Mark Smith’s Newsletter -Saturday 26th November, 2020

Microsoft ARM chips, SapiensAsBlog, Proxima Centauri, FBvsApple, SPACs, Raspberry Pi Server, modern chips, Apple Car, IoT+NodeJS, Jamstack workflows, NYSE, Zoomail, Elon Alphabet, SSGs, podcasts...

Hello and welcome to my newsletter!

Another season 1 instalment…

Hopefully my newsletter finds you in good spirits, lots of great javascript, tech and web developer links for you in this holiday edition. Something to have with your tasty Christmas desserts :)

It’s the end of the year, so there have been quite a few year-in-review-articles making the rounds. Very difficult year for everyone this year so people are trying to stay up beat. I wrote on Indie Hackers about some of my accomplishments in 2020. I found that making such a list was a worthwhile exercise, there were a lot more good things than I had initially thought. I recommend doing it!

I did a lot of reading about the internet-of-things this week as I explore new areas to focus my freelance activities. It’s a really interesting space with a lot of cool technologies and products being built.

I’ve been trying to find a better way to track my RSS feed subscriptions. Tracking rss subscriptions is complicated if you want to use your own domain for the feed. If you know a way to get basic feed info like number of subscribers please get in touch.

Wishing you all the best over the holidays…

I hope you enjoy the links!

Special mentions

Stuff from me

🚀 Housekeeping Note: I’ve created a separate page for my policy on job interviews, based on the original blog post

🚀 Housekeeping Note: I’ve created a separate sponsorships page, based on the original blog post, and I’ve updated the text a bit so it’s a bit clearer what you get when you become a sponsor

🚀 Re-post: GitHub Actions for custom content workflows

🚀 Web design that focusses on text content is the best - I have realised recently how much I like web design where the focus is on the text content, even if it’s really simple design, it doesn’t matter as long as some of the points I cover are implemented, the site is pleasurable to read

Stuff from around the web


Microsoft may be developing its own, in-house ARM CPU designs

Substack is great for getting started with blogging and newsletters but some are finding they hit limitations as they try to grow their business - I’ve been hitting some of the same issues, namely the lack of both an API and markdown support means that it’s impossible to automate anything so each newsletter takes a few hours of copy / pasting links

Getting lucky with posting on Hacker News - Some very interesting data mining, also a really wonderful text based website that is a pleasure to read on a mobile device

If Sapiens were a blog post - Summarises Yuval Harari’s book, all about the evolution of humans, very broad perspective on how things got to where we are today

Strange radio transmissions are emanating from Proxima Centauri - That’s the closest star to the sun, they found the radio signals by digging through old data, we currently only are aware of technological ways of generating the narrow frequency range that these signals are being transmitted on

Facebook’s Laughable Campaign Against Apple Is Really Against Users and Small Businesses

SoftBank to file for SPAC on Monday - SPACs are companies created for the sole purpose of buying another company, the SPAC IPOs and then later merges with the company to be purchased, these investment vehicles have become popular over the past few years, but it’s Soffbank’s first time using a SPAC

Raspberry Pi Server Mark III - Create a rack for raspberry pi servers using a 3D printer

FFmpeg is 20 years old today

How Does a Modern Microprocessor Work? - Well written article that covers the main parts of a modern chip architecture, and looks at how they operate by describing the a fictional RISC-V microprocessor called the Calcutron-33, it’s a minimal example but for hardware chips

Apple M1 foreshadows Rise of RISC-V - Another piece about the future of chip architectures, it appears like a general move towards ARM cpus surrounded by specialised corprocessors running RISC-V with special extensions to the base instruction set, also discusses the possibility of using RISC-V for the cpu

Apple could begin producing its own car with a 'next level' battery in 2024

wunderbucket - Turn local folders into global websites - This hosting solution might be relevant for small projects where you don’t want to muck around with command line, git etc, for simply making a folder of HTML/CSS/JS live without any fuss or ceremony

