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Culture

Beliefs, behavioral patterns, thoughts, and institutions of the developer community.
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Ars Technica Icon Ars Technica

Iowa man plans armed home invasion instead of paying $20k for domain name

This story comes from Ars Technica, not The Onion: In June 2017, Adams drove Hopkins to the domain-name owner’s house “and provided Hopkins with a demand note, which contained instructions for transferring the domain to Adams’ GoDaddy account,” the DOJ said. The heist didn’t go as planned, and both the domain-name owner and Hopkins ended up suffering gunshot wounds. Can you imagine transfering a domain name at gun point?

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Twitter Icon Twitter

Twitter wants an open / decentralized standard for social media

Jack Dorsey: Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open source architects, engineers, and designers to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of this standard. Color me surprised and impressed. My first thought was, “why create something brand new when smart people have been working on open standards for a long time already?” Then I read on: For social media, we’d like this team to either find an existing decentralized standard they can help move forward, or failing that, create one from scratch. That’s the only direction we at Twitter, Inc. will provide. Verrry interesting, indeed. What do you think will come of all this?

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Jason Warner medium.com

GitHub's CTO on architecting engineering teams that scale

Get some wisdom from Jason Warner, CTO of GitHub on building and leading engineering teams that scale. If building a high-powered engineering team is hard, successfully scaling it through hyper-growth is near impossible. The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate. Culture isn’t just about the “feels;” it’s about accountability and behavior. Whatever you do as a leader and whatever you tolerate becomes the standard for your entire organization.

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Cloud blog.acolyer.org

Local-first software: you own your data, in spite of the cloud

Watch out! If you start reading this paper you could be lost for hours following all the interesting links and ideas, and end up even more dissatisfied than you already are with the state of software today. You might also be inspired to help work towards a better future. I’m all in :). I co-sign that sentiment. When the author says “this paper” they are referring to this paper which they are about to summarize. If you haven’t considered local-first software before, you should know that there are seven key properties to it, which are described in detail in the paper and in brief in the summary.

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Flavio Copes flaviocopes.com

How to work from home without going crazy

We plan to dig deep into this topic on Brain Science (listen and subscribe here), but until then, here’s some great advice from Flavio Copes based on many years of working remotely. I’m an introvert, I am independent and I like doing things alone. This post is heavily influenced by this fact, and you might find that what I say is madness if you’re an extrovert who needs people around to be productive. The first suggestion I have for you is to have a dedicated office space. It does not need to be in another building, but it might be necessary if you have lots of people in your house. I do have a dedicated room, with a door I can close. It’s very helpful because it avoids.. interruptions.

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Gergely Orosz blog.pragmaticengineer.com

An engineering team where everyone is a leader

If you are a leader or someone aspiring to lead, consider this approach to engineering management. This post is a summary of the approach and tools I’ve used to build an engineering team, where everyone is a leader - including sharing of the project management expectations Google Docs guide that my team uses. It’s also a reflection on the pain points that came with this approach. I can’t advocate for how universally this approach could work. However, based on my results, it is something I suggest engineering leaders - especially frontline managers - consider as an option.

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Joe McGrath raptori.dev

Impostor Syndrome vs the Dunning-Kruger effect

In our transcripts, we have 44 results for “Impostor Syndrome” and just 2 results for “Dunning-Kruger effect”. This makes me think that we’re either not that familiar with the Dunning-Kruger effect, or we don’t talk about it enough. So, what is the Dunning-Kruger effect? In a word: overconfidence. It is a cognitive bias which leads people to believe they are more competent than they are, due to inability to objectively evaluate oneself. People experiencing the Dunning-Kruger effect are unable to recognize that they are not performing to the standards they think they are. As with impostor syndrome, they feel this way in spite of any evidence, and it can lead to chronic problems in all walks of life.

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Sameera Kapila CSS-Tricks

The communal cycle of sharing

Our friends at CSS Tricks are doing an awesome year-end series where they ask builders they admire the question, “What about building websites has you interested this year?” and each person writes a post about it. What gets Sameera Kapila excited resonates with me: I realize we’re moving from a place where we’re not just sharing what we have, we’re working to build and improve on what others have built. And then sharing that, and the cycle continues. In a way, we’ve been doing this all along but it feels more noticeable now. In a way, we’re not just building websites, but building and iterating the way we build websites, and that is exciting.

