I just got back from the final Strange Loop conference in St. Louis. I had a great time; it’s so inspiring to see all the different directions we can take technology and how playful it can be. Randall Munroe’s closing keynote really wrapped the conference up in positive vibes with a reminder that people are learning new things every day, and it’s up to all of us to lift each other up as we learn rather than ear each other down because of our own insecurities. It was great to hear that message from Randall himself (and to get to tell him how much I appreciated the message at his book signing)!
strangeloop: it's a wrap
Last week, I attended Strange Loop 2022 in St. Louis. I’ve been wanting to go to this conference for quite some time, as many friends, mentors, and others, have sung its praises. Apparently, 2023 will be the final year of the conference, so I’m glad I was able to make it this year!
- This week, I worked on my (work) goals for the next half of the year. Yes, I realize it’s the end of July already, but things are hard. In some ways, it’s a bit easier to write goals for my current role than in previous IC roles, as I can more closely tie them to business needs. In other ways, it’s challenging because the goals are a bit more daunting and nebulous.
- I stumbled across Anti-Patterns for Influencing as an Individual Contributor this week and the reminder not to rush to solve a problem really resonated with me. Sometimes I feel like as soon as I hear about a problem, it needs to be addressed immediately, but that’s not always the case.
- We’ve kicked off an internal Engineering Design Review process and I’m figuring out ways to increase visibility and encourage participation… I wonder if there is some magic solution out there to solve organizational discovery issues that I’m missing.
- I’m becoming a bit more embedded in a (cross-functional) team, which feels really good. I really value having folks to bounce ideas off of, and I’ve been lone wolf-ing it for a little bit too much this summer. Looking forward to an autumn full of collaboration. 🍂
- I attended a workshop on “Influencing without Authority” by Lara Hogan this week and it was amazing. So many great insights and strategies. It really helped bring focus to some initiatives I’ve been noodling on…
- I have reached the point in summer where I’m stuck in an endless loop of listening to trashy pop – on repeat. Help!
- Last week, I attended our company-wide (virtual) summit, and I gave two lightning talks. I feel like I’m getting slightly better at preparing for and delivering talks – the strategy of writing out a script (and timing it) before creating slides has really helped.
- A colleague shared the concept of Amazon’s “working backwards” document with me this week and I’m really digging the approach. I really like how it formalizes the approach to start with goals and the problem you’re solving.
- I missed a week of week notes. So does that mean it’s week 7, or week 8? Does week 7 just disappear into the abyss?
- A project I spent a good amount of time working on over the past year or so “launched” last week. I use “launched” in quotes since it was more of an announcement that folks can sign up for early access while the team continues to build out the remaining features. Nevertheless, it was exciting to see it launch and see how excited customers were for the feature.
- Also, this week, GitHub Copilot was announced and I’m so excited! I’ve been using it for a couple months now and it is amazing. It’s going to make writing typescript so much less intimidating. 😅
- My increment print edition bundle arrived this week, and I’m so excited to read through all the content! The design of the print edition is fantastic and is really encouraging me to actually read, rather than just letting it collect dust on a shelf. I also got a shipment of more traditional books – going to be reading some Martin Fowler.
- I helped a friend get a personal page up this week, using Hugo and GitHub Pages. I thought it was going to be just as simple as this Jekyll site, but there was a bit more setup required. A good reminder to always RTFM…
- This seems like a really great resource for thinking about how to create actually helpful documentation. I really like the distinction between tutorials and how-tos. (And, it makes me feel less guilty about always craving / looking for the tutorials 😅).
- I’ve been doing some reading / learning about service mesh architecture which has been interesting…
- This intro to Kafka, illustrated with otters, is one of the best things I have seen in a while. 🦦😻✨
- I played around with turbo this week and am kind of excited about some of the opportunities it opens up!
