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.

Young Reacts #192

“When you look back at your life a year from now, what do you want to have achieved?” My coach asked me this question last week. I didn’t have anything in my personal life I wanted to achieve, but I had three career goals:

  • Keeping my team perform at a high level
  • Write down my leadership principles and management philosophy
  • Build my personal support network both inside and outside the company

I want to use my current role as a launch pad to become a manager of managers. Given the importance of my team’s domain for the larger org’s strategy, I think it’s possible as long as I can continue to execute. That’s me. What do you want to look back on next year?


Software Engineering ⚙️

Redis Explained

One of the mitigation strategies we will employ to prevent a similar incident to the one we experienced last week is to add a Redis cache for added redundancy. So I read about different ways Redis clusters can be structured.

People ❤️

The Sustainable Workload Loop

We all have more work to do than we have time. Ask first if it’s worth doing the work, then if I am the only person to do it, and if it’s the right time to do it.

Apple pushes Bay Area employees into stringent return-to-office plan

The author sees a connection between the worsening job market and the return-to-office plan. But I am not convinced as I suspect execs also see value in working remotely. Time will tell.

Business 💰

Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022

YouTube leads the pack with 95% of teens using it, followed by Tiktok with 67%, Instagram with 62%, and Snapchat with 59%. Facebook was in fourth place with 32%.

Does Apple Keep its Commission After You Refund a Purchase?

Given how Apple created App Tracking Transparency for the preferential, incremental revenue, I will not trust Apple, or any company, to not abuse the technicality for its growth.

Interesting Finds 💡

Why is far-right ideology taking hold in LGBT+ communities?

This article was mind-boggling but did make sense to me. We have intersecting identities, and some may choose to prioritize their privileged identities.

Lionsgate’s ‘Fall’ Used Deepfake-Style Tech to Change 30-Plus F-Bombs, Bringing Movie From R to PG-13 Rating

I find it cool to see how technology advancements from one industry bleed over to another. Another good example is how Disney used Unreal Engine to produce The Mandalorian.

Young Reacts #191

As I wrapped up interviewing a candidate and getting ready to start my weekend, I saw a message about an ongoing outage for my team. What I thought was the usual, straightforward outage turned out to be the worst one I’ve ever seen. I eventually became paralyzed by the sheer number of things I had to handle. But the more tenured, experienced people at the company joined us to understand the impact and handle communication, which saved the day. While I am not happy about the impact on our customers, I learned how to manage customer-visible outages by observing them.


Software Engineering ⚙️

Unleash the power of Fragments with GraphQL Codegen

Once you adopt non-Relay GraphQL clients, the migration to Relay gets prohibitively expensive. So you couldn’t enjoy the benefits of colocated fragments. The Guild’s GraphQL Codegen tool enables non-Relay apps to colocate fragments.

Phishers who breached Twilio and targeted Cloudflare could easily get you, too

I heard before that SMS-based two-factor authentication is not safe enough. But this is my first time seeing a real-world example where social engineering defeats the SMS-based two-factor authentication.

People ❤️

CEO posts crying selfie on LinkedIn after laying off employees — and it goes viral

There is a subtle line between authenticity and gratuitousness. When I see articles about the backlash when someone steps over the line, I get wearier about opening up.

Business 💰

Back to the trend line?

When Shopify laid off 10% of its employees a few weeks ago, its CEO attributed the decision to the eCommerce spending reverting to the previous trend. But this analysis shows that even though the ratio is reverting, eCommerce still saw a big pull-ahead in absolute terms.

Growth is No Longer the Best Predictor of a Software Company’s Value

As interest rates increase, investors discount the large future revenue & profit streams of high growth companies more heavily.

But revenue growth is still an important indicator, second only to net income.

Interesting Finds 💡

The people of the cloud

This article details stories of people who operate the data centers. The joke that “the cloud is just someone else’s computer” never felt truer.

Young Reacts #190

I got leadership training based on the famous personality test MBTI last Tuesday. I hadn’t had such training, so I was curious about how the MBTI results could help us work better as a team.

Unfortunately, I found the training reaffirm my skepticism over personality tests. The coach emphasized a few times that these test results are merely meant to drive conversations. But during the 4-hour exercise, those nuances were lost, and I felt boxed by the four letters of my MBTI test — some commented how someone got good scores, which upset me.

