Mark Smith's Linkblog

Thursday 5th August, 2021 #

  • Conversations with Tyler Podcast - David Deutsch on Multiple Worlds and Our Place in Them - I enjoyed this podcast a lot, and was struck by several things (1) the many worlds theory is quite weird to think about, it has some very unexpected and strange sounding aspects (2) I found the exploration of where philosophy meets physics enlightening, both from a historical perspective, but also how practically important it is that both these disciplines are functioning well, and (3) it’s amazing and also scary to me that it’s possible to have a mastery of subjects such as reality, evolution & freedom that is comparable to how I feel about web development, with the ability to know clearly and precisely which parts you know about, which parts you don’t, which parts require further experimentation and debugging, something which David certainly appears to have, hopefully he has some incredible refactoring tools to help with his institution and government systems building

Wednesday 4th August, 2021 #

  • Ninja Tune Podcast - Mind w/ ELKKA, Percolate, Yaya Bey & Peach - Interesting conversation about mental health in the electronic music industry, I feel like the conversation was a lot more real than some of the similar efforts I’ve heard from software / web development
  • The situation in HCMC Vietnam where I am is rather dire, everything everywhere I go is shut, the only cooked food I can buy is literally fried eggs and hot dogs, it’s been like this for around 2 weeks, just wanted to make a public note of that here
  • Deviate with Rolf Potts Podcast Ep #169 - The Olympics started out as a travel fest - All about the ancient Greek Games - Very topical since the Tokyo Olympics games are currently happening, this is a great exploration of the ancient games that ran for 1200 years without break, looking at specific details to get a sense of the culture of the time, how it was intertwined with philosophy and life in general, and how it affected politics across the world - I was very surprised how interesting this part of history is and how much it has shaped the modern world

Tuesday 3rd August, 2021 #

  • The most unbelievable things about life before smartphones - Of course so much has changed over the past 20 years or so, but it has happened bit by bit, so you almost don’t realise the enormity of it all, this article does a phenomenal job of describing just how drastic that change has been, by highlighting specific details of every day life - It’s scarily accurate

Sunday 1st August, 2021 #

  • Beachball - The Sunniest Semantic Version Bumper - It’s by the folks at Microsoft, looks very robust and useful
  • Using Google Drive as a CMS - Kind of a neat idea, especially for use cases where non technical folks are managing the content using Drive - The article has some good suggestions but is a bit light on code samples
  • oozcitak/xmlbuilder2 - An XML builder for node.js - I haven’t used this myself but the interface looks very nice especially the ability to create an XML file from a javascript object, certainly looks like it makes working with XML files much easier
  • Running CPU-Bound Tasks in Node.js - Introduction to Worker Threads - Well written article with just the right amount of explanation and detail and some clear code examples

Friday 30th July, 2021 #

  • Conversations with Tyler Podcast - Niall Ferguson on Why We Study History - I won’t try to describe in detail the topics covered since the episode description does a far better job than I could do, but I really enjoyed this, it’s a very high-brow look at some interesting aspects of UK history, from the perspective of a Scott who has studied the relevant history in great depth and formed some controversial views - One aspect I liked and share with him is a dislike for the common practice of reviewing the past using the current world view, anyway I was really wanting to hear some stuff about the UK recently, because so much of what I listen to has a US focus, and this episode was exactly that, I’d love to hear similar stuff from english/welsh/northern-irish folks to get a more complete picture of the UK - I don’t know if the interview is live or if the questions are shared in advance, either way, it’s a real pleasure to listen to

