### ### Planet Damian

Planet Damian

August 07, 2020

Christof Damian

Friday Links

This week a bit light on the management and COVID-19 links. I balance it with lots of depressing news and some uplifting urbanism developments. So grab a tea and a biscuit ... 


Collaborating During Coronavirus: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nature of Work - apparently we are having more, but shorter meetings and work more hours. Definitely more meetings for myself, but not shorter and I am too lazy to work more hours.

Floods, Viruses, and Volcanoes: Managing Supply Chain in Uncertain Times - very cool report on how Backblaze manages to maintain to have a constant supply of new hard drives for their backup / S3 clone business. I am so glad I don't have to deal with hardware at the moment. I was also very proud when I prepared for The Thing in February, but clearly others were even earlier on it.

6 inspiring teamwork rituals from around the globe - are they inspiring, or plain weird? And don't tell the Catalans that the human towers are Spanish!

HubSpot's Secret for Onboarding Engineering Leaders: Nadia Alramli (Engineering Director, HubSpot) [Podcast] - interesting way of onboarding leaders, which will be too expensive for most companies, but maybe we could use parts of it


Perl7 is a fork of values - besides tiny scripts I haven't used Perl in years. I also seem to be more interested in the Perl politics since the train-wreck of Perl 6 (or whatever it is called at the moment) then the actual language which is probably telling.

Firefox 79 includes protections against redirect tracking - this will probably break stuff, but for a good cause

Changes to SameSite Cookie Behavior – A Call to Action for Web Developers - more breakage for good 

Introduction to Ruby on Rails Patterns and Anti-patterns - if you love anti-patterns, you are going to love Rails!

An update on Exposure Notifications - still basically unused in Spain, but good to see that at least the technology is improving


An Urban Planner’s Trick to Making Bike-able Cities - There are many things wrong with the articles, but I hope some of the correct things are pointing to a good future. 

Barcelona was never an obvious candidate to be a bike-friendly city. Much of it is built on the foothills of the Collserola mountain range and seven smaller hills. Cycling in the Catalan capital often means pedalling up steep inclines and sweating under the Mediterranean sun.

Barcelona is mostly flat and has is only really hot in July and August. If you are on a hill get fit or an e-bike. The climate is ideal for cycling all year around. Distances are usually very short and manageable for most people. What we don't have is a well connected network of good bike lanes.

Reimagining Brooklyn Bridge - these design competitions never lead to anything, but all the finalists are showing a trend away from cars and towards people, bikes and mass transit. 

Desert urbanism, algorithms, and inebriated emus [Podcast] - a bit more about zoning and architecture 

Other Link Collections

Tim Bray: Long Links - OK! So his links are better and so are is insights. Stop it already.  

rjp: Wednesday roundup for 2020-08-05 - I see what he is doing there, releasing his collection a bit earlier, good stuff in their as usual.

Random Tea and Biscuits

Tea in a microwave? New research says it could be the perfect cuppa - clearly this is sponsored by the all powerful Chinese microwave lobby  
Adam Richman's Biscuit Reviews EP 3: Hobnob
- first warning: it is a chocolate Hobnob, second: he dunks them also in milk

The UX of LEGO Interface Panels - we didn't have these back in the day, but they look brilliant 

NIME – algorithmic pattern - Alex doing his thing. My favourite thing about live coding is how you can watch the track slowly building up from nothing to something rather complex and beautiful.  

Lifestyle changes could delay or prevent 40% of dementia cases – probably to late for me and younger people might be quite happy to forget the life that they inherit. But please give healthier living a go.

Pessimist Archive: What Will We Fear Next? [Podcast] - whatever comes next

The Endless Doomscroller - I leave you with this depressing messages and also these: Let's do a quick recap


Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at August 07, 2020 08:17 AM

July 31, 2020

Christof Damian

Friday Links

This week Garmin exploded, the UK decided that cycling isn't so bad after all, remote working is still a thing


When We Need to Move Quickly We Work in Task Forces. Here’s How We Set Them Up - Kind of common sense, but as usual it is interesting how Buffer approaches it.

