Tuesday, December 22, 2020


I can't remember when I started to listen to podcasts. I am sure I was not an early adopter. It might have been around 2004 using iPodder on Linux with the first iPod and later an iPod Shuffle. 
Over the years I used various tools and devices to download podcasts and now have settled on Pocket Casts on Android. It has nice sync functionality between multiple devices and a useful web interface too. The web app is also useful to pull up the recently starred episodes for my Friday Links.

I have a silly amount of subscriptions, the list below are the main ones which are still active and the ones I am still listen to regularly.

I often have a backlog of multiple days of audio, which is not sustainable. So recently I have started to cull episodes and feeds when I am not interested. I used to listen to really everything to get a broad input of knowledge. 

I also started to use some of the Pocket Cast features to reduce time by cutting silence, intros and speeding up the audio. Currently I am at 1.2x speed, but I will probably go back to 1x when I reduced the back-log. There are only so many Mickey Mouse voices I can stand.

So here is a shortened list of my current podcasts.


The Spokesmen Cycling Roundtable Podcast - I don't think it has been a round-table for a while. Recently it has been mostly Carlton Reid interviewing interesting people. I like both styles. Carlton is giving the UK perspective, while the others seem to be in the state.

Antritt [German] - A mix of interviews, chat, technical discussion and listeners experiences

The Bike Show - interviews. sometimes on the bike sometimes off

CyclingTips Podcast - mostly focused on the professional sport, but with fun chat segments and technical bits

Nerd Alert Podcast - the bike tech spin-off of the CyclingTips Podcast

Velohome [German] - a handful of people chatting of all kind of cycling stuff. They have episodes focused on the professional sport (Velorace) and chit chat (Velosnakk). I usually just go for Velosnakk.

The BikeRadar Podcast - from the people of the Bikeradar website, chat about a everything cycling related. A mix of road & mtb.

Radfunk - Deutschlandfunk [German] - I think this is from a German radio station. Mostly focused on Germany and the bicycle as a means of transport in cities. 


Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions - I grew up hating Bill Gates via Microsoft, but nowadays he is so bloody nice and reasonable. 

WRINT: Realitätsabgleich [German] - two German "adjusting their realities", both a very much in my bubble, which is relaxing

Here's The Thing with Alec Baldwin - Alec mostly talks to artists, but also some politicians. I am quite selective in which episodes I listen to.

The Blindboy Podcast - most of the time just one guy's stream of consciousness, but in a good way. He has a way of really putting ideas into words.

Freakonomics Radio - economics view of the world. I now skip everything that is to focused on the US

Pessimists Archive Podcast - looking back at what technologies people were afraid of when they were introduced (Forks, Elevators, ...)

80,000 Hours Podcast with Rob Wiblin - how to do good with your career. First time I heard of Effective Altruism, which is an interesting idea.

The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish - completely different topics, depending on the guess, but always something to learn

The Important Thing - by Rands, I thought about putting it into the Management sections, but often it is just chit chat between the two hosts


The Manager’s Handbook Podcast - great recent discovery, sometimes they just talk about their Clearbit handbook and other times they have guests for specific topics.

Eat Sleep Work Repeat - about work culture, often with good guests  

Supermanagers - from Fellows, which is a 1:1 app, great guests with practical discussions

Level-up Engineering - interviews with engineering managers of all levels 

Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman - I can't listen to the original any more, it is too annoyingly overproduced. But in 2020 they introduced Rapid Response, which can be good and is easier on my patience. 

The Retro - That Agile Podcast - podcast about agile, pretty new but promising so far

Radical Candor - related to the book. Sometimes too annoyingly American for me, but sometimes very good 


The Changelog - interviews with all kind of developers, often open source 

The Idealcast with Gene Kim by IT Revolution - I find the host a bit annoying, but the guests make up for it.  

Software Engineering Daily - feels like commercials for software sometimes, but they also have some great interviews with people from Facebook  for example


Discovery - BBC science documentaries  

Science Weekly - The Guardian science podcast  

Science in Action - BBC science news

The Climate Question - BBC podcast about the climate crisis


In Our Time - one of my oldest podcasts, always great discussions. I tend to skip poets and most of history and religion. Great archive.

Reply All - stories about the internet, with fun hosts and well produced

Radiolab - random stories very well researched, sadly the second host retired this year

Seriously… - a selection of BBC documentaries


The Sidewalk Weekly - chat about urbanism, mostly in the US

The Life-Sized City Urbanism Podcast - Mikael is very much living in his bubble, but he has some good points

The War on Cars - another urbanism podcast, maybe the one with the best title. Often focused on the US, but not always.

Streets Ahead  - UK perspective of streets for people


The Documentary Podcast - a mix of BBC documentaries about all kind of topics, often related to current news

Die Wochendämmerung [German] - news update in German, by two fun hosts who are very much in my bubble

Today in Focus - The Guardian current news stories

Music, TV & Films

Desert Island Discs - interviews with celebrities. What eight songs, one book and one luxury item would you take on a desert island. Great archive with interesting guests. I am not so much into the current host, but the guests do save it. Also one of my older podcasts.

Classical Fix - random musicians and other guests get introduced to classical music. I am in it for the music.

'The Wire': Way Down In the Hole - coming to a close now, but if you love The Wire I suggest you listen to the whole thing. It is like a rewatch without sitting in front of the TV. They did scale the sports references a bit down towards the end.

Kermode and Mayo's Film Review - possibly the longest running podcast I am listening to? It is mostly about the two bickering like the old guys from The Muppet Show. 

