Friday, January 21, 2022

Friday Links 22-02

Plastikman Kompilation album cover
Plastikman - Kompilation

Back to a reasonable number of links! 

I enjoyed the scaling teams podcast, which I found very pragmatic. 

For fun checkout the Wikipedia game and size of countries tool in the random section.

Leadership

TBM 3/52: That’s Not What They Are Hearing - communication is hard, being honest at work is hard, but we have to figure it out

Saying "no" - one of the most important skill for everyone 

The Ultimate Guide to Prepare Your Team to Scale [Podcast] - a lot of it depends on the situation, but still some good ideas

Productivity Is About Your Systems, Not Your People - focus on improving the teams, not with individual productivity hacks

Engineering

Are We Really Engineers? - this seems to come up once a year. I say yes. 

Making the ZFS file system [Podcast] - one of these "I finally got to try this" and "continue learning Rust" podcasts  

falsisign - FalsiScan: Make it look like a PDF has been hand signed and scanned

Work 

A Year And a Half Later, Here’s How The Four Day Workweek is Going at Buffer - I really love the transparency of buffer and their willingness to experiment. And yes, I see the four day work week as the future too.

Urbanism

The lifetime cost of driving a car - cars are a problem in so many ways. Car dependency makes people poor.

Toronto’s struggles with blizzard highlight its dependence on cars - and they are still prioritized 

Sadiq Khan proposes journey charge for motorists in London - this will happen and it will happen in most cities 

10 creative tips to shoot bicycles in the city - you can't go wrong with a bicycle in a photo

Random Albums

All of these classic albums turn 50 this year - I am listening to some old stuff!

The true size of ... - Brazil is freaking big!

Wikipedia History Timeline Game - fun!

First year of pandemic stopped depopulation 'in some towns' - I still think that cities are the best for most people, but there might still be a further spreading into smaller towns

Citation needed? Wikipedia bibliometrics during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic - not only is Wikipedia a great source, they rely on good sources where it matters

Paul Polman: Hope is Putting the Heart Back in Companies for Net Positive Change [Podcast] - CEOs growing a conscience when they retire   


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 14, 2022

Friday Links 22-1

bicycle in front of mountains
 Aigüestortes National Park
New Year's Resolution: limit the number of links in these posts. 

Catching up with everything since before Christmas. 

So much good stuff from BBC podcasts and The Guardian this time around.

Leadership

The Kool-Aid Factory - super useful and pretty site with play books about building teams and companies

Embracing Change and Mimicking Chaos: Why Leaders Need to Cringe Fast and Early (with Hamza Kahn) [Podcast]  - another great episode 

The unFIX Model - I confess it took me a while to figure out if this is a joke or not. It is similar to Team Topologies, but weird. 

Are You a Micromanager or a Coach? Why Leaders Should Avoid Giving Advice and What To Do Instead (with Dr. Julia Milner, Leadership Professor at EDHEC Business School) [Podcast] - coaching vs mentorship

Hunting Tech Debt via Org Charts - interesting approach to looking at organizational design 

End of year manager checklist - I did maybe half of this 

Inspection and the limits of trust. - you want to create trust, but not rely on trust

Product Thinking, Project Thinking, a thread - not a big fan of Twitter threads, but this is worth the effort

Engineering

Peter Stout (Netflix) [Podcast] - going from management to staff engineer and what he is focusing on

5 Books Every Software Developer NEEDS [YouTube] - the usual, but still a good list

Nine common microservices mistakes — and how to avoid them - good overview and explanations

Work

Implementing a 4-day workweek: insights from 4 companies that have done it - while I hope to have this at some point, I can't imagine it with my current number of meetings

30 Comics I’ve Made To Show The Reality Of Working From Home - it's me!

Workplace culture: being nice isn't enough [Podcast] - talking about simplification, slack and other things to make companies better

Technology

My first impressions of web3 - interesting analysis of web3 & NFT by the Signal guy.

