Mark Smith’s Newsletter - Saturday 12th December, 2020

Cool tools, buglogs, Cloudflare Jamstack, Discogs, p2p Github, dataops, M1 in datacenters, Next.js on Netlify, CentOS killed, browser Xbox, privacy labels, event loop, solo-devs, Brave, podcasts...

Hello and welcome to my newsletter!

Another season 1 instalment…

This week has been all about lots of pieces that I’ve been working on in the past few weeks starting coalesce into a more defined strategy.

It’s been great to experience for real how a linkblog can help fuel ideas for longer form blog articles. That was always the vision, but it’s only now that it’s started happening for me.

I’ve made several updates to the blog so it hopefully feels a bit more cohesive. I learnt about cross-posting and canonical URLs and SEO, second nature for a lot of marketers, but for a mostly backend dev like me it’s new territory.

The site traffic is growing at about 20% per month, which is good but could be better. Started a push to find sponsors, also very new territory for me.

Translated my CV into french! That was interesting.

Anyhows that’s about it for me…

I hope you enjoy the links!

Special mentions

Stuff from me

🚀 I’ve added a link to the Newsletter in the linkblog, hopefully that makes it easier for people to find and sign up

🚀 The coming revolution in freelance web development - I discuss the changing role of freelance web developers, I think it’s an important topic we should be discussing

🚀 Deciding when to build a custom solution in web development - It’s really very similar to building a shed

Stuff from around the web


teddit - A free and open source alternative Reddit front-end focused on privacy - The performance difference is quite impressive

Why I keep a personal log of bugs - I could see this might be a useful habit to have, though it would be quite tedious

Happy birthday, JavaScript 🎂

josdejong/jsoneditor - A web-based tool to view, edit, format, and validate JSON

Cloudflare is working on Cloudflare Pages, a cloud platform for deploying and hosting JAMstack websites

dogsheep/github-to-sqlite - Save data from GitHub to a SQLite database

Discogs Thank You! A commercial community site with bulk data access

Radicle - A peer to peer decentralised alternative to github

DataOps Is More than ‘DevOps for Data’ - I think this role specialisation makes sense, it’s the evolution of the data automation side of sysadmin roles, there is a lot of variety across industries, my personal experience of it was in the media and entertainment file delivery space

Uber sells its self-driving unit to Aurora - The startup company is being valued at $10bn, that seems like a high valuation for a startup company, but I’m not in any way an expert is valuations

Apple’s new M1 chip strategy is going to be targeting datacentre adoption in a big way - Though I had heard about Amazon adding macs to their cloud, I hadn’t considered that Apple was about to embark on an advance into datacentres, the next few years will be interesting for the cloud

benwilber/boltstream - Boltstream Live Video Streaming Website + Backend - Looks kind of cool

Announcing one-click install Next.js Build Plugin on Netlify - Next.js has become one of the favoured frameworks, I’ve played around with it a bit and I like how the routing is done using folders, though when I tried it, I found running the server side JSX code in the debugger was a bit weird, nevertheless this will no doubt be a popular addition to Netlify

Red Hat kills off CentOS; users frustrated, angry and annoyed

82 per cent of musicians earn less than £200 a year from streaming

Microsoft confirms Xbox cloud gaming is coming to iOS in spring 2021 - The big news is that it will be via web browser rather than the AppStore, presumably it will be using a progressive web app, it would be interesting to see more technical details, like for instance if they are using web assembly

WhatsApp goes after Apple over privacy label requirements - I hadn’t heard about these privacy nutrition labels until now, I like the idea of users having better tools to see how they are being tracked, but WhatsApo makes a good point, it should apply to all apps including ones pre- installed on devices

Chrome Dev Summit: Google recaps 2020 work on browser privacy, richer web apps, and performance

Introduction to Event Loop Utilization in Node.js - Interesting post that gets very technical about some of the core NodeJS dynamics, I haven’t had time to get completely through it, but it’s clear to me that the way some of the components are named is very confusing (to me at least!)

How to handle request validation in your Express API - Makes a good case for using JSON Schema (soon to become a standard) to validate your API data instead of libraries like Joi or validate.js, it’s self-documenting and much more portable than library based solutions

OpenFaas - Serverless Node.js that you can run anywhere - Looks like this solution gives you some pretty good portability, with the possibility to execute functions in Google Cloud Run, standard VPS or Kubernetes

Normalization of non-deviance - Serial entrepreneur and solo-developer Peter Levels looks back at his successes, his scrappy but pragmatic, progressive and hands on approach to development, his approach to marketing and promotion, and his future plans to move towards team based development

Web browser Brave introduces integrated privacy preserving news reader, initially just for well known media sites, but will support RSS feeds in the future, all content goes through their private CDN


Ride Home Podcast (Weekend Bonus Episode) - Peter Kafka on Media, Hollywood, Substack and TikTok - Covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time including Warner streaming everything on HBO Max, local news is dying, the NYT is the journalism big cheese, Substack scepticism, the some stuff you care about economy and podcast interview styles

Software Engineering Podcast - WebAssembly with Brendan Eich (Repeat) - Wide ranging and high information density conversation, covered topics include web assembly, other languages in the browser, the end of javascript (or not!), the Brave browser, the modern digital advertising business, online business models, malware, fraud, conflicts of interest; publishers, users and even advertisers being overrun by parasites, pragmatic approaches to privacy, and browser diversity in a Google / Facebook / Apple / Microsoft world


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

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I’m a freelance web developer, consultant and automation engineer, if you have some projects you’d like to work on, consider hiring me! Contact me via email.

Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!