Thursday 29th July, 2021 #

  • The New Stack Podcast Ep #1266 - Cloud native deployments bring new complexities to the developer - Interesting discussion around how the move to cloud native infrastructure is affecting developers, how they are now having to get involved in devops activities and how a defacto architecture is emerging based around Kubernetes
  • Tech Dirt Podcast - Free speech, elections, vaccines, and social media - Level headed discussion about the most pressing free speech issues currently arising in the tech industry
  • Shop Talk Show Ep #473 - Brad and Ian Frost - From meteorologist to web developer - There’s a nice story of career change into web development, but the thing I found interesting is their discussion about web components, which they have been using as a way to reuse frontend functionality across apps, dropping them into different frameworks such as React and View that handle the orchestration - They have found that this way of building fits in well with larger companies that have many different frameworks across their organisation, but still want a consistent look and feel to their apps
  • Freakonomics Podcast Ep #470 - The pro’s and cons of America’s (extreme) individualism - I really enjoyed this episode, it was very focussed on the USA, and it would have been nice to hear about the UK a bit more, but it nonetheless paints quite a good high level picture of the cultural tides that shape the world around us - I don’t think any country got painted in particularly negative light, things are just different in different places, it’s nice to have a cultural map like this, I’d be interested to hear about similar maps created by other nations
  • Deviate Podcast Ep #168 - Japan’s Shikoku Pilgrimage - I felt a sort of kinship with the interviewee since, like on his pilgrimage, I am currently experiencing the challenges associated with walking around in small shoes
  • This Week in Travel Podcast Ep #286 - John Argento - RVing in Europe - Nice detour from Tech into Travel, very interesting account of a recent RV trip - Also an unexpected mention at the end of a new movement called Podcast 2.0 being led by Proto-Podcaster (and RV enthusiast) Adam Curry - I think it can be summarised as Podcasting + Bitcoin + Tipping while you listen, and sounds like it could be an interesting direction
  • Resident Advisor Podcast Ep #790 Cici - 2021.07.25 - I wasn’t too keen on the description but this mix has some rather good bits, the first half is a bit patchy, but the overall progression is kind of cool, some fun bouncy acid and electronic/house/tech, then into break beat, drum & bass and jungle tracks, interesting selection of uptempo and occasionally bassey EDM - Momentarily transported me back to the late 90s - It’s nice to hear old sounds and rhythms sometimes
  • 20 000 Hz Podcast Ep #72 - 808 - I browsed back through some of the old episodes and noticed I hadn’t listened to this one, it features some of the most iconic samples, loops and sounds that are now part of the international cultural soundscape, explores their origins, and the stories around how electronic sounds gradually got integrated into music - It’s a great listen
  • The Changelog Podcast - Why we 💚 Vim - I’ve been using VIM for many years now, so I really liked this episode, the care and attention to detail in how it was put together, and I even learnt a few things - VIM is awesome :)
  • I’m still having power cable issues, but it started working again, so I’m back online, not sure for how long though

Saturday 24th July, 2021 #

  • I’ve been surviving the past week with a really dodgy power cable, sometimes worked but had to place it carefully, all the shops are still closed, as soon as I sent out the newsletter today the power cable now totally doesn’t work at all, I’m at 10% power, once again I hope to be back online soon!
  • 🚀 My javascript / tech / web development newsletter for 2021-07-24 is out!
  • 20000 Hz Podcast - The Buzzer - Really well produced episode, very much in the audio documentary style that makes the 20 000 Hz podcasts really great, this episode has mystery, intrigue and old school tech in the form of short wave radio, I enjoyed this much more than I thought I would

Friday 23rd July, 2021 #

  • Virgin Galactic: Sir Richard Branson rockets to the edge of space - This happened a few weeks ago, I’m just seeing it now, I’ve listened to some great space podcasts this week, so it’s incredible to hear that he made it up there, pretty big moment for travel :)
  • Tech.eu Podcast - Going after the world from Europe - Interview with Jean-Pierre Saad from investment firm KKR - I enjoyed this interview, some good perspective, lots of stuff happening in the european tech sector
  • vervet/ncc - Compile a Node.js project into a single file - Supports TypeScript, binary addons, dynamic requires
  • Node-Red - Version 2.0 released - There aren’t a huge amount of new features, however they are releasing the first version of a flow debugger and linter which look super interesting, it’s part of their push to improve the developer experience

Wednesday 21st July, 2021 #

  • Lex Fridman Podcast Ep #201 – Konstantin Batygin - Planet 9 and the Edge of Our Solar System
  • Lex Fridman Podcast Ep #198 – Sara Walker - The Origin of Life on Earth and Alien Worlds
  • Source Code Podcast - Netflix gaming, privacy fights and the rise of Tiger Global - Great selection of interesting and current tech topics with coverage of Netflix’s somewhat surprising move into the gaming space, the recent twists and turns in the privacy debate which has gravitated over to the W3C, and Tiger Global shaking up the VC industry, all with just the right amount of depth and analysis

