Young Reacts #50

This issue is the 50th of my newsletter. The first issue was published on November 25, 2018, so today marks a nice full circle. I am grateful for all of my kind readers who still have the patience to open and read through the letters. Especially I want to thank those of you, including my wife Eunyoung, for your kind encouragement and necessary feedback. Looking forward to another 50!

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People ❤️

Privilege and inequality in Silicon Valley – Ricky Yean

I was just thinking about how privilege is everywhere (even in speaking English). Entrepreneurship is no exception. If you can’t afford to fail, you will choose not to fail.

Software Engineering 🌐

Technology Radar – Thoughtworks

This link has a survey of the technology landscape. It covers both Web and Server development which allows a UI engineer like me to reevaluate my learning investment. I found this piece, Front-end integration via artifact, most useful.

Exploratory Testing – Martin Fowler

After reading Continuous Delivery, I have religiously automated all manual tests and wrongfully chosen not to do any manual tests. I, as a result, released a fair bit of bugs to production. My colleague showed me how stable software could be with proper manual testing, which led me to read the linked article.

DataLoader v2.0 – Lee Byron

DataLoader is at the heart of GraphQL APIs. Lee Byron, the creator of the GraphQL, goes into the history and the architecture of the new DataLoader.

Business 💸

About the Apple Card – Jamie Heinemeier Hansson

“It’s just the algorithm” cannot be an excuse. Her writing makes me worry about the general inexplicability of modern-day production algorithms. Worse yet, some customer service departments may find that plausible deniability useful.

Internet disrupted in Iran amid fuel protests in multiple cities – NetBlocks

Not sure about others, I for sure take the internet for granted. Whenever I read something like this, I awake and marvel that it is working at all for most people most time.

Why More Stars Are Joining Video Games – The Hollywood Reporter

Triple-A games focused on storytelling provide deeper immersion than typical blockbuster movies. I see one day, interactive films and the storytelling games will blur into one.

What is DAI, and how does it work?

My social feed started mentioning DAI, a stablecoin, and its maker MakerDAO, so I had to look them up. Someone started living entirely off of DAI and some other coins.

Young Reacts #49 – How to think about software regulations

When media or politicians discussed regulating the software industry, I feared that the regulation would close the door to newcomers. Opening the doors to more startups and people should make “disruptions” less painful and more beneficial to our society. This belief made me against most regulatory approaches.

But I heard an analogy of the architecture design of a building vs. the actual building that changed my mind. An architect student is free to come up with a plan and learn from it, but the construction of the design that could affect people’s lives should be regulated. We can apply the same thinking to code vs. running service. This analogy will be my frame of thinking going forward.

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People ❤️

Informal Communication

If your team works remotely, you need to put more effort into building the relationship. Gitlab uses video chats to organize social events to connect its people.

CodeOwnership

Do you let people outside your team commit to your codebase? I have heard and seen that different approaches at different companies: from collective code ownership of Facebook to strong code ownership at my previous employers. Most likely, the procedures are more organic than chosen consciously. Food for thought.

Software Engineering 🌐

Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor

If anything, I like the sound of “quantum supremacy.” It is something out of a sci-fi. Seriously, though, quantum supremacy is an idea that there is a set of problems cheap for quantum computers, but prohibitively expensive for classical computers. Cracking modern cryptography could be one such problem. The linked blog post about Google’s achievement is human-readable, so check it out!

When to useMemo and useCallback

One useful reminder that premature optimization could be more expensive than a naive approach.

Apollo GraphQL: Local state management

This article is rather long and not too approachable. But it helped me understand the Apollo Client’s behavior more deeply. I recommend it to the experienced GraphQL users.

Business 💸

“…and we’d like to allow users to message each other”

Since there are so many chat apps, your product manager wants to add the feature to your app as well. You may think it’s just another WebSocket feature and say yes. And you will spend days and nights solving group chat moderation and abuse monitoring. I know. I have been there. Think through the feature and understand possible implications beforehand.

An insider look at the serious business of esports training

The profile of a Southeast Asian progamer, which I found fascinating.