Friday, December 18, 2020

Friday Links

One of my favourite houses
Last one before the holidays, where I am going to post some other things. A little bit on productivity today as I look into the Zettelkasten hype.


How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted — and You Are, Too - I am personally just looking forward to the holiday.  

Shared vision on organization - I think this is one of the hardest things to get right

Four-day workweeks: the experiment that never stopped - one can dream

Interesting work happens at the edges. - very good point, the more I move away from the edge the less interesting daily work is. It can still be important and fulfilling though.  

The Ultimate Skip Level Meeting Guide for Leaders [Podcast] - helpful! I kind of like the idea of having group skip levels once the number gets out of hand 

Navigating Emotional Reactions at Work
[Podcast] - good episode. I definitely have to work on this more. We want everybody to bring their full self to work, this includes the emotions.  


Reducing flaky builds by 18x - great work, not easy to apply for us, but maybe there will be more tooling around this in the future 

Test Flakiness - One of the main challenges of automated testing - Google looking at flaky tests, seems to be the beginning of a series 

Encapsulating Ruby on Rails views - Rails slowly catching up with other frameworks on this 

A Discussion of Good Technical Debt with Jon Thornton [Podcast] - the usual "good technical debt is an investment", but still good 


Zodiac Killer Cipher Solved - that took a while

Exposure Notifications: end of year update - biggest problem is widespread adoption, where it is happening it seems to work 

CentOS Saga continues. Apparently it is a "good thing". Thankfully there are already options like CloudLinux and Rocky Linux developing.


€6.3 billion investment by 2030 planned for commuter train network  - this is great to see. I don't know if it will improve my line, but this might convince some people to take the train instead of the car.

La revolta de les escoles [Catalan] - Schools in Barcelona are protesting against the traffic right in front of their buildings. 

When the Trains Stopped, Cyclists Dodged Manila’s Choking Traffic - Manila is the worst city for walking I know. I always thought it would be good for cycling, as the traffic is pretty slow most of the time. They also created some bike lanes recently.  

Cycling Injury Risk in London: Impacts of Road Characteristics and Infrastructure  - Spoiler: protected bike lanes help, paint on the road hurts

Air pollution a cause in girl's death, coroner rules in landmark case - I hope this changes something. It is time that we treat air pollution as smoking, lead or asbestos.

Women behind huge increase in running and cycling in 2020  - Thank you women! (Just on Strava, so not too representative in general)  

Recovering from long COVID - a cyclist's guide - lets hope nobody needs this guide 

The French Connection
[Podcast] - Interview Deputy Mayor of Paris about the very successful changes they are making to their city


Zettelkasten - This seems a bit of a hype at the moment. As someone who is always looking for a better organization of my stuff I jumped right on it. 

Org-roam: Presentation, Demonstration, and What's on the Horizon [Video] - Zettelkasten for Emacs

the org-gtd package: opinions about Getting Things Done [Video] - I am pretty happy with Todoist, but I am going to have a look at this too. I really need something that works on the mobile phone though.  

Random Houses

Best Architectural Projects of 2020 - People still like rich people's glass and concrete slabs. I tend to agree.

Blob Opera - I am still amazed what kind of stuff they do with our browsers, but then they are now as big as operating systems

Interactive map of all Michelin-starred restaurants in Catalonia  - even though I am often disappointed by starred restaurants I am still eager to try some of these out 

EP 4: Is it too late to stop climate change? [Podcast] - probably yes, though Bill Gates is optimistic 

EP 5: Can people really change? [Podcast] - Bono in the house! 

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, December 11, 2020

Friday Links

Ikea Catalogue 1969
Extra section for the mess that is happening with CentOS at the moment. Thanks Red Hat! Lots of good other stuff too.

Engineering Management

Weak and strong team concepts. - I am all for focus on teams, when you can. Good summary from Will Larson as usual. 

Working From Home During a Pandemic: A Tale of Two Cities - "In the end, it looks like we are doing more and for longer. Some people are loving WFH. Some hate it. Productivity is personal and work from home is personal."

Evolution of my role as a founder CTO - great personal insight from a founder into CTO and VPE roles in a growing startup

Das Scrum Guide 2020 Update [Podcast][German] - good summary of the changes to the scrum guide in this years update 

The Rise of Knowledge Work, and its Structure and Dynamics [Podcast] - good discussion about the aspects of team and knowledge work. I just wish Gene Kim would stop with the non-stop military references.  

How to Stay Aligned in the Midst of a Collaboration Revolution with Bruce Tulgan, CEO of RainmakerThinking [Podcast] - never heard of Bruce Tulgan, but I like his focus on communication with the team, peers and managing up


Setting Up AppSignal Monitoring for a Ruby on Rails Application - we switched to AppSignal for cost reasons, but I am super happy with their service. They now also do JavaScript and Elixir.

Bash 5.1 and Readline 8.1 released - I have to confess I never check for new features in bash and I have been using it since I started with Linux iirc.  
The future of 32-bit Linux  - [LWN] probably around for a bit longer and it isn't just about x86 
Game UI Database  - clearly this should exist for other app categories and even websites.

The CentOS Saga

Red Hat decided that CentOS can't continue as is. People are upset. I am sad. 

I am a Red Hat fanboy and have been using Red Hat Linux, Fedora, RHEL and CentOS since the 90s. I also used to be a Fedora Contributor when I still had the time. 

Let's hope that a fork like Rocky Linux takes over the torch.

Random Catalogues

Ikea to stop printing catalogue after 'successful career' that spanned 70 years - first they take the phone-books and now this! I was always looking forward to browse the new one every summer. Even if it was just the PDF version. I hope they improve the website and especially the apps, they are awful.

