Mark Smith’s Newsletter - Saturday 20th February, 2021

AWS, Dorsey&JayZ, Arm, Kafka, podcast moderation, WebRTC, Facebook, regulations, Trello, Clubhouse Musk&Putin, Paul Graham, Ryan Dahl, OSS licenses

Hello and welcome to my newsletter!

Another season 2 instalment…

Quite a big finish to the week’s tech news with Facebook blocking linking to australian news organisations. Some good analysis from Techdirt and Casey Newton.

Some bits and bobs related to stories from last week, including Bitcoin hitting $50000, Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z announcing a 500 BTC fund in India and Africa, and Elon Musk asking Vladimir Putin to hang out on Clubhouse.

Programming-wise there’s a cool tutorial on implementing permission-less upload/download to an AWS S3 bucket, an open source Clubhouse clone that uses webRTC and a piece going into some detail on Apache Kafka.

Lots of other interesting links, including a long form essay from Paul Graham of ycombinator fame about all the stuff he’s worked on during his career, and a piece about moderation in the podcast industry.

Podcasts this week are an interview with Brendan Eich and a series of interviews all about the recent somewhat worrying trend for open source projects to change their license to the non-open source SSPL license.

As for me it’s been a hectic, quite sleep deprived week, there literally aren’t enough hours in the day. 

I updated the linkblog to include hash links for each item so you can now link directly to a specific item, as well as a specific day. I have been wanting this feature for ages.

The hash links also appear in the newsletter so you can easily jump to the links place in the linkblog by clicking the #, so you can see the context around that particular link.

I had a minor interaction on a Hacker News post with none other than creator of javascript Brendan Eich! I had made a comment about a podcast interview he was on last week, I was wondering if he did a lot of preparation because I was struck with how well he answers all the questions. Several Brendan Eich replies ensued. Pretty cool!

The possibility of interacting with some of the legends of the industry is one of the things that makes the internet and the world-wide-web so great. It also makes it super weird.

It doesn’t happen very often. Last time this sort of thing happened to me was over 10 years ago, in the middle of web2.0. Of course for Brendan Eich it’s just another forum post among the many (often confrontational) forum posts that need fielding. No biggie.

But for me who has spent the past 8 years learning and writing javascript, building an entirely javascript based SaaS and putting together a javascript focussed newsletter every week, as much as I’d like to play it cool, it’s clearly a bigger deal, no point in pretending it’s not, so it’s worth a mention. Definitely the highlight of my week!

Thanks for the javascripts Brendan Eich!

It’s a funny old internets sometimes.

I’ve already started on next week’s issue, and there will be a few pretty in depth but super interesting articles about javascript core mechanics. Somehow feels appropriate given the direction this issue ended up taking. A little something to look forward to :)

That’s all from me…

I hope you enjoy the links!

Special mentions

Stuff from me

🚀 New Post: Hash links for individual linkblog items - The linkblog main page has a new feature, enabling linking to individual linkblog items #

🚀 My approach to software planning and estimation

Stuff from around the web


Generate a presigned URL in modular AWS SDK for JavaScript - Tutorial demonstrating how to enable users to upload and download files directly to / from an S3 bucket, without needing their own AWS credentials #

Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z to Launch Bitcoin Trust in India and Africa - The fund is worth 500 BTC ($23.6M) #

Microsoft, Google, and Qualcomm are reportedly nervous about Nvidia acquiring Arm #

Apache Kafka - How Does It Work? - High level overview of the main functionality, quite a pleasant read, not too long #

Can anyone moderate podcasts? - It’s a bit unclear from the article what the general sentiment is regarding moderation in podcasting, one thing to remember is that if you have mechanisms to deplatform the ‘bad guys’, you can be pretty sure that the ‘good guys’ will get deplatformed too, ultimately deplatforming is just a very inadequate band aid, but my impression is that a lot of folks see it as a solution #

Here’s a first look at Microsoft’s xCloud for the web #

Show HN - Jam, an Open Source Clubhouse (w/ WebRTC) #

Debates continue at Facebook whether to allow Trump to return to the platform #

France pushes for big changes to proposed EU tech regulation #

Tesla founder Elon Musk asks Vladimir Putin to join him for ‘Clubhouse’ chat - Wow that’s some serious social media buzz #

Trello is redesigning its project management platform for a remote work future - This looks like a pretty major overhaul of the UI look and feel together with the introduction of several new ways to visualise the data #

GitHub - Pull request auto-merge is now generally available #

What I Worked On - Paul Graham essay that takes you on a journey through all the stuff he’s worked on in his career, a interesting mix of programming, art and business, all taking place between the original dot com boom up until the present day, and it’s a pleasant read too #

Emoji Version 13.1 - The latest set of emojis that will arrive in iOS 14.5 - I’m digging the beard gender equivalence, and face-with-spiral-eyes which I’m going to be calling ‘frazzled face’ #

Changes to Sharing and Viewing News on Facebook in Australia - Announcement from Facebook about how, because of new government legislation they have chosen to add restrictions to their service in Australia, they make a pretty strong case fir their actions in the article - “People and news organisations in Australia are now restricted from posting news links and sharing or viewing Australian and international news content on Facebook. Globally, posting and sharing news links from Australian publishers is also restricted” - It will be interesting to see how this affects Australians, sort of an interesting large scale social experiment #

YouTube Shorts beta will launch in the United States in March - They have been testing the feature out in India recently and have had good results, it looks to be a response to TikTok’s similar product #

The Bizarre Reaction To Facebook's Decision To Get Out Of The News Business In Australia - Really high quality analysis of the Australia-Facebook-Google situation, it’s a must read #

Interview with Ryan Dahl, Creator of Node.js - Lots of stuff about Deno of course but also reasons for his preference for VIm, Python vs Javascript as a introductory language for learning to program, why he loves Rust and doesn’t expect to ever start another C++ project, and more... #

Facebook calls Australia's bluff - Some more analysis of the Australia-Facebook-Google situation, this time from popular social media newsletter writer Casey Newton #

Bitcoin hits new record of $50,000 #


Lex Fridman Podcast Ep #160 – Brendan Eich: JavaScript, Firefox, Mozilla, and Brave - Each time I’ve listened to Brendan Eich (creator of javascript, co-founder of Mozilla and Brave) on a podcast I’ve been super impressed, not only was he present at pivotal moments in the evolution of technology and the web, so his historical knowledge and insight is second to none, he’s just so good at structuring his thoughts and at talking, he hardly ever misses a beat, every single answer is thorough and he goes into just the right amount of technical detail without getting caught in the weeds, after listening to any of his interviews I feel a profound sense of clarity about technology and the web - Lots of great topics covered all listed with timestamps in the shownotes #

Changelog Podcast - Community perspectives on Elastic vs AWS - Handful of interviews with business owners, lawyers and developers that are in the open source community, really worth a listen if you are at all affected or concerned about the recent movement of several high profile Open Source projects including MongoDB and Elastic changing their license - Some great discussion about the dynamics at play, it’s a complicated situation with a lot of angles to consider, even if it seems clear cut initially, it really isn’t that clear cut #


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!