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Weekly Thing

Weekly Newsletter from
Jamie Thingelstad

Issue #82 / Dec 1, 2018


So what is it like to be right in the thick of it when technology teams manage through maximum capacity events? There are many similarities to running financial publishing systems through significant market events, providing giant "social scale" to applications deployed to millions of people in minutes, as well as running the largest retail network in the world at the highest volume time of year. You need a great team, real-time performance data, proper procedures, and experience — amongst other things.

I would guess that many people think "it's just software, you start it up and maybe add some more servers." It is all much more complicated than that. Any platform of scale has hundreds or thousands of different systems. Each one has to scale on its own, with its own quirks. The interactions of those hundreds of systems result in millions of different paths. On top of the practice and experience, it takes quick action and the ability to keep calm under pressure. It can be a lot of fun, it can be stressful, and it can be incredibly rewarding. 🏅

This week I got all of the above, but more than that, it was gratifying to see teams doing what they do so well, and the systems they built running and scaling as designed. There were unexpected things, there always will be, and talent and experience combined to deal with them all. 🏆


Featured Links 🏅

We Wasted Ten Years Talking About Performance Ratings. The Seven Things We've Learned. – JOSH BERSIN

Like this perspective on performance management systems. Things of note:

  1. Curious to see BetterWorks highlighted. They seem to show up in this topic more than most. Noting to look into their solutions more.
  2. The feedback topic highlighted is a component of why I've been pushing to provide more structure and guidance to the 1:1 functions in our teams. There is an incredible amount of time and investment in 1:1's, and I think many of them do not have clear goals and objectives.
  3. I like seeing OKR's highlighted here.
  4. I like the way this framed the engagement topic, and how a manager should think about team engagement in their overall work.

Good things to consider as your organization evolves and grows. Via Juselly French.


Information Attacks against Democracies - Schneier on Security

Bruce Schneier is a security expert, not a politician, but for this summary of the paper he did provides interesting perspective.

This framework not only helps us understand how different political systems are vulnerable and how they can be attacked, but also how to bolster security in democracies. First, we need to better defend the common political knowledge that democracies need to function. That is, we need to bolster public confidence in the institutions and systems that maintain a democracy. Second, we need to make it harder for outside political groups to cooperate with inside political groups and organize disinformation attacks, through measures like transparency in political funding and spending. And finally, we need to treat attacks on common political knowledge by insiders as being just as threatening as the same attacks by foreigners.

It’s thought provoking to consider the attack surfaces of political systems in this way.


Is it finally time for media companies to adopt a common publishing platform? » Nieman Journalism Lab

As a former media CTO I found this article an interesting read, and close to a topic that I have owned previously in my career. I think this is a really tough call, even today. My perspective on the matter is influenced by some key thoughts.

  1. In general, for digital companies, if it’s your business then you build it, if it’s not your business you should buy it. To be clear, "buy it" may not always mean buying it, you may use an open source product. I just mean don't build it. Media companies make content. Content is their business. By that thought, you should build this. It’s expensive, but the options that you have to present content to customers is a key market differentiator and if you don't build it you will not be able to differentiate as well as another company.

  2. The article references "unique content edge cases". My background in content publishing is all financial services, and that content definitely had "unique content edge cases". Financial stories reference companies and stocks, and those references have meaning that most generic content systems cannot deal with. If you carve out "unique content edge cases" is there anything left? Shouldn't all media companies have a unique content edge?

  3. The market of companies that buy these solutions is not great. You have media companies, which are struggling with digital transformation. The lack of investment in that sector will limit the providers selling into that market. I would wonder if you will get a vibrant community of providers for such a small market that has a wide variety of growth rates.

This is a tough call for the digital team at any media company. I think you have to go to the core value that your company delivers, and be really honest about it, and then make the call. Deal with the limitations or benefits that that provides after.


My Weekly Photo 📷

Redundant Array of Heavybags.

Redundant Array of Heavybags.
Nov 29, 2018 at 8:05 PM
TITLE Boxing, 5452 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis MN 55419


Notable Links 📌

Amazon Quantum Ledger Database

Amazon introduced this highlighting that it was a technology they built in-house and are now making available to the public. It looks interesting.

Amazon QLDB is a new class of database that eliminates the need to engage in the complex development effort of building your own ledger-like applications. With QLDB, your data’s change history is immutable – it cannot be altered or deleted – and using cryptography, you can easily verify that there have been no unintended modifications to your application’s data.

