It’s the end of 2020 and on this year’s “State of the log” episode Adam and Jerod carry on the tradition of looking back at our favorite moments of the year – we talk through our most popular episodes, our personal favorites and must listen episodes, top posts from Changelog Posts, and what we have in the works for 2021 and beyond.
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The Changelog’s most popular episodes of 2020:
- Good tech debt featuring Jon Thornton
- The ONE thing every dev should know with Jessica Kerr
- The 10x developer myth with William Nichols
- What’s so exciting about Postgres with Craig Kerstiens
- Meet Algo, your personal VPN in the cloud featuring Dan Guido
Jerod’s personal favorites of 2020:
- Laws for hackers to live by with Dave Kerr
- Engineer to manager and back again with Lauren Tan
- Must listen: The developer’s guide to content creation with Stephanie Morillo
Adam’s personal favorites of 2020:
- Designing and building HEY with Jonas Downey
- It’s OK to make money from your open source with Zeno Rocha
- Must listen: Securing the web with Josh Aas, Shipping work that matters with Ryan Singer, Leading GitHub to a $7.5 billion acquisition with Jason Warner
Top Changelog posts of 2020:
- Monoliths are the future (Kelsey Hightower)
- Slaying Changelog’s compilation beast (Owen Bickford)
- Git is simply too hard (Mislav Marohnic)
- There’s a good reason why experienced devs say “it depends” so often (Jerod Santo)
Other links mentioned:
- Backstage #10: YouTube made me do it with Owen Bickford
- The Changelog #362: Machine powered refactoring with AST’s featuring Amal Hussein
- The Changelog #420: The Kollected Kode Vicious with George Neville-Neil
- Founders Talk #60: Leading data-driven software teams and products
featuring Travis Kimmel
- Let’s set up a free, personal VPN in the cloud with Algo VPN
- 4 sources of endless content ideas 💡 by Stephanie Morillo
Click here to listen along while you enjoy the transcript. 🎧
We’re here, it’s the end of 2020, and we’re doing the state of the “log”. This is something we do every single year now; it’s our–
It’s a tradition.
Yeah, it’s our tradition… We started in 2018 and it is now an annual thing…
And here we are, it’s another year… This has been the most unique year, I would say.
Good years and bad years; boring years and exciting years. It’s been exciting…
But just not in the good ways, generally.
Yeah. I’d like to reduce the particular excitingness… Or whatever it was.
We hope for a boring 2021…
I’m looking forward to 2021… I think so.
One thing that happened this year is the best laid plans Of Mice and Men kind of fell by the wayside… So for those of us that are big planners, there’s lots of disappointment out there. But thankfully, I don’t make very many plans, so I was just kind of rolling with the punches. What about you?
Yeah. I mean…
Conference plans failed…
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.
I think the one thing that happened this year that was different for us was just less travel. And I suppose a few less hugs, a few less high fives, a few less actual faces being met… Because we love doing that. We love doing conference attendance, and hanging out, and doing live shows there, and produce some podcasts from the expo hall floor, and creating those partnerships… But it didn’t change our content this year, I would say, in terms of consistency.
Maybe more consistent, because less travel to plan around.
And I would say, one thing that seems to be the case is maybe podcasting, interviewing via these tools have become a little more normalized, because people are generally more available to just hop on a call and talk, and their microphone setups are better than they used to be…
…and their cameras are better than they used to be, and people are used to doing [unintelligible 00:04:24.25] and stuff like that… Kind of nice from that regard.
Yeah. That’s certainly one thing that’s come from this year. Better cams, better mics, better availability… And I suppose, like you said, it’s just more normal now to have a conversation in this regard, rather than being like “Hey, when you’re in San Francisco next time, can we just hang out?” “Sure… But we’re here right now. Why not just have this conversation recorded?”
Yeah, so we’ve recorded a lot of shows this year… In fact, 34 more episodes than last year; so if you’re going on a pure episode count, we’re killing ourselves. Past us is losing the battle. 234 episodes shipped across our network in 2020. 47 of those - excuse me, 49, by the time the year is out - of the Changelog, which is up 3 from 46. In fact, we tell ourselves we ship 50 shows a year, so we’re only slightly lying this year.
I think this might be the first year we’re that close to 50.
Probably. Because you know, we’ve been doing the Changelog for over a decade, and we reached episode 400 this year… But if you’re doing 50 a year for a decade, that’s more than 400. Even I can do that math.
Right. So we strive for 50, that’s for sure.
Right. And we’re getting there.
Yeah, yeah. And you know, the thing I think happens is summer gets busy for everyone. We overpromise and underdeliver for ourselves even; we have great desires. It’s not because we’re bad people… We just have great ambitions and we sometimes just don’t get to deliver as much as we wanted to.
Right. So we did ship some shows this year, and many that were quite enjoyed by the audience. With the State of the ‘log we like to review some of the happenings around the Changelog podcast, what’s going on in the written world, Changelog posts, and then also the greater Changelog network; what we’ve been up to, what’s happened this year, what might be happening in the future… Stuff like that.
So we tend to go over some of the top episodes of the year, and then a few of our favorites. And then, a new category that Adam added, must-listens…
…which he can describe what’s the difference between a favorite of mine and a must-listen.
[laughs] Very nuanced.
There’s a very slight distinction. It’s like “I liked this episode, but you don’t have to listen to it if you don’t want to… But this one - this one’s a must listen.”
Well, it’s a way to get more on my list, really. That’s my resolve for it.
So it’s a brain-hack for yourself.
You know, in that regard though, with more shows - one thing that I see more this year is tweets that don’t just say “Listen to the Changelog” or “Listen to Go Time.” Now it’s like “Listen to anything from @changelog”, which is [unintelligible 00:07:13.05]
Hm. Kind of cool.
I’ve seen that more and more this year, which I like a lot.
Yeah. It’s definitely a nice change, of course… And always happy to see those.
We’ve put all the TLC into all of the shows on our network, so we are happy to hear that somebody likes our shows enough that they could just say “Hey, anything from Changelog is gonna be good.” That’s kind of the goal… So when we hear that, we are happy, because we are accomplishing our goals. So let’s turn to the most popular, shall we?
I can’t see why we wouldn’t do it. Let’s do it.
Alright, top five most popular episodes of the Changelog in 2020. Number one, congratulations to – wait, it’s always us; so congratulations to Jon Thornton from Squarespace; “Good tech debt”, the most listened to episode of the year.
Adam, this was your show; this was your baby. You set this one up, so tell us about it.
[08:08] You know, I think I saw something from Jon around good tech debt, and I was like “I’ve gotta log this to News.” So it began as a news post, and it more or less linking out like we do to News; what’s out there that’s good, that people are writing about. I linked that up, and I reached out to Jon and I was like “This is a good post. We should talk about this at length on the show.”
And I didn’t hear from him for a month maybe, or two. And then he responded to me, and I think we were really busy, and I didn’t get a chance to respond to him right away. I think it might have been around March; who the heck knows what time this was… When was this post out there? Or this show, when was it out there?
So it was just before that. So I can’t even blame the pandemic. Thank you. That’s sad. But it took me a little bit to get back to Jon… And I was like “It would make sense to talk to this concept of good tech debt.” Because everybody hears about this, that it’s bad, or it’s negative…
And let’s be honest, most of the time tech debt is a bad thing, right?
It’s debt, and you’re taking on water, so to speak, to move faster… And that is oftentimes ill-advised.
So that’s one of the reasons probably why his post resonated, and as well why probably the episode resonated - because it’s contrarian.
Well, that, and then I also had this conversation with Travis Kimmel, who was the prior CEO of GitPrime, who was acquired by Pluralsight… And we had a conversation on Founders Talk episode 60, talking about leading data-driven software teams and products… And in one part there, Travis really laid down some wisdom, and I’m pretty sure mentioned this in that show with Jon… But we talked so much, I’m not sure if I did or not… But we talked a lot about tech debt there, and how it actually correlated with actual debt, like money debt, and how you can think of it that way, and how people take on debt in good ways and bad ways…
So there was some, I suppose, early interest in the subject matter. And then Jon was actually an engineer, talking about like “We can go deeper.” So it made a lot of sense to “How can you leverage tech debt in the same way you leverage financial debt?”
