Young Reacts #202

Too many people died in a freak accident over the weekend in Korea. May all victims rest in peace.

Software Engineering ⚙️

The Thoughtworks Technology Radar

A new edition of Thoughtworks Technology Radar is out. In this edition, I learned about yjs, a Javascript framework for creating a collaborative editor, k6, a load-testing tool, and a team cognitive load assessment questionnaire.

Fully Typed Web Apps

I don’t write Typescript as much now, but this article distills one of my key learnings: type safety at the boundary of your components is paramount.

Google’s war against latency

The article has a short excerpt from the book “In the Plex” on how Google improved its slow products. This kind of absolute priority and the buy-in from the org is unique.

People ❤️

My take on why goal cascades are harmful and what to do instead

This article changed my perspective on how I should plan team goals. I now see that a top-down only approach will be too slow, and divorced from reality, so it should be complemented with a bottom-up approach.

Business 💰

Elon Musk reportedly ordered company-wide layoffs at Twitter

Elon Musk completed his acquisition of Twitter last Thursday and did not skip a heartbeat before firing top executives and laying people off. This kind of job insecurity is stressful in the best of times, and the tech sector is currently at its worst. My heart goes to everyone at Twitter.

Today tab ad

Apple App Store’s landing page ad product is available a few months after its announcement. It looks like Apple still lets you target specific placements on its Store while Google handles the placements for you.

Interesting Finds 💡

Generative AI will upend fintech

The author asked GPT-3 to come up with fintech product ideas. I don’t know how many times the author tried, but it does read like what I would see at work.

Young Reacts #201

My wife and I both competed at our first powerlifting meet yesterday. This event was the culmination of our months-long training program. I achieved my goal of a combined total of 1000+ pounds after ten years of training. This is what I love about powerlifting: I can see a clear causal effect between my efforts and results, albeit long.

Why can’t our job be this simple?

People ❤️

How to plan?

My org just went through an extensive planning session. My big takeaway from this article is that “[p]lanning is the wrong time to introduce anything new.” When my team came up with new ideas during our planning sessions, most of those ideas turned out to be ill-defined or not impactful.

Job Search Retrospective (2022 edition)

Learning from our experiences is always beneficial, especially for something as important as a job search. I love that the author used a data-driven approach to measure the effectiveness of her sourcing channels. Also, it’s a good reminder that a few dozens of rejections are typical, even if we’ve been doing a fantastic job.

How to Recover from a Toxic Job

Our jobs can cause traumas. There is no shame in acknowledging that our jobs have hurt us and that recognition is the first step to recovering from our previous jobs.

Business 💰

Being on a Board

A startup puts an employee on its Board as a full voting member. Employees are so easily screwed over when things don’t go well because they are not at a table, and that’s one reason why I don’t want to join a startup. But with an employee board member in place, the Board may care for its employees more.

If this were written by an AI, you could steal it

In Korea, only persons and corporations can hold copyrights. So when an AI writes an article or a song, none can claim copyrights on those pieces.

XCheck at Meta: Why it exists and how it works

XCheck is a system to bypass integrity systems (reporting systems?) on Meta’s apps. It was eye-opening to learn that public figures have different user experiences than the rest of us because they are easily targeted.

Interesting Finds 💡

It’s 2021 and USB-C is still a mess

Although it is a year-old article, it gives a good overview of how two USB-C cables or chargers can and will behave differently.

Project Starline expands testing through an early access program

Project Starline is a hyper-realistic display that plans to connect people like they are in the same room. Will this or VR win? Or neither?

Young Reacts #200

The 200th issue! It is another significant milestone for me. I sent out my first letter on November 25, 2018. A lot has changed since then. I moved back to the Bay Area from Korea, switched my role from an engineer to a manager, and changed the domain from frontend engineering to backend engineering. And oh, the changes the world has gone through! The pandemic, the first war in Europe since the Second World War, more extreme climate events, global supply chain issues, and so on.

I thank all of you, my readers, for being a part of this journey. Even when I feel too tired to write the issue, my commitment to you helps me power through. For this issue, I picked the evergreen ideas from past issues I go back to from time to time. Enjoy!

Software Engineering ⚙️

Product Goal & Sprint Goals – A Simple Example

Sprints are central to my team’s day-to-day work. I learned to be better at setting sprint goals, but I still want to make them more on top of my team’s mind.