You Aren’t Owed An Audience For Your Feedback - Kent Beck is more than the inventor of XP! Great to see him stand up against the bros.

Cities can lead a green revolution after Covid. In Barcelona, we're showing how by Ada Colau - I usually have the rule to ignore "opinion" section on websites, because they lack any filter. I am just going to make an exception, because she is Barcelona's mayor.

Other Links

  • LWN.net Weekly Edition for December 10, 2020 [Paywall] -  Not so much a link collection, but if you are interested in Linux and/or open source you should support them. You can look at last weeks issue, which is free. I share a lot of stuff from them.
  • Tim Bray Long Links - lots of good stuff, a lot about the election and better summarized than I am able to  
  • Links #30 - I met Ben through LunchClub and quite enjoy his blog and art

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, December 04, 2020

Friday Links

Center of the Road
IFTTT is forgetting to push some of my links to Pocket, so I am figuring out a new way for my link posting work-flow. 

Today some great podcasts about leadership and also a course I really enjoy.

Engineering Management

Shared vision on product - must be nice to have more teams than products :-)

Conway’s Law: Critical for Efficient Team Design in Tech - it might be my bubble, but recently I have been thinking a lot about Conway's Law and the Reverse Conway Manoeuvre 

Always leave the code better than you found it - good old Boy Scout Rule, that I somehow can't trace back to the boy scouts

How to Manage a Remote Team [Course] - GitLab course on Coursera. I did learn some things, which was unexpected. I still think fully remote companies live in a weird self selected bubble, but for them it is a nice bubble. And everybody else can learn a bit from them in these weird times.  

Information Sharing [Podcast] - Last week I posted about the Chief Notion Officer. In this podcast they also talk to have someone dedicated for the company Wiki. Maybe this really is something you can't do on the side. 

#97 Roger Martin: Forward Thinking [Podcast] - great podcast episode about leadership 

Managing for Happiness: Tips to Run a Productive Engineering Team [Podcast] - lots of good points about supporting happiness in your team. I am going to check out his books too. 


Impressive iPhone Exploit - wireless wormable root exploit, the stuff of nightmares 

Code Smell – Primitive Obsession and Refactoring Recipes - even worse in dynamic languages where everything ends up as a hash  

From Lambda to Lambda-less: Lessons learned - "However, in an effort to pursue faster product iteration and lower operational overheads, we recently underwent a transition to make it Lambda-less." - I wonder about this a lot. How much do technologies slow us down by not delivering all the tools required for agile development, which "old" technologies have.

Don't Panic: Kubernetes and Docker - how to make people panic: start your sentence with "Don't Panic".  

On Blockchain Voting - always be sceptical of blockchain and using computers for voting 

Open Source Does Not Equal Secure - not necessary secure, but more secure than closed source maybe?  

Scaling Datastores at Slack with Vitess - I haven't used MySQL for a long time, but it is great to see that people are still scaling it up

adventofcode - I never been good at these programming games. I think I lack the competitive edge or the motivation to spend my time on this. 


LTNs Do Not Cause Gridlock, Finds Traffic-Count Analysis - what does provide gridlock? People using cars do. 

Mobility of the future: dialogue and participation for the new roadmap - the plan for Barcelona, quite ambitious  "81.52% of journeys to be made on foot, on public transport or by bike by 2024."

Kensington and Chelsea council criticised for scrapping cycle lane - I don't understand London. The boroughs get money from the city or country and then use it on their roads until they don't. The city should have more power on this. 

Random Roads

Quick App Reviews: Wandrer Tracks Your Quest To Ride Every Road  - I use this, but don't look at it enough. Maybe I'll try to increase my road percentage in my hood next year 

Atlassian sets ambitious goals to combat the climate crisis and reach a net-zero future -  great to see companies moving to a greener future. It is also the first time I heard about Science Based Targets, which is an interesting initiative.

Slack sold to business software giant for $27.7bn - this will end in tears

Why I love Emacs  - I like it, but there is no love between us 

No-kill, lab-grown meat to go on sale for first time - I don't really need a chicken replacement, but lab-grown sushi would be nice. And possibly beef. 

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, November 27, 2020

Friday Links

It seems the whole world is slacking of for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Focus on engineering management and urbanism with some good longer reads. 

Engineering Management

Skills map for strategic growth - Great post about matching skills to requirements and to engage and coach your team. This is a great blog from a former colleague  and I can't believe I just discovered it now.

Chief Notion Officer - I have been thinking about knowledge management in companies forever. I tried everything from wikis, to google drive to github. They tend to be write-only or succumb to bit rot very quickly. 

Production Oriented Development  - great summary of best practices for how to get from code to production. I think I agree with all of them.

Backstage: Spotify Developer Portals with Stefan Ålund [Podcast] - More on the Backstage system from Spotify, which only makes sense for very large companies, but is still pretty interesting. 


Bikes in the year of the pandemic (series introduction) - not much of a series yet, but this looks promising. We are in interesting times for the bicycle movement and industry. 

Oslo got pedestrian and cyclist deaths down to zero. Here’s how - it is possible if there is a will and if you stop listening to the loud car minority  

The Amazing Way Bicycles Change You| Anthony Desnick | TEDxZumbroRiver [YouTube] - another bicycle TEDx talk

Random Skateboards

Let’s flip again: skateboards take off for a new generation - one day I will ollie! And if it is the last thing I do!