Young Reacts #48

As I gain more years of experience, I keep wondering about a couple of things. First, where do I go from here? Second, where will I be when I retire? Per the first question, these two articles (here, and here) provide a good roadmap. Per the second, I am not so sure. But I was glad to find out about Python creator’s retirement last week. I hear a lot about up-and-coming young engineers, but not about older engineers. Some part of me was relieved that at least some engineers successfully retire.

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People ❤️

Managing your manager

We all share the responsibilities with our managers to get the resources and deliver. It is about trust and transparency. Help your managers and, by doing so, help yourself.

Do we have to love our work?

Work-life balance is for all of us to think about. We, as individuals, need to find the right balance for ourselves. I like my line-of-work, and I want to do it well. I happen to like my employer, as well. But I won’t sacrifice my evenings or weekends for it.

Software Engineering 🌐

Building Great User Experiences with Concurrent Mode and Suspense [in React]

I had a hard time understanding this article since I haven’t had to think about performance deeply. This article is essentially about creating resource hints for data and code, a step forward from HTML’s resource hints. I hope the instrumentation be rather straightforward; otherwise, I fear I won’t care enough.

Minimum Viable Product vs. Minimum Delightful Product

The idea isn’t new. If our product is not delightful and, thus, not viable in the market, we should strive to be delightful enough. However, I do think it is useful to have a different vocabulary to emphasize the point.

Business 💸

AlphaStar: Grandmaster level in StarCraft II using multi-agent reinforcement learning

AlphaGo beat Lee Sedol less than four years ago. When DeepMind announced that they would go after Starcraft II, I wondered how long it would take to create an AI capable of beating top human players under the similar interface constraints. DeepMind achieved that a little over three and a half years. This is a fantastic feat, considering the enormous problem space, and imperfect information.

NPM: Add fund subcommand and GitHub Sponsors is now out of beta in 30 countries

Open source funding is still an ongoing issue for which key infrastructure players are trying to come up with solutions. I hope they work at scale, but I am also pessimistic about human nature.

Young Reacts #47: GraphQL Summit and more

I was fortunate to go to the GraphQL Summit in San Francisco. It has been a while since I went to a conference. And it was good to be in that immersive environment (though I wasn’t able to make a meaningful connection). The talks helped me organize the fragmented GraphQL knowledge in my head. To remember and share what I learned, I wrote a review of the Summit here. I am going to QCon next week, which I very much look forward to as well.


People ❤️

Make Great Decisions Quickly with TOMASP

I wholeheartedly agree that a great decision is not an outcome, but a process. I don’t think the acronym works, but still, there are some excellent questions to ask when making a hard, irreversible decision: by when should I make the decision? What are my options? How should I make the decision? How will it look like ten months from now?

Software Engineering 🌐

Previewing the Apollo Client 3 Cache

When I was asked if I would choose Redux again for a new project after my Redux talk, I said I would use GraphQL. GraphQL clients solve Redux’s complexities, such as normalization, cache persistence, and complex scaffolding, out of the box. Apollo Client especially made my life easy. I am looking forward to the coming performance optimization in this release.

Should I pick DigitalOcean or AWS for my next project?

I never considered any other smaller public clouds in my previous projects. So I was surprised when Corey Quinn, whose newsletter and consulting work is solely about AWS, recommended DigitalOcean for simpler, smaller scenarios.

@testing-library/react-hooks-testing-library

I love React hooks, especially compared to the alternatives like high-order components, or class components. The type system makes so much more sense. I was only unhappy that the hooks were not that testable, but this library I found out this week helped me a lot.

Business 💸

Grubhub Shareholder Letter

In my 1:1 with my director, he told me that the leaders ought to create clarity. I thought this letter was a prime example; it explains Grubhub’s position and strategy in an unambiguous term.

The Batch, Oct 30, 2019 Issue

I loved this issue of Andrew Ng’s newsletter very much. It overviews the significant issues AI practitioners face: the possibilities of Rogue AI, Public Trust Erosion, Surveillance, Bias in AI, Job Safety, and AI Winter.