Right. To your advantage, and in a way that’s strategic and intentional, so that it is not taking on water; it’s planned for, and then paid down, necessarily… Any debt that does not have a plan for paying down is bad debt. So yeah, good stuff.
Number two, Jessica Kerr, “The ONE thing every dev should know.” This one was a June episode with Jessica. Her idea on the subject matter - I guess it was our idea naming it after the subject matter - one of the very few times we went for the YouTube-style all-caps on a word titling, which may have played into its strength… The ONE thing… Of course, there’s many things that devs should know, but… Do you remember what it was, the one thing every dev should know, that Jessica told us?
It was in May.
Not when it was; do you know what the ONE thing was?
Oh, in the show you mean?
Yeah, what was her one thing? Do you remember?
No, I don’t.
On the spot, boom! [laughs]
I don’t even know that.
I think you titled this, and I was like “That sounds good.” And I moved on. [laughs]
What was the one thing?
I believe it was – I mean, I think she even said it was kind of a cheap shot answer… By the way, the title was a bit of a baity title… The conversation was spectacular. She’s full of insights, she’s very entertaining, and just fun to talk to…
And it might even be a must-listen. But the ONE thing was like “You should know the system.” You should know the system that you’re working on, in a conceptual, understandable way… And not just be siloed – or not siloed, but focused in on a particular aspect, without understanding what you’re trying to build.
[12:06] So this history of sort of the code monkey, grab a ticket, crank out the code… Right? Grab the next ticket, crank out the code - it’s not a good way of going about software development… So every dev should know the system and what they’re trying to build. I believe that’s a summary of what she was saying there.
I’ll quote her. Here we go.
She says “But the single most important thing to understand is how your system works. Not just any system, not any abstract architecture. The specific system that you work on.”
Right. Your system.
“Why does it work, and what impact does it have on the world, and how does it accomplish that?” Do you know what I said in response to that?
“Could you use a well-known example out there that’d be less abstract?” [laughter] Sometimes you read yourself back or listen back, and you’re like “How dense can you be? Why did you say that?!” But anyways, maybe that was a good response; I don’t know.
So you asked her for an example…
Yeah. To be clear.
I think she pulled out Uber at that point. Yeah, she pulled out Uber, which I don’t think she’s worked on personally, but she did a wonderful job of bringing it down to the bottom shelf so you could have a nibble…
Yeah, that’s funny… I think that was a good show, and so did everybody else, because it was topping the charts this year.
I think, having looked back on our list of shows this year - I would have put this in my list anyways, but it was one of the favorites, so I didn’t have a chance; it was naturally there, just by nature…
Right, it’s a popular one…
…but I would definitely wanna have Jessica back more often. A couple times a year. At least once a year. And kind of hear more of her wisdom. I wanna hear more from Jessica, basically.
See what else she has to say. Absolutely. Number three most popular episode of 2020 on the Changelog was “The 10x developer myth”, with William Nichols.
This is you.
This is me, yeah.
In all the ways.
In all the ways, I suppose. Not in all the ways; you were also on this episode.
Well, I mean, you teed this up.
You worked with Bill to get him on the show.
Yup, this was my idea. I thought it was a great little piece of research that he did, that came – I don’t if the word “longitudinal” applies here in terms of the duration… I think it was like five years of data he went back upon, of his instruction data?
Yeah, at least five. Maybe even ten.
Yeah. And so the premise is that we all talk about this mythical unicorn – not a billion-dollar startup, a unicorn developer. The one who is full-stack, and knows everything inside and out, knows the entire system, could write Uber by themselves… Or whatever the mythos is.
The less mystical mythos is the person who is ten times more productive than a typical developer, or the person sitting next to them. And while there are certainly more or less productive people, and more or less productive developers, the myth of the 10x developer has been out there and it’s been argued for and against for years.
This was the first time I saw anybody do a study on it, a research study, an academic thing. Now, his wasn’t the first study; it was the first time I saw someone do a study. And his seemed to be better because of the view that it took, the holistic and long-term view of this data that wasn’t actually created for the hypothesis.
It was extracted from a course.
He actually says he has 20 years of data, and he only used 10 years of it for the study.
So thank you to our transcripts for pulling these words out of our shows just so easily to quote them back to you all, but…
[laughs] That is good…
…we do have transcripts. You should check them out, they’re really awesome. But yeah, he taught the course for 20 years, and had essentially 20 years’ worth of data, and the study used about 10 years of it.
[15:52] And the findings from this were very interesting, because it wasn’t that you won’t find more or less production, according even to the exact goal set forth; it’s that the variance of productive between one person on any given day, or task, is much larger than the variance between two people in the same circumstances.
In other words, I might be 10x on Monday and 5x on Tuesday, and 3x on Wednesday, and back to 5x etc. And that productivity level varies greatly according to what they’ve found. But the one where I sustain this 10x speed over somebody else, in any demonstrable, repeatable fashion, seems to be a myth. That’s what we discussed in that episode, and I thought it was very interesting.
Well, you have to think about it from logical terms, too… And thankfully, we have a study to prove it, but… You know, if you just started to run as fast as you could right now, you’re not Jason Bourne.
There’s one where he says “I know I could run for ten miles…”, or some certain number (I forget what that quote is; if you’re out there, comment about this), but you can’t run for ten miles straight at your fastest speed… Which is what a career is. If you align the two, your career versus ten miles in the analogies, you can’t sprint the whole career. That’s what 10x-ing is - it’s sprinting, essentially.
Yeah. I guess Jason Bourne doesn’t really exist; I guess he’s just a fictional character after all.
Number four, and a late entrant… So all of these were spring shows; we have March, we have February, we have June for Jessica’s episode… But number four is actually a recent episode, which means it’s flying up the charts faster than the others - October 23rd we shipped “What’s so exciting about Postgres, with Craig Kerstiens.” Or Kerstiens. I can’t remember how to say his last name; Craig, sorry about that… But you are number four, my friend.
This one resonated with folks more than we thought… I don’t know, I thought it was gonna be pretty popular, but you admitted that you didn’t think it was gonna be this popular.
Well, I think it’s probably less about – well, I think more so it’s an October entry, not a January, February, March entry into the ’log, so to speak…
And popular - yes. But that popular, so quickly - it doesn’t happen often. So it was of the top, and it’s only two months ago, barely.
Actually, yesterday was two months ago. Today is one month and a day–
As we record this, yes.
So why wouldn’t it be that popular? Well, it is a singular database in a sea of databases and data stores, right? We could do “What’s so exciting about MySQL?”, “What’s so exciting about Mongo?”, “What’s so exciting about Cockroach?”, “What’s so exciting about SQLite?” I can’t remember how you say that…
“What’s so exciting about Firebase?” You know, you could just do all of these. But there’s something about Postgres… I mean, we talked about it on that episode, Craig and I, how it has mainstream penetration amongst web developers, amongst open sourcy, webby kind of developers, which is a lot of us, right?
The Rails folks, the Phoenix folks, the Django folks, a lot Node people… Mongo is very popular in the Node space. So it has a mainstream appeal amongst web developers. Also, pretty good title, “What’s so exciting about Postgres?” and we fulfilled that title in the episode. Craig did a great job of laying out the cool stuff in Postgres… And this one also, I believe, did spend a weekend on Hacker News homepage, people discussing it, so that drums up interest… And somebody who may have not listened to it ended up listening to it because of a debate about this particular feature in that. And it was also, I think, a shorter episode…
68 minutes total runtime…
Oh, 68? Okay, I thought it was shorter…
Total runtime. That’s intro, outro, ads…
Right. So roughly an hour.
