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Weekly Thing

Weekly Newsletter from
Jamie Thingelstad

Issue #122 /


I’m writing from the shore of Pokegama Lake at my brother’s cabin. It’s a crisp autumn day, and there are more leaves on the ground than on the trees. We are enjoying a little MEA break, one of the annual traditions for Minnesota families. The docks are mostly empty of boats now, waiting for the crew to come down the shoreline and put them all in for the winter. This is perfect weather for campfires and smores.

I’m not big on reminiscing, but two things this week have had me enjoying looking back a lot. The first is the On This Day page on my It turns out I’ve been microblogging now for 12 years or more, and I’ve been having fun going to that page and remembering things that I totally forgot from the past. I love that I own my content for this and don’t need to rely on a surveillance system to do this.

Tammy also completed our family yearbook for 2018, and it arrived this week. Since 2010 Tammy has been creating a printed color yearbook for our family. She goes back and looks at all the photos from the year and puts it all together with her own commentary. She does a fantastic job, and it’s so fun to read through the years and see the photos. It is a real treasure. Another awesome thing she does is buy three copies. We have copies for each year that we keep out and look at regularly, but then each kid has pristine copies of each one that is kept for them to have and keep for themselves. 🥰


Featured Links 🏅

Without encryption we will lose all privacy. This is our new battleground | Edward Snowden | Opinion | The Guardian

Governments, particularly the US Government, has been fighting encryption for years. It wasn't a concern early on, until encryption got strong enough that the government couldn't break it. This goes all the way back to 1991 when the government alleged that Phil Zimmerman, the creator of PGP, broke the law.

The true explanation for why the US, UK and Australian governments want to do away with end-to-end encryption is less about public safety than it is about power: E2EE gives control to individuals and the devices they use to send, receive and encrypt communications, not to the companies and carriers that route them. This, then, would require government surveillance to become more targeted and methodical, rather than indiscriminate and universal.

If this worries you, like it does me, I recommend joining me in supporting the Electronic Frontier Foundation. 👍


Nurturing the Minnesota Tech Community | SPS Commerce

Yours truly and Maria Ploessl of Minnestar talking about the Minnesota Tech Community on the new SPS Commerce podcast, Mastering the Retail Game. I think this came out great. Give it a listen. 🎧


My Weekly Photo 📷

Guitars and more guitars.

Guitars and more guitars.
Oct 12, 2019 at 2:03 PM
Twin Town Guitars, 3400 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis MN 55408


Notable Links 📌

Why Tech’s Approach to Fixing Its Gender Inequality Isn’t Working

I tend to agree with this articles approach. These three focus areas make sense to me and broadly align with where I've been focusing: broaden recruiting efforts, clarify criteria for hiring, increase accountability and transparency in pay and promotion. Broadening the recruiting efforts is something I've been focusing on for a long time. You can do this in the events that you sponsor and show up at, and the organizations you align yourself with. Making sure the hiring process is as bias free as possible and has a clear, well-documented process has also been a focus area. I'd say the last one on transparency has been the hardest one to make progress on.


Thriving on the Technical Leadership Path - Keavy McMinn

This is a great article and highlights many of the awesome things that strong technologists can do for an organization without ever being a manager.

Despite the obstacles, and having seen the majority of my peers switch paths to become a people manager, I have deliberately chosen to stay on the engineer track and try to cultivate it to my needs. My motivation is mostly about continuing to do work that I love. I enjoy the creativity of engineering work: I love solving a problem from initial paper scribbles all the way through to shipped product and knowing “I made that.” As a strategic technical leader, I enjoy having meaningful influence right at the start of that process. I love being parachuted into a situation, figuring out which problems even need to be solved, and then figuring out a solution that will address them.

This is a topic I have conversations about frequently. There are awesome opportunities in technology that do not require people to take on management responsibilities. As such, the only reason you should take a management path is that you truly, really, enjoy it and wish to pursue that. There are so many ways to continue to add value as you grow a career in tech.


Google and Ambient Computing – Stratechery by Ben Thompson

This view of Googles offering is intriguing, but the big problem I see is the surveillance-based business model.

Google has a business model problem. Yes, per the previous point, being a continuous presence in people’s lives will bring in even more data for ever more finely targeted advertisements, but there is no place for advertising in ambient computing generally.

Thompson goes on to highlight that they could just use the huge margins from search and advertising to pay for this without a business model. It’s amazing how similar Google is to Microsoft of the past. Microsoft could fund anything with Windows and Office, and I don't think that was really helpful for them.

Also, I completely agree with Thompson's assertion that they need to make their events better.

One thing Google can absolutely work on is their messaging: I found yesterday’s presentation dreadfully boring, and only picked up on what Google was trying to convey on a second viewing.



Migration Complete – Amazon’s Consumer Business Just Turned off its Final Oracle Database | AWS News Blog

Main thing to highlight here, is even with all the investment that a company like Amazon could put on this effort, it took years and years. A good reminder of how difficult it is to change large-scale systems with a lot of data.


Why Office Workers Can't Sleep (and Why That's Bad) | Literary Hub

Less of a scientific read than Why We Sleep. I found the callouts to bright light in the morning interesting.