Young Reacts #46

It was a stressful week for me. I ended up having 6 out of 9 scheduled chats, with both hits and misses. While I learned quite a bit and met some interesting people I would like to keep in touch going forward, I felt burned out by the end of the week. Devoting this much time hampered both my work and personal life. I will probably allocate less time and be more selective in accepting 1:1s in the coming month.

Anyhows, this week covers quite a few topics on infrastructure. I hope you enjoy them! I am going to get some more rest…

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People ❤️

On Messing Up Your Remote Team—And Then Getting It Right

Remote workers at the nascent stage did not work out despite the commitment from the founding team to build a remote team. After setting up a needed structure for clear direction and communication, they were able to perform at a high level.

Daily Stand-up Injection of Guilt

The author’s assumption of general mediocrity and complacency is not my cup of tea. I also believe some form of pushing information (or status meetings) can lead to serendipitous findings. But I do agree that employees should be educated on what’s expected of them and how their work impacts the business. (See open-book management)

Software Engineering 🌐

Deploy on Fridays, or Don’t.

I pushed to achieve Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment wherever I worked. Continuously deploying is not always the best course action, and you need to make a risk/reward tradeoff. How likely will this change cause failures? How impactful will the failures be? If the deployment at the given moment is not worthwhile, there is no shame in waiting for the right time.

The State of Serverless, circa 2019

Serverless and JAM stack are gaining significant steam thanks to their “no-code” architecture. They may not be appropriate for large tech companies, but they provide easy wins to the resource-constrained.

DevOps: Now and to the Future

A slide deck on a comprehensive overview of the DevOps movement with more in-depth readings.

Confluent Schema Registry for Kafka

I never thought of this, but I can see that the number of schemata keeps increasing over time in the event-driven architecture, which could make maintenance a nightmare. Schema Registry is a solution where you can store the schemata and load them to parse a JSON per the stored schema dynamically.

Business 💸

GitLab reset –hard bad1dea: Biz U-turns, unbans office political chat, will vet customers

One memorable quote that I wholeheartedly agree with: “Deciding not to turn down customers on “moral/value” grounds is still a “moral/value” choice.

Young Reacts #45

This week, I have 7 1:1s with strangers to talk about their careers and mine. I feel fortunate to have these opportunities to give and learn. Hopefully, some will evolve into long-term, mutually-beneficial relationships.

person holding piece of paper with phone a friend written text

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People ❤️

Thriving on the Technical Leadership Path

I read quite a bit about and now have my own opinion of how to what makes a senior engineer. This article goes beyond and describes the next steps a senior engineer could follow.

Software Engineering 🌐

A product manager’s​ perspective on technical debt

You can think of tech debt as how you think of financial debt. Just as you would sometimes finance your investment via bank loans, you can pay for your product bets using the tech debt. It’s apt that the VP of Product at Capital One write this article.

dunglas/vulcain

A very cool project to leverage HTTP 2 features (multiplexing and server-push) to solve many problems GraphQL aims to solve: over/under fetching, and the n+1 problem. The project also reuses HTTP caching, which GraphQL can only use with predefined queries.

Pick your poison

Whatever architecture choices you make, GraphQL or REST, or Javascript or Typescript, remember that you will face unique challenges specific to you and your team.

Business 💸

The rise of the global first startup

I got two things that changed my thinking on remote work. First, Silicon Valley may have the best engineering talents, but the good ones are everywhere. Second, remote work is getting more accessible, thanks to the new tools. I hope to work in a completely remote environment to get better at remote work in the next few years.

State of Play: Six Trends Revolutionizing Games

I always thought games are the worst kind of software to develop due to a marketing-driven, fixed deadline, and the inability to verify ideas. But contemporary games work more like SaaS products, which could remove some of the pressure.

freeCodeCamp/chapter

Meetup users came out hard against the service’s plan to charge them, which was expected. But I am still surprised that the disgruntled users are now building open-source alternatives. This series of events shows how easy and cheap it is to start new services.