Young React #81 – Being Responsible For Other Lives

My wife and I decided to foster two kittens for the next five weeks. We didn’t make the decision lightly. But as we drove home with the kittens, it dawned on me that this would be the first time I am responsible for other lives.

Since fostering is short, it is not the same as adopting pets, or, much less, having kids. Nonetheless, I feel the pressure and responsibility. I have to feed them regularly, give them medications, and socialize them so that they will find a caring permanent home. To fulfill their needs, I had to adjust some of my routines and tolerate getting disturbed while working.

After a few days, I realize I never fully understood what working parents struggle with: new priorities, daily distractions, and energy drain. I knew it with my head but never felt it myself. This is another reminder that genuine empathy is hard without actually experiencing something similar.

Meet Jelly and Boba 🐈❤️


Software Engineering 🌐

Announcing TypeScript 4.0 Beta – Daniel Rosenwasser

Even though the major version changed from 3 to 4, there are no significant breaking changes. There are additions to type systems like variadic tuple types and labeled tuple elements, and developer experience improvements. I especially look forward to partial editing mode since my project already takes too long to start up.

Variadic tuple types – Anders Hejlsberg

If you were intimidated by the term “variadic tuple types,” I was, too. This PR to Typescript goes deep into what variadic tuple types are, and how it will work in Typescript. In short,

A variadic element is a spread element of the form …T, where T is a generic type constrained to any array or tuple type (specifically, any type that is assignable to readonly any[]).

People ❤

Written communication is remote work super power – Snir David

We need to consider several factors when we think about asynchronous communication: first, the purpose: are we transferring knowledge or creating new? Second, the scope: are we communicating within or without our team? Third, the feasibility: can our team meet synchronously? Depending on the answers, synchronous communication will be preferable. But I agree with the article that we need to choose asynchronous communication more than we currently do.

Reflections on Being a Female Founder – Tracy Young

Before joining Netflix, I had an offer from PlanGrid, the company she founded. So I watched her TechCrunch interview from 2015, in which she disappointed with her lack of gender sensitivity. I love that she courageously, and publicly admits her faults, and shares her learnings.

Business 💸

The Global AI Talent Tracker – MacroPolo

A quantitative argument for allowing more mobility across borders with a beautiful visualization. More relevant now than ever, in the light of the US ban on working visas.

I just hit $100,000/yr on GitHub Sponsors 🎉 – Caleb Porzio

This article is a cool story of how a freelancing developer grew his Github Sponsorship. Most of the sponsorship came from private videos, which means his value proposition was more similar to a paid newsletter or a paid podcast than Patreon.

Good Questions, Real Answers: How Does Facebook Use Machine Learning to Deliver Ads? – Facebook

A short but helpful article on how Facebook’s programmatic ad bidding works.


Young React #80 – What is a “Frontend Developer”?

After 3.5 months of stay-in-place, it’s amazing what a slight change in routine can do for my mood. My wife and I started going out for a picnic every weekend, and I feel most invigorated after the picnic. We also booked a one-week trip to a local Airbnb, just so that we get a change in scenery.

The biggest benefit of remote work is how we can experiment with our time and place. None of us chose to work remotely, but we can still try to make most of it. I hope all of us try something new!

Our picnic snack! (Rice cakes, homemade smoothie, and some leftover fries)


Software Engineering 🌐

🌟 When frontend means full stack – Chris Coyier

Chris Coyier goes into different challenges we UI developers face.

Even though we all technically fall within the same big-tent title, many frontend developers wind up specializing.

Throughout my frontend career, I’ve enjoyed figuring out the data and business logic more than perfecting the beautiful user interactions, or building design systems. So I work on internal tools, and this is the specialization I am happy with.

Type-Safe Error Handling In TypeScript – Giorgio Delgado

Typescript code with many exceptions loses type-safety, especially with multiple layers with their failure states (network error, parsing error, business logic error, etc.). Other languages have “throw” annotations to guarantee safety but not Typescript.

Returning an error, rather than throwing an error is a type-safe solution for this problem. A similar technique can be used on GraphQL to provide typesafe errors.

tota11y: an accessibility visualization toolkit – Khan Academy

I find it hard to improve an app when I don’t see how my users use the app. This barrier exists in all forms: different browsers, slower network, smaller screen size, and, most importantly, assistive technologies. total11y helps me see what’s lacking in my app with a button click.

Picking Your Tech Stack For Dummies (and the future) – Stay Sassy

As a startup, your job is to innovate on one thing and one thing only. Otherwise, you are stretching yourself too thin.