The Away Team Model at Amazon

My team just went through a reorg that added two teams to the domain my team initially owned. Figuring out how to collaborate with them is more important than ever.

Reliability Tech Tree

Our system reliability issues continue to challenge my team. When I am looking for ideas on the levers we can pull, this tech tree provides some great ideas, such as eliminating toils.

People ❤️

Stop Overcomplicating It: The Simple Guidebook to Upping Your Management Game

There are enough management ideas for me to spend all my time reading and learning and not doing. This article taught me to focus on a few key jobs. The article lists vision setting, coaching, and career conversation as the core jobs. But I would also add process management to the list.

Core Needs: BICEPS

This framework has let me understand my reports’ and my needs in a more structured way. For example, I like to see that I am a valued part of a team (Significance) and continue to improve my management craft (Improvement). When one of them is at risk, I feel stressed.

The weekly CEO e-mail

I continue to send out bi-weekly emails to my team to keep everyone informed. The suggested format in this article has been a great starting point.

Kirkpatrick Model: Four Levels of Learning Evaluation

Before learning about this model, I found it difficult to measure the effectiveness of the meetings I run. The model suggests that measuring how the participants liked is a good starting point, which has provided good enough feedback for me.

Young Reacts #199

My time melted away last week. Even Friday, which is typically light on meetings, had 6 hours of consecutive meetings. I did say that I liked annual planning, but I can’t wait to get it over with. I hope your Q4 is less busy than mine.

Software Engineering ⚙️

“Best Practice” is not a reason to do something

We, software engineers, are paid for our judgment and its results. Consider how defensible your decision will be when things go wrong.

A Guide to GraphQL Rate Limiting & Security

Even though the article focuses on GraphQL Rate Limiting, I learned a few things applicable to my team, such as assigning higher costs to mutations and limiting the number of concurrent requests.

People ❤️

Understanding The Trust Equation

This article adds two new facets of trust I haven’t considered: intimacy and self-orientation. Intimacy is “the safety or security that we feel when entrusting someone with something,” and self-orientation is whether a person primarily focuses on themself. I now see how intimacy impacts my perception of others, whether at work or in my personal life.

Building Clocks: the mindset for operational autonomy

I looked back at how I work after reading this article. I feel that I’ve been telling the time (e.g., checking metrics by myself and asking for updates through D.M.s) when I should have put processes in place.

Are M.B.A.s to Blame for Wage Stagnation?

An MIT MBA professor found that “managers with a business degree reduce their employees’ wages.” The study doesn’t answer why, but I suspect that the polarization between managers and workers of background, education, and experience has made it easier for managers to take away from the workers.

Business 💰

The creator economy: a power law

Several interesting points in this analysis of the creator economy:

  1. “Most views and eyeballs accrue to a relatively small set of professional creators.”
  2. “For creators focusing on longer-form video (e.g. Youtube, Twitch), in-platform ads are the key revenue driver, …for those focusing on feed-based platforms (Instagram, Tiktok etc.), the holy grail is direct monetisation of the audience – via affiliate marketing, premium subscriptions, paid content, and merchandise.”

Interesting Finds 💡

How K-Pop Apps Create the Illusion of Private Messaging with Celebrities

As a casual K-Pop fan, I got upset about the K-Pop industry’s blatant tactics to milk dedicated fans, like guilt-tripping fans for ending their subscriptions.

Measuring McCities: Landscapes of Chain and Independent Restaurants in the United States

Interactive Data Dashboard for Chain Restaurants

This visualization shows how many restaurants in your area are independent vs. chains.

Young Reacts #198

One of Square’s organizing principles is that the organization needs to fit the work, not the other way around. This means we will always reorg around this time when we do our roadmaps for the following year. Just as it happened almost a year ago, another reorg occurred last week. My team wasn’t impacted, but I now have two new sibling teams with which we need to collaborate closely. It is a bit disorienting, but I will make the most of it for both the business and me.

Software Engineering ⚙️

Ten Years of TypeScript

It’s been ten years since Typescript was first publicly released. Its approach to simply being a type checker has worked out and made it the default typed language to write JavaScript.

Introducing Ezno

In contrast with TypeScript’s minimalist approach, this new project takes the maximalist one. It will not only check your types but also optimize runtime code based on the type information.

Use Back-Of-The-Envelope-Calculations To Choose The Best Design

This technique would significantly improve my design reviews. I often do rough calculations to estimate the workload, such as how long a specific data operation will take. But I haven’t done those calculations for particular operations in a proposed design, which should be useful at our current scale.