Spain’s mortuary workers endure the daily march of death - always amazing to read how people at the front-line of the pandemic are handling it

Borgen, the Danish Show You Have Either Never Heard of or Absolutely Love, Is Coming Back on Netflix  - The Danish West Wing will be back!

EP 1: What will the world look like after COVID-19? [Podcast] - Bill Gates has a podcast and it is pretty great. This episodes also features Dr. Fauci, which Bill apparently knows for a long time, which should feed into the usual conspiracy theories.

PHP8 Released! - everybody seems to hate PHP, but I still remember it with some fondness and do sometimes miss the community, tools and libraries. It was the language I used first when starting with this web thing and in many jobs afterwards. 

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, November 20, 2020

Friday Links

Engineering Management

How to Structure Teams for Building Better Software Products - the book is on my long to-read list, but this post is already a good summary

How Facebook kept the lights on when the world went remote [Webinar] - series of upcoming webinars about facebook going remote

Creating & Achieving Goals [Podcast] - about setting clear goals and OKRs, probably one of the hardest subjects

#96 Randall Stutman: The Essence of Leadership [Podcast] - some good tips from a leadership coach 

Take Some Time Off (We Mean It!) [Podcast] - I know what I would do with unlimited paid time off :-) But maybe it really isn't that easy. There is also clearly a different culture between the USA and Europe 

Rapid Response: A virtual-first workplace, w/Dropbox's Drew Houston [Podcast] - TIL: even experienced companies plan one year into the future without having any data


 - the LTN experiments in the UK are fun to watch from afar. You get the usual opposition and arguments.

Why a plan to cut pollution is making people across England so angry
[Podcast] - even more about the LTNs, though I would argue that they are more about the quality of living than just the air quality 

How Suburban Development Makes American Cities Poorer [YouTube] - You would think that they would learn over time. 

Un nou carril bici culminarà la humanització d’Aragó
[Catalan] - one of the biggest roads through Barcelona and probably the one with the most traffic is getting a bike lane. This is well appreciated and I will use it the first day I am back in town 

Bikes, pedestrians and the 15-minute city: How the pandemic is propelling urban revolutions - another great article summarising how the fundemic is changing cities

The Superblocks of Barcelona [YouTube] - Mikael reporting about Barcelona's superblocks 

Random Doodle

10 Things I Learned By Doodling For 100 Days Straight - this is great. I should doodle more. I can't remember the last time. There are also good responses on twitter.

RIP Google Music, one of the company’s last examples of generosity
- Spotify is not the solution though

Leap Second news - leap seconds are my second favourite weird time based technology thing after tzdata!

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, November 13, 2020

Friday Links

A bit of a back-log again, lots of long reads about engineering, management and especially urbanism. Some good podcasts related to all of these too. The one from Mo Gawdat about happiness certainly made me think.


The Art of the Awkward 1:1 - this is definitely one of my weak areas, my 1:1s are just not awkward enough most of the time

Google’s initiative for more inclusive language in open source projects  - check out the style guide for the details, lots of good pointers and some I might not have noticed myself.

Engineering strategy every org should write. - I better start then. He has more on Engineering Strategies.

Check Your Blind Spots: Why Leadership Requires Self-Awareness and Maturity [Podcast] - always great to hear the insights of Camille Fournier  

Staff Engineering with Will Larson [Podcast] - Will tries very hard to define the role, but for most companies it is just one title of many. You only see differencation with large teams.


Fixing a Test Hourglass - it sometimes is even worse, where people just focus on end-to-end tests and reduce the number of unit tests. The post explains the problem with that and how to fix some of theses tests. Also check out the old article: Just Say No to More End-to-End tests.

Timing for bringing page experience to Google Search  - May 2021! Lets hope it isn't hitting us too hard

Microservices — architecture nihilism in minimalism's clothes - lots about when and why to split or join services

Structuring Monitoring Data in Monolithic Applications With Namespaces - I am not sure if this will make it better, but I can see some applications for large monoliths 


iproute2 and libbpf: vendoring on the small scale [LWN] - the old problem of bundling libraries or not. I am on the not bundling side, but it seems to be a lost cause.

Modern IDEs are magic. Why are so many coders still using Vim and Emacs? - because we tried IDEs and didn't like them. They also come and go like JavaScript frameworks 

Deprecating scp - first I went "Oh No!", but then I couldn't remember when I used it the last time

The RIAA, GitHub, and youtube-dl [LWN] - fun politics about copyrights and code

An introduction to Pluto - Jupyter notebooks for Julia, two things I don't use, but probably should look into

The Problem With Microservices
[YouTube] - I like his definition of microservices 

Remote work

Deutsche Bank calls for a 5 percent 'privilege' tax on people choosing to work from home - this clearly has so many problems once it hits reality, but it is fun to watch the privileged remote groupies going bonkers over this

How to run a Hackathon during a global lockdown - we had one hackday this year remotely, but next year we will have a whole week. Time to steal ideas from other people.

Proof our work-life balance is in danger (but there’s still hope)
- work days are get longer, breaks are getting shorter

Reimagine with Eric Schmidt: Redefining the Workplace After COVID - [Podcast] about remote work and the gig economy


Barcelona: la reconquista táctica del asfalto [Spanish] - mostly colour on the road, which doesn't help a lot.

 - this is amazing, it will completely transform Barcelona and make it more liveable. People living on these street must be dancing for joy. I just hope any future mayor will keep with the plan. More in Catalan on El Pais.