Which is not – I wouldn’t call that shorter. I’d say it’s in probably the shorter third of our episodes. We go 60 to 80 minutes generally for the Changelog… So number four, “What’s so exciting about Postgres?”
On that note though, I think the thing we do often is play sleuth in terms of what made this show stand out.
So my surprise wasn’t it didn’t deserve it, or it was just unfounded; it was more like, literally, what – and I suppose spending a day on Hacker News, or the weekend on Hacker News does impact that… Being in Postgres Weekly, the newsletter, impacts that as well.
So I think for us - and listeners, hey, you wanna help us promote your favorite show? If you’re listening to this show and you’re like “This is my favorite show of the year so far” and that’s what you do when you’re listening to this show, find a way to share it with others. That’s the best way you can help us.
Yeah. There’s also a Postgres community; [unintelligible 00:20:58.24] like you said, which Craig helps to curate… And the Postgres community - folks are passionate; it’s their database. And I say that third person plural, but I really – I don’t have the passion for it, but I do also love Postgres. And when I see Postgres out there getting its come-uppance, it’s due credit, I’m likely to listen to that, or share that link.
In fact, I find myself sharing Postgres things on Changelog News more than other databases, and I start to question myself, like am I just–
“Am I biased?”
…being biased here? And it’s like, well–
You’re obviously biased, but…
Or you’re exploring your bias by doing so.
…is it detrimental to the feed? Anyways.
Yeah. And I’d be curious, on the note of what’s so exciting about blah… You know, if there’s a blah out there, like MySQL, or Mongo, or others, I’d be curious if the listeners wanna hear us do another variant of that with a different database. Or make it a thing.
Yeah. I’m thinking about other databases we’ve covered… We’ve done Elasticsearch… Not in that format, but we’ve had a show on that; we’ve had a show now on Postgres… We’ve had shows on up-and-coming databases over the years, but not really the established, tried and true ones as much.
What was that database…? Gun database, wasn’t it? Gun.js?
Yup. And then BoltDB, we did some key-value stores… I might be mixing Go Time with The Changelog a little bit, but… We’ve definitely done DBs.
We do DBs.
But generally, going back to something that’s been around for 25 years plus, we don’t do that quite as often. Maybe MariaDB deserves its moment on The Changelog.
Number five was “Meet Algo, your personal VPN in the cloud.” This was an early show. This was January 20th, with Dan Guido from Trail of Bits… I think you were sick that day, or you had some sort of problem where you were not on that episode, but were planning to be. Do you remember what that was about? It probably doesn’t matter…
I don’t know. It was in January… Maybe I was still getting over January 1st. I’m just kidding; I don’t do that.
[laughs] On January 20th? Three weeks later, the guy’s still struggling…
I do know that Januaries are the busiest times of the year in terms of sales and partnerships and stuff like that… So that’s always my excuse in January, and December, and November… So I get three months where I can claim “too busy”, essentially. But that is one of our busiest times. It might have been around that… I don’t think so though.
Yeah. It doesn’t matter.
The interesting thing here is that it’s an open source VPN, and a lot of people have – like, how many content creators out there do you hear, and their ad is of some VPN? So many, right?
Oh, lots of them.
Expre– I mean, let’s not advertise them, because they’re not paying us to. [laughs] I almost did. I almost did.
You can go through the list… Yeah, Expre–
[23:52] But there’s just so many. And I think from the consumer side, a non-techie consumer side, you think “Oh, it’s just a service”, and you sign up for it, and the next thing you know, all the data you’re already trying to keep safe by using a VPN in the first place is not safe.
So that’s really the premise of Algo - it’s something you can self-host in your own cloud, you can set it up yourself… In fact, you even did a deep-dive after the episode shipped, doing such a thing.
That’s right. And we talk about some of the hype train that I generally will hop on, and then hop off as soon as the next show comes around. I’m running Algo in the cloud to this day.
Is that right?
Absolutely. In fact, it bit me in the butt; I’ll tell you why… Because I upgraded to iOS 14 on my phone, and I have my VPN configuration in there… And then – you know, you have it set up to automatically turn off or on depending on which network you’re on. So if I’m on my home network, I don’t want Algo on, obviously. And if I’m on LTE, I want it on; I can’t remember if I want it on or off on LTE. I think it’s off on LTE, but when I join a Wi-Fi, that’s when I want it to turn on.
So after upgrading to iOS 14, I don’t know if something didn’t transfer correctly or what it was, but I would go to church where I would normally be on their Wi-Fi, but have Algo turned on and have my VPN connection back to my virtual private network… And it was broken. I could not use Wi-Fi there, but I had forgotten that I had it set up. Because it is kind of a set-it-and-forget-it thing. It just turns itself off or on at the appropriate time.
And I’m walking around all my friends, I’m like “Hey, can you get on the Wi-Fi? Hey, can you get on the Wi-Fi?” and they’re like “Yeah, it’s fine.”
[laughs] “It’s not working for me…”
Yeah, something’s wrong… So I’d flip my Wi-Fi off and use LTE at church for like three weeks, until I finally saw at one point the VPN thing trying to turn on, and then I couldn’t connect anymore… Anyways. I figured out it was me the whole time. I was blaming the Wi-Fi. I’m like, “Something’s wrong with this Wi-Fi.” So it came back to bite me.
But yeah, I’m still running it. And I do have a video out there on YouTube, setting up Algo from scratch. It is dead simple. And Dan did a great job explaining it on the show. He also did a great job - since he’s an infosec guy, been around a long time and understand these things very well - laying out some of the problems with a lot of the commercial services… The logging, the lack of anonimization, the middleman, all that kind of stuff; why those things are popular, which is mostly because people wanna access content that’s regionally restricted… Yeah, good episode, for sure.
I’m kind of bummed I missed it, honestly. I love VPNs.
We need a round two.
You can quote me on that.
“I love VPNs.” Adam Stacoviak. That would be good; we need a VPN sponsor, and that can just be our quote. We won’t say the actual name of the service; just “I love VPNs.”
That’s right. I promote all VPNs, okay? I actually work for the VPN conglomerate, the folks behind [unintelligible 00:27:06.11] That’d be cool.
What’s it gonna take to get you in a VPN today…?
Okay, that’s our top five popular episodes, according to listeners. Now it’s time for some personal faves. Do you wanna get us started, crack one off?
I think the HEY episode was first on my list, but only – I guess there’s not a reason really why it was first. It was just first. After having that conversation with – gosh, what’s his name…? I’ve gotta look this up.
Well, I know it’s Jonas, but the other person [unintelligible 00:28:37.18] Yeah, thank you.
Gosh, how did I forget his name? Ryan Singer. How can I forget Ryan Singer’s name?
But after having that conversation with Ryan, we were talking a lot about Shape Up, and then using Shape Up, and they talked a lot about HEY coming out, and we couldn’t go into it… I’m like “Well, the only way to close this loop is to talk to somebody leading the product behind the scenes for Basecamp on this”, and that was Jonas. So we got Jonas on, talked about that…
I thought we’d go more into how they use Shape Up with building out HEY, but we really didn’t talk a lot about that. We really talked a lot about product design, and choices, and architecture, and the psychology even behind this revolutionary way to do email. And that was an awesome episode. So cool.
Absolutely. For the uninitiated, Hey.com is Basecamp’s new privacy-oriented email services, and Jonas Downey, HEY’s lead designer, joined us for that episode. I agree, he has lots of deep things to say about product design… An area that I dabble in, but am no expert. So I learned a lot from him, and a lot of the decisions, and really – you don’t wanna use the word “courage” too much, but they make bold decisions. In product design it’s kind of like highfalutin to say it’s courageous to do a thing. Phil Schiller famously called removing the microphone jack courage… I can’t remember what it was; some thing that Apple removed, he called it courage.
Well, in their case it might be courageous, because they could be attacked. So that might actually be more in-line with courage.
