Weekly Thing

by Jamie Thingelstad

January 27, 2018

There are a bunch of new subscribers to the Weekly Thing this week! Hello and welcome to you all! 🙌 Also, a bunch of fun links this week! 👓 LinkedIn is by far the most effective place for people to discover the Weekly Thing. If you feel like spreading the word, sharing a comment and link to is always welcome! 👍

We had a good pounding of snow 🌨 here in Minneapolis on Monday, more than a foot of it! It was snowing over 1" per hour for much of the day. The commute home was challenging, but it also brought out that great Minnesota winter karma. I saw many scenes of strangers helping others get unstuck, pushing cars out of snowbanks and just looking out for each other. Neighbors helping neighbors! 🤝 I did my part by running our snowblower all around the block for a couple of hours. You get a pretty big smile 😁 and "Thank You" when you show up and help finish clearing a blocked driveway of a foot of snow. A good snow brings out that spirit in everyone. As a big bonus, the kids got to celebrate school being shut down the next day. 🤗

Blog Posts 📬


2017 in Meetings

Analaysis of my 2017 calendar.

2017 in Links

Analysis of the 913 links I saved to various websites in 2017.

Photo 📷

We got right around a foot of snow on Monday night and it covered everything in a pretty blanket of white powder.

Jan 22, 2018 at 7:21 PM
Minneapolis, MN

Links 📌


HomePod vs. Amazon Echo vs. Google Home Max vs. Sonos One: Speaker showdown | iMore

Best HomePod writeup I’ve read yet. Sounds like it will have amazing sound, but disappointing that so much is still in the works. Not even multi speaker support is available now? And not supporting multiple iCloud users is a bummer. I’m hoping that a HomePod would use a voice signature to know all users in our iCloud Family account and bring the right data and interactions to each. Guess I’ll have to keep waiting. 😕

Coming in 2018: OmniFocus 3 for Mac & iOS —Learn OmniFocus

Some fabulous new stuff coming to OmniFocus 3 in 2018. The tags will be great, already know how I would use that. The automation engine is going to be a big win too for project templates. Also great to see a web version coming! Now to just give me a REST API to access tasks as well? 👏🏻

2018 Developer Skills Report by HackerRank

This is a very interesting report. I don't know if this type of study has been done often. With 39,441 respondents this would seem to be statistically valid. A lot of great data points and some interesting insights.

Unlike generations thereafter, if kids of the seventies wanted to see innovative technology, they’d have to build it themselves — they had no other choice. There were no widespread resources to teach them how to build software. Almost half of all developers (47%) between the ages of 45 and 54 started coding before they were 16 years old. Meanwhile, developers between 18 and 24 today are the least likely to have started coding before 16 (only 20%).

This data doesn't surprise me and I think it’s a little concerning. In the 70's and early 80's if you wanted to play on a computer there was really only one option — you learned to program that computer! Today there are so many options to get value out of technology that the requirement of programming comes from a power user need in a niche, or pure curiosity. I wouldn't take back any of the ease-of-use progress we've made, but exposing younger people that are interested to real development tools seems like something we should focus on. Myself, I started coding when I was in 1st or 2nd grade on a TI-99/4A using BASIC. I fall in the "5 to 10" bucket here.

Self-teaching is the norm for developers of all ages. Even though 67% of developers have CS degrees, roughly 74% said they were at least partially self-taught.

This makes complete sense in large part because a computer science degree doesn't teach you the tactical aspects that you need to be a programmer working in a company. To be clear, that is important stuff, but industry is generally ahead of academia and they have different goals — fundamental versus applied learning.

JavaScript may be the most in-demand language by employers, but Python wins the heart of developers across all ages, according to our Love-Hate index. Python is also the most popular language that developers want to learn overall, and a significant share already knows it.

What little coding I do is in Python and I always recommend that people that want to learn programming start in Python. Clearly Guido van Rossum, the "Benevolent Dictator For Life" of Python, did something very right. Also perhaps the editor wars are over?

VIM beats all other editors by a landslide.

Even though vim is used four times as much, it turns out vim and emacs users in total use the same amount of memory. 😂 A lot of interesting data. The data missing from here that I would like to have seen included would have been some analysis of gender. We know that we need to work to grow the ranks of women in tech and I wonder if any of this data would have highlighted some actionable gaps.

‘Never get high on your own supply’ – why social media bosses don’t use social media | Media | The Guardian

The title of this article did make me chuckle along with the hip-hop inspired pull quote:

If this is the case, then social media executives are simply following the rule of pushers and dealers everywhere, the fourth of the Notorious BIG’s Ten Crack Commandments: “Never get high on your own supply.”