Opinion: Leaving the city for the suburbs? It could take a big bite out of your retirement - very US centric view, but people really don't realise how expensive cars are. I am in the countryside now and I hate how dependent I am on the car for some things

Why it’s time to update Europe’s outdated e-bike speed limit - from the VanMoof guy. He doesn't say what the speed limit should be and what other rules should apply. Do we want 32km/h bicycles on bike lanes mixing with kids and other weaker people? Do we want speed limits on these for bicycles and how are we going to control them? While I agree that 25km/h are too low in flowing traffic, it is too fast for bike lanes most of the time. 

Designing Policy to Encourage Tiny Houses and Density [YouTube] - great that some cities are reconsidering zoning laws. Also amazing how big the houses are over there 

Big plans are out this lockdown winter. But I would like to learn to ride a bike  - sometimes you forget that there are grown up people who don't ride bikes, maybe that is one of the causes of all the resistance to more bike infrastructure 

Introduction to Strong Towns & Financially Insolvent American Cities - [YouTube] more of a teaser, but already containing nice insights how cities bankrupt themselves with their approach  

Mein Auto, meine Straße!  [German] - The uphill struggle to fight car dominance in Germany

Carriles bici: la respuesta de las ciudades ante la pandemia [Spanish] - bike lanes implemented during the coronavirus crisis and before, lots of examples for various cities

Government backs Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and cycleways in reply to petition calling for withdrawal of funding - it is basically the same idea as the Superblocks in Barcelona: stop through traffic to make roads quieter  

Chris Boardman, cyclist [Podcast] - I love Desert Island Disks and Chris is a great ambassador for liveable cities and cycling

Radfunk - Der Fahrradpodcast - Episode 12 - Das gelobte Land [Podcast, German] - interview about cycling and urbanism in the Netherlands

Random Music

Report: Techno is officially music in Germany - there goes the underground! 

Euro Truck Simulator 2 is quietly one of the best open world games on PC - great review, which made me install the demo via Steam on Linux. I am not much into games, but love open world games. It can't be more boring than flying for hours in one of the earlier Flight Simulators.

What It Will Take for Biden to Keep His Climate Promise - most annoying thing is that he will stick to cars as the main form of transport 

Low and no-alcohol sales soar 30% in lockdown as UK drinking habits change - the healthier people try to live the less sense alcohol and smoking make 

Making the world (of work) happier: Mo Gawdat [Podcast] - is happiness our default state and we are just messing it up? 

Other Links

Tim Bray: Long Links - good selection of weird and wonderful 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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

My thoughts on meetings

I used to really hate meetings. As a developer they seem to just get into the way of doing real work. You sit in a room with other people who are probably thinking the same thing and you are itching to get back to your desk and do "real work".

But at some point you specialise, teams grow and you need some way to sync up.

Suddenly you realise that meetings are where some decisions are made and you want to join as many as possible.

Because a lot of them are horrible it is natural to want to improve them over time. I am going to describe a bit how I like my meetings and why.

Some of my thinking has changed with being fully remote during the coronavirus crisis, but most of it applies to in person and remote meetings.

An ideal meeting has a facilitator, the minimal length of time, the right attendees, non-attendees not fearing to miss out, everybody being focused and prepared.

A good meeting can be more inclusive for all participants, by allowing everybody to arrive prepared and participate in a meaningful way.

Types of meetings

I separate three types of meetings, they have slightly different rules.

1:1s are the easiest, two people talking about what’s up. There really is not much that can go wrong. Having some items early on the agenda can help both sides to prepare and notes on talking points and action items are definitely helpful.

Structured/moderated meetings, for example retrospectives, lean coffees, daily scrums, brown-bags, presentations or all-hands, have a clearly defined ritual. Everybody is aware about the process. There might be a facilitator pushing through the process or just one person talking to an audience.

Staff meetings, these are the most complicated ones. Maybe it is a brainstorming session, a post-mortem, planning, whiteboarding, sync between teams and everything else. They tend to be the ones that can feel like a waste of time with the only action item being another meeting.


Meetings should be a bit shorter than the full hour or half hour, to leave some space between them. This is especially important with fully remote teams, as you don’t have the chance to refocus a bit when travelling between rooms and maybe grabbing a tea on the way.

I like the idea to start meetings a couple of minutes past the hour and end them a bit before, but realistically people tend to prefer meetings to start on the hour. So now I just set them to the fuzzy length of Google Calendar (50 minutes, 40 minutes, 25 minutes).

Just setting this in the calendar is not enough though, it is the job of the facilitator to make sure it ends on time.

A lot of meetings are probably recurring. It is easier to put them into your schedule, timeboxing is easier as they can overflow in the next occurrence and participants are gelling as a team over time. You want to keep them repeating at the same time and avoid cancelling them, the larger the group the more important this is.

Sometimes you might need to cancel a meeting. Again this is easier for smaller and frequent meetings (weekly 1:1s for example). The bigger the meeting the earlier you should notify participants as they probably have planned their day already around this and ideally prepared for it.


There is this lore at my current job about how I think that meetings with more than four people are a waste of time. I might have said something along those lines after coming out of a meeting with twelve people. So there might be some truth to it.

As with teams there is a certain sweet spot for meeting participants. You want to get enough input to create an interesting discussion, you want enough stakeholders to allow syncing up, but you also want a small enough group that everybody can contribute in a useful way.

A brainstorming session with fifteen people is indeed my personal hell.

The exception again are structured meetings, which can scale up to the whole company.

Before the meeting everybody should also be able to make an informed decision about attending and their role in the meeting. Do I have to be in the meeting? Is someone else maybe covering my role already? Do I just want to listen in, but not take part in the discussion? Would your presence reduce the value for everybody else in the meeting? Are you a manager and are just taking part because of a worry of losing control?