Exposure to bright, morning light was particularly powerful: those exposed to it between 8 a.m. and noon took an average of 18 minutes to fall asleep at night, compared to 45 minutes in the low light exposure group; they also slept for around 20 minutes longer and experienced fewer sleep disturbances. These associations were stronger during winter, when people may have had less opportunity to receive natural light during their journey to work.

I think I might want to read this book.


Deconstructing the Monolith – Shopify Engineering

Insightful read from Shopify about composing monolithic architectures.

The best time to refactor and re-architect is as late as possible, as you are constantly learning more about your system and business domain as you build. Designing a complex system of microservices before you have domain expertise is a risky move that too many software projects fall into. According to Martin Fowler, “almost all the cases where I’ve heard of a system that was built as a microservice system from scratch, it has ended in serious trouble… you shouldn’t start a new project with microservices, even if you’re sure your application will be big enough to make it worthwhile”.

Good software architecture is a constantly evolving task and the correct solution for your app absolutely depends on what scale you’re operating at. Monoliths, modular monoliths, and Service Oriented Architecture fall along an evolutionary scale as your application increases in complexity. Each architecture will be appropriate for a different sized team/app and will be separated by periods of pain and suffering. When you do start experiencing many of the pain points highlighted in this article, that’s when you know you’ve outgrown the current solution and it’s time to move onto the next.

This whole article is filled with a lot of pragmatism.


uPlot: An exceptionally fast, tiny time series chart

Super fast as promised. This looks like a great time-series charting package. It’s inspired from dygraph which is what I used when I made WikiApiary.


Marc Benioff on Why We Need New Capitalism – On my Om

I respect how outspoken and thoughtful Benioff is. He uses his brand and platform to push ideas that he thinks are important forward. Reminds me in ways of Tim Cook at Apple.


The 5 mistakes you’re likely making in your one-on-one meetings with direct reports - Signal v. Noise

I continue to read most things I can find on improving 1:1 time. I’m definitely guilty of the third item here, not having the time to prepare before the meeting. I try hard to not reschedule them, I know that is a big detractor when it happens.


Why the Most Productive People Don’t Always Make the Best Managers

Ignore the sensational headline, and dig into the six highlighted skills that were identified to correlate with strong managers. As a manager, each one of those could be a good opportunity to self-asses yourself.


WiT Twin Cities

Newer podcast specifically focused on Women in Technology and related topics. Check out the issue with Minnestar's Maria Ploessl and Jenna Pederson to get started. 🎧


Costco is going to extremes to keep its rotisserie chickens at $4.99 - CNN

More vertical integration in retail.

The nearly 400,000 square-foot plant in Fremont will employ 950 workers. The plant will take 45 weeks to ramp up to full production. Once it's at full speed, the plant will process about 100 million chickens a year, or 40% of Costco's annual chicken needs.

Incredible demand for chicken.


The Passion Economy and the Future of Work

I was blown away that someone on Substack makes $500,000/yr in subscriptions. Wow.

Users can now build audiences at scale and turn their passions into livelihoods, whether that’s playing video games or producing video content. This has huge implications for entrepreneurship and what we’ll think of as a “job” in the future.

This article is all a bit overstated, as one might expect from a venture firm, but the core concepts are interesting. I don't think it’s defining the future of jobs, but it might make it easier to create a lot of small service-based companies, solopreneurs.


How to Write Fast Code in Ruby on Rails – Shopify Engineering

I wanted this to be a joke with the punchline being to rewrite it in Java or Go. That's how Twitter did it after all. The guidelines here are solid for any higher level language. When performance matters, you need to understand what your code is doing at the lower levels. And caching is true for performance in so many environments, frameworks, and languages.


Yet More Links 🍞


Microposts 🎈

Thursday @ 10:38 PM

After watching the Yankee’s school the Twins, I’m rather enjoying watching the Astro’s return the favor to the Yankees. Plus the Astro’s are Tyler’s favorite team. 😀⚾️


Thursday @ 10:36 PM

Tammy and I thoroughly enjoyed Mike Birbiglia’s The New One tonight. Birbig’s is one of the funniest comedians around in our book. 🤣


Thursday @ 4:02 PM

Maple tree showing off its fall colors. 🍁


Thursday @ 1:59 PM

Last time on the boat for 2019. Heading in to storage for the winter.


Sunday @ 6:04 PM

Greatly enjoying Circus Abyssinia’s Ethiopian Dreams at the Children’s Theatre. 🤩🎭


Saturday @ 9:00 AM

Noting that I may be the very last person on Cannon Lake to get my boat in for the winter, as an early snow falls. 😬❄️


Friday @ 10:47 PM

Weather was bad tonight, so went to Bad Weather Brewing for the first time. Great tap room! Very busy. 🍻


Friday @ 10:45 PM

Took in Black Market StP barbecue with a bunch of my old neighbors. Great food, outside, with October snow keeping the beers cold. 🍻


Fortune 🥠

You've made it all the way to the end! 👏 Here is your fortune for this week.

Long life is in store for you.

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All content in the Weekly Thing is placed here at my discretion. There is no advertising or promotional content. Links that are featured are found from a variety of sources, and there is no attempt to provide attribution to the source as I would inevitably get it wrong or forget routinely. In some cases links may have affiliate codes associated with them.

This work by Jamie Thingelstad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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