It is worth noting, in a sector that is so proud of dog fooding their own products, why don't the leaders of these companies use them? I do believe and I think the evidence is clear that these products are designed to be addictive, but I don't think that is why executives at social media companies don't use their own products. More likely they are just busy and social media just isn't that important.

Growing apart and losing touch is human and healthy

I concur with DHH's thesis here.

What allowed me to change and prosper was the freedom to grow apart and lose touch with people. It’s hard to change yourself if you’re stuck in the same social orbit. There’s a gravitational force that pulls you into repeating the same circular pattern over and over again. Breaking out of that takes tremendous force.

Many people can reflect on this in the college experience. It’s one of those seminal moments when you make a step change as a person. It happens when you change jobs. Sometimes it happens in the reverse, an alcoholic changes their friends as they become sober. The point is, your social network isn't a snowball that just gets bigger your entire life. It’s a collection that forms and reforms over years. I would also add the important thinking around Dunbar's number that suggests the mean number of people that humans can maintain connections with is 148. The snowball metaphor just frankly doesn't work unless you are willing to freeze your development in your teens.

Daring Fireball: Apple Previews iOS 11.3

Some pretty big features coming in iOS 11.3. When I first saw Apple Pay Cash shown my head went right away to that being a great way to buy items from small merchants. The challenge was on the merchant side, but this new Business Chat capability is directly solving that. I’m going to guess that iMessage using iCloud is a critical dependency for Business Chat. I also like the additions to the Health app. It seems odd that you cannot currently store the results of a Dr. visit in Health, which hopefully this will solve.

Amazon Go and the Future – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

Detailed thoughts on why and where Amazon is going with its recently opened cashier-less Amazon Go store. The background on the financial and strategy tactics of tech companies makes this a worthwhile read by itself.


It’s good to see some official standards adopted for decentralizing social media.

The ActivityPub protocol is a decentralized social networking protocol based upon the ActivityStreams 2.0 data format.

I think there is still good debate if even decentralized social media is a good thing. It does reduce the issues around filter bubbles and ownership, but you could have the some trust and mental issues surrounding it.

Zstandard - Real-time data compression algorithm

Facebook developed open-source compression algorithm. Looks to be very capable.

Zstandard is a real-time compression algorithm, providing high compression ratios. It offers a very wide range of compression / speed trade-off, while being backed by a very fast decoder (see benchmarks below). It also offers a special mode for small data, called dictionary compression, and can create dictionaries from any sample set. Zstandard library is provided as open source software using a BSD license.

BeyondCorp: How Google Ditched VPNs for Remote Employee Access - The New Stack

Wow, this is pretty amazing.

Today, none of Google’s employee-facing applications are on a virtual private network. They all have public IP addresses.

This is an interesting premise. I don't see organizations being ready for this, but it’s an interesting goal to consider over the long haul.

Privacy, simplified.

👍 Very cool! I use Duck Duck Go as my default search engine on all of my devices and I love this new addition. Now not only do you have a privacy forward search experience, but the services you visit from there will be privacy enhanced via this browser. I achieve something similar with a handful of plugins and content blockers. This is much simpler and is privacy by default.

The Best Productivity and GTD App for Mac, iPhone, and iPad

I’m sticking with OmniFocus because I continue to believe the least productive thing you can do is spend significant time and energy switching productivity systems. It’s a common rabbit hole. But, it’s cool to see Things is doing so well.

Personal Data Representatives: An Idea – Tom Steinberg – Medium

This seems completely unworkable but it’s a novel idea for managing access to personal data. Establishing a 3rd party entity to deal with the complexity might make sense.

Settlers of Catan and the Invasion of the German Board Games - The Atlantic

These strategy board games pulled me into some casual board gaming over recent years. Specifically Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride. Additionally strong digital versions of those games also make them very approachable and expose them to a new market. Starting with digital and then getting the actual board game has been pretty common for me.

ARK Invest - Big Ideas 2018 - Disruptive Innovation

This kind of future looking analyst report isn't worth betting the future on, but I find them compelling to understand how others are looking at opportunities and where the "edges" of some opportunities might be.

“Big Ideas” is ARK’s annual publication showcasing a selection of innovations that we believe will accelerate the pace of change. The research presented in the following slides aims to illustrate how these ideas are transforming the way the world works and delivering outsized growth opportunities across different industries.

Coraline Ada Ehmke — Not Applicable: What Your Job Post Is Really Saying

This is worth reading a couple of times. The cultural signals in your job postings are real, and they dramatically impact the candidate pool.