There is a lot of overlap with Event Sourcing concepts, but I’m not sure it is applicable to that. This is marketed as providing the audit history trust of a blockchain, but not using decentralization.


Amazon Textract | Extract Text & Data | AWS

Pulling text data out of forms isn't glamorous, but it’s an important problem and one that a service should do very well.


AWS DeepRacer – Go Hands-On with Reinforcement Learning at re:Invent | AWS News Blog

How do you get a bunch of developers to learn machine learning techniques? Give them a cool 1:18th scale autonomous car and have them build self-driving code for it! This is a pretty neat idea. I ordered some for our team at SPS to play with and learn.


Amazon FSx for Lustre | AWS News Blog

Shared file systems are a pain to do well, and are often times not a great solution, but sometimes they are needed. Doing them fast is even harder. Grid computing applications need highly performance shared file systems, and now there is one of those coming for the cloud.


GraphQL: A Retrospective - Verve

I like this article because it is written after having made the transition to GraphQL, so it has the benefit of time and experience. Overall a positive endorsement for GraphQL as a solid way of connecting systems together.


The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen – The Mission – Medium

Nice breakdown to create a compelling and engaging story to connect with a prospect. This structure would definitely engage better than the typical sales presentations that are all about the vendor, and not about the problems you, the potential customer, are trying to deal with.


Workplace Collaboration: Do People Actually Want to Work with You? - Matt Norman

As a leader, you should think about and engage on these four questions posed in this article. 🤔


Amazon’s own ‘Machine Learning University’ now available to all developers | AWS Machine Learning Blog

Joining the ranks of other companies sharing internal training materials publicly, Amazon is now making their ‘Machine Learning University]( available to all.


Tension escalates after Russia seizes Ukraine naval ships - BBC News

Things not going so well in Ukraine. 😳


Errata Security: Some notes about HTTP/3

QUIC is a brand new transport layer under HTTP that is now being branded HTTP/3. This is a fairly easy-to-read overview of what is coming with HTTP/3. It is all very transport layer.


How to Simplify the Holidays : zen habits

A lot of good recommendations here for the holidays.


The End of Trust (McSweeney's 54) | Electronic Frontier Foundation

This looks like a very cool book. Wish I could have got a copy of it ordered before they ran out.


The One Where I Announce I’m Joining Mac Power Users – 512 Pixels

I listen to Mac Power Users from time-to-time and it’s funny — I got the sense that Katie Floyd was less into the content in recent episodes, or something was off. It didn’t surprise me to hear that after.a 10 year run she's stepping aside. I think it will be interesting to see if the podcast gets some new spirit with a new cohost.


Give Back 🎁

Let's Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority, run for the public’s benefit. All connections to web servers should be encrypted! The biggest challenge with encrypting the web historically has been the cost and hassle of getting an SSL certificate. Let's Encrypt has changed that entirely by being a free certificate authority. Let's Encrypt is possibly one of the most important things to happen on the web in recent years. Donate to Let's Encrypt today!


Yet More Links 🍞


Microposts 🎈

Wednesday @ 11:26 AM

Amazon Quantum Ledger Database and Managed Blockchain look like good building blocks.


Wednesday @ 11:02 AM

AWS re:Invent house band playing Blackbird from The Beatles went from just being bad to actually making me angry. 😡


Wednesday @ 10:59 AM

“Announcing AWS Lake Formation!” — “Sounds glacial!” 🤣


Wednesday @ 10:48 AM

The house band thing at AWS re:Invent just doesn’t work for me. ✋


Wednesday @ 10:40 AM

Very fun to see my former Dow Jones colleague Dean Del Vecchio on stage at AWS re:Invent 2018! 👏 Guardian Life Insurance Selects AWS as Its Preferred Cloud Provider


Monday @ 8:26 AM

Ready for Cyber Monday peak season! #TeamSPS


Sunday @ 10:38 PM

Nice win for the Vikings over the Packers – fun game to watch! 🏈


Saturday @ 8:51 PM

We tried the brand new, just opened today, Final Frontier puzzle room at Missing Pieces. We didn’t solve it 😲, but really liked the room. We did not get the description of what we missed so we can come back and try again.


Friday @ 7:24 PM

Cotton Headed Ninny Muggins! Christmas tradition, watching Elf! 🎬🎄


Fortune 🥠

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

Spare the rod and spoil the child.

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