Monday 12th July, 2021 #

  • Earlier today I was chased down by 6 what appeared to be police officers in Vietnam HCMC in broad daylight right outside the main palace, they were on motorbikes, one of them them drove into me on purpose hitting my feet with great force, they then beat me with a truncheon, and I have sustained quite a serious injury to my left foot (probably broken), and I am having real difficulty walking and balancing now, I am very shook up by the experience - I just wanted to make a public note of that here

Saturday 10th July, 2021 #

  • In the ongoing saga of the universe vs Mark Smith, which has recently gotten much more intense, my main device power cable has suddenly stopped working, and because of the crazy world situation most shops are shut, so posting this in case it takes a while, hopefully I’ll be online again soon, all the best
  • 🚀 My javascript / tech / web development newsletter for 2021-07-10 is out!

Wednesday 7th July, 2021 #

  • The Another Podcast Podcast - 'Digital transformation' - beyond the silly slogan - Some interesting historical context about what digital transformation is all about, from main frames to cloud computing, it’s all happening, all at the same time - This struck a chord with me because just the past few days I’ve been having this weird feeling that I’m somehow stuck in an alt reality designed by main frame programmers, but I just want to do things the cloud way :), no offence intended to anyone
  • Shop Talk Show Podcast Ep 470 - Slap a WAAPI, Explaining the Shadow DOM, LayoutNG, iFrames, the Web Animation API - Good episode this week especially if like me you have been a bit mystified by the shadow-dom, which it turns out can be more accurately described as the egg-dom

Sunday 4th July, 2021 #

  • Where are we going from here? Software engineering needs formal methods - I liked this because it’s well written but also because it highlights that software is used in many different areas and that formal methods are appropriate in some of those but not necessarily all those areas, and the world of software engineering is changing as we learn new approaches, things worth considering as we introduce AI dev tools
  • England beat Ukraine 4-0 to go through to the Euro semi-finals
  • League of Legends’ new music gives streamers lo-fi beats to game to - I really like this idea for a themed music album, curious to hear what it sounds like

Friday 2nd July, 2021 #

  • Your AI pair programmer - I’ve been wondering when AI based tools would start to make appearances in dev tool chains, here’s one from Github, hopefully it won’t have the annoying behaviour that some other autocompletion tools have of blocking your cursor at the exact moment you try to insert and type

Friday 25th June, 2021 #

  • Amazon is acquiring a podcast hosting and monetization platform
  • Google delays Chrome's cookie-blocking privacy plan by nearly 2 years
  • Microsoft announces Windows 11, with a new design, Start menu, and more - It’s been a long time since I was a Windows user, that was when Windows 10 was in the early days, clearly a major version bump doesn’t happen very often in Windows land, so it’s big news, and reading the feature list it looks like a lot of attention has been paid to integrations and I’m getting a sort of wholesome feeling about this release, interested to see how the rollout goes

Sunday 20th June, 2021 #

  • “Fantasy Hollywood” - Crypto and Community-Owned Characters - This all sounds interesting, bringing governance concepts developed in open source code communities to other types of building activities, and I don’t doubt that there’s really many people that are earnest in their endeavours, but my overall feeling towards “communities” is rapidly approaching negative infinity, and so these governance models look more and more just like ways for people to cement their power over others, and it pains me to say it because I’ve always been an optimist, but my experience is that when the rubber meets the road, these co-ordination methods just get used to crush people even more efficiently

Saturday 19th June, 2021 #

  • The UK Crowns 100th Tech Unicorn - It’s all about “Deep Tech” at the minute, awesome to see the UK first in Europe to reach this milestone
  • 🚀 My javascript / tech / web development newsletter for 2021-06-19 is out!
  • Changelog Podcast - Funds for open source - I’m literally right in the middle of my own intolerable funding issues, so I found it difficult to concentrate during this episode, but it’s an important topic and it was a good conversation, power permitting I’ll be able to listen to the episode again soon