- I got to do some prototyping this week, and found that using Codespaces made it super easy to test out a webhook I was building. I was able to receive a webhook in my test app by just exposing the URL as a public port. 🤯 Why bother with a code review or deployment or ngrok to test out an approach when you can just use a Codespace.
- I had some interesting conversations this week about my role and some of the challenges we face as a large engineering organization. I am trying to lean into the unknown unknowns and am on quite the learning journey.
- As things are opening up and I’m reconnecting with friends and favorite establishments, I’m finding that I look forward to the evenings I’ve chosen to stay at home. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise.
- This past weekend, I was part of a video shoot for an upcoming product demo. I found watching the first cut to be really challenging – it’s hard not to be super self-critical.
- My only experience in the restaurant industry was at Crook’s Corner, in Chapel Hill, as a hostess. This week, they closed their doors. I am incredibly disappointed. I learned so much there, about food, and Chapel Hill history, and countless skills. (Being a hostess is really hard.) I’m sad I didn’t get to go before they closed and enjoy the food and environment one last time. And devastated for the staff.
- This paper from Google on silent computational failures caused by mercurial cores is fascinating. Sort of reminiscent of the Bit Flip but a bit scarier!
- Nelson Elhage’s Llama project for distributed cloud builds is interesting. I think he makes some compelling arguments, but I’m not sure that the arguments would be strong enough to convince hobbyists / open source maintainers to move their builds to the cloud. Excited to keep watching this space.
- @seejohnrun shared with me this great read about how not properly handling a
forkfailure can result in accidentally killing all processes. 😮
- I had a dream last night that involved explaining the difference between
git pull --rebasewhich might be a sign I need to spend less time thinking about work…
- A couple weeks ago, I installed the Tabby Cat Chrome extension. Every couple days, you get some new “goodies” that you can accessorize your animal with. I am embarrassed at how happy it makes me to see a cute bunny every time I open a new tab. Thanks to Denise for the recommendation! 🐰
- My yearly review is due on Monday, so I’ve been doing lots of reflection. Our review template asks us to cover “results” and “behaviors that led to the results” in separate sections, but my brain wants to summarize those together. It’s also a good reminder to measure everything. 😉
- I finally set up a custom domain for this site. Whew, it’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with DNS. 😅 GitHub pages made it really easy, though.
- I’ve been doing some reading on IPFS this week. Interesting stuff…
- I learned a little bit about supply chain security this week for open source. Fascinating stuff. The new SLSA Framework from Google is a really interesting project and I found this deep dive on Helm to be somewhat mind boggling.
- I also enjoyed this juicy read about a group at University of Minnesota getting banned from contributing to the Linux kernel. I think I’m siding with the maintainers on this one.
- This read about productivity hacking was interesting. I definitely have discussed “passion-mode” and “coast-mode” with managers before and see a lot of value in the concept. Nice to have a name to put to the idea.
- This week, I organized a number of pairing sessions to help get more engineers involved in some performance work – I paired interested folks up with some engineers with a bit more experience in the space and each pairing session resulted in a PR and great feedback from the attendees. Now I’m noodling on a lightning talk about the various barriers that pairing can break down…
- My colleague and friend, Lere, inspired me to start writing weeknotes. I want to spend more time reflecting on what I’ve learned and help shift my mindset to focus on the bigger picture.
- I’m giving a presentation on “highly impactful code review” on Monday and have been spending the week preparing. A trusted mentor helped me better articulate the “why” and vision of the presentation. Learning: I’m great at communicating the tactical “how” behind a process, but the strategic “why” needs some… work. Rubber ducking isn’t good just for coding, but for presentations, too!
- I enjoyed reading about two very different approaches to scaling video transcoding last week. Netflix’s “more synchronous workflows” approach is much different take from YouTube’s “build a custom chip”. So cool to see similar(-ish) problems being solved in such different ways.
- Related to video transcoding, the video upload project I worked on at the end of 2020 has finally shipped and is generally available on GitHub. Happy to see it over the finish line!