[unintelligible 00:30:15.03] making slightly less money. [laughs] But… Bold. I’ll just call them bold. Basecamp is not afraid to make bold decisions, and there’s a lot of things about HEY that are designed with very intentional, opinionated, bold ways… And those are hard decisions to make. That’s why courage is kind of like an okay word; it’s somewhat highfalutin in this context because there’s courage against actual danger, but… Yeah. The decision-making process and the ability to stick through with your convictions was really on display there.
Yeah. I wonder how they – you know, you get a behind-the-scenes look at this and you wonder how they make the decisions they do… And you can see how closely David and Jason played a role in this particular product, and you even saw it in the rollout… You can sort of be on the outside of the announcements of HEY, or “I wanna be on the invite list”, or all the hoopla between them and Apple with the App Store, and stuff like that, whatever came from that… But then you see the inside, like “How did you make decisions? How do you even approach redesigning email?” I think for me, that was one of the things to dive deeper into, that was super-interesting… Because they take a unique approach - dare I say it, in your case, a courageous approach towards changing things…
Not in my case…
So I think it does take some boldness, as you said, to change the way email works, and to even attack that. But if there’s a company who I could think that would think intentionally about that change, it would be Basecamp; it would be people like Jason, and David, and the team they have at Basecamp. That’s what I felt was the most interesting, not just like “What architecture do you use?”, but in a lot of ways, how do they attack such a widely used problem; everybody has email, everybody has opinions about email. And many people have particular workflows with email and how they do email.
[32:16] Am I a HEY user? No, I’m not; but that’s not because I don’t like it. I can appreciate it and still not use it, but I think it was good to try and do, in many cases. I know a lot of people who use HEY. We have a lot of people in our email list that use HEY.
Absolutely. So a favorite for mine – sorry, you weren’t there, Adam. It was just me and Dave Kerr. Dave was in Singapore, I believe, so it was an early-morning show, which is different for us. I was having my morning coffee, I remember, and I spoke with Dave…
Super-early. It was like 9 in the morning.
Yeah, it might have even been 8 AM. I can’t remember exactly.
Yeah, it was super-early.
It was like a “Get up and get ready” kind of a thing… Which maybe made the show good, I don’t know. I think Dave probably made the show good. This was episode #403. It was called “Laws for hackers to live by.” It might be one of the most timeless episodes that we’ve put out this year. I think there would be a few others we could throw in the mix there, which probably we’ll hear from as well, but…
Yeah, Kode Vicious.
…in a similar vein, at least.
Mm-hm. But this is focusing in on Dave’s repo on GitHub called Hacker Laws, where he has collected and explained and really done a good job of laying out all these different idioms, and sayings, credos, laws, guidelines, whatever they are, that we say to ourselves while we’re writing software, we say to each other, or sometimes we remind somebody of… And the fun thing about that episode is really just a quick-hitting – like, I would do a law, he would do a law. We just picked the ones that we wanted to talk about… And he has a lot of interesting things to say, and I felt like there are, in that space, because it is general knowledge, it’s not specific to a language, or a philosophy; it’s not FP, it’s not OOP… Those are in the Hacker Laws, but we skipped a lot of those… And a lot of them applied to just networked systems.
Yeah, I had a lot to say too, so we had a great chemistry… And it was a nice, quick show… And man, it was a lot of fun. I listened to it back, and I learned some stuff from Dave the second time around that I missed the first time, just because you’re in the mix the first time; the second time you can kind of sit back and think about what he’s saying… And he’s got tons of interesting things to say, so… Another person I think we could come back and do more Hacker Laws down the road, because we definitely didn’t cover them all; we probably covered like half a dozen. Episode #403. I think it was one of my favorites of the year.
So you’re saying it’s a relisten show. Because we hear a lot people say “I listened to that one twice, or three times”, or in your case, you said “I’ve listened to it twice, and I got more on the second time.” You’re saying this is a relisten.
Yeah. In fact, one of the comments that we had - I can’t remember where they put the comment; it was either on Changelog.com, which it might have been, or maybe it was on Breaker… I remember getting an email from a listener who said “This is the only tech podcast I’ve ever listened to twice… But I went back and listened to this one a second time. It was that good.” And I was like “Dang. That’s a pretty high praise.” So that was pretty awesome.
Yeah, I recall. I like those emails from Breaker. We get those emails not too often - a couple times a month maybe - but I always appreciate them. It’s something about breaker listeners. They wanna comment, and I love that.
One cool thing I think in terms of coming back and having them on again is – are the Hacker Laws something where they’re expanding over time? Or are they sort of like locked in there? Or is it sort of like accumulated wisdom?
[35:57] They are. It’s accumulated wisdom, yeah. They are expanding; it’s not like everytime they go back there’s gonna be five more laws… But he is adding them over time. And one of the ones we talk about at the end - he was considering adding it or not… Because a lot of them move boundaries. They’re not specifically necessarily about software development. Some can be a little bit more like the way that systems work, which can be used to explain things like economics etc.
There’s one of the laws he brought up where it’s like once a system of observation is known, it ceases to be a good system of observation. I can’t remember which law that was. Maybe Gall’s law? Kernighan’s law? I don’t know, there’s a bunch of them, and I’m too far back to remember now. But something like that can be used to describe economic systems, relationship systems at the workplace…
Not just simply code.
…but then also, it can be used to describe software.
So they are being added, but it’s not like at a high-speed pace.
It kind of reminds me of maybe the Guinness Book of World Records too, where you can submit a law. It’s an unknown law that you can submit, a law that you maybe have coined yourself. You’ve derived it through your own wisdom and your own team, and your career. Like “I believe this should be a law”, and you name it. “This is the Stacoviak Law, or Santo Law” or whatever.
Right. Yeah, you’ve gotta be pretty smart to coin one of those… But you could submit it and see if they will let it go in or not.
[laughs] What are you trying to say, Jerod?
But now that we know him… I’ve got a personal in.
I’m not very smart? [laughs]
No, I’m saying you and I are not gonna hit that threshold… I looked up - real-time follow-up. Kernighan’s Law is the one that states that since debugging is twice as hard as writing code, if you write the most clever code you can, you by definition cannot debug it. That’s kind of a fun one.
And then Gall’s Law is - I’m paraphrasing… It says that a complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. So you can’t start with a complex system. You have to build it out of a simple system.
So neither of those two that I went off the top of my head are the one that I’m thinking of, that he was considering adding… But definitely go listen to the episode if you want more on that.
I enjoyed that show. It was a fun show.
Good. What’s your other favorite? Or are you moving on to must-listens? I will just say, I consider that one a must-listen. It’s also one of my favorites; I don’t know how to differentiate the two, but… There you go.
Well, like I said, I’m just trying to pad the system here. My idea for must-listen really is just to get more on my list.
I can go quick. So I mentioned “Shipping work that matters” tangentially by mentioning the HEY episode with Jonas. I think that’s a must-listen. I think there’s so much wisdom in there that – like, that’s why I love having Ryan on the show. I feel like every time, especially that last segment with Ryan… Like, we didn’t even – kind of fun story; a fun aside about “Shipping work that matters”, that episode. What episode was that, Jerod? What’s the number for that one?
When we recorded that, we were actually – so we take breaks, and we do the breaks for post-production produced ads, to slot those in the mastering process… And we hit break number two, which is the segment between segment two and segment three… We actually didn’t record, technically, a segment three. We just sort of just kept talking so long that we didn’t have any more time to talk with Ryan. So we were like “I think we’ve talked about enough cool stuff that we can make that a segment three.” And I went back and listened to it, and I think it’s some of the best stuff we’ve laid down with Ryan, ever. I think it was really good stuff. So for me, it’s a must-listen because Ryan just oozes wisdom. You like that, Ryan…
Absolutely. Yeah, that was a fun moment, because we were kind of like “Well, we’re out of time, but we haven’t done the third part of the show yet…” And we had talked for probably an hour, maybe 90 minutes in the break…
[39:57] …and we record the breaks, because you don’t stop and start… And we’re just kind of like – we asked for permission, like “Can we just turn this chit-chat into a segment?” And he was all about it, because it was an interesting conversation for him as well… So yeah, that was fun.