If you truly believe that your engineering culture is welcoming and provides opportunities for growth and learning, shouldn’t you make that a core part of your message to potential employees?

The punchline for the entire article is at the bottom and it’s big.

We had over three hundred applications, almost 75% of them from underrepresented minorities in tech.

Wow! 🤯

Facebook’s Motivations – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

I’m very direct with people in my dislike of Facebook specifically for a number of reasons. Most people think I’m crazy and that charging at privacy windmills is just that, pointless. My opinion on the real threat to Facebook is perfectly captured in Bon Thompson's writeup here:

Rather, the only thing that could undo Facebook’s power is users actively rejecting the app. And, I suspect, the only way users would do that en masse would be if it became accepted fact that Facebook is actively bad for you — the online equivalent of smoking.

If it is established that social media just isn't good for you, I think that this analogy to smoking could be very accurate. We'll see.

JS things I never knew existed

Fun collection of lesser known things you can do in Javascript.

CES 2018: Real Advances, Real Progress, Real Questions

Epic length recap of news from CES 2018 along with a lot of pictures. Index into what you might find interesting here. I didn't realize Google made such a strong push with it’s voice technology here.

The hidden costs of serverless – A Cloud Guru

This could be summed up with a simple "Remember all the indirect costs too!". The premise is solid, make sure you don't get fooled by the direct expenses of serverless and forget the other items. However, there is a flaw that the author doesn't factor in the costs of running the node.js comparable system. So, if labor is free maybe, but that is far from the case.

Google’s Fuchsia OS on the Pixelbook: It works! It actually works! | Ars Technica

I haven't seen much in the rumor mill about Fuchsia for a year or more, so I was intrigued to see this article. This could all be a secret experiment that never sees the light of day, but you can see how this could be Google's path to getting something that deals with some of the inner issues of Android. 🤔

Craft Beer Is the Strangest, Happiest Economic Story in America - The Atlantic

I know craft breweries 🍺 in Minneapolis have been popping up everywhere and it seems they have in the rest of the country too. This article is interesting for the topic of beer, but I find it more interesting for the observations about the regulatory structure and what it encourages.

Third, even in an economy obsessed with efficiency, sometimes it is just as wise to design for inefficiency. Alcohol regulations have long discouraged vertical consolidation, encouraged retailers to leave room for new brands, and more recently made it easier for individuals to introduce their own batch of beer to the market.

How could we design similar incentives in other markets?

Satan Makes His Pitch to - McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

I missed this funny response to Amazon’s public request for HQ2 location proposals.

Amazon will find Hell’s labor and employment laws quite business-friendly. We have an incredibly talented and highly motivated workforce, paid in its own forlorn tears.

Hilarious. 🤣

The techlash against Amazon, Facebook and Google—and what they can do - A memo to big tech

The Economist with a witty memo to Silicon Valley leaders on the threats ahead.

You are an industry that embraces acronyms, so let me explain the situation with a new one: “BAADD”. You are thought to be too big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy.

I think there are legs to this “big tech” thought. How material and motivated it gets is impossible to guess though.

The iOS Economy, Updated | Asymco

From a nascent idea on a new mobile platform to an immense application ecosystem.

In its latest update on the App Store Apple reported that iOS developers earned $26.5 billion in 2017. A year ago the figure was $20 billion. The growth rate is then about 33%. The cumulative payments to developers can be calculated as $86.5 billion. This amount was generated in a span of less than 10 years, with the first billion paid by June 2010.

Would be curious if this also created jobs and how many.

The Fall of Travis Kalanick Was a Lot Weirder and Darker Than You Thought - Bloomberg

The background leading up to the ouster of the Uber CEO and Founder. What an incredible mess and how self-destructive.

Die With Me

This is “app as art”. Silly, fun and creative.

The chat app you can only use when you have less than 5% battery.

xkcd: The End of the Rainbow

Learning and fun. 😂🌈

Promotion 🎁

WikiTribune is a news platform that brings journalists and a community of volunteers together. WikiTribune just got funded and I became a backer. I've been impressed with Wikipedia and am excited about Jimmy Wales and team focusing on the news ecosystem. I am very curious to see how they realize these objectives. I've previously thought about how news can be reinvented. I focused more on the open source model instead of wiki, but either way I feel like a fundamental rethink is possible! Let's see how they tackle this. Become a supporter today!

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My 2017 in Meetings analysis is powered in large part using Toggl. I've created custom scripts and workflows to put the data into Toggl, but the reporting and management stuff works right out of it. If you have a need to track your time, this is a good application to start with.

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Microblog updates 🎈

The end 🎬

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