Issue #11: 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 125 minutes. This week newsletter has stories on Microservice architecture, open office, web scrapping, psudeo-AI, web design, and the rule of 50 to help you know when to give up on a book.

What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. – Unknown
  1. Goodbye Microservices: From 100s of problem children to 1 superstar : 15 mins read. Segment shared their story of moving back to Monolithic architecture from Microservice architecture. I think the reason they failed with Microservice architecture is because they used it to solve the wrong problem. As mentioned in their post, they used Microservices to solve two problems — 1) To avoid head-of-line blocking caused by an unhealthy destination 2) Failing tests because of brittle HTTP infrastructure. To solve these two issues, they decided to break their monolithic into Microservices where in each Microservice would handle a single destination. As destinations exploded, the number of Microservices became too much to manage. I think their Microservices were too granular. They basically took few hundred small functions and made them separate compilation and deployment units. This was a poor implementation of Microservices architecture. I think we need a mature team to do Microservices well. If done incorrectly, it will lead to frustration and management hell as happened with Segment team.
  2. The open-plan office is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea: 10 mins read. I agree with DHH that open spaces kill productivity and are not the ideal for doing creative work. We don’t have an open office but close to 20 people sit in a room. I think most people are insensitive towards others. They don’t keep their mobile in silent mode, or they will take their personal calls from the seat in front of others, or talk loudly. With or without open offices, we have to start showing some sensitivity towards our colleagues. I don’t like using headphones but I am forced to use it else I can’t do much work.
  3. For E-commerce Data Scientists: Lessons Learned Scrapping 100 Billion Product Pages: 15 mins read. This post by ScrapingHub folks talks about challenges faced in doing web scraping at scale. They mentioned 5 major challenges — 1) Sloppy and always changing website formats 2) Scalable architecture 3) Maintaining throughput performance 4) Anti-Bot countermeasures 5) Data quality. I think the main reason they face these challenges is because they have to write a general purpose web scraping service. If one has to write web scrapping for single domain and few websites then it is relatively easy.
  4. The rise of ‘pseudo-AI’: how tech firms quietly use humans to do bots’ work : 5 mins read. This story brings to our notice that some companies use real human beings to act like machines. Most startup unlike big organisations don’t have the funds to invest on building products using AI. So, in order to test their ideas they rely on low wage humans to do the job. For some reason, people try to fit AI into every thing. People don’t understand current limitations of AI or even if they need AI for their solutions.
  5. Brutalist Web Design: 20 mins read. A set of design principles for building minimalistic content focussed web sites. Author shares seven guidelines — 1) Content is readable on all reasonable screens and devices 2) Only hyperlinks and buttons respond to clicks 3) Hyperlinks are underlines and buttons look like buttons 4) The back button works as expected 5) View content by scrolling 6) Decoration when needed and no unrelated content 7) Performance is a feature.
  6. Nancy Pearl’s Rule of 50 for dropping a bad book: 10 mins read. I have heard this rule before.  Nancy Pearl created a rule of 50 to decide when to stop reading a book. For most readers it is difficult to give up on a book. The rule of 50 says, “Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you’re really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you’re not, then put it down and look for another.”.
  7. How to build closer relationships: 15 mins read. It’s a question that many of us have pondered at some point, and it usually comes out of our desire to feel more connected to the real VIPs in our life: that is, the people we care about, the people we share DNA with and/or the people we spend a lot of time with.
  8. The Power of Positive People: 10 mins read. Are you spending time with the right people for your health and happiness? While many of us focus primarily on diet and exercise to achieve better health, science suggests that our well-being also is influenced by the company we keep.
  9. Web Architecture 101: 15 mins read. The post talks about basic architecture concepts that a web developer should know. The post covers DNS, Load Balancer, Cache, Database, Job queue and workers, and many more useful terms.
  10. The Bulk of Software Engineering in 2018 is Just Plumbing: 10 mins read. I say that to most new joiners in my introductory session with them. There are very few people solving the next big problem. Most of us are just writing stupid CRUD REST APIs.

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