Mark Smith’s Newsletter - Saturday 27th February, 2021
Hello and welcome to my newsletter!
Another season 2 instalment…
The other thing I’m experimenting with in this edition is using the linkblog hash links feature I added last week. Most of the links in this newsletter intro are hash links, taking you to the relevant item on the linkblog, where you can see the original linkblog post with any comment I made, clicking the domain link will take you to the off-site article.
It might take a bit of getting used to. I hope the double hop isn’t too jarring, all the links are also included under the intro, so you might prefer just to wait and click there. The thing I’m aiming for is to present the article with the context. I might end up changing things up later.
Email me / comment in various forums with any feedback you have. Sorry if it’s annoying, it’s part of the nature of experimenting and building in public.
The news this week has been completely dominated by the Facebook-Google-Australia saga, but also companies are buying up Bitcoin like it’s going out of fashion (what’s that about?), and Twitter is introducing some cool new features.
Several essay style pieces, including the romance of programming, cool internet history with punch card and BBC micro programming, why awesome documentation is great for business, 20 years of open source VLC, and some good insight on being an engineering manager. There’s also a cool piece about implementing web mentions to get ‘on the indie web’.
I ended up having a bit of a discussion on HN that included the author of the punch cards programming article. Some fascinating details of how computing used to be only a few decades ago.
A bit of self promotions…I’ve updated the recommendations page on the blog to make individual entries directly linkable, a new recommendation from Tony Vasile (Thanks Tony!) and I also re-included my most recent blog post about project planning and estimation, because though I managed to squeeze it into last week’s edition at the last minute, technically it was part of this week since I wrote it Saturday morning, and I’m kind of hoping someone will read it and connect me with some well paying web development work :)
Anyhows that’s all from me…
I hope you enjoy the links!
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Stuff from me
🚀 Housekeeping Note: I’ve updated the recommendation page so that each recommendation has a title so it’s possible to link directly to a specific recommendation using the title in a url hash fragment markjgsmith.com #
Stuff from around the web
Australia’s ABC News shot to the top of the App Store charts following Facebook’s news ban - It would be cool if there were publicly available signup stats from independent media sources, as much as this is bad, there’s a lot of opportunity for media startups to build something new and exciting theverge.com #
How to redirect URLs on Jekyll site hosted on GitHub Pages - Handy if you publish a page using the incorrect date and later need to update that page, setup a redirect so the page continues to load for people who click the old link superdevresources.com #
What Peter Jackson’s original two-movie Lord of the Rings almost looked like - Hard to believe it is already 20 years ago that the legendary film trilogy was released, this article looks at the business and creative process that led up to the production, it’s an interesting read, the sheer size of this production is mind boggling, the amount of people, effort, money, coordination all to create some bits and bytes, I know a lot about the VFX tools and workflows, but I’m wondering what futuristic tools will evolve to help directors and producers with the pre-production process, I think that would be an exciting place to be polygon.com #
How can you not be romantic about programming? - Great essay, well written, just the right length, distills an aspect of programming computers that I’d say all programmers will be able to appreciate thorstenball.com #
20 years of orange cones - The history of VLC - I still remember how amazed I was when I first installed it, not only was there no cost, it played literally all the video files I had without needing to install any codecs, and it was cross platform, later I would find out it was open source, the’s a comparison to be had with Mozilla, though their funding from custom services and consulting, great project and I like their ethos of doing things because they are fun rather than concentrating solely on financial gains protocol.com #
Mistakes I’ve Made as an Engineering Manager - Sarah Drasner shares some tips, well thought out and insightful, some are a bit counter-intuative, like the one about how people like to recieve feedback, I reckon it's a good article to read whether you are a manager or a worker bee css-tricks.com #
NFT Marketplace ‘NBA Top Shot’ Volume Has Exploded Over the Past Month - Digital collectibles appears to be on fire at the minute, I still have little idea why people would pay money for such things, but I thought the same about Bitcoin and now that’s at a mind boggling 50 000 cryptoglobe.com #
Android is now even safer, and 5 other new features - A lot of these features sound very cool, being able to schedule texts, maps dark mode, and I’d love to try the linkblog in TalkBack the new screenreader blog.google #
Square announces purchase of $170m Bitcoin - It had previously purchased $50m Bitcoin - This is Jack Dorsey’s other public company, he also is CEO of Twitter, it occurred to me how strange it is that all these companies are buying up Bitcoin in huge amounts (Tesla did similar recently), it’s like if companies were buying large amounts of gold bars, with some US state bills being passed allowing companies to create governments, I’m wondering if there isn’t a higher level trend starting to appear squareup.com #
Facebook got everything it wanted out of Australia by being willing to do what the other guy wouldn’t - Article that uses a film analogy to repaint the Facebook-Google-Australia situation as a gruesome hostage situation, it’s quite a good read and certainly entertaining with a bit of worthwhile analysis, the reality though is that Facebook just made the move that made the most business sense - It’s still unclear to me what the amendments the government is going to make are, based on the description in the article it sounds like a law that doesn’t actually do anything apart from add beaurocracy - “Facebook can now decide to offer different publishers whatever amount it wants, including nothing at all, without risk of penalty” - Whatever happens I sure hope aussie journalism industry survives niemanlab.org #
Teaching Web Dev for Free is Good Business - I’m slightly envious of Chris Coyiers’ effortless sales and self promotion style, somehow he manages to combine useful and promotional material into blog posts that hardly ever feel more than some bloke on the internet giving a few tips css-tricks.com #
Australia passes law forcing Google and Facebook to pay news publications - I’ve read a dozen of these types of articles and none of them describe what the amendments are clearly, when they do mention it, it’s tacked on right at the end like some sort of scribbled post-it note, accompanied by hand waving, it’s like they are all deliberately avoiding talking about it, the whole thing stinks IMO cnet.com #
The Another Podcast Podcast - Shopify and digital transformation - Benedict and Toni get into talking about digital transformation, a topic which has become very en vogue recently, I’ve been enjoying their podcasts because it’s nice to hear some brits talking tech, they have interesting angles because of much experience in the industry and their dynamic works well together another-podcast.simplecast.com
Lex Fridman Podcast Ep #162 – Jim Keller: The Future of Computing, AI, Life, and Consciousness - The slight awkwardness present during their first podcast episode together is mostly gone, replaced by a great rapport which makes for excellent listening, lots of really interesting topics covered but the highlight for me was listening to a world expert in computer chip design talking about human consciousness lexfridman.com
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Have a great weekend and a fantastic next week!