Zef’s Razor - I am going to spoil it: "People have good intentions" - this applies to live in general I guess

More Uninterrupted Time At Work for You and Your Organization - good summary about what you and your organization can do to reduce interruptions


The State of Ruby 3 Typing - Is it just me or does this look awful and awkward?

A long list of GRUB2 secure-boot holes
- this looks painful and you might not want to update your CentOS / RHEL yet.

Mycroft: an open-source voice assistant - this doesn't seem to fix the privacy issues and there are seem to be some problems with the company as whole

Highlights from Git 2.28 - default branch can be something besides 'master' now, speed ups with bloom filters and small feature improvements  

Remote working

The Implications of Working Without an Office - “What impact has working from home had on productivity and creativity?”

Google employees will work from home until at least summer 2021 - with the state the States are in at the moment this is not really surprising, it will be interesting to see how this will shape Silicon Valley in the future. 

Our remote work future is going to suck - it will probably suck, for some people more than others and the jury is still out if it will suck more or less than office work


A COVID-19 story in Amsterdam written by bike - Lot of photos. I love the one titled "Heavy Police presence during COVID-19"

Sant Cugat finançarà el 50% de la compra de bicicletes - small city close to Barcelona is supporting bike purchases, they also used the opportunity of the current crisis to expand their cycling network

Dutch city redraws its layout to prepare for global heating effects - with governments doing not a lot it is up to cities to react, this is happening all over the world

France to ban heated terraces in cafes and bars - I think they are also regulating air conditioning, but I can't find it now.

There seems to be a change coming in the UK with a new "cycling revolution", though this doesn't seem to be backed up with new money.

Random Flights

Microsoft’s Flight Simulator is a ticket to explore the world again - I used to play this on the Amiga back in the day. When I say "play" I mean: lift off, fly for ages over a landscape that always looks the same and then crash into the ground when trying to land. I wonder if this runs on anything i have.

Amazon is a perfectly OK company, to the extent that planetary-scale sprawling corporate behemoths can be perfectly OK in 2020. Which is to say, not OK at all.
Garmin was targeted by a ransomware attack. Nobody is quite sure if they handled it well or not. There was a definitely a lack of communication during the outage from Thursday to Monday! It is also not clear if they paid the ransom, which would be illegal in the US.
In Japan, a cyberstalker located his victim by enhancing the reflections in her eye, and using that information to establish a location.
Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at July 31, 2020 08:19 AM

July 27, 2020

Christof Damian

My Workspace

I like looking at pictures of other people's office set-ups. With most people working from home at the moment you see more and more nice workspaces especially tuned for video conferencing.
I was lucky enough to have a space and a reasonable set-up already. By chance I also had ordered bits and pieces before everything was sold out on Amazon.
There are a few things I still want to improve. The light is not ideal for video conferencing and I am also going to try a separate microphone for better sound.


My basic desk set-up is always the same. This is the first time I have two big screens, but I always have the same keyboard, headphones and mouse.
I think this goes back to at least 2000.
In our currently closed office I have the same again and when I start a new job I usually bring the devices with me as not every company lets you freely choose.
The computer is always running the current version of Fedora Linux, often upgraded over many years.

1. Dell Monitor U2719DC UltraSharp. I really just wanted one of these as I still had another very old monitor. This one came with a pixel error and Amazon send a replacement, but never managed to get the pick-up of the broken one sorted. So now I have two and use the one with the broken pixel for the not important stuff, like Slack. I think the broken pixel is not even a broken pixel, but an insect stuck between the layers - a real bug.
2. Dell Monitor U2719DC UltraSharp - the nice one, which has my browser, shell and Emacs.
3. Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 GB layout - while I am always looking for new fancy hacker keyboards I have stuck with this one. I have another one in storage in case this one breaks.
4. Logitech Mouse G502 Hero - my mice and keyboard are always wired, which limits choice a bit. I have pretty big hands and like a mouse that fills them.
5. Logitech Mousepad G440 - matchy-matchy with the mouse. I could do with a smaller one, because of the hight DPI of the mouse.
6. Sony Headphones MDR-1RBT - I am a bit addicted to headphones. I have three different Sony MDR-1 versions (RBT, ABT and R). I love the fit and sound.
7. PC AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32GB, 1TB, build up recently, also has a cheap fanless graphics card
8. Chair - from my first job/start-up, still works
9. APC BX1400U-GR Back-UPS BX, power outages and brownouts are quite common in Spain and even more so in the countryside. This protects the computer, there is another one for the routers and NAS.
a. Fleximounts F6 monitor arm for laptop - it works, not a lot of movement
b. Fleximounts F6D monitor arms for screens - same for two devices
c. Logitech C920 HD Pro - I am lucky I ordered this in time, it works, I probably won't upgrade any time soon. The Logitech Brio is also silly expensive.