People ❤️

Models: The Lippitt-Knoster Model for Managing Complex Change

This model lists the necessities to drive a change: vision, consensus/alignment, skills, incentives, resources, and an action plan. This checklist helped me check if my team is set up for success in 2023. My team had a vision, alignment, skills, and incentives but needed more resources (which we got from the reorg mentioned above) and still lacks a clear action plan.

The Coach and the Fixer

The sentence that stuck with me was that the author “was afraid of hurting my relationship with the team.” I still struggle with this. I believe candid feedback will strengthen the relationship in the long term, but I still am hesitant to hurt my team’s short-term feelings.

The Hierarchy Is Bullshit (And Bad For Business)

Managers should actively strive to distribute authority because the status quo is that their teams will choose to stay silent. It’s easy (and sometimes convenient) to forget that.

Business 💰

Mark Zuckerberg says Meta will freeze hiring and cut costs

More signs of trouble at Meta. Meta will not backfill some roles when there is attrition.

With Audiobooks Launching in the U.S. Today, Spotify Is the Home for All the Audio You Love

Spotify launches audiobooks but only for purchases. However, unlike music or podcasts, you can’t stream any audiobooks you want.

Young Reacts #197

I came back from a 3-day team offsite in Atlanta. It was my first time meeting my team and also my first time planning an offsite. I was busy and stressed out finding activities and booking restaurants, but I enjoyed shaking hands, sharing bread, and laughing with my team. I also appreciated my team members leaning into uncomfortable situations such as the improv workshop and in-person 1:1s. Once I recover from the trip, I will share how I planned this offsite.

We graffitied our team logo at Krog Street Tunnel together as a team.

Software Engineering ⚙️

Strategy: Change The Problem

My team is running into severe performance problems for the larger customers. It is tricky because we support database operations that can change the entire state of their accounts while guaranteeing consistency and keeping the complete history of their accounts. At times, it feels like a no-win scenario. Instead of continuing to upgrade our machines, should we relax some constraints?

Slack releases platform open beta powered by Deno

Another win for Deno. Deno’s big selling point has been its permission model (closed by default, unlike Node.js), and Slack calls that out as a reason it partnered with Deno.

People ❤️

Is your boss telling you the truth?

This article makes certain assumptions (1~3) to get to the conclusion (4):

  1. While a manager is responsible for the team-level result, their reports are for individual results.
  2. What’s best for the team and what’s best for individual reports are not the same.
  3. More information incentivizes the individual reports to pursue what’s best for them.
  4. Therefore, a capable manager will choose to tell the partial truth.

If I accept the assumptions, the conclusion sounds logical. But I suspect that 2. and 3. may not always be true (early-stage startups, for example).


My habits drive how I show up during discussions. I find it difficult to actively engage in a prolonged conversation while avoiding my go-to’s, such as “I can help with X.” So I am habituating some cues such as “I want you to lead X.” This 4-min video has other short sentences worth habituating. I liked these: “Can I interrupt for a moment…?” “How would it be for you…?” and “I would prefer to do X because I have a need for Y.”

Business 💰

What China, Marvel, and Avatar Tell Us About the Future of Blockbuster Franchises

I remember the Korean film industry fighting for domestic screen quotas in the late 90s and early 2000s. Twenty years later, the industry has grown to the point that Parasite and Squid Game are winning the top awards. More industry centers worldwide will replicate the same successes and beyond, shrinking the American share.

Interesting Finds 💡

“If you don’t make it beautiful, it’s for sure doomed”: putting the Vault in GitHub’s Arctic Code Vault

GitHub put a snapshot of every public code, Wikipedia, and Stack Overflow into a literal steel vault under an artic mountain. Reading this made me wonder what part of my work will survive 10, 100, or 1000 years. Also, do I care about that?

The Blackpink Fans Looking to Outfox YouTube

Blackpink fans run experiments to understand YouTube algorithms and maximize the view counts of their stars’ music videos.

Young Reacts #196

My organization published its priorities for the next year, of which my team’s initiative sits at the top. I find it very exciting. To show impact, we not only need to do good work but also at the right spot. I happen to find myself in such a spot and want to prove to myself that I can deliver.

Software Engineering ⚙️

Reliability Tech Tree

This tech tree shows a journey from one-nine (90%) availability to five-nines (99.999%) with different techniques to move to the next level. I already found helpful concepts such as Eliminating Toil.

