Today we’re joined by Shawn “swyx” Wang, also known as just “swyx” — and we’re talking about his interesting path to becoming a software developer, what it means to “learn in public” and how he’s been able to leverage that process to not only level up his skills and knowlege, but to also rapidly advance his career. We cover Swyx’s recent writing on the light and dark side of the API economy — something he calls “living above or below the API,” his thoughts on Cloudflare eating the cloud by playing Go instead of Chess, and we also talk about the work he’s doing at Temporal and how’s taking his frontend skills to the backend.
This is a short post by long-time open source maintainer Chris Manson about commitment to tasks in the open source world and how life always takes priority over dev.
We always need to keep in mind that most open source contributions are given from people that are opting to give up their spare time (usually for free) and the level of expectation can never come anywhere close to the sort of relationship that an employer might have with an employee or contractor.
Pairs well with Every commit is a gift. 🍷
GitHub’s ReadME project did a nice job re-telling the story of why the lucky stiff and his enduring impact on open source developers around the world.
This week we’re joined by Gergely Orosz and we’re talking about the insane tech hiring market we’re in right now. Gergely was on the show a year ago talking about growing as a software engineer and his book The Tech Resume Inside Out. Now he’s laser focused on Substack with actionable advice for engineering managers and engineers, with a focus on big tech and high-growth startups. On today’s show we dig into his recent coverage of “the perfect storm” that’s causing this insane tech hiring market.
On April 30th, 2021, I rickrolled my high school district. Not just my school but the entirety of Township High School District 214. It’s the second-largest high school district in Illinois, consisting of 6 different schools with over 11,000 enrolled students.
Who doesn’t like a good rickroll story? This one’s replete with screencaps and video footage
Bryan Braughn has been making good use of his Checkboxland library (which makes it easy to display text and animations on a grid of checkboxes). He’s made games, image transfers, and even videos like the one below. But then, some introspection:
This whole process has been fun but I really ought to stop.
I got nerd sniped, hard. Sure it’s harmless fun, but I’m starting to feel guilty spending months tinkering on these things when I’ve got the tools and skills to put actually useful stuff into the world. I feel like Superman, using his powers to fry an egg.
I understand where he’s coming from, but I also believe experiments like Bryan’s are what make the web great and when they inspire someone else to build something, they are absolutely “actually useful stuff”. Don’t you?
This post is a confession of an “egocentric maniac” (his words) and how damaging code review can be:
This review I kicked off the article with? I didn’t send it. Instead I gave the guy a couple of comments and politely asked to fix a couple of things. No big deal if the code’s not good, I can fix it myself it I need to. But I can’t fix the psyche of a guy broken by dozens of harsh reviews.
My personality today isn’t my disease. It’s a disease of the whole industry, at least in Russia. Our mentality is predicated on the cult of power and superiority. And that’s what we need to fix: just stop being that. It’s quite easy, actually.
The author of this site handed a neural network brief text descriptions of a bunch of movies and let it generate image that represent each. Read how he did it or just have fun trying to guess the movie titles from the images. Harder than I thought it’d be!
A (short) must-read piece from rachelbythebay:
“Everyone knows” that code is something you type into a computer, that gets interpreted by a computer, and is run by a computer. But that’s not really the end of it. Before that, it’s being “run” on whoever’s working on it. After that, it’s “running” on whoever’s digging into it to fix a bug or add some feature.
You can throw all kinds of wicked, nasty, complicated, Klein-bottle-wannabe tricks into code and the computer will shrug and slog on through it.
Try feeding that same mess to a human and you will have a variety of problems. We see them every day, and, unfortunately, we /create/ them every day.
I’ve often wondered this as well. My conclusion, after not thinking too deeply about the issue, was that it’s a combination of the difficulty in match making and poor tooling. (There are many startups trying to solve those problems, but it doesn’t seem like anybody has cracked the nut yet).
There’s lots of wisdom in this post by Curt Corginia:
A wise, mature person would treat the software engineer interview process as a pure learning experience. He, or she, would enjoy learning about companies out there for the sake of research, interacting with key players, and mastering the art of whiteboarding. It would just be like a fun game.
I don’t think of it like that, but a mature person would. Do what I say, not what I do.
Yes, to all of this! Dave Bailey, author of The Founder Coach, shared ten useful patterns to help nurture more generous interpretations of others’ behaviors.
Reading this makes me really miss producing Brain Science.
When we encounter emotions and behaviours that don’t make sense to us, it’s often because we don’t have all the information. And in the absence of information, we tend to assume the worst.
‘Emotional generosity’ is the ability to see past behaviours that we don’t understand and proactively look for compassionate ways to explain them. It’s easy to do this for young children. If they start crying or throwing a tantrum, we wonder whether they are hungry, or tired, or hurt. Sadly, it’s harder to do this for adults — and especially our co-workers. And yet a more generous interpretation of their difficult behaviour often ends up being right.
After months of talking about and planning this episode, we decided near the very end to invite Paul from Heavy Spoilers to join us for a deep, spoiler filled, discussion on the movie Tenet, which was directed by Christopher Nolan and released September 2020. If you’re a fan of Tenet, you’ll love this episode.