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Jerod Santo changelog.com/posts

The skeptic's guide to interpreting developer marketing speak 🗺️

Gone are the days when we developers were too shy/humble/introverted to promote our warez with the confidence and vigor necessary to draw a crowd. In fact, we may be experiencing an over-correction. Some of us are selling a bit too hard at times. With that in mind, here’s some help translating between how developers describe our software and what we might actually be thinking. 😉

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Alex Ellis blog.alexellis.io

The five pressures of leadership

Being a leader is tough and leads to burn-out at least once or maybe even a few times. But why? If you’ve been building, leading, or maintaining open source, then this post from Alex Ellis should be on your “to read” list. In this post I want to introduce the reader to five pressures that I have encountered over the past five years of building, leading, and maintaining Open Source Software (OSS) with community. This essay is primarily about being a leader in Open Source, but I believe it applies outside of technology too. My aim is to foster understanding and empathy between contributors, community members, users, and maintainers. I would also like for maintainers and leaders in Open Source to feel a sense of solidarity in their shared burden.

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Cory Doctorow EFF

alt.interoperability.adversarial

Cory Doctorow goes deep into Usenet’s history and uncovers a sage decision by the “backbone cabal” which may help us improve the web’s (currently centralized) state: Restoring adversarial interoperability will allow future companies, co-operatives and tinkerers to go beyond the comfort zones of the winners of the previous rounds of the game – so that it ceases to be a winner-take-all affair, and instead becomes the kind of dynamic place where a backbone cabal can have total control one year, and be sidelined the next.

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Alex Danco alexdanco.com

Everything is amazing, but nothing is ours

This is the most intriguing and insightful bit of writing I’ve enjoyed all week (granted, it’s only Wednesday, but still) Worlds of scarcity are made out of things. Worlds of abundance are made out of dependencies. That’s the software playbook: find a system made of costly, redundant objects; and rearrange it into a fast, frictionless system made of logical dependencies. The delta in performance is irresistible, and dependencies are a compelling building block: they seem like just a piece of logic, with no cost and no friction. But they absolutely have a cost: the cost is complexity, outsourced agency, and brittleness. The cost of ownership is up front and visible; the cost of access is back-dated and hidden. That quote is plucked right from the middle of the piece. Please do click through and read how Alex got there and where they went next.

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Jon Thornton engineering.squarespace.com

3 kinds of good tech debt

Jon Thornton writes on the Squarespace Engineering blog: “Tech debt” is a dirty word in the software engineering world. It’s often said with an air of regret; a past mistake that will eventually need to be atoned for with refactoring. Financial debt isn’t universally reviled in the same way. Your friend takes out a mortgage to buy a house and what do you say? Congratulations! … The difference is intention. What if tech debt wasn’t always an accident, caused by incorrect assumptions and unexpected circumstances? How would you spend a tech debt mortgage? We also talked about tech debt in a similar manner on Founders Talk #60.

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Amir Salihefendic doist.com

Async isn't just for remote teams

Amir Salihefendic on asynchronous communication… Study after study after study into remote work has made one thing clear: Remote workers are more productive than their office-bound counterparts. What’s not entirely clear is why. Yes, people gain back time (and sanity) by avoiding rush hour commutes. They avoid the distractions of the office. They regain a sense of control over their workdays. They have more time to dedicate to family, friends, and hobbies. But apart from the commute, all of those benefits aren’t necessarily the result of location independence, but rather the byproduct of asynchronous communication…

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Ali Spittel welearncode.com

The career advice I wish I had

Seems Ali has fired up the RSS feed on welearncode.com with a brand new post listing the career advice she wished she had. Here are just two I found myself head-nodding to… Find employers who want you to succeed. Good management that prioritizes your interests and goals is so important for creating a career where you’re growing and thriving. Management makes or breaks roles. Find a manager, and a team, who is looking out for you and wants you to succeed. It will lead to a more functional team and to an environment where you’re probably happier. Negotiate everything you can. Job offers, content creation, work hours, remote days, job duties, benefits, compensation, etc. can all be negotiated. Use your wins to give you confidence and as a tangible list of accomplishments.

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Kyle Stetz Slack Engineering

Building Slack's dark mode on desktop

Following up on designing delightful dark themes, I wanted to share this post from Kyle Stetz on the frontend engineering strategy for building Slack’s dark mode on desktop. As is usually the case with large codebases, finding an implementation that works is only half the battle; gracefully changing infrastructural code and educating engineers on how to use new tools accounts for much of what we do when working on new capabilities of the product. Working in a large engineering organization — especially within a rapidly growing company — means that every change needs to consider the momentum and roadmaps of many other teams. The overarching question for this project was: how can we build sustainable and maintainable support for themes?

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Gene Kim itrevolution.com

Love letter to Clojure (part 1)

Gene Kim shared part 1 of a “love letter to Clojure” inspired by Bryan Cantrell’s amazing “I’m falling in love with Rust” blog post in September 2018 In this blog post, I will explain how learning the Clojure programming language three years ago changed my life. It led to a series of revelations about all the invisible structures that are required to enable developers to be productive. … Without doubt, Clojure was one of the most difficult things I’ve learned professionally, but it has also been one of the most rewarding. It brought the joy of programming back into my life. For the first time in my career, as I’m nearing fifty years old, I’m finally able to write programs that do what I want them to do, and am able to build upon them for years without them collapsing like a house of cards, as has been my normal experience.