Use One Big Server

The author argues vertical scaling with larger machines often provides better cost and performance than horizontal scaling with more machines. I’ve never considered this tradeoff.

People ❤️

Comparison and Self Judgment

It’s so easy to compare myself to others. Sometimes, it hurts my ego because some seem to do better than I; they make more money, have more significant titles, or enjoy industry-wide fame. When that hurts my ego, I compared myself to those worse off to feel better. But I am learning to stop doing that as we are all on different journeys.

Coordination Headwind

This deck explores why complex work moves so slowly. Uncertain rewards and costs and competing priorities make coordination much more challenging. In addition, possible interpersonal conflicts add more risks to completing the work. To solve that, the author recommends more time; 1-1s, team events, strategy summits, etc.

Shopify Lets Staff Decide Cash-Stock Pay Mix as Shares Dive

I always thought the fixed ratio of salary and stock did not make much sense. People with different risk profiles were pushed out. I benefitted from a similar policy at Netflix and wish more companies get on board.

Business 💰

Bill Gurley on Surviving Downturns

Bill Gurley was an early investor in Uber who was also instrumental in ousting Uber founder Travis Kalanick from Uber. He talks about how the current tech downturn came about and how the venture capital landscape is changing.

Interesting Finds 💡

US government reveals big changes to open-access policy

Biden administration is pushing for all federally funded research to be made available to the public immediately after it is published. The publishers currently use their market power to get paid by both scholars and research institutions, which I find distasteful. I hope this policy brings an end to their monopoly.

Young Reacts #195

I felt stretched this week. Labor Day compressed my meetings into four days, and I ended up having 6-7 hours of back-to-back meetings. I was dreading it the Monday night, and I wasn’t wrong. This kind of week is when I feel the pressure to do extra work after hours to prepare better feedback for my reports, follow up from the meetings better, and read one more memo. But it will worsen for the next two months as we plan for 2023. I am not looking forward to it.

“a clock melting away” – Generated by Midjourney

Software Engineering ⚙️

Improving Meta’s SLO workflows with data annotations

My team’s dashboard has autogenerated annotations, such as when an alert is triggered or when a new deployment goes out. But we cannot annotate our dashboard manually, so we resort to taking screenshots during our oncall handoff. Being able to annotate with some metadata sounds incredibly useful.

Introducing Signals

Signals is yet another Javascript state management solution. But I quite like this solution from Preact. Their insight that “an application’s state graph is generally much shallower than its component tree” lets the app skip rerendering intermediate components.

People ❤️

California Legislature Passes Bill That Would Break New Ground on Pay Transparency Requirements

There are many impactful changes for pay transparency, but the key clause is: “An employer with 15 or more employees shall include the pay scale for a position in any job posting.” When Colorado passed a similar law, tech employers excluded Colorado residents from job postings. But they won’t be able to bypass California.

Six Things We Get Wrong About Empathy

Of the six, two stood out for me:

  1. Empathy is not one thing but three: “vicariously “catching” their feelings (emotional empathy), thinking about their experiences (cognitive empathy), and wanting them to feel better (empathic concern).
  2. Empathy is not always good; caring professionals, such as nurses, social workers, physicians, and teachers, often burn out after being inundated with others’ pain.

Business 💰

Finally, some details on Netflix’s ad-supported offering — but buyers are stunned at what they’re hearing

Netflix will launch the ad-supported tier on November 1. I am looking forward to seeing how it will pan out.

Vermont Regulators Didn’t Use the Word, but I Will: Celsius Was a Ponzi

Celcius, which promised a high yield of up to 18.6%, was paying some of those yields with the assets of new investors. It’s the definition of the Ponzi scheme, and it doesn’t surprise me at all.

Interesting Finds 💡

Integrating Stable Diffusion in Photoshop for human/AI collaboration

This video shows how Stable Diffusion could be integrated into an illustrator’s workflow.

Young Reacts #194

The climate crisis has hit me hard at home this weekend. There is a record-setting heatwave in California and a record-setting typhoon in Korea. It’s challenging to stay optimistic about the future outlook on days like this. Wherever you are reading this from, I hope you are safe.

Generated using Stability AI’s stable diffusion model

Software Engineering ⚙️

Big Changes Ahead for Deno

Deno plans to support 80-90% of Node modules, which makes sense for its ecosystem given that there are only about 4,600 Deno modules while there are more than a million Node modules. I am eager to learn how Deno implements Node compatibility when the support comes out in the coming months.