Warning: This episode literally includes heavy spoilers. So come back after you’ve watched the film, or proceed if that doesn’t bother you.
Apple said Thursday it will relax some App Store rules in order to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by U.S.-based developers over its store terms.
…Apple will let developers communicate with users about alternative payment methods outside of the App Store. It will also set up a $100 million fund for small developers and make some other changes to its practices, but it’s keeping its overall commission structure.
This settlement is not yet approved by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.
From Den Delimarsky:
We are truly living in an era of user-hostile software, and when I say “user-hostile” I mean it as “software that doesn’t really care about the needs of the user but rather about the needs of the developer.” And this is not a problem that is bound to a specific operating system (or version thereof) or class or computers. It’s literally cross-platform, and it follows customers from home, to office, to their commute.
Let me give you some examples from my own experience…
A common offender for me are apps that require permissions to “access machines on your local network.”
Thank you for sharing this Maya. These pull-quotes resonated with me.
I don’t think I noticed I was burnt out until early February 2021, almost six months later. Honestly, realizing it was kind of a relief. I hadn’t noticed how bad it had gotten. A few weeks later, I quit my job. And then a new, different kind of struggle started. Not knowing what to do with myself, or how to recover.
So why did I burn out? I don’t know. It’s not a single thing - like a specific work stressor - that caused my burnout. It was the never-ending treadmill of yet another day’s worth of useless meetings, with a TODO list that only grows, while you get less and less done on it every day. There isn’t a single moment that causes burnout, but there is a single moment when you realize it - that what you’re doing is impossible, insurmountable, unachievable - and that you don’t care. You can’t do it. And you don’t want to anyways.
I desperately needed to enjoy things again - so I could remember what that was like - so I could get back to enjoying ‘productive’ things too. Remember that producing recovery, relaxation, or joy for yourself is still being productive.
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive:
As a young man, I wanted to help make a new medium that would be a step forward from Gutenberg’s invention hundreds of years before.
By building a Library of Everything in the digital age, I thought the opportunity was not just to make it available to everybody in the world, but to make it better–smarter than paper. By using computers, we could make the Library not just searchable, but organizable; make it so that you could navigate your way through millions, and maybe eventually billions of web pages.
See also the website they made to virtually celebrate their 25th anniversary. I love the tagline: From Wayback to way forward
I don’t think I’ve ever had more distrust and as a consequence distate for software than in recent years. I don’t think its just me as a tech-nerd with artisanal tech-carpentry aspirations. I want people to build well, treat their users right and generally exercise some actual restraint. I see it very clearly and I react more viscerally than anyone non-technical in my surroundings. However, I see the frustrations and the consequences everywhere…
Doing ops properly is hard. Most of us are failing & learning every day. Some of us manage to have fun too.
This talk by Brittany Storoz from JSConf EU 2018 is sooo good! If you’ve ever wondered why we call bugs bugs, why we throw and catch exceptions, or why we use foo and bar as placeholder variables, give it a 👀
Brendan Gregg tells a tale from 2005:
This is the story of the most unbelievable demo I’ve been given in world of open source. You can’t make this stuff up.
I don’t want to ruin it, so I’ll just say that it’s not unbelievable in the way you might think it’s unbelievable.
Sometimes to solve a problem we tend to choose a set of tools we got used to. How often we pick a tool just because we know it, and not necessarily because it’s the right one for a task at hand? These are my rules to overcome that.
Tom MacWright on the pendulum swinging back and forth between simple and “fancy”
Technology is seeing a little return to complexity. Dreamweaver gave way to hand-coding websites, which is now leading into Webflow, which is a lot like Dreamweaver. Evernote give way to minimal Markdown notes, which are now becoming Notion, Coda, or Craft. Visual Studio was “disrupted” by Sublime Text and TextMate, which are now getting replaced by Visual Studio Code. JIRA was replaced by GitHub issues, which is getting outmoded by Linear.
This week we’re talking about open source on Mars. Martin Woodward (Senior Director of Developer Relations at GitHub) joins us to talk about the new Mars badge GitHub introduced. This collaboration between GitHub and NASA confirmed nearly 12,000 people contributed code, documentation, graphic design, and more to the open source software that made Ingenuity’s launch possible. Today’s show is a celebration of this human achievement and the impact of open source on space exploration as we know it.
This article won’t help you write better code, but it might help you better manage your relationship with Twitter. (Which could help you write better code.) It’s also really well written.
Social media are the Trojans at the gates of your mind. Their wooden horse is magnificent. It glistens with all of the fittest memes. I let those Trojans into the fortress of my mind, and it was a mistake.
If you’re intrigued by faustian bargains, incremental games, and petrichor… give it a read.
Hidde de Vries takes a strong, reasoned stance to online criticism of others’ work:
This week, a friend shared a blog post that critiqued a popular framework for CSS. Twitter started to discuss if it’s okay to criticise tools. In this post, I’ll say it is not just okay, it is also important.
This is a tough subject because we identify so closely with the things we create (our code), but Hidde is right: if we want to progress as an industry (and individually) we need to be able to criticize (constructively) and receive criticism. It’s part of the process.
We should give feedback respectfully and constructively, but we should give feedback. And open up to feedback, not demand it to go away. It may not be easy, but it is important to include perspectives outside your own.