So faves for me - “It’s okay to make money from open source”, because I think there’s a lot of good stuff in that show, but just the title alone gives you permission. So many people out there in open source feel like you can’t make money from open source, and I think that that episode in particular really just says you should, and there’s nice ways and good ways you can actually profit from open source in ways that aren’t a detriment to the community that it serves.
I think Zeno Rocha does a great job of sharing that. He seems to be – I’ve never met Zeno in person, but I feel like we’re really good friends. I feel like if I saw him, I’d give him a big old hug. But I’ve never met him. So I really appreciate Zeno’s outlook on things.
But in terms of more must-listens - I’ll breeze through them. “Securing the web with Josh Aas”. I’m getting stuck on his last name; it’s Aas. It doesn’t sound like it should Josh Aas, but it is. That’s a lot of wisdom in there too, especially the ending, where he’s talking about securing the web by rewriting a lot of it… And he really has a bone to pick with C and C++ as it relates to Rust, and network software, and securing the web… So he’s got a big mission there, but Letsencrypt obviously is a huge project; it has done so much for the internet… And you may just be simply a casual or an everyday user of Letsencrypt; maybe just on setups, since it’s sort of set-it-and-forget-it to some degree… And you forget. But I think that there’s a lot of stuff that Josh shares in that episode around securing the web that we need to be reminded of. So I think it’s a must-listen.
And finally, I think, the “Leading GitHub” episode we did - man…! With Jason Warner. You can’t get – as of Jason, this is a quote from him: “You can’t get this subject matter anywhere else.” So the show we did with Jason was the only place you can hear that story of him and the GitHub acquisition. So if you’re at all a fan of (I suppose) GitHub, that storyline, then you’re gonna wanna listen to that show. So it’s a must-listen.
Agreed. I will add a few more to the list, and we can move on here. Another favorite of mine was talking with Lauren Tan about her transition from engineer to manager, and then back again to engineer. She’s very self-reflective and insightful. She has a lot of insights about the decision-making process, and it’s somewhat of a must-listen because we all had to make those kind of decisions as we advanced in our career, right? “What am I going to do next? Am I going to take that seemingly only route to promotion, which is to move out of my comfort zone of being an individual contributor, and move into a world of managerial things or leadership, where maybe I’ll thrive and maybe I’ll fail, maybe I’ll love it, maybe I’ll hate it…” and then once you make that decision, now what? And really having the courage - to keep using the word - to go back if it’s not something that you like, and really asking yourself “What am I optimizing for?” and those kinds of questions; what’s important to me. I think we didn’t plumb the full depths of that, but we went pretty deep on it… And that one is a favorite of mine, and I think a must-listen as well.
The last one I have for the list is Stephanie Morillo, “The developer’s guide to content creation.” I think this is a must-listen right here - I’m now learning the difference between the two - because not only did I enjoy talking with Stephanie, because she’s awesome, but she does a really good job of providing guard rails, guide rails, and inspiration to let you know that as developers, we’re all creating content, all the time. We are writing emails to people, we are writing documentation, we are giving talks and demos… And how we need to take that seriously and use it to our advantage. And she has a lot of actionable stuff…
[44:26] In fact, a Changelog post came out of that - “Four sources for infinite content ideas”, which is something that I think back at a lot when I’m thinking about how I can create some content; it’s “Hm, where can I get that content? What can I do that’s fresh and new?” and I refer back to her wisdom on that. So that one’s called “The developer’s guide to content creation” with Stephanie Morillo”, and it’s episode 382.
I highly recommend her newsletter as well. I don’t know how I’d tell you to subscribe to it, except for maybe go to the podcast and link out from there… But you’ll find it. You should definitely listen to it. Or read it, sorry; not listen. You can’t listen to her newsletter, unless she speaks it. But hey, maybe she will, in the future; who knows.
There’s probably a startup that’ll do that, right?
Something like that.
Take your newsletter and read it to you. Turn –
I think there’s startups that take written things and turn them into podcasts… And there’s startups that take podcasts and turn them into written things.
Or just individuals.
So if you could just feed those two to each other… Right? Pipe the input of one to the output of the other… You could really be on to something.
Yeah, before we move on to posts, and happenings, and other things going on, I think this is the longest we’ve done a state of the ’log and talked at this length about our favorites, from just this one podcast of ours; This is probably at least 40 minutes, maybe more. Just guessing.
What are you trying to say?
Just guessing. I like it. We love our stuff.
Are we getting better at it or worse at it?
We love our stuff. [laughter] We really appreciate it.
It is tough to go back and pick favorites… Because we set up all these episodes, that had all these conversations, so we think – of course, some things go better than others… But yeah, we tend to think they’re all pretty good, otherwise we wouldn’t have done them in the first place.
It’s a very hard process to whittle it down to what we’ve shared here. Go listen to all – what, 49?
Go listen to all 49. You’re welcome.
Alright, are you done with that? We’ll move on to Changelog posts.
Let’s do it.
So we don’t just podcast… Newsflash! Dee-you, dee-you, dee-you!! That’s my newsflash noise.
Is that right? I like that.
We do other things… And people are often surprised. They say “Wait a second… You guys have an awesome weekly newsletter?”
No. “Do you guys actually have a website?”
“You guys have a website?! There are other podcasts besides the Changelog?” No, I say that facetiously, but we get that a lot. In fact, people have been listening forever… And what’s funny is some people are subscribed to our master feed, which is all of our shows in one place, and which means you get instead of one show a week, you get maybe five shows a week… And they don’t realize that they’re different shows. I’ve had people that just think it’s just the Changelog, and we just have these different theme songs.
Improve your life.
There you go. It’s called Brain Science. And there’s a podcast called Backstage, which is just us chit-chatting.
No, that’s it.
Alright. So we have other podcasts… We also have a news feed, and we’ve had a news feed for many, many years. In fact, my first contribution to Changelog was on the news feed. I was logging news. And we like to point at things that are interesting, we like to contextualize the news, say why we think it’s interesting, throw a random joke or two in there, a pop culture reference just to make it not boring…
And we ship that out on a weekly basis. It’s also on our website, which is Changelog.com; on the homepage there you can keep up with the news, it’s not going to overwhelm you. It’s not an aggregate based on the upvotes and comments etc. It’s us curating the news, which you can submit for us to cover. We ask you to do so at changelog.com/submit. Submit other people’s stuff, submit your stuff - all good, as long as it’s interesting… And we’d be happy to share it.
So we do news, and we also do Changelog posts, which is more like a blog. And we don’t do that quite as often, we haven’t shipped 234 blog posts this year, but we do do it from time to time; we do wanna do it more, and we’re working on – not a submission process, but a pitch process to write for Changelog.com/posts, coming at you in 2021. But we’ve been doing that as well. So some of those are real hits, and have made waves, and have been pretty exciting, and we’re gonna talk about a few things that publish this year on Changelog posts that have been big and interesting. I’ve been talking too much… Adam, your turn.
I think one thing I’ll say is just we’re selective. It’s not so much that – the frequency would be more if I think we 1) had more time, and 2) we weren’t as selective. We want to feature – not so much the best of the best in terms like “Oh, this is bad content. Oh, this is good content”, but really good ideas. Not just your run-of-the-mill tutorial, which - those are great; it’s just not what we’re trying to optimize for. We’re trying to optimize for sharing big ideas, and I think we lead off with a controversial subject, a big idea, and some might say an unpopular opinion… Would you say so, Jerod?