The Web3 Fraud - another critique 

The Third Web - another one

The Future Is Not Only Useless, It’s Expensive - the NFT train wreck 

Brian Eno is not a fan of NFTs - ditto

LWN's unreliable predictions for 2022 - these are always fun to see fall apart over the year 

LWN's 2021 retrospective - for comparison the review of last year

A New Future for GnuPG - cool to see this great project finding the commercial success to support it

Updating The Single Most Influential Book of the BASIC Era - I never heard of this book, but I love the idea of reimplementing it in current easy languages

LG’s 16:18 ultra-tall monitor means less scrolling - the whole wide-screen monitor area was a mistake!

How Long Do Disk Drives Last? - quite long

A deep dive into an NSO zero-click iMessage exploit: Remote Code Execution - this is the best hack ever "PDF impersonating a GIF that contains an entire virtual machine built out of BITBLT NAND gates." (via jwz)

Environment 

Londoners told to reduce physical activity on Friday due to pollution - driving is fine obviously 

Past seven years hottest on record - EU satellite data - maybe I should have moved to a cooler area

Are we putting too much faith into electric vehicles? [Podcast] - yes

Is science fiction holding back climate action? [Podcast] - I don't think that is the problem. Some urbanism in there too.  

Palma to limit cruise ships after environmental concerns - and Barcelona?

1 HOUR - Calming Global Warming Ambience [YouTube] - I love this channel

Urbanism

One-Way Streets Are Killers and We Should Get Rid of Them - interesting view. I guess it depends. In Barcelona some of the wide one-way streets are certainly killers

Full free fare public transport: Objectives and alternatives - paper in multiple languages. Free public transport sounds like a good idea until you think about the side effects.

Mit dem Fahrrad zur Schule: In Barcelona gibt es jeden Freitag eine Auto-freie Stunde [German] - BiciBus has arrived in German media

The pandemic kicked cars off some streets. 2022 could be the year they’re banned permanently - one can dream

How to (Quickly) Build a Cycling City - Paris [YouTube] - should I move to Paris? Maybe when it warms up a bit more?

“Commission’s strongest commitment to cycling to date”: Cycling organisations react to the “Efficient and Green Mobility” package - seems like the is some movement in the EU

Random Mountains

Full Circle - From Escapism to Reconnection. 10 Years, 10 Mountains & 10,000 metres of climbing. [YouTube] - this just make me want to get out and climb a mountain

Polar priest: the church in the world’s northernmost town – a photo essay - great photos, this could be some Nordic Noir setting

Complex systems & second-order effects [Podcast] - fun discussion about side effects and how to avoid them. With a bit of urbanism and war on cars thrown in

A man on a mission to preserve Barcelona’s decorative floor tiles - these tiles were one of my favourite bits in our Barcelona flat and office. Why would anyone throw them away?

Skateboarding in middle age: ‘It helps me switch off’ - I have to try it again at some point

“Work will never love you back” - life > work

The joy of missing out: how to manage your time in 2022 [Podcast] - someone really wants me to read this book

‘I felt powerless – so I started filming’: CyclingMikey on his one-man battle with dangerous drivers - I mostly gave up on filming. I found I got even more annoyed about the random dangerous driving situations. And the police doesn't care anyway. 

Do you know what you know? - fun test about how confident you are about your knowledge

100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying - fun, reminds me Black Books: "eat an orange"

Fritz Lang [Podcast] - lovely discussion about his work

Tascam Master Studio 424: Type II Cassettes are back in production!!?? [YouTube] - I liked tapes before they were cool!

800MIPS Amiga With Emu68 and PiStorm - on my to-do list for my A1000

MTV@40 [Podcast] - we never had MTV, but I sometimes had access at friends places 

Mystik: New portable tape player by RTM (prototype) tested & compared [YouTube] - people are still building (bad) walkmen  (also)

Other Links

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

2021 - Year of the Dogs

Christof with dogs and mountain in the background

I am pretty sure I said something along the lines of "2021 has to be better than 2020" a year ago. 

