Mark Smith’s Newsletter - Saturday 7th August, 2021

Worker Threads, XML, Google Drive CMS, Version Bumper, GIT, Recycling Electronics, Life Before Smartphones, Olympics, Mental Health, Multiple Worlds, Eth2.0, AI Dev Tools

Hello and welcome to my newsletter!

Another season 2 instalment…

Life is pretty difficult where I am at the minute, everything is shut because of a lockdown, which makes it challenging to do even basic things like buying power cables, shoes, jeans and even cooked hot food. I’ve been listening to more podcasts than usual since my internet access is sporadic. 

The episodes on the Olympics and Multiple Worlds are a bit off topic for this newsletter, but I’ve included them because they cover subjects that have ultimately affected the tech industry in a big way, and I found them both fascinating.

The must read article this week, looks at what life was like before smartphones. I knew things had changed a lot, but wow this essay really highlights just how different today’s world is compared to pre-smartphone days. I’m just old enough to remember rotary phones, so I found this a great read, it’s amazing to me how much I had forgotten the old days.

That’s all from me this week…

I hope you enjoy the links!

As usual all the articles from the linkblog in chronological order are included below, which is also a good way to explore, there are some pieces there amongst the main summary items that didn’t make it into the main themes, but these are interesting in their own right, and often end up developing into something more substantial further down the line.

Special mentions

Stuff from me

The situation in HCMC Vietnam where I am is rather dire, everything everywhere I go is shut, the only cooked food I can buy is literally fried eggs and hot dogs, it’s been like this for around 2 weeks, just wanted to make a public note of that here #

Power cable on the blink again, down to 10% battery, still nowhere open to buy a new cable #

Stuff from around the web


Running CPU-Bound Tasks in Node.js - Introduction to Worker Threads - Well written article with just the right amount of explanation and detail and some clear code examples #

oozcitak/xmlbuilder2 - An XML builder for node.js - I haven’t used this myself but the interface looks very nice especially the ability to create an XML file from a javascript object, certainly looks like it makes working with XML files much easier #

Using Google Drive as a CMS - Kind of a neat idea, especially for use cases where non technical folks are managing the content using Drive - The article has some good suggestions but is a bit light on code samples #

Beachball - The Sunniest Semantic Version Bumper - It’s by the folks at Microsoft, looks very robust and useful #

New in Git - switch and restore #

Tokyo’s Olympic medals made from recycled electronic devices #

The most unbelievable things about life before smartphones - Of course so much has changed over the past 20 years or so, but it has happened bit by bit, so you almost don’t realise the enormity of it all, this article does a phenomenal job of describing just how drastic that change has been, by highlighting specific details of every day life - It’s scarily accurate #

London Hard Fork on Ethereum Now Live - The changes are expected to make the crypto currency more stable #

FSF-funded call for white papers on philosophical and legal questions around Copilot - I think this might be interesting to watch, especially if you are a developer, because it’s a serious effort to investigate the implications of using AI in software development tools, and they outline sone really interesting questions around freedom that arise with these new tools, all selected/published papers will receive $500 #

Can GitHub Copilot Crack a Facebook Coding Interview? - Has sone animated gifs showing Copilot in action, it certainly looks impressive, my first thought is that if everyone is using such tools, will they really know the codebase they are working on, won’t it just result in people having a very superficial understanding? #


Deviate with Rolf Potts Podcast Ep #169 - The Olympics started out as a travel fest - All about the ancient Greek Games - Very topical since the Tokyo Olympics games are currently happening, this is a great exploration of the ancient games that ran for 1200 years without break, looking at specific details to get a sense of the culture of the time, how it was intertwined with philosophy and life in general, and how it affected politics across the world - I was very surprised how interesting this part of history is and how much it has shaped the modern world #

Ninja Tune Podcast - Mind w/ ELKKA, Percolate, Yaya Bey & Peach - Interesting conversation about mental health in the electronic music industry, I feel like the conversation was a lot more real than some of the similar efforts I’ve heard from software / web development #

Conversations with Tyler Podcast - David Deutsch on Multiple Worlds and Our Place in Them - I enjoyed this podcast a lot, and was struck by several things (1) the many worlds theory is quite weird to think about, it has some very unexpected and strange sounding aspects (2) I found the exploration of where philosophy meets physics enlightening, both from a historical perspective, but also how practically important it is that both these disciplines are functioning well, and (3) it’s amazing and also scary to me that it’s possible to have a mastery of subjects such as reality, evolution & freedom that is comparable to how I feel about web development, with the ability to know clearly and precisely which parts you know about, which parts you don’t, which parts require further experimentation and debugging, something which David certainly appears to have, hopefully he has some incredible refactoring tools to help with his institution and government systems building #


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!