Issue #10: 10 Reads, A Handcrafted Weekly Newsletter for Humans


Hello All,
Here are 10 reads I thought were worth sharing this week. The total time to read this newsletter is 121 minutes.
It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully. – Seneca, On the Shortness of life

  1. Why nobody ever wins the car at the mall: 10 mins read. The key point is when you don’t pay for the service with money, you pay it with your personal data. I think we all have to become a little smart and limit sharing our data with services. I personally don’t use Facebook and my life has become much better after that. Facebook is the biggest envy generation machine designed by humans. In case you are wondering what else Facebook is planning to track read this NewYork times article that describes kinds of patents Facebook has filed.  It is scary.
  2. Anti-If: The missing patterns: 15 mins read. I enjoyed this post. A lot of if conditions in the code base makes it unmaintainable and difficult to reason as you have to apply a lot of mental energy to keep conditions in your brain. Author shares 5 Anti-if patterns and how you can avoid if in those cases. One pattern that I use when I am working with the code base that has many if conditions is to use Replace conditional dispatcher with Command pattern. I covered this pattern in one of my earlier post. So, you can read it in case you are not aware of it.
  3. Backpropagation algorithm visual explanation: 15 mins read. This is a good visual explanation on how back propagation works in neural networks. This does give an intuitive sense to understand what is happening behind the scenes. I would prefer if there was more text but still helpful to me.
  4. How my role as CTO has changed as we’ve grown to 100 engineers: 10 mins read. This article has some good advice on how to grow from coder to technical people manager. As mentioned in the post, a time comes when you have to make a binary choice. The choice whether you want to continue as a technical individual contributor or start managing people to ensure they have successful career while delivering real value to the organization. It is a difficult choice to make for individuals who drive meaning from code. I have realised that people management is a difficult problem and require focus. It is difficult to keep a troop motivated and focussed on the end goal if you take it as just another responsibility. You really need to become a good people manager if you want to build a successful company with a good value system.
  5. How to Use Slack and Not Go Crazy: 15 mins read. I personally don’t like tools like Slack as I find them distracting and make people expect immediate response. This is the first post that I have read that talks about how to use Slack wisely so that we can tame the beast. The best tip for me was to educate people that Slack is not a chat tool so they should use DM sparingly. Another point that resonates with me is that important discussions should follow the long form either via email or Google Doc.  Another thing that I learnt is that there is a website Slacklash that is dedicated to companies quitting Slack.
  6. Why incompetent people think they’re amazing : 6 mins watch. This 6 minutes video is must watch for every one. It talks about Dunning-Kruger effect. Dunning-Kruger is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability have illusionary superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is.  People display illusionary superiority. I am sure we all have seen such people. The only way to avoid this bias is to spend effort in learning. As Aristotle said, The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.
  7. 35 Tips How to Become Wealthy: 20 mins read. This is a long read. I was able to glance it in 20 minutes. It has useful advice on how you can become wealthy by living minimalistic life. My top three tips from this post are 1) If you need to convince yourself to buy something, don’t buy it 2) Anchor your mind to lower prices 3) Books are one of the best “bang for the buck” investments.
  8. ‘Work Smart, Not Hard’ Is a Lie: Why Smart Is Nice But It’s Hard that Matters: 10 mins read. I agree with author that you have to work hard even when you are the smartest guy in the room.
  9. Vue.js: the good, the meh, and the ugly: 5 mins read. One of the main points against Vue.js as per the author is the usage of chat for questions. Author writes, “This trend of using chats for questions is plaguing open source projects and I think it needs to end. There is no collective learning anymore”. I agree with him.
  10. React Native: A retrospective from the mobile-engineering team at Udacity: 15 mins read. Another big name Udacity leaving the React Native bandwagon. The story is same as Airbnb. Udacity wanted to integrate React Native to their existing iOS and Android app. Their main reasons for leaving React Native are 1) A decrease in number of features being built own both platforms at the same time 2) Took more time to build Android specific features 3) Frustration over long term maintenance costs. Both Airbnb and Udactity recommends using React Native on greenfield applications.

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