The Writing Engineer

[I]n their first few years on the job, engineers spend roughly 30% of their workday writing, while engineers in middle management write for 50% to 70% of their day; those in senior management reportedly spend over 70% and as much as 95% of their day writing.

People ❤️

How to Be an Inspiring Leader

Our performance is context-specific. Just as a pro athlete’s career can change dramatically after moving a team, we need to find an environment where we can thrive. Finding the right environment is especially crucial for a leader whose style needs to match their organization’s needs.

Kiwi Farms is Down After Cloudflare Boots The Site As a Customer

Kiwi Farms is an online forum where its users dox and harass trans people and women. Cloudflare used to provide the security service to protect the forum from cyberattacks. A week ago, Cloudflare initially resisted the pressure campaign to stop providing its service, saying its security service is a utility. But they now have switched their position.

I bet it wasn’t an easy decision for Cloudflare. But inaction is action. When we choose not to act when we see injustice, we become complicit. We must have our moral compass and courage to follow it.

Business 💰

Shopify warns merchants against using Amazon’s ‘Buy With Prime’ service

When the pie is growing, it’s easy to be gracious with your competition. Given that Shopify recently laid off 10% due to the slow eCommerce growth, Shopify’s reaction here is not surprising.

How Apple pushed its ad-vantage

Apple supposedly rolled out the App Tracking Transparency program to protect its customers’ privacy. And it now pushes for its closed ecosystem ads. That is after Apple asked for a revenue-share program from Meta. It disappoints me that their privacy talk was just a marketing gimmick.

Netflix Eyes $7-to-$9 Price for Its New Ad-Supported Plan

It’s surprising that the ad-supported plan will still require a subscription payment. I suppose having a card on file makes upsells easier, even though it makes sign-ups harder.

Snap is canceling several projects and laying off 20 percent of employees

Another bad day in the tech world.

Interesting Finds 💡

How to Disable Ad ID Tracking on iOS and Android, and Why You Should Do It Now

Disabling ad IDs will make it much harder for advertisers to track your online activities across different services.

Young Reacts #193

Have you seen a shooting star before? I went on a trip and saw two shooting stars over the weekend. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make my wish in time. That made me realize this: it’s impossible to think of a wish in the blink of an eye unless you are constantly thinking about the wish. If you are already obsessed with the wish, you are already much closer to realizing it than you would be. So a shooting star is a test, not a wish maker.

My phone camera sadly couldn’t do justice to what I saw.

Software Engineering ⚙️

Gardening Platforms

This lengthy presentation is about adding compounding investments to the platform by aligning the ecosystem to the north star and reacting timely to the demands. I liked the visualization of how to rationalize a platform gradually (from slide #123 to #141) and the pull and push analogy between a platform and its customer (from #94 to #112).

Deprecation Notice: GraphQL for Packages

This notice surprised me. The value of GraphQL API is connectedness. When an API loses a core primitive, the value doesn’t decrease from n to n-1; it instead goes from n*n to (n-1)*(n-1). Is it signaling a shift away from GraphQL at Github?

People ❤️

The state of startup compensation, H1 2022

This report from Carta is a bit dated. But it still has good information on how location, company stage, and other factors affect an employee’s compensation.

Don’t Focus on Your Job at the Expense of Your Career

The article applies to me not just as an employee but also as a manager. How can I provide the time for my reports to do speculative or developmental activities? Better yet, how can I build that into the team’s standard work process?

Business 💰

The AI Art Apocalypse

I am not sure if you noticed, but I updated the logo for this newsletter with an image I created with DALL-E 2. The tool was sometimes frustrating, but I got what I wanted within 30 min. So when the author worries about the livelihood of some designers, I can understand that.

Interesting Finds 💡

Hackers Used Deepfake of Binance CCO to Perform Exchange Listing Scams

I suspect that the hackers chose to fake the Chief Communication Officer since they would be the most publicly visible, thus making deepfake most effortless. But as AI advances, it would be possible to use just a single image to fake a person. I worry that we won’t be able to trust a phone call from our spouses in the near future.

Mobile Usability for Cats: Essential Design Principles for Felines

This article is clearly an April Fool’s Day joke, but I had a good laugh while reading it. And you’d be surprised what some researchers are studying: Forming the Dog Internet.