Facilitator / Moderator / meeting lead

Every meeting needs someone to take the lead. Usually it is the person who sets up the meeting, because they should have the greatest interest in making the meeting successful.

Their job is to keep it on track over the whole time, see that everybody has a chance to contribute and fight off any possibility of going off the rails.

Meeting Agendas & Notes

I am kind of a split personality on meeting agendas and notes. I love to have them, but I hate to write them. But they should exist at least in a minimal version. You want to give everybody a chance to prepare for the meeting.

Agendas and notes are also a good way to fight MFOMO (meeting fear of missing out). With open meetings people can decide before if it really makes sense to join and if they can contribute to these. And once you can rely on meeting notes it is also enough to check these after the meeting to stay informed.

One low effort way we are using are simple Google Drive documents for repeating meetings (all-hands and guild meetings), which are ordered in reverse chronological order.

On the top you will always see the current or next meeting and everybody is invited to add items to the agenda. For guild meetings this is just a bulleted list, for all-hands it is a template with sections for bigger items like kudos and Q&A. Often people directly attach their name to the items to make it clear who is taking the lead on these.

During the meeting we add comments, decisions and action items. These then can be reviewed by everybody and again in the next meeting.

For remote retrospectives and lean coffees there are good tools like Retrium to help keeping notes and facilitating them. You can also use them for post-mortems or other meetings which lend themselves to the “post-it in columns with voting” kind of meeting.

Remote Meetings

Quite unexpectedly we are all fully remote during the coronavirus crisis. On the one hand this is better than hybrid meetings with some people being remote, but on the other it is also worse than fully in person meetings.

Your camera should be on. You are sending so many signals with your body and face that just can’t be replicated just through voice.

There is a reason why people get into fights so easily on Twitter or Slack over trivial things that wouldn’t be an issue if they met in person.

If you are an introvert like me and tend to think longer before you say something it will also be easier to spot by the facilitator.

In an all-hands meeting or if you are only a spectator and not participant it can also be OK to switch off your camera and microphone as a signal of this.

If you are in a noisy place you might want to mute your audio whenever you are not speaking. Unmuting can then also be used as a signal to the facilitator that you want to say something.

I upgraded my video conferencing setup quite a bit because I expect this home working to last a bit longer, but this is not necessary. If you have a reasonably good connection and a modern laptop or webcam you are probably fine.


Every meeting starts on time. You might be a bit more flexible for 1:1s and all-hands meetings.

I personally wait up to 10 minutes in 1:1s and 5 minutes in all-hands.

Any other meeting starts on time, you don’t wait for stragglers and waste the time of everyone else. You don’t try to track them down on Slack. You also don’t rehash everything that happened so far for them once they join and again waste time for the group.

There is no place for laptops or mobile phones in meetings. When remote this is probably a lost cause as everybody has all the distractions of the world right on the same screen as the video call.

Take the time to focus on the other people in the room, the conversation, the presentation, the whiteboard.

If you are checking Slack, email or reviewing code, you are just showing disrespect to everybody else in the room who made the time to focus on solving a problem.

Food in meetings… nobody wants to watch you eat. If it is an all-hands meeting, then switch off your camera and go ahead and feast. In an in person meeting just the smell is probably distracting enough for everybody.


I am not the only person worried about meetings, there are lots of good resources out there. I collected some here.

Rands is obsessed with meetings and has a couple of good posts about these 

Atlassian talks about making meetings more inclusive: How to counteract 3 types of bias and run inclusive meetings

Zef about laptops in meetings: On Paper Or: how not to look like a dick in meetings

Two interesting podcasts about meetings

Final Words

I don’t hate meetings any more, but I definitely don’t love them either.

I believe with a bit of practice you can make them better and less painful for everybody.

Monday, November 02, 2020

What is in my bag. Part 2: Even Smaller Saddlebag

What is in my bag
I am slow, but at least I am persistent. Four years ago I posted "What is in my bag. Part 1: Small Saddlebag", and I kind of promised to post about what I take on sportives / gran fondos. This is not that post, because I haven't taken part in any sportives for a while. Instead this is an update  to the original post. I am still using the bag from the first post on my commuter bike.

I am also adding the other stuff that is on my bike.

The major changes are: 

A move to a smaller Lezyne bag, that isn't a roll-up any more. It attaches with a similar strap, but is quicker to open with a zip.

No more CO2 bottle and valve. I am really never that much in a hurry and they are also not the most environmental friendly ways to pump up a tire. 

I switched from a mini-tool to a couple of hex keys. I don't have any other screws left on the bike, so this is much smaller and also better to use. 

Which leaves me with this in the bag (right side of photo):

  • four hex keys, plus and adaptor to increase the size of the biggest one
  • tube valves extenders, in case I have to borrow a tube
  • tube valve tool
  • chain pins
  • tube patches
  • two tire levers
  • chain tool 
  • light spare tube

On the left side is what else is on my bike

  • Garmin Edge 830 with tether for safety
  • small pump, attached to one of the bottle cages
  • second spare tire, this one a bit more robust. I attach it to the saddle bag with the strap of the bag.
  • rear light, this one is brand new and has some brake functionality
  • front light, goes between Garmin and forward mount. It is just to be seen, useful in winter or if you are passing through tunnels. Sometimes I leave it at home.


Friday, October 30, 2020

Friday Links

Wikipedia: Cold War

Very light on links this week, maybe everybody is on holiday already. But I compensate with some nice podcasts references.