People ❤

5 Engineering Manager Archetypes – Pat Kua

Pat Kua’s article is similar to Chris Coyier’s article above in that it unwraps the meaning of the title “engineering manager.” Just as we distinguish design-focused UI engineers and data-focused UI engineers, Pat Kua differentiates engineering managers with different focuses on tech, team, process, or product. Although all posted job titles sound the same, we need to find the match between what the rolerequires and what each of us enjoys.

Why we can’t stop fighting about cancel culture – Vox

To cancel someone (usually a celebrity or other well-known figure) means to stop giving support to that person. –Merriam-Webster

I hear the term “cancel culture” around but didn’t quite get it, so I read more about it. In essence, social media gives voices to the ignored and holds our establishments and leaders to the higher standard.

Business 💸

Apple doubles down on its right to profit from other businesses – Techcrunch

Despite WWDC 2020 starting this week, Apple and its Appstore policy are embroiled in the controversy with Hey, a Basecamp’s email client. Apple’s seemingly arbitrary and opaque bureaucracy has been a burden on the iOS developers for a long time. I doubt that, given its dominant and lucrative position, Apple will change its policies unless the regulators step in.

The two-year fight to stop Amazon from selling face recognition to the police – MIT Technology Review

I doubt these decisions by the big companies can contain facial recognition technology employed by the small dev shops (the tech is mostly open-sourced). How will we hold not just the big tech companies but those providers accountable?


Young React #79 – Monorepo Challenges, Aspirational Hourly Rate

Over the last three weeks, I interviewed five manager candidates for my team. The conversations were fascinating, where I wish I had more time to hear more of their stories. Here are my key takeaways:

  • I was surprised that most candidates were directors, managing multiple teams. I heard before that Netflix engineering managers operate at a director capacity. I wonder if that translated into the sourcing target.
  • I was glad to see racially diverse candidates: three females, one Hispanic and one Black. I have given positive feedback to my director about this.
  • I had a hard time judging between a weak yes and a weak no on the scale of 1-4. Even when I wasn’t too excited about the candidate, I felt like they would do a decent job and gave 3. Should that be a strong no, given Netflix’s high-performance culture? I need more calibration on the scale.

I loved talking to managers from small startups to big corporations. The notes from this experience will come in handy when I return to management in the future.


Software Engineering 🌐

GraphQL has two distinct type systems by design: nominal (for output type) and structural (for input types).” – Ivan Goncharov

I have been confused about GraphQL backward compatibility because whether GraphQL uses a nominal or structural type system was not clear from the spec. This comment on Github is the only source I found about GraphQL’s nominal output type. To be more specific, input types are structural, but individual fields are nominal.

Speeding up a Git monorepo at Dropbox with <200 lines of code – Dropbox

It is always eye-opening when the seemingly constant operations like “git status” start slowing down at scale. I never thought about git commands’ linear performance.

Spark Joy by Running Fewer Tests – Shopify

Here is another article on tackling challenges with regards to a monorepo’s scale. Metaprogramming and dynamic types make Ruby an ideal language for small teams. However, the language does not scale as the organization grows.

As a side note, I like their chosen metrics to measure success. I wonder if Shopify’s deployment quality stayed the same.

2020 Developer Survey – Stack Overflow

I am late to the party here; Stack Overflow released the survey result late May. Rust is the most beloved language, and Windows is the most used development OS (surprise!). There is a gender divide as well: men are asking for Stack Overflow dark mode when women are talking about its toxic culture.

By the way, if you live in a non-English speaking country, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to it. The survey skews heavily towards the western world and the English speaking population.

People ❤

Set an Aspirational Hourly Rate – Naval Ravikant

Since I started working, I tried to make tradeoffs in hourly rates, too. As a result, I treated my out of office time as “free” because none was going to pay me for it. So Naval’s point, “no one is going to value you more than you value you,” or instead, I should value myself more than the market does, is a significant shift for me.

Business 💸

Solving online events – Benedict Evans

An excellent dissection of offline conferences (content, networking, meetings) and what is easy to do online and what is hard. Will networking be accomplished online? More importantly, will it be less biased by where you are and how you look? I hope so.

Amazon’s New Competitive Advantage: Putting Its Own Products First – ProPublica

Amazon, like any other retail distributors, has its private brands. That’s why some argue this isn’t an anti-trust issue. But Amazon’s listing page isn’t just a dumb shelf at Walmart. It’s driven by a recommendation engine that consumers trust to produce the best results for them. There is potential consumer harm here when the recommendation pushes more of Amazon’s products.


