of the virus thing. It just didn't felt safe to me personally to fly two times and then stay in a different hotel every day. The cycling itself is obviously pretty much perfect for social distancing. 

I decided something closer to home with meeting fewer people would be better. I rented a car and spent a few of days in Berga and a weekend in a fancy hotel in Peramola. I still was able to cycle every day, but met nearly nobody. People in Berga and in the Hotel were also very good at social distancing and wearing masks.

Weather was pretty good all the time. Sometimes so good that I had trouble to find enough water stops on the way. This area is just great for cycling.

September

We left the animals in the care of a friend and went on a camping trip to our favourite camping ground not far from Valencia. On the way to that one and back we stayed in some fancy hotels to get the chance to relax a bit.
The weather was "varied", but it was a a great trip. I do miss camping and holidays, but the animals do make this tricky. Our car and tent is also to small to take our dog.

October

I enjoyed the remaining long days and nice weather with some good bike rides. The lock-down limits for cycling were a bit larger at that time, which gave me the chance for some longer rides. Overall pretty uneventful though.

November

My birthday that I nearly forgot about just now. 
I finally gave up on Instagram, because it got to annoying with a new interface and non stop sponsored posts. This also meant that I don't post photos to Facebook any more, because I just used Instagram to do this. 

December

Usually we have some friends around for Christmas and New Years, but this time it was just us. We still had our traditional duck for Christmas, crispy duck for boxing day and hot pot for New Year Eve. I don't know if I ate more or less than when we have guests. Probably more.

Some Statistics

Books 

I already posted a summary of the books I read this year. I guess I expected to have more time, but I have no idea what happened to the time I saved commuting. 26 books including graphic novels is not bad though. 

Cycling

Not quite as much cycling as I wanted. Since we moved I am missing my daily all year commute. It was short, but pretty effective. And this year I didn't even have my long rides back from work that I did once or twice a week last year.

This winter I definitely increased my indoor cycling. With the current limited range I can cycle outdoors due to lock-down it isn't that bad.

I also managed quite a distance in dog walks, which is also reducing time for cycling. 

Hopefully a bit more for 2021

Blog

I did post 46 of my regular Friday Links, which is pretty good. In June I also changed the format to add a bit of a comment to each link and an image to each post, which was well received by the few people who are reading these.

My most popular posts in decreasing popularity:
Overall the visits to my blog are nothing worth mentioning ... so I won't.
 
Looking forward to 2021! How bad can it possibly be? 

 





Friday, January 08, 2021

Post Holiday Friday Links

C64 Generator

A bit of a catch-up issue of the Friday Links. Full of urbanism, randomness, a few of 2020 reviews and the usual engineering management.

Relatively few podcast were released over the holidays. I managed to catch up with my back-log (for a while).

Management

What are our core values and practices for building software? - cool summary about Thoughtsworks engineering values. I think they probably apply to a lot of companies

Packlink engineering vision for 2021 - I find it a bit messy, but did pick up some good ideas like the Tech Radar. I also find that I think less about technologies now and more about general direction

TBM 52/53: Real Teams (Not Groups of One-Person Teams) - Totally agree. I am rereading Peopleware and  they also go on about this. Team Topologies instead pretends that there are no individuals.  

Tech Lead Management roles are a trap. - they are also a reality in most small to medium sized companies.

What I’ve Learned in 45 Years in the Software Industry - that is fricking long! 

TBM 2.1/52: Continuous Roadmapping - isn't this how everybody does it?

Building On-Call Culture at GitHub  - great insight how to think about code ownership in a mononlith and how to map that to on-calls

Technology

Extracting Personal Information from Large Language Models Like GPT-2 - this is pretty bad and just the beginning. 

Russia’s SolarWinds Attack - good write-up by Schneier 

Ruby 3.0.0 Released - we are going to stick with 2.7 for a bit longer, but they are finally thinking about performance.

HTML over the wire - I now have a rule: read what DHH thinks and do the opposite 

Visualizing GitHub’s global community - pretty new home page. Also see: How we built the GitHub globe 

Balancing the needs around the CentOS platform - CentOS was still trying to rescue their image in December. I think they have given up now. 

When Should You NOT Use Rails?  - in 2021 maybe? Good points though and also mentioning other sensible frameworks 

Commits are snapshots, not diffs  - someone trying to explain Git again :-) 

RubyConf 2020 [YouTube] - all the talk videos

Microservices Monitoring: Using Namespaces for Data Structuring - good tips from AppSignal, if you do use Microservices (or just many services)

Just desserts: Baking with AI-made recipes - great idea and surprisingly successful - more on the behind the scenes

Bootstrappable builds [LWN] - interesting concept, but seems a bit academic 

Urbanism

11 places that prioritise people over cars - Barcelona's super blocks are included as usual

The Future of Offices When Workers Have a Choice - I like the idea of more of a mix of living and working areas. This already exists in many European cities, but seems rare in the US.