I understand that when at scale, we need a way to group many people because it’s impossible for one to understand thousands deeply. But we are talking about a dozen close colleagues that we interact with daily. We should rely on open and honest conversations, not these tests, to understand each other.


Software Engineering ⚙️

What’s TypeScript compiling? Use a treemap to find out.

It will be slow if JavaScript has to chug through 100MB of source code. This source code bloat is why faster native code-based tools like swc and esbuild are gaining popularity.

RedwoodJS vs. BlitzJS: The Future of Fullstack JavaScript Meta-Frameworks

I enjoyed reading this deep-dive on new generations of JavaScript frameworks. While the author preferred the less-opinionated nature of BlitzJS, I prefer the opinionated technology choices of RedwoodJS: serverless, React, and GraphQL ❤️

People ❤️

Talking About Layoffs

I appreciated the author’s courage to share her pain of getting laid off. Before reading this article, I hadn’t considered how people who were let go cannot have closure around why now, why me, etc.

Becoming an Organizational Leader

A few of my reports expressed interest in growing to be organizational leaders. Since I am not at that level either, I had difficulty guiding them. That’s when I found this thorough article by the Square engineering team. I loved reading about different areas one can effect organizational changes.

Business 💰

Y Combinator narrows current cohort size by 40%, citing downturn and funding environment

Even the most prestigious funds and accelerators are not immune to the economy.

Interesting Finds 💡

How I Used DALL·E 2 to Generate The Logo for OctoSQL

I’ve seen lots of weird images DALL-E generated. But this is the first one where the image serves a valuable purpose. This article got me interested enough to join the DALL-E waitlist.

Earth is spinning faster than usual and had its shortest day ever

What’s more shocking is that Meta has dedicated engineers working on the leap second problem.

Young Reacts #189

Even though it’s not official, I believe the recession is here. It is my first time experiencing a recession as a working adult. While I haven’t heard anything at work, it does worry me to see other companies laying people off. Now I am wondering if I should start practicing LeetCode again.


Software Engineering ⚙️

My Big Fat Monolithic Alert

My team’s service is a monolith, with multiple teams contributing to it. Like in this article, we suffer from pagers from other teams’ code. Adding metadata to the alerts and routing them based on the metadata is a simple yet powerful technique to create accountability for other teams.

The CSS behind Figma

Figma is one of the tools that pushed what’s possible on the web. So it’s worth learning how they built their app, and the author did a great job explaining it.

People ❤️

Exclusive: Leaked salary data show huge pay disparities at Twitter

Since money is finite, all compensation structures make trade-offs. Equal work, equal pay is a perfectly valid structure, just like the cost-of-labor-based structure. The companies should be upfront about their policies so that the job candidates can walk away if they don’t like them. Twitter’s failure here is not its compensation structure but its lack of transparency.

San Francisco’s Zuni Cafe removed tips a year ago. Despite pushback, it won’t bring them back.

Related to the article above, changing the compensation structure once you already have staff will always be painful.

Business 💰

Changes to Shopify’s team

Shopify laid off 10% of its employees. It’s obviously painful for a lot of people. But at least the CEO admits that he got it wrong:

It’s now clear that bet [that the channel mix – the share of dollars that travel through ecommerce rather than physical retail – would permanently leap ahead by 5 or even 10 years] didn’t pay off. What we see now is the mix reverting to roughly where pre-Covid data would have suggested it should be at this point.

This word shows a much clearer thinking than other CEOs just blaming the macroeconomy.

Zuck turns up the heat

Meta, for the first time, had its quarterly revenue drop from the previous year. In response, the leadership urges the employees to rise above the occasion and accept the lower compensation due to the lower stock price. The article shows that some of the staff are not happy.

Young Reacts #188

I made my personal record of deadlifting 405 lb! It was my goal for 2020 (my record then was 365 lb), but it went out the window with the pandemic. I am stoked to hit this milestone.

I attribute this achievement to the psychologically safe environment at my current gym. People at the gym celebrate your progress regardless of where you are on your journey. Even when you fail your rep, they applaud you for trying. It would have taken me many more months if I didn’t feel safe trying a bit heavier than I knew I could. Psychological safety is not just for our work.