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Matt Mullenweg ma.tt

Debating OSS with DHH

Want to hear two of the top leaders in open source talk about their differing philosophies on open source and the modern web? The other week I ended up going back and forth in tweets with David Heinemeier Hansson, it wasn’t going anywhere but he graciously invited me to their podcast and we were able to expand the discussion in a way I found really refreshing and mind-opening. DHH and I have philosophies around work and open source that I believe overlap 95% or more, so… Here’s the Twitter conversation that started this debate on the Rework podcast.

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Harvard Business Review Icon Harvard Business Review

Entrepreneurs who sleep more are better at spotting good ideas

While this study was focused on “entrepreneurs”, I would say the function of sleep applies to all humans and can be expended to “creators” at large — or anyone who is in an position of trading sleep for progress. We’re exploring this very topic on an upcoming episode of Brain Science. Subscribe if you haven’t already! In our paper we investigated fundamental functions required of a founder in the early stages of a new venture’s lifecycle: the generation of new venture ideas and the formation of beliefs about a new venture’s potential. In a series of three interrelated studies, we show that entrepreneurs who shortchange sleep analyze business opportunities differently than their well-rested counterparts, and even differently than their well-rested selves.

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Test Double Icon Test Double

Deconstructing the bike shed

A thought-provoking piece by Joshua Wehner on Test Double’s blog: For the metaphor to work, at all, we have to have a shared understanding of what’s important and what’s trivial. Kamp is saying (1) color does not matter, and (2) the topic they are debating matters as little as if they were debating color. For decades, software developers have been fine with this. And yet… Color is an amazingly deep topic! There are books on the history of color. There are fascinating stories about how colors got their names, how they were made, how they impact fashion, how they tell stories… until software emits smells, color will be one of the most important aspects for developers to understand when considering how human beings will interact with our software. I never thought that color doesn’t matter, just that for the purpose of the metaphor color doesn’t matter in the context of a bike shed. This thought leads Joshua to another one: Software developers—and other professionals who are oriented around quantitative thinking—have a tendency to dismiss more qualitative disciplines such as design, marketing, or management—which also turn out to be exactly the disciplines best-suited to mitigating the kinds of dead-end discussions the bike shed legend is supposedly built to address. This I’ve 💯% seen in the wild. In conference rooms and in online discussions, I frequently seen software developers deploy the bike shed myth as an attempt to minimize a topic they see as unimportant and to label that discussion as a trivial distraction. I need to stop or I’ll end up quoting the entire article. Like I said, lots of thoughts being provoked here. A must-read, even if you end up disagreeing with his conclusions.

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Rich Archbold Medium

My engineering standards

In this post, Rich Archbold touches on something we discussed on a recent episode of The Changelog. Specifically, in the episode, we talked about contentment being the enemy of progress and how that might effect our industry psychologically — at-large. But when is what we’re working on ever good enough? Rich has this to say… Software can never be perfect, it can only ever be “good enough”…beyond a certain size and rate of change — it’s always going to contain bugs and experience outages. So how do you know if your software is good enough? … My opinion and approach is to codify your beliefs around what constitutes software that is “good enough” into a small set of engineering principles and build a culture, organization, and set of processes that reinforce them.

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Stanisław Pitucha github.com

Questions to ask a company during your interview

This repo gained 3,100+ stars in the first day and topped the charts of Changelog Nightly! This is a list of questions which may be interesting to a tech job applicant. The points are not ordered and many may not apply to a given position, or work type. It was started as my personal list of questions, which grew over time to include both things I’d like to see more of and red flags which I’d like to avoid. I’ve also noticed how few questions were asked by people I interviewed and I think those were missed opportunities. PRs are welcome!

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Marty Cagan svpg.com

Product teams vs feature teams

Marty Cagan is certain to upset many people product-people with this article. Read at your own risk. This article is certain to upset many people. I’m sorry for that, but the degree of ongoing noise and confusion surrounding the role of product at tech companies is only getting worse. Moreover, I see the issues and problematic behaviors getting institutionalized in conference talks, training programs and so-called certification programs for product people. So while this article might be painful to read, if you’ve been frustrated with the contradictory and confusing messaging from people in the product world, if you bear with me here, I am hopeful that this will provide some much needed clarity. BTW, Marty and his book INSPIRED was talked about in this recent episode of The Changelog featuring Ryan Singer talking about Basecamp’s new book Shape Up.

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