Removed London bike lane blocked by parked cars most of the time – study - this is a surprise to no one. Good use of technology though. It is also weird how people remove pop up bicycle lanes while we are still in the middle of a pandemic

Been doing some gaming on the holidays. There's a lot of differences between different city building games, and it reflects the places where they're designed. Here's a thread on SimCity, Cities Skylines, Transport Tycoon, A-Train, and Soviet Republic. - comparison of city games with screenshots and how realistic they are from an urbanist perspective 

Before: 19th Century $1-building; Now: luxury house/pizzeria [YouTube] - should I feel bad about liking this kind of gentrification? I don't care! I want a fire station. 

Supermanzanas, o cómo devolver al peatón la ciudad robada por los coches [Spanish] - looks like Madrid might be planning super blocks too. Good visualizations in the article. 

Barcelona is redesigning 21 downtown streets to prioritize people, not cars - more about the new (not really) super blocks.

Cycling Injury Risk in London: Impacts of Road Characteristics and Infrastructure

"When compared to no infrastructure, this study found that protected cycle infrastructure reduced odds of injury by 40-65% in the morning commute, whereas advisory lanes increased injury odds by 34%. Junctions were found to increase injury odds threefold; higher pedestrian density also increased injury odds. This study supports growing evidence of a ‘safety in numbers’ effect."

Two-way street: how Barcelona is democratising public space - even more about Barcelona streets

2020

LWN's 2020 Retrospective - predictions for 2020 were generally off a bit  

A year with Covid -19 [Podcast] - Year review from Science in Action, with report snippets over the year 

Athletes Don’t Quit - Strava community in numbers. The graphs in relation to lock-downs are interesting. And Brazo de Hierro's photos are great.

2020: Year In Review - World Bicycle Relief is still my favourite charity. Mostly because of bicycles. 

Random Generators

Patch notes just dropped - generated with Totally Rad Generator

42 Douglas Adams quotes to live by - all gems. It might be time to reread some of his books again. I haven't read Last Chance To See or the original Hitch-hikers Guide for a long time. 

Burning the furniture: my life as a consumer  - nice long read. I am a self confessed IKEA guy.

Extreme Time Value of Money: Late-stage Career Planning - Kent Beck about how career planning changes with age

Rear View Wheel Vol.15 End of Year 2020 - a bit naughty to just post people's rears, but nice cycling photos 

Unhealthy snacks to be banned from checkouts at supermarkets in England - maybe Brexit has some advantages in being able to make these rules faster?

Sewed own popup dome-home for need, been selling them since [YouTube] - now I want a dome, but that doesn't really fit our style 

Why Barcelona Is Becoming a Hub for Travel Startups - clustering? 

Organic meat production just as bad for climate, study finds - Organic milk are quite a bit better though. Eggs might be worse.
 

How To Take Smart Notes: 10 Principles to Revolutionize Your Note-Taking and Writing - I am still on my Zettelkasten mission, this also touches the subject. I also want to get better at extracting information from books I read. 

Do We Lose Skills Because of Technology?
[Podcast] - no, we learn other things

Other Links

Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

Monday, January 04, 2021

2020 in Books

goodreads books 2020

You would think a global pandemic would be good for your reading habit. This doesn't seem to be the case for me. I am not sure where the time I spent on commute went, but definitely not towards some good use.

This list is kind of in order, but also grouped by author and series. 

Most of the books are easy airport reads, with thrillers and some sci-fi. 

I also tried some of the management books I had on my reading list for a long time.
 

Books

The Unicorn Project: A Novel about Digital Disruption, Redshirts, and Overthrowing the Ancient Powerful Order by

See also my post about this book. Both are engineering management books in the form of a novel. I was not 100% convinced, but at least the first part (Phoenix Project) was a fun read. This part was a drag. 

The Business of Changing the World: How Billionaires, Tech Disrupters, and Social Entrepreneurs Are Transforming the Global Aid Industry by

Written by my boss about the industry Devex is navigating in. I figured that it is probably a good idea to find out what he thinks about the industry while finding out more about the industry myself. I found a lot of interesting titbits and it might help me to make decisions about our products in the future.

In the Shadow of Power  (Sandhamn Murders #7) by
In the Name of Truth
(Sandhamn Murders #8) by Viveca Sten

I really like Nordic Noir TV series ... this is not that. It is a easy beach crime lecture in a cosy Swedish setting. Maybe Enid Blyton for grown ups. 