Friday 18th June, 2021 #

  • TC39 Podcast - Interview with Tab Atkins-Bittner spec hacker for Google on the Chrome team - Not all podcasts need to be super well produced, and I like the lowfi production on these TC39 podcasts because you can easily concentrate on the in-depth javascript discussions, in this episode topics include similarities in how the different committees approach problem solving, writing specs, grid and flexbox, web components and the general componentisation of web development, shadow DOM, scoped styles, CSS modules, pattern matching and container queries
  • Another Podcast Podcast - Paying attention to Apple again - Benedict and Toni discuss all about what Apple is up to and what went down at WWDC
  • Lex Fridman Podcast Ep #190 - Jordan Ellenberg - Mathematics of High-Dimensional Shapes and Geometries - I was pretty into mathematics at school, and especially geometry, and I’ve found that recently I’ve been super interested in anything related to parallel dimensions, higher order dimensions etc, whether it’s grounded in science but also of the more esoteric kind, anyway there’s some interesting problem solving techniques discussed in this episode, it’s totally trippy in places, and it’s also tangentially related to programming and AI
  • Google backs Linux project to make Android, Chrome OS harder to hack - It’s a project to re-write parts if the kernel in Rust, could have a big impact not only in security but also on the culture which has until recently been dominated by the C programming language
  • Oculus is getting Facebook ads in VR - Here’s what they look like
  • A Visual Guide to NodeJS Streams
  • Introducing [email protected] - Has been in development fir a while now, aims to be the next generation of the NodeJS http library
  • Is Facebook cornering the VR market? - “Facebook will have literally reinvented itself for a new paradigm shift in computing by the time regulation gets around to addressing it in its current state”

Wednesday 9th June, 2021 #

  • Websites begin to work again after major breakage - Lots of websites go offline including BBC, NYTimes, the UK government website gov.uk, Financial Times, the Guardian, PayPal, Shopify, HBO Max, Vimeo - Fastly had issues with it’s content delivery network (CDN) which all the sites use to deliver their service

Tuesday 8th June, 2021 #

  • Apple announces iPadOS 15 with homescreen and multitasking improvements - Looking forward to seeing these iPad multi-tasking improvements, I’m wondering how feasible it might eventually use one of these devices as an ultra-portable development device
  • Apple unveils iOS 15 with new FaceTime features and more - The photos, wallet, weather and maps features look to be the most interesting to me

Saturday 5th June, 2021 #

  • 🚀 My javascript / tech / web development newsletter for 2021-06-05 is out!
  • In Response to Oversight Board, Trump Suspended for Two Years; Will Only Be Reinstated if Conditions Permit - Linking to this because it’s relevant to some of last week’s links, but haven’t had time to read more than the title and first few paragraphs as I’m fully focussed on project work - I note that it’s written by ex-UK politician Nick Clegg, now VP of Global Affairs at Facebook

Friday 4th June, 2021 #

  • Stack Overflow sold to tech investor Prosus for $1.8 billion - Big news for developers, nope I hadn’t heard of “Tech Giant” Prosus either
  • Trump shuts down his personal website - Big news I suppose, it would seem that having gotten used to millions of daily reactions on Twitter, that the 150000 that he was getting from his personal website wasn’t enough, I guess if you are someone like Trump you just have to be mainstream, and personal websites are never going to be like that, it’s a different sort of readership, I still wish he ran a personal website though, maybe he could have an alter-ego website, wildly different from DJT
  • Introducing Twitter Blue - Twitter’s first-ever subscription offering - It’s aimed at Twitter power users, and adds several special features to enhance their experience

Monday 31st May, 2021 #

  • John Gruber on Doc Searls’ recent comments about Apple privacy - “I don’t think Searls’s critique here is fair” - It’s good to see a classic blogger public debate, I feel like this sort of thing used to happen more often
  • Apple Podcasts Subscriptions delayed with app enhancements inbound
  • Esports' popularity 'only scratching the surface'
  • Doc Searls - Apple vs (or plus) Adtech - “We need to start building a byway around the whole mess: one where demand can signal supply about exactly what it wants, rather than having demand constantly being spied on and guessed at by adtech’s creepy machinery”

