Mark Smith’s Newsletter - Saturday 6th February, 2021

AWS SSG, Netlify edge handlers, 11ty, FB newsletters, DoctorowOnIP, system design, GCP, Bash, app architecture, estimating projects, Bezos transition, Apple Car/VR/AR, RSS, WebRTC, OSS, cool podcasts

Hello and welcome to my newsletter!

Another season 2 instalment…

It’s been quite a week as far as tech news goes with Jeff Bezos announcing he’s stepping down as Amazon CEO, Facebook announcing it is joining Twitter and getting into newsletters, and it looks like the Apple Car will actually happen. Some good articles about architecture and project estimation this week, as well as some neat Eleventy tricks.

Lots of issues with online accounts this past week. I won’t bore you with the details. The good news is that finally after weeks of emailing their support team my account is setup correctly. My new recently taken profile photo is updated on most social media sites now. My Reddit account is still foobared.

I had a few disappointing freelance jobs that didn’t pan out. Kind of a tough week, but there have been some nice moments too. I’m very thankful for the nice moments :)

One nice thing was that I got back into listening to podcasts this week, and listened to some great shows. One on developers being creatives by the folks at, and the other all about programmable Linux networking for cloud native environments. Podcasts are awesome! The podcasts section of the newsletter is looking healthy again. Check it out!

I also published some of my weird experimental recorded sounds podcasts. You might have seen them drop in iTunes yesterday. I hope you like them. There will be more over the next few days hopefully.

Also I linked to the 2 remaining posts in the Cloud Native series I had started linking to in last week’s newsletter. Highly recommended articles if you are interested in learning about cloud native.

I’m going to keep the intro short this week.

I hope you enjoy the links!

Special mentions

Stuff from me

I didn’t write any articles this week

Stuff from around the web


How to Host a Static Website on AWS with HTTPS and CI/CD - Amazon can seem a bit complex now that there are so many services, so it’s good to read a tutorial focusing on the basics, one feature that would be great to add would be branch previews similar to Netlify

Netlify Edge Handlers - Short tutorial on how to use Netlify’s new edge handlers, which enable you to fetch dynamic data right before returning the static page to the user, and add that data to the page, the great thing is that because it happens at the CDN edge, if it’s done right, it can be very efficient since it’s using the very fast CDN internet connection and servers to get and process the data, rather than the users connection and machine which is likely to be much slower

3 Ways to Render Server-Side Components with Eleventy

Accessing Eleventy Data on the Client Side - Shows how to pre-render some JSON during the build which you can then fetch from the client

Facebook reportedly plans newsletter tools after explosion in popularity

Cory Doctorow - IP - A detailed look at the current state of intellectual property, onboards by looking at the history of free software and the GPL, then looks at the importance of interoperability as it enables self-determination, citing modern examples such as Facebook and Google, and broadens the picture to talk more generally about copyrights, trademarks and patents (all of which fall under the IP umbrella), in the context of author and entertainment monopolies - Overall, paints a generally coherent picture of a very complicated area, and is clearly the product of many years of being immersed in the field, I feel like I will need to re-read this piece a few times for the core dynamics to settle in my mind - The standout quote which is a good pillar to explore from: “IP is any law that I can invoke that allows me to control the conduct of my competitors, critics, and customers”

A Look at the Top Questions for a System Design Interview at Facebook

Where should I run my stuff? - A neat diagram that explains when to use each Google Cloud Platform (GCP) product, it’s a great diagram but it sort of feels like things are getting quite complex these days

pforret/progressbar - Easy, clever progress bar for (bash) scripts - This could be really useful for making install scripts that have nicely formatted progress bars, just add the command at the end of a pipeline

Application Architecture - Best Practices for Future-Proofing Your Apps - Describes the Architecture Canvas which is a way to structure your code into foundation, core and end-user layers, then looks at some common anti-patterns and how to avoid them - Quite a lot of similarity with Domain Driven Design techniques, the scenarios are well explained using clear diagrams, enabling you to understand the high level approach without getting bogged down in the detail

A memo to myself - Om Malik took a couple of weeks out to reflect on last year, and he describes in this post his writing plan for 2021, he’s such a great blogger, from what I think of vaguely as traditional blogging, reading and sharing links and writing thoughtful blog posts with analysis of current trends, each one of his posts from his most recent newsletter were just the right balance of information density and length, and the topics he plans to cover next year look super interesting, I’m really looking forward to reading his writings

Definite guide to estimating software projects - This blog post has a basic outline of how to plan and estimate software projects that is pretty much how I approach projects, it goes into a lot of detail, and worth reading through if you are at that stage, also consider getting in touch with me, I could help move your project forward with my software development, consultancy and project management services, see the blog for details

Email from Jeff Bezos to employees - Jeff Bezos announces he will step down as CEO and transition to executive chair, it’s quite upbeat as far as memos go, he details many of the things the company has pioneered over the years, and it’s an impressive list, it will be interesting to see how the transition goes, he’ll still be involved but focussing on other moonshot type projects, my hope for Amazon is that they help incubate and grow other internet hosting providers so that we can build out a healthy and robust ecosystem, best wishes to Jeff in his new role

Google Cloud vs Amazon AWS - Two vastly different profit pictures

Product Manager vs Product Marketing Manager vs Product Owner

The difference between the Node.textContent and Element.innerText properties in vanilla JS - Chris Ferdinandi’s bytesize vanilla JS emails are really great, super useful