Infinity Born by

It did get off to a good start, but then it looked like someone searched for AI on Wikipedia and got lost for a couple of days. During this travel into the rabbit hole he seemed to have got fascinated by various billionaires and decided to write a book about it.
All the other characters were just decoration and I didn't care for any of them.
The plot, if you can even call it that, was so predictable that I was able to see the ending miles away. 

The Poet (Jack McEvoy #1) by Michael Connelly
The Scarecrow (Jack McEvoy #2) by Michael Connelly
Fair Warning
(Jack McEvoy #3) by Michael Connelly
The Lincoln Lawyer
(Mickey Haller #1) by Michael Connelly
The Fifth Witness
(Mickey Haller #4) by Michael Connelly
The Gods of Guilt
(Mickey Haller #5) by Michael Connelly
The Law of Innocence
(Mickey Haller #6) by Michael Connelly

These books all play in the Bosch universe. I really like the Harry Bosch series in books and on TV. Because I was yearning for more of the same I devoured the rest of the universe too. They are easy to read crime fiction with different angles depending on the main person. 

Harry Bosch is an ex-detective, Jack McEvoy a reporter and Mickey Haller a lawyer.  

They are all kind of broken, which is the way I like my heroes.


The Man Who Never Was (John Milton #16) by Mark Dawson
Killa City
(John Milton #17) by Mark Dawson
Ronin
(John Milton #18) by Mark Dawson

Another crime series I am addicted too. John Milton is a British ex-spy on a Jason Bourne / Robin Hood mission. Another broken hero. Good fun to read.

The Art of Leadership: Small Things, Done Well by Michael Lopp

If you read his blog you probably can skip the book. It is structured in sections for managers, directors and executives. I only enjoyed the first two. 

Definitely worth reading though as he gives good actionable tips with believable examples.

Red Rising (Red Rising Saga #1) by Pierce Brown
Golden Son (Red Rising Saga #2) by Pierce Brown
Morning Star (Red Rising Saga #3) by Pierce Brown

Hunger Games meets Hogwart's Houses. This doesn't have enough science for me. But then I still read through three of these very large books. The world and cast building is pretty good. 

Change Journal by Tim Jaudszims

I started a workday journal this year and was looking for inspirations for structure and format. So far I haven't picked up anything from this book. Maybe 2021 :-)

Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow by Matthew Skelton

Very good read for every engineering manager. The focus is on product/stream teams with additional supporting teams. Most of it only makes sense for large companies and teams dealing with software. It is also relying on the use of micro-services a lot to split up projects for teams.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

I somehow feel that this could have been a blog post or a series of posts. I think the author felt the same, because the book is full of empty decorative pages and a large font type. 

Nonetheless the tips are good and maybe the repetition in the book helps with remembering them. 

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek  

I gave up on this very early. I am just not buying into the whole concept. I think there are also some talks by him on TED and YouTube that tell you everything you need to know about the concept. 

 
Similar to the Unicorn Project, this begins with a fictional story about a new CEO coaching her team to success. Apparently there is a 19 page version of this around or "busy" people, but these 250 pages are also a very quick read. 
Probably nothing new to people dealing with teams, but the the example story and explanations make it worth it. 
 

Comics

Doomsday Clock Series

I love The Watchmen graphic novel. It is one of my top five graphic novels. This is a cross-over with the DC universe (Batman & co). I really don't like cross-overs, but it was great to revisit the characters.

Criminal Series by  

Great crime comic from one of my favourite comic artists. 

The Boys Series by

Lazarus: Risen Series by

Greg Rucka is another one of my favourite comic artists. I love what he did with the Batman universe back in the days. This story is about some engineered super humans that are used by super rich families to fight each other, because they are to spoiled. 

Currently (or soon or never) reading

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by Tom DeMarco 

I have read this a long time ago, but someone recommended it as a book that is still valid. So far it seems pretty good.

Iron Gold (Red Rising Saga #4) by Pierce Brown

The next part in the Saga. But #3 kind of closed it of nicely. I am not sure if I can be bothered.

Psychedelic Prayers: And Other Meditations by Timothy Leary

OK, this is as weird one. It is often used as lyrics in techno tracks. I sometimes cite it in strange places. 

Rise: 3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, and Liking Your Life by Patty Azzarello

I can't remember why I put it on my list. Maybe a recommendation by someone.

Rumble Strip by Woodrow Phoenix

Definitely a recommendation. It is a comic about how we treat the dangers of cars as normal. I read it very slowly, because it is super depressing.  

My to-read list on Goodreads is also way too long.