Friday 28th May, 2021 #

  • Conversations with Tyler Podcast - Mark Carney on Central Banking and Shared Values - I usually find finance type stuff kind of boring, and in some sense this episode is a bit boring, but for one I really like Tyler’s questioning style, it really suits his personality, but also his questions are just so good, so well chosen and thought out, the more I listened the more I started to see similarities between what Mark Carney was talking about and software development, the system he had been building wasn’t something like a Facebook video encoding platform, instead it was the central bank monetary system, and many of the properties they try to optimise for like redundancy and resiliency make prominent appearances in software development, they also have similar design philosophies, like building in layers, and I found the discussion around modern finance very interesting as monetary systems integrate crypto and blockchain into their systems, there aren’t many industries where essentially there’s nothing ‘real’, it’s all just collections of abstractions, finely tuned imaginary instruments, it will be interesting to see if the introduction of crypto makes the sector a little less dull, my brain just can’t handle the dullness, anyway it’s a good interview, a Canadian that occasionally sounds english and even at times irish, presumably from his years as the Governor of the Bank of England
  • Eleventy serverless (eleventy cloud) thus far - Zach Leatherman gathers together his thoughts and notes about the serverless future of Eleventy, it’s cool to see a lot of motion here, there are exciting new architectures and patterns being built, I’m very much into Eleventy, though recently I’ve been finding that it’s starting to feels slightly more complicated than I’m comfortable with, hopefully that will get ironed out with this new direction
  • Vendure - A headless GraphQL ecommerce framework built on Node.js with Nest & TypeScript, with a focus on developer productivity and ease of customization - Looks pretty interesting, might be worth taking it fir a spin if you are building e-commerce / store web applications

Thursday 27th May, 2021 #

  • PayPal to Let Users Send Bitcoin Off PayPal - Certainly looks like crypto is going mainstream in quite a big way
  • Amazon to buy MGM Studios for $8.45 billion - I’m very interested in this deal, and especially how Amazon is structuring its media business, it feels like it really could result in some cool stuff being made, kind of mind blowing to watch the tech giants doing a take-over of old media right in broad daylight, but it’s less like a take-over and more like when an ageing actor who’s career has faded a bit, gets cast in a really cool new film and they then hit legend status, but here it’s at a company level that it’s happening

Wednesday 26th May, 2021 #

  • App Store Arguments - Ben Thomson does a roundup of all the arguments from the Apple s Epic trial, lots of interesting angles, the one thing I kept wondering about for some reason as I was reading this piece was whether it would be fun to run a small App Store, one where I selected and vetted all the apps, it would have a very distinctive atmosphere, ambiance, and the selection would be based around what I know about and find cool, why doesn’t Apple make it possible for me todo that, in a safe and secure way?
  • Microsoft support for Linux GUI apps on Windows 10 coming later this year

Monday 24th May, 2021 #

  • The race to understand the exhilarating, dangerous world of language - An international crack team of 500 AI experts is being assembled to build the future of open source trained language models, my concern here is that we’ve been training arguably the best intelligences in the known universe (ourselves! aka humans) for like a really really long time, and we still have so many issues across society, what makes us think that somehow we will be able to do a better job than evolution, with entities that can learn the game Go, which is more complicated than chess, which is itself very complicated, from first principles, in a matter of hours, and then beat all known existing entities, on the plus side maybe it will be fun and we will get to know each other better

Friday 21st May, 2021 #

  • Native speakers are hard to understand in a lingua franca situation - As a speaker of several languages, and someone who spends most of my time immersed in other languages and cultures, I found this article really interesting, I don’t agree with all the points made but there are definitely several that feel close to my experiences, HN thread link as the discussion is super interesting too, one thing I personally love about the English language is how versatile it is, so many regional accents across the globe yet we can mostly all talk to each other, there’s such amazing variety in meaning and sound, with parts of each locality somehow infused into the conversation, one thing that’s actually kind of nice when speaking is challenging because of language differences is to just not say anything and enjoy each other’s company

Thursday 20th May, 2021 #

  • An AMA from a developer making a good living selling NodeJS boilerplates
  • Twitter is letting anyone apply for verification for the first time since 2017 - Looks like they will be adding categories later down the line, like scientists and academics, hopefully web developers and engineers, aka the people that build the web, will make it in there eventually :)
  • Weapons of mass (value) destruction - Some analysis from Om Malik of the current situation in the US telecoms industry, which is going through a lot of change, you might have seen mention of AT&T, Direct TV, Time Warner and others this past week, well his article is all about that, it’s quite negative towards telecoms but it’s some good perspective as he’s been watching the industry for many years