Onwards to 495 lb 🏋️‍♂️! (maybe?)


Software Engineering ⚙️

Hardcoded password in Confluence app has been leaked on Twitter

Obviously, hardcoding the master password is not great. I am very curious about the circumstances behind this. What motivated the developer to hardcode this? How did the team and the process miss this?

Introducing Zed – A lightning-fast, collaborative code editor written in Rust.

Even as Atom sunsets, new code editors are born. I found it interesting that Rust has enough positive aura that the team chose to include this implementation detail in the marketing title.

People ❤️

Advice for Engineering Managers Who Want to Climb the Ladder

As one climbs the corporate ladder, there are exponentially fewer positions available. So it is vital to broadcast one’s interest and prepare oneself for when the opportunity shows up. Reading this article reminded me of how I regretted not publicizing my interest in managing at Netflix.

A Staff-shaped Hole

For some, a staff engineer role sounds like a perfect job—they can work on interesting technical problems without the stress of managing others. But the reality is more complicated. “Leading without authority,” the hallmark quality of a staff engineer, is easier said than done.

The 5 Levels of Delegation You Need to Know to Lead Well

Task-relevant maturity is a concept I am familiar with, but this framework gave me a practical guide on how I can delegate to my reports with different skillsets. The five levels of delegation are:

  1. Level 1: the report does the research, and the manager makes a decision based on the investigation.
  2. Level 2: the report does the research and makes a decision, but the manager needs to approve.
  3. Level 3: the report does the research and makes a decision, and the decision is implicitly approved unless the manager intervenes.
  4. Level 4: the report decides without requiring approval and shares their decision with the manager.
  5. Level 5: the report makes a decision, and the manager does not need to know.

Business 💰

Understanding America’s Labor Shortage

There are many reasons for the labor shortage, but one I found most interesting is that there were 4 million more new businesses started in 2020 (employees are turning into entrepreneurs).

Google exec suggests Instagram and TikTok are eating into Google’s core products, Search and Maps

I was mindblown by this stat 🤯:

40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search

Young Reacts #187

Last week, I attended a networking event, which made me remember how uncomfortable those events are for me. If there is a forcing function to meet someone new, like sitting at the same table, I do just fine. If not, I can’t pull myself together to talk to a stranger. I ended up leaving an hour early to escape the awkwardness.


Software Engineering ⚙️

magic-regexp: A compiled-away, type-safe, readable RegExp alternative

I talked a few times that the compile-time JS tooling is getting more powerful. This library is another example of that. It lets you write regex in type-safe DSL and replaces it with a plain regular expression during the compile time.

Facebook has started to encrypt links to counter privacy-improving URL Stripping

It’s a common practice for online services to add tracking parameters to the linked URL like “utm_medium,” “_branch_match_id,” etc. Privacy-focused browsers offer the option to strip those tracking parameters. The author reports that Facebook started encrypting the tracking parameters with the URL so that removing those parameters is impossible. I couldn’t find them myself, but maybe it’s being A/B tested. Still, another step backward for privacy.

People ❤️

Lifestyles

It’s not always possible to be intrinsically motivated at work. But I still find it important to pause, examine what drives me, and adjust my priorities.

What are your company’s anti-values?

If it’s not painful, it’s not prioritization. By extension, if you see no failure mode in your company’s culture, you don’t have culture.

Weaponizing Amazon Leadership Principles

Culture is impossible to describe in a few words like “freedom and responsibility” or “customer obsession.” So it’s easy to misunderstand and appropriate them for whatever we want at the moment. For example, at Netflix, I saw different folks misuse “freedom and responsibility” to make short-sighted decisions, optimizing locally. How can we continue to educate ourselves and our colleagues?

Business 💰

Netflix to Partner With Microsoft on New Ad Supported Subscription Plan

Microsoft will not only provide the technology but the sales team to Netflix. I am curious how the member base will change once the free, ad-supported plan becomes available. I suspect the average revenue per user will go down, especially in developing countries.

BMW starts selling heated seat subscriptions for $18 a month

Last week, I shared a VPN company moving away from the subscription model despite its benefit. But BMW couldn’t pass up on the opportunity for a steady cash stream.