Some would say that…
On Go Time, Kelsey Hightower - well-known in the cloud space, well-known in the Kubernetes space… Came from CoreOS, did a bunch of cool stuff there, has been really well-known in the Kubernetes space, doing a lot of cool stuff around containers, a lot of things around Docker, a lot of things around Go… He’s been an MC many times, at many conferences, [unintelligible 00:50:36.01] I’ve seen him recently - or at least a couple years ago - at GopherCon… But he wrote a post for us called “Monoliths of the future.” Technically, he didn’t write it, but technically, he did… Maybe you can give a peek behind the veil to the process there… But on Go Time, Kelsey shared an unpopular opinion called “Monoliths are the future.” And he laid it all out there. And we turned that into a post via the transcript, and shared that…
Because hey, what happens often is content will get stuck in a podcast. And we’ve had Alex doing great transcripts for us since episode 200 of The Changelog. We’re now at 400-and-something now? I don’t know what number we’re at. 430-something, I think, if I can recall correctly… So for many years now, basically. So this post from Kelsey - I mean, I think it got 150,000 uniques… What was the number? 200,000?
It was ridiculous… And it’s because Kelsey is incredibly eloquent, and as DHH said, drops hot fire.
And he actually speaks – it’s almost like he speaks in a way as if somebody had written it… You know what I’m saying?
…like, when you write something, you craft what you’re gonna say. You can craft a sentence. And Kelsey just talks that way…
[52:02] …in a way that’s coherent and natural. It’s a skill, it’s a talent. Yeah, when people say very interesting things on our shows, and that’s buried in a 60 or 80-minute podcast episode, we like to get those things featured, and sometimes they stand on their own. So we’ve been with the actual person’s – so we didn’t do this without Kelsey Hightower’s permission or participation… Take the transcript, repurpose it into a blog post, make it readable… We rewrite parts of it just to make it more like a written piece and less like a stream of consciousness, and turn that into a Changelog post. And “Monoliths are the future”, back in January, was an epic Changelog post by Kelsey Hightower.
It certainly gave us more fuel to our fire, because - like I said, with the time and the selectiveness, to see a way, I suppose, to put more effort… Since, as you mentioned, we’re less known for posts and more known for podcasts. We obviously value written content…
…but we’re not known for being the place to house it. But it gave us more motivation to put more effort into it, because we saw such great response from that. And it’s less about popularity, it’s more about sharing big ideas. That’s why I think we’re selective, because we wanna share really big ideas with people, and be a platform you can do it with. So if you’ve got a big idea - hey, reach out.
Absolutely. And until we have an actual official pitch form, just email firstname.lastname@example.org and say “Hey, I’d love to write a Changelog post. Here’s what it would be about”, and give us your big idea. We would be happy to work with you and give you feedback on why or why not that’s a good fit for us.
I’m trying to figure it out yet… I actually just wrote the metadata title the other day, because I realized that /posts didn’t have one, so I just said “changelog”. And what I wrote was “Solid takes from Changelog contributors.”
There you go.
I don’t know… How do you like that, Adam?
Yeah, I like it. Solid takes.
Solid takes, yeah. If you’ve got a solid take, put it on Changelog.
Yeah. I think that’s the thing why we’re even selective with it too, because there’s so many people that will reach – we’ve got a lot of who email us, and that’s a good thing and a bad thing… But the bad part of it is that there’s just so much noise, and we really strive to hear the signal. And I think that’s what that says. “Solid takes” is signal.
Which doesn’t mean that we agree with your take. It means that it’s a solid take. It’s well thought out, it’s reasoned, it’s well-written, and it’s worth sharing. I mean, maybe the take isn’t even so solid. I’ve written a few takes on there myself, and they’ve had varied degrees of solidity…
It’s a mushy take…
[laughs] I thought it was solid when I started writing, but when I published it I wasn’t so sure. Well, there’s been a couple of other cool posts that we wanted to share here on the show… By the way, of course, we have lots of references in this episode. We’ll link to all of them in the notes.
So “Monoliths of the future” - we’ve talked about that one.
Owen Bickford wrote a great post for us called “Slaying Changelog’s compilation beast.” This was kind of a multi-faceted story that came out of me livestreaming some of the coding we do on the platform… I was streaming with the Elixir, because that’s what our platform is built with, and on my under-powered little laptop, which I can’t wait to replace with an M1, or maybe M2…
Rumors of the M2 have already – yeah, rumors of faster Macs have already dropped like weeks after the M1s came out… I’m about ready to upgrade my coding machine. Anyways, what was happening was I would be doing some work, and it’s a compiled language… And compilation times were just taking forever… It really killed my groove, and I would feel weird, because I’m on a livestream and I’m like filling dead air as the thing compiles… And Owen was watching the livestream on YouTube, feeling the pain right alongside me, and decided to take action.
So he figured out a way by basically changing the way we do some aliases, versus some imports in our code, to cut way down on the required files to recompile when I’m editing other files. And he went ahead and made a PR, and there was some back-and-forth with a few of the Elixir team on it, and it was such a cool thing that we had him write a Changelog post, and we brought him on Backstage as well. I had a fun conversation with Owen on Backstage, just all about that process and really what he’s up to, and what he likes about YouTube, and watching people stream, and stuff like that.
The post was called “Slaying Changelog’s compilation beast.” The episode of Backstage I think is called “YouTube made me do it.”
That’s right, “YouTube made me do it.”
That’s a sweet title, too. Good idea.
That’s a sweet title. Half the fun of podcasting is choosing the title.
Yeah, it is kind of fun. So shout-out to Owen Bickford. Awesome contributions to our code, and to Changelog posts, as well as to our Backstage podcast. It was pretty cool. He was a cool guy, that I enjoyed meeting and hanging out with.
That just shows that we’re approachable, too. Our codebase is approachable in terms of being open source. Elixir is maybe less utilized out there as a language, but definitely gaining steam, and definitely becoming more and more popular… But approachable. I think that’s kind of cool, that you can feel the pain of Jerod on a show, on a livestream, and solve that pain. And then write about it and podcast about it. That’s pretty cool. You can share your ideas.
It’s a trifecta.
Yeah, the trifecta. More than anything, it’s a keep coming back to, it’s a place to belong. That’s what I think we’ve done - you can come here and hang out. This is a place to belong, and this with Owen is proof of that.
Yeah. By the way, that reminds me - do you remember on the Kode Vicious show, where GNN said “You’re not gonna go off and learn Elixir, and then a couple years be not using it again.” Do you remember that?
Our listeners might remember… It was funny, because we talked about Elixir being not that well-known language. And I asked him “How many language transitions–” so this is for those who didn’t listen to that episode; Kode Vicious is a guy who’s been coding C, C++ and Assembly for 20 years. And he’s talked about transitions through different languages. I asked him how many languages he’d made the difference, and what was interesting to him; he’s actually interested in Rust after all these years… But he made this off-handed remark which was funny… I don’t know if he picked on Elixir because he knew that I write Elixir, or if it was just like he had to think of a somewhat obscure language that has been on the hype cycle recently, and he just came up with that one.
But he mentioned how he wasn’t just go pick up Elixir and then use it for a few years, and then have no use for it and go back to what he was doing. And Adam at the time kind of gave me this grin, like I was getting called out on the show… Because I was like, “Hm. I might do that…”
Yeah. He was answering essentially how to remain relevant.
Yeah, that’s right, that’s right.
And I can quote this. He said “The only way, I think, to really remain relevant is to study the topic of computer science. Not every day, I don’t expect everyone to be sitting around, reading algorithms, but to realize that that’s the thing you should be studying” - in this case, computer science. “Bob’s latest language, not like - “Oh, there’s a book on Elixir…” This is what Jerod’s talking about. “Let’s become an expert on Elixir”, and then three years from now not be using it. I think that’s the way to remain relevant over our lifetime in our industry”, is to basically keep studying computer science.
[01:00:10.06] Learn computer science things. I agreed with him 100%, I just thought it was funny that he was like “I’m not gonna be like “Hey, there’s a book on Elixir…” , which was pretty much what I did. Okay. But I’m still using it; I didn’t discard it three years later, so he wasn’t picking too much on me.