Young React #78 – UI Library with builtin Web Workers, Vue 3 with compile-time optimizations

I am feeling certain powerlessness being a foreigner. While the events around you impact you, you can’t enact changes.


Software Engineering 🌐

neo.mjs concepts – neo.mjs

This UI library is the only library I know that uses Web Workers to boost its performance. More specifically, it has three workers to handle app logic, data fetching, and virtual dom reconciliation, with main thread handling event fetching and DOM manipulation. I like the idea of using Web Workers very much, but its API is too different for widespread adoption anytime soon (not sure if its JSON template is a good idea). Also, the popular UI libraries are often fast enough.

Solid: A declarative, efficient, and flexible JavaScript library for building user interfaces – Ryan Carniato

Solid is a compile-time UI library, similar to Svelte. It also uses Proxy to figure out dependencies in its state instead of requiring explicit dependencies like React. I appreciate that it uses JSX syntax and has APIs similar to React’s.

The process: Making Vue 3 – Evan You

Vue 3 is also adding compile-time optimizations to improve performance, among other changes. This change made me think that React or Vue will survive and embrace new techniques like compile-time tooling and Web Workers, spurred by the new generation of UI libraries.

Changes to How We Manage DefinitelyTyped – Orta Therox

DefinitelyTyped is core to the Typescript ecosystem. But it is a weird, unwieldy repository from which thousands of npm libraries are published. Microsoft is improving how the repository is managed, and this is the kind of synergy I hoped to see with Microsoft owning both Github and npm.

People ❤

Stripe’s remote engineering hub, one year in – Stripe

This article is Stripe’s retrospective on its experiment with a remote engineering group. The key learning is that “moving multiple remote engineers simultaneously onto a team has yielded much better results for their productivity and happiness.” On the contrary, when my team had one remote engineer last year, we bungled that up. We kept talking about the “productivity tax” of having that one remote engineer, which put the onus on him to adapt. That mindset, unfortunately, didn’t work.

Business 💸

Reddit, and Facebook pondering changes to their moderation policies

Both companies are under immense pressure (Facebook employee walkout, Reddit co-founder’s resignation) to proactively deal with hate speeches, false information, and anything alike. As I said before, dealing with user-generated content is a lose-lose proposition.

Dust in the Light – Ben Thompson

On a related note, Ben Thompson here argues that the internet merely exposes reality by reducing friction to disseminate information.


Young Reacts #76 – Is Your Culture Too Nice?

My org decided to take last Thursday and Friday off to make the long week (it’s Memorial weekend in the U.S.) even longer. I have been working hard on my current project, and I desperately needed the break. Though I wish I were able to finish the project before the break, I am glad we have this.

The off days feel different when your entire team is off. As I know no one else is working, I don’t feel FOMO (fear of missing out). I still thought about work on Thursday but my mind was no longer preoccupied with work and truly recharge by Friday. I am fortunate that the leadership at the company values proper recovery, and puts these day-offs in place.

If you see your team suffer from prolonged work from home, try taking a day off together.

Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash


Software Engineering 🌐

Product for Internal Platforms – Camille Fournier

As I work on tools for internal users, I see the similar problems listed here as well. Our user base is too small to get meaningful metrics, and our tool is often the only way to do the work. That makes it hard to see if we are truly meeting our users’ needs, which means we need to put extra effort to listen to our users.

I also appreciate the reminder to think about the migration strategies early. When our stakeholders already keep all their data in Google Sheets or Airtable, data migration becomes a real hurdle for adoption.

Visual Studio Live Share Extension – Microsoft

When I pair programmed over Google Meet, my eyes started hurting after an hour since the code on the shared screen was barely legible. Instead of sending pixels over the wire, this extension just syncs your and your partner’s VS Code together. It is just as revolutionary as Figma for remote working sessions.

Responsively – Manoj Vivek

Without proper tooling, a responsive layout often becomes an afterthought. This tool will help with that. If you would like more support, there is a commercial app that solves the same problem as well.

Image

People

Is Your Culture Too Nice? – Ron Ashkenas

My worst failure mode is conflict avoidance. I have made a habit of giving positive feedback, but I still shy away from speaking personal, constructive feedback to my colleagues. With this advice, “start the conversation by saying that you are trying to get better at dealing with conflict situations,” I hope to get better at confronting issues.