The Relentless Jeff Bezos - Some great analysis and commentary on the Bezos transition, high level view of how Amazon impacted the world of retail and technology, it really is a very impressive company

Kia will reportedly lead Apple Car project work under Hyundai Motor

Hyundai executives reportedly ‘divided’ over potential Apple car partnership

Apple’s first VR headset reportedly includes a fabric design, a fan, and expensive price tag - This looks like an area that’s going to get a lot of attention in the near future, they have a 1000 person team working on the tech, it also could be a focus because Apple is looking to partner with companies such as Hyundai/Kia to work on the long rumoured Apple Car, at least these are the conversations happening at the tech rumour mill

Why I Still Use RSS - Though not as popular as years past, RSS is still used by lots of people, and lots of sites still publish feeds, it’s definitely a different experience to consuming information than social media, but it’s generic enough to be very versatile and is especially useful for remote / home working since many software tools also publish feeds, so you can consume news but also use it in collaboration workflows is a spiritual successor to Yahoo Pipes, a graphical interface to get data from the web and to manipulate it by connecting block - Looks like a very useful RSS feed processing tool, with a nice no-code UI editor, has a FOSS version so you can self-host, I’d really like to try this tool out, I can image lots of neat workflows that teams of journalists / writers could use to collaborate

Sriram Krishnan is named as the latest general partner at renouned Silicon Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz - I’ve been getting into the a16z podcast recently, so this is relevant to me, it’s also interesting because Sriram has held product roles at Microsoft, Facebook, Snap, and Twitter - a16z recently announced they will start to publish a technology news section on their website

Google wants new rules for ‘critical’ open source packages - These would make supply chain attacks more difficult and generally improve security throughout the ecosystem, but the rules are onerous on the package maintainers - The article notes that open source should be more secure, but that assumes that people are actually looking at the code, something that occurs to me now is that it also assumes the people looking at the code are the ‘good’ guys, but isn’t it much more likely that the people looking at the code in a lot of detail are mostly going to be the so called ‘bad’ guys, where’s the incentive for the ‘good’ guys to be thoroughly examining the code?

Cloud Native Series - The Cloud Native Landscape: The Orchestration and Management Layer

Cloud Native Series - The Cloud Native Landscape: The Application Definition and Development Layer

What WebRTC means for you - Two weeks ago IETF and W3C finally published the standards for WebRTC, a protocol that’s most well known use case is video conferencing, this article reviews what it is, why it’s important, and looks at other possible areas it could be used

Docker donates Docker Distribution to the CNCF - “Distribution is the open source code that is the basis of the container registry that is part of Docker Hub, and also many other container registries. It is the reference implementation of a container registry and is extremely widely used, so it is a foundational part of the container ecosystem. This makes its new home in the CNCF highly appropriate”

Welcome, Facebook and Twitter - Seriously - Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie looks back at how he reacted to the announcement that Facebook and Twitter are getting into newsletters - I like that he’s writing publicly about it, still feels a bit awkward, especially finishing with the “we’re looking at you too” bit, but real life is awkward sometimes, I guess it’s genuine, as a Substack user my hope is that they announce some form of API soon, later today I’ll be preparing tomorrow’s newsletter, which will take several hours of copy paste, when with a bit of automation I could concentrate just on the writing part, anyhow I still like Substack

The end of the Maher era at Wikipedia


A16z Podcast Ep. #620 - Developers as Creatives - Interview with Jeff Lawson the CEO of Twillio, who shares his perspective on what he is refering to as the 3rd era of software development called The API Economy, and how it is fundamentally changing many aspects of the industry and economy at large - Wide ranging conversation covering the observation that after 50 years a supply chain is finally emerging in the software industry, the huge progress that has been achieved in software development in general, the challenges of building at internet scale, the need for all companies to build software for differentiation, picking vendors and partners to help you build as quickly as possible, documentation as the ultimate marketing copy, how enterprise go-to-market strategy is radically changing, why developers are creatives to be treated as customers rather than just a strategy, the democratisation of developer tools, the shifting role of the product manager, and hackathons as a sort of dress rehearsal and process for discovering the best way for people to organise and behave

Software Engineering Podcast - Cilium: Programmable Linux Networking with Dan Wendlant and Thomas Graf - Super nerdy conversation about the cloud native security solution, covering the historical context, decoupling your security configuration from your infrastructure, new tools emerging that are based on standard network protocols such as HTTP, REST APIs, JSON, gRPC and Kafka; the eBPF low level programming language that makes it possible to safely and efficiently reprogram the behaviour of the kernel, ways of extracting visibility and some forms of control from the kernel, adding extra functionality like encryption and authentication transparently between services, latency benefits as compared to existing ‘side-car’ proxy solutions, implementation details of the eBPF security solution, relevant use cases and a future where visibility, debugging and security can be implemented using application level concepts, across on-prem, vm, serverless, clusters, regions, service providers and legacy systems - the “universal connectivity plane


Thanks for reading!


Mark Smith‘s Newsletter is a weekly roundup of some of the best javascript, tech and web development links published to my daily linkblog.

If you liked this newsletter you might like my blogdaily linkblog or experimental podcast :)

I’m a freelance web developer, consultant and automation engineer, consider hiring me!

Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!