IoT and Node.JS -How to Catch the Opportunity? - NodeJS is very well suited for IOT applications, this article covers some of the aspects to consider such as hardware and security, and explores some tracking solutions - I’m not a huge fan of technology that tracks employees, though there are a lot of industrial sectors where such technologies would be valuable to increase safety, I think the more interesting use cases are in creating low cost infrastructure for fleets of distributed sensors, and simple device configuration UIs

Twitter expands its new API with conversation and reply controls

NodeJS and IoT - An Overview

Parsing JSON at the CLI - A Practical Introduction to `jq` (and more!) - This jq intro has some well thought out and illustrated examples, I hadn’t grasped until reading this that the | in jq commands behaved similar to unix pipes, passing the output from 1 filter to the input of another filter, and there’s also some links to useful related tools such as an online jq playground, jq for yaml (yq), jq for html (pup) - Given all the JSON used in web development, knowing how to handle it on the command line is a very useful skill to have

A look at what happens to the various presidential Twiitter accounts when Trump leaves office, al the @POTUS tweets get archived and moved to an account called @POTUS45, then new accounts are created for the next president starting with 0 followers, Trump keeps his personal account

WiFi 6 gets 1.34 Gbps on the Raspberry Pi CM4 - Great detailed writeup of the process, the IOT space has a lot of promise but it’s clear that there is still a lot of hurdles, inconsistencies and workarounds necessary, I’m also surprised that the theoretical limit of WIFI 6 is an insanely fast 10 Gbps

Web History by Jay Hoffmann - The next chapter in his series about the history of the web, this instalment is all about how the web transformed the publishing industry, with fringe new media publications such as Wired, and experiments by webzines, and later blogs; and also looks at the effect on old media and local publications

Great writeup of a custom content workflow - A conference website built on Jamstack architecture, that receives user generated content submissions via a form, backend processing is done using a GitHub Actions workflow that creates a PR for each submission and rebuilds the site with the new content after reviewer approval

U.S. approves NYSE listing plan to cut out Wall Street middlemen - With the new regulation “Issuers can sell shares directly on the exchange in an auction, which would increase opportunities for more investors to purchase shares at the initial offering price, rather than having to wait to buy in the aftermarket”

Zoom is reportedly developing email and calendar services

Five easy ways for Elon Musk to combine his companies into a superconglomerate -Quite a lot of wild fantasy theorising in this fun piece

Build a static site generator in 40 lines with Node.js - Great writeup that’s given me lots of ideas about how to improve my linkblog static site generator, showing which modules to use so as to support globbing, markdown, and frontmatter to create a static site with minimal code

FreeBSD has migrated from Subversion to Git for source control

Pinterest Predicts - They have gone through their search data and produced this very nice looking website that has some predictions for trends in 2021, each trend page describes the trend with stats about relevant keyword popularity

The Lunch Money Stack - A SaaS Solopreneur's Toolkit - Lots of technologies in this stack rundown, a very nice collection, including NodeJS, lots of other open source tools, services, hosting platforms and gadgets

Podcasts Podcast Episode #200 - This is actually from the previous week but I didn’t get around to listening to it until this week, lots of great european tech news, regional M&A activity, funding deals and a fun new show voicemail call-in feature in celebration of episode 200

Jamstack Radio Ep. #70, JAMstack Consulting with Núria Soriano and Josep Jaume of Codegram - Great discussion about consulting opportunities in the Jamstack space, and they talk about a cool workflow they built for a conference website that uses GitHub Actions on the backend for user contributions

The Talk Show Episode #304 - 2020 Year in review with Rene Ritchie -This episode from these two excellent veteran podcasters is worth a listen if you have a few unrushed hours to spare, full of thoughtful discussion around many Apple and non-Apple topics including Apple Car rumours, big tech CEO musical chairs, issues with Google Chrome, and the best stuff from Apple over the year


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!