Not directly related to work, but supporting the main computer.

d. Thinkpad T430s on a arm and T470s on the floor - laptops from work, I use them in the office and here when I need another small screen or different device. One of them also has Windows on a partition for devices that require Windows for firmware upgrades
e. AmazonBasics paper shredder - goes together with the messy GTD stack on my desk, everything that I don't file goes into this one.
f. Synology DS218+ - backup of the computer, Syncthing backup, all my music and films.
g. USB Charging station (with Raspbery Pi running Syncthing on top), with various USB-A, micro-usb, and USB-C connectors and one for Garmin watches
h. Rubbish router from provider
i. AmpliFi HD Router - super simple set-up, annoyingly only with a mobile, supports multiple mesh repeaters that are all over the house
j. HP OfficeJet Pro 9010 - maybe I should have gone for a laser? I don't really print a lot
k. Thermometer / Barometer - it is way too hot in my office


I like my old school Hi-Fi components. If I had unlimited money I would just be buying this stuff on ebay the whole day.
The combination of the Sony amplifier and JBL speakers gives a sound I love.
The amplifier is also connected to a Chromecast Audio for multiroom sound, computer and headphones.

l. Tape deck Sony TC-K790ES - needs some work, the rubber transport bands disintegrated and need replacement, which is a bit tricky
m. Tuner Sony SA3ES - I never use it, but it is pretty!
n. Amplifier Sony TA-542E - this must be pretty old too, still works fine
o. JBL Control 1 Pro speakers - come with mounts for the wall and look sleek

Art & Memories

Since we bought the house and I have no further move is planned I made some effort to finally put all kind of stuff on the wall.

p. Sven Vaeth & Paul Cooper flyer 17-7-93 Warehouse Cologne
q. Photo from the Space Shuttle signed by Astronaut Robert Crippen
r. family
s. My dad and myself on our last holiday together. I have no idea why we shake hands.
t. family
u. X-Ray Cyclist by Nick Veasey sold by IKEA. Nick is one of my favourite artists and this is the cheapest way to get a great quality print.
v. Newton MessagePad 130 - I really did use this back in the days. It is a bit bulky.
w. Palm V, Palm Tungsten T, Ericsson t39 with extra antenna and calculator from school - this was my "smartphone" back in the days when phones got smaller every year. I sometimes connected it with bluetooth to the Palm for connectivity on the go. I miss small phones.
x. random memories box: old business cards, passport, party flyer, motorcycle key
y. Curves Calendar - don't google that. It has photos of mountain roads for each month to remind me of cycling. I just get a new one every year and replace it.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at July 27, 2020 08:49 AM

July 24, 2020

Christof Damian

Friday Links

Product Managment

The Evolution of Product at Buffer and the Next Step: We’re Hiring a VP of Product - can I have one too? This sounds so familiar.


Rebuilding messaging: How we bootstrapped our platform - how Linkedin is changing to a new messaging platform and database.

Machine Learning for a Better Developer Experience
- How Netflix is using machine learning to better handle their logs.

Twitter engineers replacing racially loaded tech terms like 'master,' 'slave' - this is happening in a lot of companies and open source projects and is great to see.

GPT-3 Is Amazing—And Overhyped - the uber regex strikes back

hacker-laws -  all of them on one place. I discovered them through the Changelog:  Laws for hackers to live by [Podcast]

Engineering Management

In search of higher engineering productivity: A data first remote working perspective - nice to see some numbers put to it. It is really just about progamming, it doesn't track the difference in remote meetings.