More online protection with the new VPN by Google One - a VPN from Google. I hope this is coming to Google Suite/Workspaces too. I also hope this kills off most of the shady VPN providers

Bringing Personalized Search to Etsy - nice view inside an approach to personalised search

Making GitHub CI workflow 3x faster - first post of the Building GitHub blog series, which looks pretty promising from this first article. Nowadays everybody is interested in lead/cycle time and everybody solves it differently. 

Triggers in AppSignal: Already Powerful — Now Easy To Set Up  - I am still missing more personalised triggers, not everybody wants to get the same alerts, but some should go to groups of people. 

Shopify’s massive storefront rewrite [Podcast] - So many interesting titbits in this one and many that apply to my current job and the rewrite we did over the years.  

028 - Sandi Metz, Author of POODR (with Special Guest TJ Stankus) [Podcast] - chat about code and objects in Ruby and older languages

Psychologische Sicherheit in Teams (mit Michael May) [German, Podcast] -  psychological safety in teams

What's so exciting about Postgres? [Podcast] - inside look on the development, features and future of Postgres


Deutschland verpasst die Verkehrswende [German] - Germany is doing worse in implementing the change to active travel. No surprise really, Germany is stuck somewhere in the 90s. They are maybe a bit over excited about Barcelona, but it is definitely better than Berlin. 

A Piece of New York: Real Estate in NYC [Podcast] - great segment with David Schleicher, confronting Alec's NIMBY tendencies

Random Weapons

Treaty to ban nuclear weapons made official with 50th UN signatory
- I grew up at the end of the new cold war and I remember having trouble going to sleep because I was worried about a nuclear war. Any move on banning these weapons is great, even if the bullies don't agree. 

A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air - TIL: just don't go into enclosed spaces for a while ... a long while

Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog [Podcast] - a radio book club chat with the author of a dog book. I am not quite sure how much I liked it, but ... dogs!

Leaded petrol, acid rain, CFCs: why the green movement can overcome the climate crisis [Podcast] - bloody hippie optimists!

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, October 23, 2020

Friday Links

Vegan Burger (or Disc)
Urbanism bonanza today. Coronavirus has made people think more about their environment, walking and cycling. 

Also some good long read technology articles about how people approach big projects in various companies.

Engineering Management

Can agile pods help your team win big at scale? - agile in marketing. If you have a marketing of 500+ people it does seem to make sense.

They Write the Right Stuff - from 1996, apparently a classic that I haven't encountered before. About the software development for the Space Shuttle and how it was pretty much free of bugs 

What Silicon Valley "Gets" about Software Engineers that Traditional Companies Do Not - what Silicon Valley doesn't get is that there is a whole world outside of it

Managing technical quality in a codebase. - good long read about how to achieve and maintain quality in your code from the management side  

Community 3: How our rituals can forge our culture [Podcast] - I didn't really enjoy 1+2, but this one is a nice perspective into communities and culture

Software Engineer Career Ladder: Don’t Copy-Paste, Make Your Own! [Podcast] - I don't agree. Find one that you like and modify it. Don't start from scratch. Working a couple of months on something like this and then coming up with a result that is 90% like the others doesn't make sense. Still a good interview.


Improving our design system through Dark Mode - I still believe the Dark Mode is the biggest conspiracy to create developer and designer jobs over recent years, but I guess everybody has to do it now 

Under the hood: Updating LinkedIn's UI - another thing everybody has to suffer through at some point

What is coming in PHP 8 [LWN] - I still miss PHP sometimes, but not so much the language then the ecosystem  

PHP 8: before and after - another good summary of some of the nicer changes

Activists Build Facial Recognition to ID Cops Who Hide Their Badges - (original article is in the NY Times, but it is paywalled). Good initiative. I hope activists in other countries are picking this up 

Backblaze Hard Drive Stats Q3 2020 - 18TB disks available now and everything is so much more reliable

The accelerating adoption of Julia
[LWN] - I never used Julia, could this be an alternative to R or Python for data analytic tasks?

Split-Second Phantom Images Fool Autopilots - computers are pretty dumb, especially the ones with artificial intelligence  

Presenting v7.0.0 of the npm CLI  - seems like they are trying to get people back from yarn, after they messed up dependencies a while back 

Top 4 Dying Programming Languages of 2020 - never believe these lists 

Fixing Linux filesystem performance regressions - it probably has been 20 years since I had to worry about the Linux kernel, but with great scale come great problems

A parable about problem solving in software development - that made my microservice skeptical and monorepo loving heart happy 

Spotify's open platform for shipping at scale [Podcast] - good interview about Backstage and Spotify in general

Remote Work

my company is issuing new work-from-home standards because we should have the hang of it by now - what is wrong with companies? Who comes up with these rules?  

Remote working? No, we prefer to keep it close to home  - there is a reason why most people move to cities, it isn't just about the work 

How to Use Your DSLR Camera as a Webcam in Linux - turns out that this isn't that hard. I have a Sony RX100M6 and it is supported by gphoto2 and was pretty easy to set up. But really Logitech should come up with better cameras with a similar quality now that people are using 500+ Euro cameras as a webcam 


9 Reasons to Eliminate Jaywalking Laws Now - everybody outside of the US is now googling what "Jaywalking" is, then scratches their head and mutters something about "Americans!"