It certainly was different than 2020. And for 2022 I am going to predict it will be different again. I am not going to try even harder.

Zoo

dog and puppies
Yuki & puppies

The main thing that changed this year is what I now lovingly refer to as The Zoo.

Beginning of the year we had a guest cat which sadly passed away. Which affected me more than I expected.

In February we adopted Yuki who was an undernourished female Portuguese Podengo. It seemed she had a rough life and was afraid of men, including myself. She got along well with my girlfriend and our other dog Hoover though. 

After feeding her she slowly was gaining weight, though I noticed that she was increasingly looking pregnant. This was then confirmed by the vet and a week later we had the birth of eight puppies. Yuki was not able to feed them, so we spent the next weeks feeding them by hand. This is a 24h job that I shared with my girlfriend. Sadly only five of the puppies made it. 

The whole process was quite an experience in emotional stress and sleep deprivation. There were times where I couldn't think straight.

In the end we kept three of the puppies, one went to Germany, one to a village close to us and Yuki to a neighbour. 

They are still quite time consuming and have also destroyed our living room and various bits in the house and the garden. I really can't recommend to have more than one puppy. 

We are now a four dog, two cats household. 

I estimate that we are on average every second week at the vet.

Cycling & Sports

VeloViewer cycling stats image
VeloViewer 2021 Overview

With the puppies situation the time on the bike suffered quite a bit. 

I did two trips where I got a bit more riding in. One to Ripoll taking part at the Migracode Gran Fondo and another one renting a camper van and travelling to the Pyrenees

Quite a bit of time was also spend on the indoor trainer, which is great for structured trainings and when you only have an hour available.

I also bought a Concept2 indoor rower, which I am still getting used to. I should have gotten this a lot earlier, as I do miss rowing and there is not much opportunity to do it outdoor around here.

And a lot of time and kilometres walking the dogs. 

Work

Work is still fully remote. I made a few visits to the office, which I always enjoy. 

I have taken on another team and learned some new things in the process.

Some people have left like in many companies all over the world. This is too be expected, but was still a blow to me and the team.

Travel

Photo of the river Ebro at sunset
Ebro river

Besides the two cycling trips that I did on my own we also did one trip to Germany with all the dogs to drop of one of them. I really can't recommend this either. Don't travel with four puppies in a van over 2400km. It is no fun!

In November we rented a camper van just for the two of us and travelled a bit in Spain. It was quite relaxing and we choose fancy hotels to enjoy the downtime without the zoo. 

There is really enough fun stuff to see in Spain. 

Books

I have a separate post bout my 2021 Books. I plan to keep the fiction/non-fiction rhythm going this year.

I have a long backlog of books to read on Goodreads, but I am open to suggestions too.

Friday Links 

The links are still going. With 39 posts I kept the frequency up, usually only skipping bank holidays and vacations. 

I am still considering improving these in some way, but I also don't want to increase the time I spend on these a lot.  So writing a lot of context is out of the question.

One idea would be to put a hard limit on the number of links and removing some topics completely. If I do a change this will be gradually over the year.

Health

No major injuries! And the virus probably didn't get me either.

I got vaccinated during the summer and boosted in January 2022. It makes you a bit more relaxed about life.

I am very impressed about how Catalonia and Spain have handled the whole crisis and the vaccination drive. It helps to have a population which is not following some weird pseudo-science.

House & Garden

Not much improvement in the house, mostly home automation.

I installed a connected cat flap in the bathroom, which gives the cats a lot more freedom and we can see how active they are. I also replaced the cat feeding stations with connected versions. This is super helpful to detect changes in their food consumption, which can be an indicator of some illness.

I also replaced some of light-bulbs with IKEA smart home versions to switch off all lights when we go to bed. 

And most recently a smart thermostat with a separate sensor. The previous one was in a room we rarely us, but had to heat all of the time to satisfy the thermostat.

