Weeknotes #3

February 25, 2019

This entire month has been a slog against servers. Whether its lower environment outages, issues with provisioning auto-scaling AWS instances behind a load balancer, or even INVALID_REQUEST after INVALID_REQUEST against OAuth API endpoints. It’s been a series of setbacks drawing out even the most trivial of tasks. I’m fatter and more stressed than usual, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

In lighter news, I think I’ve settled on a reading theme for 2019: Professional Development. While I’ll probably meander some in my current content veins, I’m looking forward to putting a handful of businessy books up on the board. It may seem like a dull leisure topic, but I find myself wanting to know more about business specifically a) how things are supposed to work and b) different and better approaches.

This past week I listened to Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Scott sounds like she’s a great manager because she cares about being a great manager. It also seemed like some of this book was self-justification for Scott’s already candid personality. Overall, I did enjoy the book and its ideals. I don’t do much direct managing, so lots of Scott’s detailed advice was inapplicable to me and a company of my size. But I would say I’m an expert in being managed and there are countless times where radical candor would have been more appreciated over manipulation or insincerity. Quality in management varies greatly and while I’ve worked with many truly great managers, I’ve seen first hand how bad management will lose talent. There’s a lot of value in a good manager and I mean that for all levels of management (project, team, product, VP, or C-Level) that I have come across.

It’s these kinds of businessy concepts that kick around in my head. Or software estimation. Or agile. Situations where I can tell the implementations I’ve come across differ from the ideal. I’m curious to learn more about it welcome suggestions on my journey.

Soon my wife and I are going to steal away on our first kid-free vacation in 5 years. I think what we’re both most excited about is reading our Kindles uninterrupted next to the pool (this is not a euphemism). However, I don’t want to sully a romantic getaway with business books so I’ll probably queue up some quick, fun reads (sci-fi? manga? pop-sci?).

Digest

Let’s get to some of the links I enjoyed or found thought-provoking…

[Read]

  • WorldWideWeb

    9 people over 5 days recreated the first browser in browser. I love web archeology and the history of the Web so it was a bit emotional bringing up my site in the emulator and seeing it render with predetermined styles and indentation. Jeremy Keith posted more about the CERN project on his site. There are a lot of special pieces about the accompanying site, like Kimberly Blessing’s writeup on the original browser source code and Mark Boulton’s attention to typographic detail. What a masterpiece in Web restoration.
  • Application Holotypes: A Guide to Architecture Decisions

    Jason Miller gets at something I’ve thought a lot about; there are different kinds of websites. I tend to think of websites like cars, there are different kinds for different needs. Jason does a much better job breaking them up into “holotypes” or classifications each with their own needs and constraints as well as ideal approaches to solving those constraints. I find this to be a much better starting point for discussing web site architecture than “apps vs. websites” or invoking “scale” as a scapegoat for responsibility. Jason maintains Preact (a Single Page App framework) and goes on to prescribe an SPA as a solution for most of the holotypes. I disagree with Jason on a few of the judgements, but my disagreements are much smaller and more nuanced and not even worth tweeting about, which makes me think this is a very useful tool in our collective lexicon.
  • You probably don’t need a single-page application

    Somewhat the antidote to Jason’s holotypes post, this post by Uku Täht has echoed a lot of my feelings on why server rendered pages are great. I look forward to the serverside revolution. Towards the end he proposes “hybrid” solutions. I hope these examples like Github, become easier to develop, because right now if you’re building a componentized system, the JS-JS-JS approach almost the only way.
  • The Coddling of the American Mind

    This essay was mentioned in Radical Candor and since it’s co-authored by Jonathan Haidt (who I really enjoy), I thought I’d have a read. On the surface, this article could sound like Trumpian Fox News punditry, but it does seem genuine in its attempts to highlight a phenomenon or potential fallout from (liberal) language and social policing in academic discourse. I’m not sure what I think here. I definitely think there are experiences traumatic enough that people don’t want to be reminded of them at a whim, especially in front of classmates. But, like in some of the situations described in the essay, maybe there’s a cost to some of the more extreme social enforcement of these new and personalized standards. Again, I’m not sure what I think here. I wonder if progress ebbs and flows its way forward.

[Watch]

  • arOS Concept

    Asher Vollmer (creator of Threes!) showed off a Unity/ARKit prototype that I found really inventive. A lot of VR/AR is centered around hand tracking or 6DOF controllers, but Asher’s prototype uses a smartphone as the spawn point for AR experiences. I think its very clever to augment something we’re all fairly familiar with. It would also reduce the need for every AR “gadget” to have its own app and interface.

[Listen]

I recorded a handful of podcasts between this and the last weeknotes post. I’ve listened to all the Shop Talks multiple times each and Aside Quest helped me clear a game off my Steam queue. So hooray.

  • 347: Jason Miller and PreactJS

    I liked this episode of Shop Talk on Preact and learned a lot about the value of setting a size constraint on a project. Mostly a performance concern but it also acts as a catalyst to clear up other technical debt.
  • 348: Getting lit-html with Justin Fagnani

    On this episode of Shop Talk we talk about lit-html with Justin Fagnani. lit-html and its Custom Element counterpart lit-element are a power duo of improvements that bridge the gap between VDOM-based render libraries and Web Components. Continuing the theme of this post, I ask the question “Is there ever a future where I get to write HTML again?” … and the answer might surprise you.
  • 348: Talking Svelte with Rich Harris

    This episode with Rich Harris taught me a lot about the compilation aspects of JS frameworks. I feel like I’m generally a savvy person who understands the landscape, but this really dug into the nuances of each frameworks’ approach and I love Svelte.js’ approach of trying to compile itself away at build time.
  • Apex Legends, Natch

    Aside Quest tumbles into a battle royale game that we all really like: Apex Legends. On a personal note, I finished a game from my Steam Queue of Shame: What Remains of Edith Finch, a game where you explore your family’s old homestead and its haunted past. I highly recommend it.