More Silicon Valley Going Remote

Just the last week, Facebook, Shopify, and Coinbase announced that they are going remote-first, letting a substantial number of their employees work remotely. To me, remote-first starts with how you run your meetings, as Coinbase CEO said: “in-office folks dial into meetings separately vs. meeting in person.”

Business 💸

Doordash and Pizza Arbitrage – Ranjan Roy

This article gives a sneak peek at how 3rd party delivery services like Doordash work from a restaurant’s perspective. I am mostly surprised that these services would put up order links on Google Maps or Yelp without the restaurants’ agreements. These egregious behaviors show the pressure to grow at whatever cost to justify their valuations.

What Is Clubhouse, and Why Does Silicon Valley Care? – Wired

Clubhouse, a voice-based social app, not this project management app, got all the hype in Silicon Valley (and some $10 million from Andreessen Horowitz). I, of course, didn’t get the invitation so I read about it instead.


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Remote Working Recap – First Week

Remote working will eventually be mainstream since talents and living costs have become too expensive in the tech hubs. Thus, even though I never worked remotely and I probably suck at it, I have wanted to try working remotely. Due to COVID-19, Netflix strongly recommended that all Los Gatos employees (that include me) work from home starting last Tuesday. So this week gave me the first taste of working remotely, for a prolonged time. I might as well learn from this experience. I am gathering my initial thoughts here so that I can improve my productivity and satisfaction.

Good

  1. I love that I get to spend more time with my wife. We do a quick grocery run, enjoy lunch, and stretch our legs together throughout the day. My usual commute is pretty short, about 40 minutes. So I should be saving about an hour and a half every day, but I feel that I get far more quality time with my wife. Everyday somehow feels like Friday.
  2. Since remote working introduces additional frictions to meetings, a lot of non-essential meetings, such as a presentation about the latest market research, got postponed or canceled. I will eventually miss those meetings. But, for now, I find more time to code and feel more productive.

Bad

  1. My weekday routine got disrupted. I miss my morning workout, brisk walks to/from my shuttle stop, and a quick meditation session on the way to the office. Instead, I now wake up past 9 am, don’t take a shower until the evening, and walk less than 2000 steps, which upsets me since I feel like I wasted the day. This disruption hurts more because I was making consistent progress towards my health goal. Now I need to build a new routine that will get me through the next coming months.
  2. I can’t seem to focus during remote meetings. I daydream a lot and get distracted easily, so I usually make a point of not bringing my laptop into the meetings. I instead take a pen and a note with me. But now that I need my laptop to call into the meetings, I get distracted by notifications and new emails during the meetings. With the camera on, I behave better. But it is a struggle.
  3. Now that my work laptop is on my home desk, I keep getting sucked back into work after dinner. I tell myself, “I just need to push one more small code change.” It’s so alluring. But I should recognize that work literally has no end and protect my personal time.

Overall, I still feel productive. Possibly more than before. But in the long run, I worry about my psychological health. I also am concerned that our team could suffer organizational problems like lack of alignment and relationship since Netflix has been an office-first company. I will keep logging my thoughts to keep me honest and improve myself in the coming months.

Young Reacts #55 – Good bye 2019

This issue is the last issue of the year (and the decade!). If we look back, we all had both proud and regretful moments. Regardless, don’t forget that we surely have learned and achieved something this year.

Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash


People ❤️

It’s time to start writing

Bullet points push the burden of communication to their readers. Through narrated proses, writers take responsibility for communication. Our arguments will be ordered, prioritized, grouped, and connected, which will bring more clarity to the ideas.

Software Engineering 🌐

Engineering eSports: The Tech That Powers Worlds

An in-depth, yet wide look at what it takes to broadcast a global eSports event. The Group’s end-to-end involvement from installing local custom PCs for progamers to dealing with local ISPs for network bandwidth is impressive.

Feature watch: ECMAScript 2020

According to its new yearly release cycle, ECMAScript will release a new version next year. This list shows the upcoming features such as dynamic import() and globalThis.

From “Secondary Storage” to Just “Storage”: A Tale of Lambdas, LZ4, and Garbage Collection

Honeycomb wrote on a distributed processing optimization. I like how AWS Lambda performed faster than long-standing servers thanks to its fast scaling.

Business 💸

Google AI chief Jeff Dean interview: Machine learning trends in 2020

There are three significant trends Dean looks out for: multitask and multimodal learning, on-device models, and AI principles such as ethics.

Managing technical lock-in in the cloud

UK government published a guideline to manage cloud lock-ins. It is a sensible guideline, but I am more impressed by the fact that a government announced such guidance.