The garden suffered this year. We didn't have time to plant more than tomatoes and cucumbers.

It has also been so dry that there were not many olive or almonds on the trees. I think it was the year with the least rain in recent history. This trend will likely continue, so we have to rethink our plants in the garden as the current ones won't make it.






Monday, January 03, 2022

2021 in books

2021 books
2021 books
As with many things 2021 didn't quite go to plan with my reading. There were too many distractions in the first half of the year, but I got some reading time in the second half. The lack of holidays, flying and commuting didn't really help overall. 

As always this is a mix of light fiction and books related to work, which this year mostly means management. 

In the last quarter I also got into a fiction / non-fiction rhythm. This gives my brain a bit of rest between the "serious" books. 

I also started to use readwise. It is a services that resurfaces your notes from books you have read to make it easier to remember then. Once I started using it I also started using notes much more concious, because I know they will be useful in the future. Previously I only sometimes exported them to use in my Zettelkasten system. I still do that for some topics. 

But now to the books. First the ones I finished by type and lastly the one I didn't finish.  

Management & Engineering

Accelerate: The Science of Lean Software and DevOps: Building and Scaling High Performing Technology Organizations

Very popular book, but I found it boring. It is basically a long interpretation of a survey. This could have been a short series of blog posts.   

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business 

 This is great. I really liked The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable. And this is a summary of most of his books without the fables. This makes it a quick read, while still containing all the important information.    

Resilient Management

This is targeted at Engineering Managers, but worth a read for all managers. Pretty short too. 

The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels

Targeted at executive managers, but really applies to everyone joining a new team as a leader.  I am just not sure I could pack all of this into 90 days. 

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams 

I read this a long time ago, maybe 20 years ago. A lot of the examples seem to be old fashioned, mentioning telephones and public announcement systems in offices. But once you look past this and replace them in your mind with Zoom and Slack you notice that not much has changed and a lot of their findings still apply.

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code (Addison-Wesley Signature Series 

We read this in our engineering book club at Devex. It consists of two parts, first the introduction to the idea of refactoring and then a catalogue of refactorings. Not the best book for a book club, but still a classic and worth reading. 

Currently we are reading A Philosophy of Software Design.

Science Fiction

Leviathan Falls (The Expanse #9) 

The final book in one of the best space operas out there. Sometimes it goes too much into fantasy with magic and gods. The last book made a lot of use of this to close the story.  

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) 

I really enjoyed this. It got recommended to me from a few directions and it was a fun read. Not ideal if you hate spiders.     

Project Hail Mary 

I went through this in two days. Lovely read with a lot of sciency bits and the usual witty writing. 

Thriller

The Dark Hours (Renée Ballard, #4; Harry Bosch Universe, #35)
Never Let Me Down Again (John Milton #19)
Bulletproof (John Milton Series #20)

 
I get every new release by Michael Connelly and Mark Dawson. This is really light and fun reading. I like heroes that are not perfect and Bosch and Milton fit right in.  

Yours Until Death 

I am a big fan of Nordic noir, but this was not good. It might be the translation, but it was close to unreadable.     

In Bad Company (Sandhamn Murders, #9) 

Another Nordic noir. I keep reading this series, but it is also not really that good. I guess I just enjoy the Swedish scenery.  This is perfect beach reading, if you can get to a beach. 

Others

Rumble Strip: If You Want to Get Away with Murder, Buy a Car

A comic about how bad cars are. Really depressing and painful to read. But beautiful drawn and witty.

Given up on or paused 

I didn't finish these for on reason or another. While in the past I would have waded through the mud until the end, I now rather give up and start something better.

Children of Ruin (Children of Time, #2) 

While I liked the first one, this one was no fun. 

Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work  

Too focused on the US education system. Maybe it gets better toward the end? 

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Revised and Updated: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Can I have a very short version of this please? I couldn't get into the writing style. I might give it another go in the future.