Young Reacts #186

We are well into Q3 planning at my work (we are already ten days into Q3, but my org usually finishes our quarterly planning half a month into a quarter). When I started in this role, I felt disoriented because I didn’t have context on most items on the roadmap. It didn’t help that I hadn’t been part of quarterly planning previously and that my PM was stretched too thin to provide the context.

But after nine months, I find myself actively leading; I have work I want my team to accomplish, I know why other teams are asking for our help, and I understand how the process works. My mentor at Netflix told me to be patient before I started this role — that it would take much longer for managers than engineers to build context and work productively. Now I understand what he meant.


Software Engineering ⚙️

Things You Should Know About Databases

90% of the operational problems my team are on databases (especially transactions), so I found the part on database isolation levels in this article useful.

Bun is a fast all-in-one JavaScript runtime

Here is a yet-another Javascript runtime. Bun differentiates itself by using JavaScriptCore (the engine used by Safari). When I first read this, I was skeptical since I remember an effort to make Node run on other Javascript engines (node-chakracore). But it looks like that effort is now refocused on addons. So using JavaScriptCore is a meaningful differentiator.

GitHub Copilot Labs

GitHub Copilot has an experimental feature to explain a code snippet in plain English 🤯

People ❤️

The Pushback Effects of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Age in Code Review

Google published research on how its engineers of different demography experience different levels of pushback.

Women authors face higher odds of pushback than men; Asian, Black, and Hispanic/Latinx authors face higher odds than White authors; and older authors face higher odds than younger authors.

Causality is difficult to show, but we must watch how we interact with different colleagues.

Business 💰

Elon Musk says he won’t buy Twitter

On July 8, Elon Musk sent a letter to break the merger agreement. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to work at Twitter right now.

We are removing the option to create new subscriptions

SaaS is all the rage because, once a paying customer signs up, they stay paying for a long time. But this VPN company chose to give up the subscription model for customer privacy. The decision must have been difficult but may have been easier as the founders own 100% of the company.

Interesting Finds 💡

How a fake job offer took down the world’s most popular crypto game

A phony job offer duped an employee into downloading a malicious PDF file, which compromised the company network.

How to blur your house on Google Street View (and why you should)

I didn’t know it was possible to do this. I can see myself doing it if I lived in a single-family house.

Young Reacts #185

Last week, I completed two mid-year promotion packets. Promotion committees determine engineer promotions at Square, and a manager’s role is limited to recommending a promotion and preparing the promotion packet, which should detail a potential promotee’s past achievements. As the committee members are not personally familiar with the promotee’s work, the packet has to contain a lot of evidence. So the manager and the promotee have to do some deep archeology.

I found it quite painful and time-consuming, so I will recommend to all my reports that they record a summary of their work as they wrap up a project.


Software Engineering ⚙️

How we avoided alarm fatigue syndrome by managing/reducing the alerting noise.

Defining a measurement of a complex situation is half the battle. Once we have a metric, it’s easier to sell the idea to the team, track the progress, and declare success. But metric definitions should be team specific. In my team’s case, we define a noisy alert as any self-resolved alert, unlike this article.

Ecma International approves ECMAScript 2022: What’s new?

ECMAScript continues to make progress. This year’s most significant change is the addition of private field declarations (the original proposal), quite more substantial than the year before.

Fresh 1.0

Here is yet another JS framework promising to deliver minimal JS to the client. This one is optimized to work well on Deno’s edge computing platform (Deno created this framework).

People ❤️

Power Tool: Fact vs. Story

A few months ago, I was going through a confidence crisis and was afraid that I could get fired. My mentor advised me to separate the facts from the stories I told myself. I found signs that my org valued my contributions (sponsoring my coaching program, continued support from my skip-level leads, etc.). I got over the hump and am now doing much better mentally, and my team has turned around.

Interesting Finds 💡

How Meta uses AI to better understand people’s ages on our platforms

Age is an essential factor for platforms to tune the users’ experience. But how do you protect users even when they lie about their ages? Meta uses how a user interacts with the platform to deduce their age.

What is black and white and read all over?

This font is designed to simplify emojis specifically so that it’s less skeuomorphic and more symbolic.

by Jennifer Daniel from the above-linked article