Let’s talk real quick about a couple more Changelog posts; we’re getting a bit long-winded. Mislav - you may know Mislav Marohnic from GitHub - recently on Go Time, talking about the transition of the GitHub CLI, which was previously called Hub, and was a Ruby program for many years. He began before he – or actually, Chris Wanstrath began it, and Mislav hopped on it and contributed to it for many years… I think before he was even at GitHub, but definitely while he was at GitHub, doing other things.
He has recently taken up the CLI as one of his main projects there at GitHub, rewrote it in Go, and launched it as an official CLI. He shared this post called “Git is simply too hard.” You may have seen this one recently, as it just came out a couple weeks back, October/November timeframe.
This one resonated with people quite a bit. It made the rounds on all the typical Dev, Twitter, Hacker News, Reddit, Changelog News ecosystem. The blogosphere, as we once called it…
Because hearing that from Mislav, from a Git fanatic and expert… And he even admits in the post, he’s known the CLI for all these years, and even though it’s intuitive now, many of us, we just memorized the magic incantations; “Yes, I can delete a remote branch from the CLI.” I had no idea why I have to push with a colon in front of the branch name, or whatever it is… That despite how powerful the technology is, and how useful it is, and how much it’s enabled, it’s just too hard to learn. And his big thrust of that post is that whatever comes next needs to be more human-oriented, and not computer-oriented. Pretty fascinating stuff coming from Mislav.
Well, you have to take, I suppose, the origins of Git into mind when thinking about machines versus humans.
Yeah. And the complex, right? How complex it is, what he was trying to solve.
Exactly. But yeah, you would think – so anytime you’re doing anything when it comes to software development, when a human is doing the work, it should be human-friendly, I suppose. That would make sense. But unfortunately, that’s not the case for Git.
And it’s ubiquitous amongst us. It basically won the battle with Mercurial, which was more user-friendly in its API, in its command line syntax than Git was.
But I think GitHub really gave Git that killer – I wanted to say the killer feature; killer app, killer place. The network that built around Git because GitHub really made it beat Mercurial… Whereas Mercurial had some very serious advantages in the things that Mislav was talking about in this. And the context is really the next ten million GitHub users, or Git users, or whatever it is.
He says “It could be Git that reinvents itself, or a layer on Git.” Whatever it is that comes next should be designed for not just coders, but authors, journalists, research scientists etc. And these people shouldn’t have to go through the pain that we’ve all been through - if you know Git like I do - to learn Git. It’s too hard. So… Good post. Read that one.
The last one is written by me. Hey, we can cover this one real fast… Where I write “There’s a good reason why experienced devs say “it depends” so often.” The subtitle is “We’re all sick of it, but we’re not going to stop saying it.”
[01:04:15.17] I was inspired to write this post after reading a post by Chris Coyier on CSS-Tricks about JAMstack. To summarize, Chris says “JAMstack. It depends.” And there’s a big war in the JAMstack world and frontend world right now between JAMstack things, or completely prerendered things, and what we consider traditional/old-school server-side rendering.
There’s been debates between WordPress’ Matt Mullenweg and Netlify’s Matt Biilmann about JAMstack versus SSR. And while Chris Coyier at CSS-Tricks is very bullish on JAMstack, he’s writing very reasoned about it, and I was impressed by that, and I thought “This is interesting, because this is a guy who has experience and knows that there is no panacea, there’s no silver bullet. These really do depend.”
And while JAMstack has its virtues - and there are many, I would admit that - it also has its drawbacks. So I thought “Why not turn that into a solid take on Changelog.com/posts…
I love it.
…so that one’s out there as well.
There was also, on that front too, in terms of JAMstack, and the war, for a lack of better terms…
The war… Yes…!
There was Matt Mullenweg and Matt from Netlify - essentially, I believe it was in Netlify’s keynote recently for JAMstack. I’m lost on exactly if it was Netlify’s conference, or if it was JAMstack’s conference; I’m not sure.
Yeah, it’s JAMstack Conf, put on by Netlify.
Right. And there was the keynote…
They had a debate, yeah.
Yeah, the keynote was essentially a debate between the two… Which we logged, and it was good… And if it’s a panacea or not - you always wonder; of course, there’s lots of good things, too. Most things are good. But they’re not always all good.
That’s right. And it really does depend. So it’s ultimately the least satisfying answer. But actually, I think it’s one of the reasons why podcasts are so valuable to our community…
…because the details matter. And a blog post, even the most solid take, can be written from a perspective that focuses on all of the virtues of a thing, and ignores all of the detrimental aspects. Or the other way around. It can be a takedown piece - “Why we switched off of Mongo”, or whatever.
And you can just focus on all the things… And we tend to write in superlatives, because those are the things that gain attention. They are. If I tell you “You might think JAMstack is cool”, then you’d be like “Okay, but I’m not gonna read that.” But if I’m like “JAMstack is the nxt big thing”, you’re gonna be like “Oh, really?” And I have to then convince you that in my post.
But the reality in the real world is that we have to make trade-offs and decisions based on our contexts, and we can’t just adopt what everybody else is doing. That’s not smart software engineering. So podcasts allow us to have those conversations, those debates, with all of the nuance that is necessary… And oftentimes - I’ve actually seen this as a trend - on Go Time they have an Unpopular Opinion segment on the show every week. And we take their unpopular opinions and put them on the GoTimeFM Twitter, and we actually take a poll to see if they’re really unpopular. And what I’ve found is - and I’ve listened to a lot of these over the course of the year, since they’ve started doing it - a lot of times the one-liner is very unpopular; or very popular. But it’s bombastic and opinionated.
[01:07:58.23] But then the actual thing they say afterwards – because you’d say something like “Crunchy peanut butter is better than smooth peanut butter.” And that’s your opinion. But on a podcast you can’t just say that and drop the mic and walk out…
Yeah. You have to put the details on it.
You have to say why, right? And since this is a panel, and there’s usually four people there, the person will give their unpopular opinion, and then they’ll give their reasoning, and the reasoning is always way more soft, and qualified… You qualify it, and you’ll say “Well, and I realized that in this context…” It rounds it out, and it’s actually a very enjoyable thing to hear, because it’s like “Here’s a strong opinion”, but it’s kind of held loosely.
Yeah. Well, there’s always a story behind every opinion. And the story is the inroad to empathy. So they can say the bombastic, unpopular opinion, and the reasoning for having that take is weaved with their story, which leads to empathy, and gives you a chance to at least see and understand their perspective. You may not agree with it, but you can say “Well, i can see why you would say that.” You may not adopt the belief, but you can agree that they have it, and it’s okay.
Right. And that’s enjoyable, and I think we all kind of move forward together, even if we disagree, at the end of the day… Versus the wars, the actual “I hate you and your ideas”, which tends to happen in the written world and in the online world. Anyways, it’s just another plug for why I love podcasts and why I think these things are valuable.
Well, where else can you hear those at-length conversations between people you admire, look up to, follow, use their code, whatever [unintelligible 01:09:36.11] You can go to a conference talk, but that’s still pretty one-sided. You can maybe go to a Birds of a Feather, you might get some of your points and you might hear different perspectives. That’s similar(ish) to a podcast, but accessibility to a podcast, frequency, highly-produced, we intentionally produce these every single week, on multi-show layers… You can’t really get that anywhere else. That’s why you should go to Changelog.com…
Yeah, there we go. So let’s talk about some of the goings-on. We need to wrap this up because we are getting a little bit longer-winded…
We’re long-winded this year. I think we’re doing more, we like what we’re doing… I don’t know what it is, but…
I don’t know.
…we’re longer-winded, that’s for sure.
We haven’t hung out as much this week either, so maybe we’re just catching up a little bit too, between the two of us.
But let’s just talk real quick about things that we did this year. We didn’t launch any new podcasts. We’ve been keeping on keeping on. The pandemic hit, things have been difficult, like we mentioned at the top… Life has been more difficult than work for us. We had, of course, concerns and negative consequences of the initial lockdown, and so it hasn’t been all roses here… But generally speaking, everything’s going well.