Wednesday 19th May, 2021 #

  • Apple’s new iMac brings M1 goodness to the desktop - Really enjoyed this review, especially the end bit where the author describes why most regular people buy Apple products, they work well and eliminate fuss, for most people that are doing a ton of other non computer stuff, that has tremendous value

Tuesday 18th May, 2021 #

  • Amazon is in talks to buy MGM for $9 billion - Would certainly be an interesting acquisition, MGM is the studio with the roaring lion at the start of movies, their biggest title is Bond, and there are many others like Rocky and Stargate, I think it’s an interesting purchase because though the studio’s star has faded somewhat recently, it still has a sort of old school coolness to it, with Amazon backing who knows what could be in store for the 20s
  • Twitter reportedly launching its long-awaited new Verification program next week - The article is from last week, so should be in the next few days, based in the description it seems like bloggers, linkbloggers and podcasters might not meet the criteria :(
  • Software Engineering Daily Podcast - Botpress - Natural language processing with Sylvaner Perron - I’ve been mildly interested in the possibilities presented by bots, but most that I have interacted with to date have been mediocre - This interview covers a lot of topics but I started to get interested when he was describing some of the new use cases that are arising, specifically employee on-boarding, something I’ve done before, developing training programs, but I can totally see how some well designed bots could make setting up developer environments a much more pleasant, productive and perhaps even fun experience, I’m now also wondering how bots could integrate with developer tools, anyway it’s an interesting podcast that also discusses visual workflow editors, a conversation debugger, workflows, NLP algorithms, conversational AI, a shift to tools that learn to understand users, offering your services through a digital assistant, building your own Siri, voice interfaces, architecture and scaling with Redis and Postgres and transitioning to a container based architecture

Monday 17th May, 2021 #

  • 🚀 New Repo: Edge worker page hydrate - This is a minimal example of using Cloudflare edge workers to hydrate a static page with data fetched from an API, the website and API serverless function are hosted by Netlify
  • Ride Home Podcast (Bonus) Tipping as the currency for the creator economy - I initially thought this wouldn’t be all that interesting, but it turns out that the modern incarnations of tipping are having profound impacts on society, something which I hadn’t really considered at all - The discussion covers topics such as Twitter’s latest TipJar product, how creators and fans are creating much more direct relationships, Buy me a Coffee, Venmo, PayPal, OnlyFans, the historical context around tipping, the grossness in tipping, tipping in gaming, a shifting global consciousness around tipping, the impact on the advertising industry, the impact on the creator economy, platforms, the difficulty of growth for creators and of course crypto/blockchain

Saturday 15th May, 2021 #

  • TSMC looks to double down on U.S. chip factories as talks in Europe falter - I wonder how significant it is that there is all this worldwide expansion of chip making factories just as we get to 3nm architectures, I say that because there aren’t very many nm’s left, what happens when we get to zero?
  • Use Netlify Functions to Send Email Notifications - Generally useful tutorial, but also uses a 3rd party service called Ethereal which is an email catching service, which is a neat idea fir a service that I never knew existed - “it catches the mail requests and lets you read them, but it doesn't actually send them”
  • Distributed Persistent Rendering (DPR) - Chris Coyier writes a nice explainer piece, he points out an interesting scenario I hadn’t considered where this feature might make a lot of sense. Essentially you have a very big site and you make a change to something like a header that appears on every page, well with DPR you only re-render a page if it actually gets requested
  • Using 11ty JavaScript Data files to mix Markdown and CMS content into one collection - Cool tutorial that should give you some ideas about how you can combine multiple data sources when building your Jamstack site
  • The end of “your database” - Netlify CEO Matt Biilmann writes a piece about the modern web and how Jamstack website architectures are changing how we think about and build for the web
  • Why I Finally Chose React over Vue.js - I’ve been seeing so many articles that favour Vue recently, so it’s nice to see one rooting for React, in a nutshell it’s JSX and it’s ability to work well with both functional programming and Typescript that ultimately have led the author to his React preference
  • Deno 1.10 Release Notes - Lots of neat features including Web Storage API (localStorage and sessionStorage but on the server!), improvements to the built in test runner so it can run test suites in parallel
  • Roblox rebrands as 'experience' creation platform amid Epic Games v. Apple trial