Mark Smith’s Newsletter - Saturday 13th February, 2021

Governments, DevOps CI/CD, GameStop, SSH Tunnels, Jobs’ keynotes, OSS, audioOnUnix, Jack Dorsey, blogging, NFTs, CAPEX, Apple, Disney, Jamstack, websockets, k8s, Kafka, Lambda, Tesla, cool podcasts...

Hello and welcome to my newsletter!

Another season 2 instalment…

The big news this week has been the emergence of social media company Clubhouse. They have an audio focussed modern forum. I’ve been hearing about them on and off for a few months, but this week both Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg participated on the platform. There’s quite a buzz now. Everyone wants to be on Clubhouse and every company wants to create a Clubhouse clone.

Some articles in last week’s newsletter about RSS got me thinking about cool collaboration workflows for teams of journalists / writers. Well this week it felt like there was an under current of stories about local news, with articles about anti-bigtech laws being created in Australia, Google News initiatives being setup in the UK, and I listened to a great Indie Hackers Podcast that delved into building local community newsletters. I also came across this cool and super geeky article about the audio stack on Linux, feels like it could be very relevant if say you were building some modern news gathering backend infrastructure. Interesting times to be in news production.

The other thread that kept making cameo appearances was all things related to crypto / blockchain. Elon Musk bought a boat load of Bitcoin. There was a good article covering non-fungeable transactions (NFTs) and an episode of the Coin Talk podcast all about digital art, etherium and the bonkers future, where everything is a transaction, sort of blew my mind.

That summarises how things look from my perspective. It feels like quite a lot of swirling story lines are forming into some kind of weird singularity inspired narrative. A bit disconcerting but quite interesting.

As always I’ve included all the links below, along with the commentary I made when posting them to the linkblog.

The number of newsletter subscribers is growing slowly. I’ve added links to some newsletter directories, which has made a bit of a difference, but to start getting sponsorships I’m going to need a big increase in readership. If you like the newsletter, I’d really appreciate it if you could tell others you think would enjoy these weekly compilations. Things could start to get quite fun if we had a few sponsors.

That’s all from me 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


Nevada bill would allow tech companies to create governments

The year ahead - DevOps and Agile, bring on the automation, bring on the business involvement - Looks at the challenges facing most companies as they transition to digital, one of the biggest is implementing the CD part of CI/CD

From the election lie to GameStop - How to stop social media algorithms from hurting us - Looks at algorithmic amplification and suggests some ways we could create more balance by treating everything as transactions, and imposing existing financial instruments such as taxation and cap and trade

A visual guide to SSH tunnels

The man who produced Steve Jobs’ keynotes for 20 years

The After Open Source Era Has Started - The article makes the case that the progression has broadly been Proprietary (pre-1980) -> Free Software (1980) -> Open Source Software (2000) -> Shared Source Software (2020) - Article then lists the details of each era and makes some predictions about the future

Making Sense of The Audio Stack On Unix

Twitter considering subscription fees to ensure 'revenue durability'

Blog with Markdown + Git, and degrade gracefully through time - Nice title, but also the topic covered is something people don’t often consider, but it’s very true, having your personal website accessible in a format that is robust for the long haul is super important

☹️ Reddit’s Valuation Doubles to $6 Billion After Funding Round - Reddit is a bot infested dumpster maskerading as a social media website, my account is still foobared, Reddit admins still won’t acknowledge that I even exist

A beginner’s guide to NFTs - Non fungible tokens are used in the crypto blockchain world as an ownership proof for digital assets, and they can be traded in a Myriad of different ways including as part of automated transactions, they are the basis for a lot of the crazy discussions on the most recent Coin Talk Podcast that I included in last week’s newsletter - This article is a good intro and has some interesting examples that use NFTs to trade digital art pieces

Follow the CAPEX - Cloud Table Stakes 2020 Retrospective - I had seen some of these figures last week and noticed the staggering amount of money Amazon has to spend to actually make all the money it makes, so it’s nice to read an article that confirms what I was thinking, and even does a comparison with regular non-tech companies, also the article uses the term hypercloud to describe the big cloud tech companies, that’s the first time I’ve heard that nomenclature - How long can hypercloud companies’ CAPEX keep increasing? What happens to pricing when it stops increasing?