That being said, we did launch our membership program over the summer, Changelog.com/++
The coolest URL ever. I think so.
That’s right. I love it. You can get closer to the metal, as we say; you can make the ads disappear, and you can support us directly… So that when the tides of change rise into our sea – I don’t know, I’m losing; whatever metaphor that is. When things get rough, we have direct support to fall back on, in the case of other means of making money go away, so that these shows can continue and thrive.
So we launched that over the summer… Warm reception; we’re thankful to everybody who signed up so far. It’s just the beginning. We kind of launched it and let it be its thing. We continue to ship ad-free shows alongside our ad-full shows - not full, but you know what I mean - each and every episode… And people who join get the warm/fuzzy to support us, and they also appreciate that feed. Ironically, a lot of people still sign up and then don’t use the ad-free feed, because they like the ads; that makes us feel good, but we also kind of feel weird.
Well, I think if you’re curious more about ++, there’s some Backstage episodes that go deeper in that; so if we’ve piqued your curiosity, go there. You’d mentioned the pandemic, of course - we did a show on Brain Science that sort of covered a lot of that stuff too, which was really just embracing turbulence, as we’ve said… That was coined actually from an investment capital firm; I’m not sure if that was the best source for the phrase, but “Brace for turbulence” was said there. I think it’s been a pretty turbulent world since then… And I’ve been embracing, so there we go; I took my own advice.
I think shipping 400 episodes of the Changelog is a feat, even though we say 50 a year, and it’s been ten years, and those numbers don’t match up in terms of the math, the multiplication. Still happy about that… I think Practical AI turning 100 episodes out there is a big feat for Chris and Daniel; they’re doing an awesome job with that show. They care really deeply about keeping the discussions around data science and artificial intelligence very practical, to go back to the name of it… Accessible, you know? Available, I suppose, in some cases… And not just simply out in the Skynet kind of scenarios, but practical, real-world applications…
Yeah. Use it today.
…that you can use today, that are good uses for artificial intelligence, in a way it can evolve technology for humans, and potentially cats and dogs… Because I know Chris loves cats and dogs and animals, so maybe he turns to that side as well.
But new people on shows, which is always awesome; new contributors… We’ve done some cool stuff in infrastructure this year… I know that Gerhard has been working really hard on that. There was a show recently about that, and a blog post about that. We have great partnerships making that happen. Linode is a great partner, Fastly is a great partner… I mean, just so much.
And back to what you’ve said before, I’m thankful for the community who supports us via ++. And it’s not just simply a “Hey, support us if the rug gets pulled out”, but more “If you wanna directly support what we do, that’s why we’ve put that there.” And as Jerod mentioned, it is the beginning of it. We have more that will come to it… So be an early subscriber. Directly support us if that’s what you want to do; that’s what we want you to do.
Absolutely. A couple more shout-outs to people new and old who are involved in Changelog. This year we’ve had some new panelists added to a couple of our shows. Amal Hussein, which you’ve probably heard on The Changelog if you’re a long-time listener.
She had an awesome episode last year, called – something about ASTs, What’s it called, Adam? It has to do with refactoring using ASTs; it was very interesting. She has joined JS Party as a regular panelist, and she’s been an awesome addition to the panel… So we’re welcoming Amal.
And then on Go Time we’ve had three new panelists just this month - Kris Brandow, Angelica Hill and Natalie Pistunovich will be on Go Time episodes coming near your ears real soon right now.
We actually had them an episode, the three of them, on a live show at GopherCon, and enjoyed it so much, and enjoyed them so much, that we just said “Hey, why don’t you all just stick around and be panelists?”
And they said yes.
And so they are. Always happy to have more and new voices on our podcasts… So that’s happening. And then with the platform - there’s a lot of regulars hanging around the dev channel on our Slack. Of course, the Slack is completely free, and everyone is welcome. Changelog.com/community. Come hang out in Slack. It’s not super-noisy, but it is good signal, and good conversations.
[01:16:08.26] So everybody is hanging out in #dev. We’ve had some new contributors this year. Lars Wikman… Or as they say it over there, [Lars Wikman 01:16:14.11] I call him Lars Wikman, because that’s how a honky would say it, a Midwestern honky like myself might say it. Lars has been hacking on the codebase, he’s been contributing news, logging news, hanging out… He’s really been an enjoyable addition to our Changelog family the last year or so. So we’re happy to have Lars hanging out. Of course, Gerhard… And we have Alex, who does all of our transcripts, still rocking it…
Years later, and getting better and better. And then Tom… What’s Tom’s last name? I just call him Tom all the time.
Crowe. No. I know a different Tom Crowe.
Tom Obarski. Tom Crowe?!
I know a Tom Crowe.
No, you’re thinking of the actor…
Russell Crowe. No, that’s a whole different Crowe. [laughter]
Yeah. This is a whole different Tom. Tom Obarski…
Tom Obarski, yes.
…has been helping us produce some of the awesome clips and promotional materials, and some video stuff, and Tom’s been awesome to have around… So just a few folks on the periphery; you probably don’t see them or hear them, unless they’re a panelist on our shows… But they’re definitely helping make Changelog awesome, so shout-outs to them, and best of 2021 to them as well.
Anything else before we call it?
I mean, in regards to Slack, I would say… A channel to sign up for alone would be Apple Nerds. I mean, there’s so much chatter, especially around the events…
If you’re into Apple, yes.
Of course, if you’re into Apple… But I think stats and statistics say that a majority of our audience are Apple fans. And we call them Apple nerds lovingly, of course, because we are also Apple nerds.
We’re in there.
I can’t wait to actually make that T-shirt. Apple Nerds. Come hang out in Apple Nerds. And that’s why you should join the community. Jerod mentioned it’s free. Slack may not eventually be free to us; it’s free now… But it’s free for you, for sure, forever.
Well, we’ll be off Slack if it starts charging us…
The acquisition may turn bad, who knows what… Anyways. But you can join us in Apple nerds. And there’s always conversation in there, even the latest – the Apple Airpods Max. I get my Apple news from Apple Nerds, basically. So that’s awesome.
And it’s not even by design.
It’s funny, because Apple just announced the Airpods Max, which is basically their over-the-ear. When someone pasted the link in our Apple Nerds channel, I thought it was a joke. I think I previously did a tweet with this giant thing, like an Airpod… Remember that tweet, Adam, back in the day?
It was like “Breaking! Apple announced Airpod Max.” And I was being completely dorky, and it was a joke. But it was like this gigantic, two-foot airpod. I should retweet that now that it’s real news. I can’t remember if I used the exact term Airpods Max, but it was close.
I like that you called it real news.
So I didn’t think it was real. I thought it was a satire post, but…
So close to being satire…
The price might be a satire, $550… But time will tell.
Time will tell. And I think that’s pretty much it. We’ve got some great teams behind the scenes helping us edit our shows, which - my gosh… [unintelligible 01:19:27.07] Adam Clark and his team helping us… There’s so much. If you’re listening to this show and you listen to any of our shows, there’s really a lot behind the scenes to make this happen. It’s a two-person operation primarily, but there’s a lot of people and a lot of effort that goes into producing these podcasts. We do it not as “a labor of love”, but very much we love doing this. We do it for money, of course, because we run a company around this, but… It’s not labor of love in terms of we don’t get paid; we do love doing this, and we love all the people that are involved with us.
Jerod mentioned earlier joining the family - we literally mean that. The people that work with us are like family to us. And a lot of people say that to signal virtuing – what’s that term?
Virtue signaling. I said it backwards. [laughs] That’s how unfamiliar I am with the term.
Signal virtuing. I like that.
But you know, we really do love the people that work with us, and our listeners too, and our readers, too. So if you’re listening to this point, as we’re about to say goodbye, we love you. Thank you for listening.
Ditto. And goodbye.
Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