Barcelona to host EuroVelo and Cycling Tourism Conference in Autumn 2021 - lets hope anything will be hosted by then, but good to see it coming to Barcelona

Designing Temporary Urbanism - A New Reading Garden in Copenhagen [YouTube] - Mikael talking to an architect about a new public space in Copenhagen.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo To Make Good On Pledge To Remove Half Of City’s Car Parking Spaces
-  “Only three in ten Parisians still own a car today," this is the amazing fact, but the drivers are just so vocal compared the pedestrians and cyclists. I might secretly planning a move to Paris, it looks like it will be the Amsterdam of the future 

La Rambla: plans to transform Barcelona's tourist rat run into a cultural hub - I can't see how to get rid of the tourists again, unless you build a wall around it

How Oslo Achieved Zero Pedestrian and Bicycle Fatalities, and How Others Can Apply What Worked - every city has a long term "Vision Zero" plan and then Oslo just does it 

Study reveals world’s most walkable cities  - the usual supects, Barcelona is mentioned. One city you will never find on these lists: Manila, just don't even try to walk there

Is New York City Over? [Podcast] - probably not, but cities will change 

Why Are Cities (Still) So Expensive? [Podcast] - because we can't or want to build more or bigger houses. And we value city centres, instead of making cities more distributed and local to living.

Random Burgers (or Discs)

Veggie Burger or Veggie ‘Disc’ on Menu? EU Vote Will Decide - for me a burger or a sausage is about the shape and not the content. I have completely switched to vegetarian/vegan burgers now, with the selection of "Impossible" style patties it is easy and I even prefer them to meat. 

Pope Francis backs same-sex civil unions  - this must be utterly confusing for a lot of hard core Christians.

Google Antitrust Notes - whatever happens, it will be worse for the user and better for advertisers. But it will take many more years for this to happen. 

Alan Moore Gives Rare Interview: ‘Watchmen’ Creator Talks New Project ‘The Show’, How Superhero Movies Have “Blighted Culture” & Why He Wants Nothing To Do With Comics - sad to not have future comics, but we still have the old ones. 

Covid-19: The global crisis — in data - great summary again by the ft.com team

9 Books That Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett Think You Should Read - Bezos choices kind of surprised me

Top 2000 a gogo [YouTube] - great channel with interviews of musicians explaining the process of some of their famous songs. TIL: Fatboy Slim was in the Housemartins!

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.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Friday Links

Wonderleaf "Gin"
Some longer reads and podcasts focusing on management, the current thing and random fun. I like stories about people managing their mental health with what is going on. We are all kind of in the same boat.

Engineering Management

Cycle time: a secret weapon of efficient software teams - It is a great metric and leads to overall improvements in processes. Even if you don't bring it down to where you would like it to be, the way there is helping in many other areas

Ron, why do you ... - Agile, TDD, working software, refactoring, ...

Working Software - it means something else for everyone. Don't even get me started on MVP

The truth about Bill Gates - he seems to be a brilliant and lucky manager with and technology background. A lot of successful leaders seem to have this in common. 

72. YouTube's Susan Wojcicki: How to find – and keep – true north [Podcast] - How to become the CEO of YouTube: a good degree and luck ... OK, maybe some skill are helping too. I just wish they would stop with these sound effects and songs in this podcast.


Journalist Studio premieres with two new tools for reporters - I am no journalist, but this looks like a nice toolbox

Introducing the new Google Analytics - I am not sure if I bother to migrate old properties ... too lazy 

BleedingTooth: critical kernel Bluetooth vulnerability [LWN] - worse for Android I guess, but as we are all at home it won't affect many 

Google Responds to Warrants for “About” Searches - Every time I read this kind of stuff I hope that this is mostly about the US, because that is a lost cause anyway.

Down the ergonomic keyboard rabbit hole  - that is pretty deep into the hole. I am still at the surface. 

The Thing

Total Pareto-Dismality - the positive side of this

I Don’t Know Where I’m Going -  I can relate. It might not be cycling for you, but the general feeling of being limited is getting to a lot of people. The good thing is that I can still ride ... and it helps.

The home office reveal  - we might be stuck here for a long time, by the end all of our places might look like this. I took from this: the nice mat, I need a new chair, my backdrop sucks and I am trying out a different camera

COVID cases since June - by US state, coloured by democratic versus republican. Vote like your life depends on it!


Paris Mayor: ‘Forget Crossing Through The City By Car’
- Paris might become the new Amsterdam if they continue like this. Sadly it is in the middle of France.

Riding out the pandemic: How COVID-19 turned Europe into a cycle superpower -  "Finland has spent $7.76 per person where Spain has spent $0.17"

Random Drinks

8 Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Get You Through Stoptober - one day I have to write a blog post reviewing the many non-alcoholic beers, spirits and sparkling wines I have tried over the years. 

Environmental groups campaign against EU’s potential ‘veggie burger’ name ban - since the pandemic started I have become 95% vegetarian. "veggie burgers" are a big part of this now. I am sure someone will find a better marketing term in the future, but for me "burger" and "sausage" was always more about the shape then the contents.

This Plane Wasn't Snooping On Protesters In Los Angeles, It Was Dropping Irradiated Bugs - or possibly chemtrails!

Privilege—I've got it. - me too. And I worry about everyone else, because this won't change any time soon

Desert Island Disks: Yusuf Cat Stevens, musician [Podcast] - I have to confess I was confused by his choice of Islam by then, but that is silly and it is great to hear from him.

Desert Island Disks: Samantha Morton, actor [Podcast] - I wouldn't be surprised if her life ends up being made into a film. She also doesn't like to be reduced to sound bites, which makes it a great interview. Nice music choices too! 

Are the world's national parks failing nature? (part one) [Podcast] - I always thought the nice thing about the UK is that every stone has already be turned three times. Everything is polished in some way, clearly this makes "natural parks" an impossibility. I wonder how this applies to Spain, which is mostly empty. I would argue my garden is slowly going wild again :-)

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.