Twitter’s Jack Dorsey wants to build an app store for social media algorithms - There’s a reason Jack Dorsey runs 2 public companies, he’s got exceptional vision - I’ve been thinking for a while that social media companies would eventually host user algorithms, it just makes sense, but Jack’s vision of this future is so much more vivid and thought out than I had pictured, and he’s putting all the necessary pieces in place - A decentralised network with an algorithms marketplace, that sounds to me like an interesting future for social media tech

Is Apple Banning Free Analytics SDKs? - Quite a lot of confusion about what the latest changes will affect, there is a possibility that lots of apps will need to update their analytics solution or risk facing a ban

Disney Shutting Down Ice Age Animation Studio Blue Sky

7 Places to Host Your Jamstack Site

Horizontal scaling WebSockets on Kubernetes and Node.js - Pretty neat auto scaling solution that uses Prometheus to expose the total number of websocket connections on each node, then scales pods based on this value, thus guarantying the system will be able to handle increases in load gracefully

Facebook Is Said to Be Building a Product to Compete With Clubhouse

Tesla’s $1.5 billion bitcoin purchase clashes with its environmental aspirations

Google News Showcase launches in the UK - More than 120 local, national and independent publishers have signed up so far

Laws being introduced in Australia aim to force big tech companies to pay for linking to local media outlets - “When an individual shares a link on their news feed, it’s “paid for” through all of their friends clicking on it”

Generate thumbnails using Lambda from videos uploaded to S3 - Great tutorial that uses the AWS web UI rather than a framework, has detailed configurations, screenshots and explanations of the code used for each step - Very cool workflow

Apple iOS 14.5 will hide Safari users' IP addresses from Google's Safe Browsing

Node.js Apache Kafka – Getting Started with KafkaJS - Modern cloud applications are based around event driven architectures, this neat tutorial posts in Slack each time an npm package is published -It uses Apache Kafka event streams and webhooks to create a scalable solution with decouple system parts

npm - Catching Up with Package Lockfile Changes in v7 - In a nutshell better performance as-well as deterministic and reproducible builds


Coin Talk Podcast - Confessions of a Man Who Bought 20 Hashmasks.... w/ Ledger Status - I’ve never been super into crypto, but I like this podcast mostly because of the dynamic between the hosts and the guests they have on the show, they don’t take themselves too seriously, but they are clearly very into the crypto space, are very knowledgeable about it and their enthusiasm is entertaining - This episode sort of blew my mind a bit, if you are at all into building digital media production workflows and automation you might find this interesting too, there are a lot of very crypto and fintech nerdy concepts thrown about but they also interject every now and then to summarise at a high level what is going on, essentially you can do basically anything with etherium, which is kind of awesome, but on the other hand, you can do basically anything with etherium, which could be kind of risky, but maybe it’s just hilarious, or not, hard to tell, either way it’s the first time I’ve listened into a crypto deep dive discussion where my web developer spidey-sense got activated, no idea if it’s good or bad but there’s something interesting there for sure

The New Stack Makers Podcast: Ravi Lachhman and Frank Moley - How to Fight the Kubernetes Complexity-Fatigue Monster - Open table discussion covering the move away from Java in cloud native applications, core vs edge code, the shift in developer and infrastructure roles, emerging team dynamics, making mistakes, abstractions, helm for managing deploys and upgrades, managing software versions, and rolling your own vs vendor tooling

Lex Friedman Podcast #159 – Richard Craib: WallStreetBets, Numerai, and the Future of Stock Trading - Looks at the recent WalkStreetBets and Gamestop Saga that caused such a stir in the trading markets, then moves on to talk about hedge funds, shorting, new ways crypto and AI could change the world of finance, aswell as more esoteric topics like running a startup and the meaning of life

Indie Hackers Podcast Ep. #189 – Making $1.5M/Year Reimagining Local News with Chris and Bruce of WhereBy.Us - The guys describe their journey, from in depth local news research, to experimenting with events, press conferences, memberships and newsletters; balancing editorial, sales and events; having a diverse set of revenue tools, creating a repeatable process and turning it into a business that is the Shopify of newsletters - I really enjoyed this interview, it’s amazing to hear success stories like this in building and growing unique local communities

Source Code Podcast - Inside Vimeo’s reinvention - I found this interview with CEO Anjali Sud really interesting because though I was aware that Vimeo was still around, I had no idea what the company has been doing the past 10 years, they were one of the first companies to have an online video product, and initially targeted film makers and videographers, but YouTube ended up dominating online video - Vimeo has pivoted sharply to being an enterprise tools company building SaaS products for businesses that need to create videos, and they are making tools for meetings, events, streaming, training and want to help bring video story telling to businesses all over the world - I liked Vimeo back in the day, they were always doing cool stuff, so I’m glad they are still around as a company


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 :)

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Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!