Build vs buy decisions in the age of software abundance - this is getting worse very day. It is not even "buy" even more, with so many ready made open source libraries and projects out there.

Uber: Introducing Domain-Oriented Microservice Architecture - I am not sure if this will help in the mess that are microservices, but good luck to them. It is a good article though with some tips for different company sizes:
In small organizations, the operational benefit likely does not offset the increase in architectural complexity. Furthermore, microservice architectures often require dedicated engineering resources to support which may be out of budget for an early stage company or else suboptimal from a prioritization perspective.
Team Objectives – Overview - good long read critique of OKRs for teams. Jump to the summary if you like.


#SmartDevelopmentHack: Germany searches for COVID-19 solutions - "Are hackathons the solution?" ... in my experience probably not.

Coronavirus: The great contact-tracing apps mystery - The main mystery for me is why we don't have one in Spain yet, or ideally one that works across Europe. There are multiple open-source versions out there (from Ireland & Germany for example) that could be used, but every country needs to reinvent the wheel and sometime in the future they all will have to be linked up. Also check out the Europe COVID-19 Tracing App Tracker.

Returning to the Office Safely - pretty guide from the OmnicomGroup for their offices.

COVID19aldiaBCN - all the Barcelona COVID-19 stats and maps you will ever need

It’s hard to imagine what the world will look like when COVID-19 has passed. So in this episode, we look back to the years after 1918, at the political, artistic, and viral aftermath of the flu pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people and left our world permanently transformed.


Garmin services and production go down after ransomware attack - this is probably the worst nightmare for any company. They are still down as I am writing this.

Password Book (Multi-coloured) - at least you are not loosing it to ransom-ware.

The sad, slow-motion death of Do Not Track - kind of expected, the pressure from the other side is too strong.
Maybe this hack will serve as a wake-up call. But if past incidents involving Twitter and other companies are any indication, it won't. Underspending on security, and letting society pay the eventual price, is far more profitable. I don't blame the tech companies. Their corporate mandate is to make as much money as is legally possible. Fixing this requires changes in the law, not changes in the hearts of the company's leaders.


Ride easy with new biking features in Google Maps - Google is making routing for cycling better. It was already pretty good where it is available, but it is good to see that they are constantly improving it.

'We Heard Birds.' Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on How Lockdown Offered a Glimpse at a Greener City

Episode #250 – In conversation with the rock star of parking, Donald Shoup - He is mostly about proper charging for parking. I agree, but we should also reduce parking and give it back to the people.

Keeping Journals

After coming across one article about journaling recently I decided it might be worth a try. Of course I started with a bit of research first.

There are many articles that say it is probably as good idea. Possibly bordering at being a bit pushy / passive aggressive.
There are some common formats and sometimes people who sell you preformatted notebooks.
In the end I decided to be agile and just start something with the stack of Moleskins and pens I already own.

Random Lawrence

Polishing Lawrence - I remember when I still found editing Wikipedia pages fun. Now there is are so many rules and politics involved that I can't be bothered any more. "Lawrence of Arabia" is a topic by my heart though.

Which productivity method is right for you? - Spoiler alert: it might have to do with Todoist.

JWZ: Recent Movies and TV - jwz watches stuff so I don't have too. Looks like there are some good shows on at the moment though.

Pointless Job Requirements
- maybe we have to rethink job ads

What We Learn When Humans Race Against Horses - I listened to a podcast about this once. Humans are amazing, so are horses.

Classical Fix: Nadine Shah - no idea who she is, but this was fun. I also discovered Scott Walker (Scott Walker: Farmer In The City [YouTube]), which made it worth it already. 
Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at July 24, 2020 09:17 AM

July 17, 2020

Christof Damian

Friday Links

If you don’t mask - you don’t get.


10 Years of “Continuous Delivery” - I have to confess I never read the whole book. It hovers somewhere on my goodreads to read list. But you should :-) Or follow him on twitter. His YouTube channel is a bit too trippy for myself.

Announcing Rust 1.45.0 - more toys I have no time to play with

Data Structures & Algorithms I Actually Used Working at Tech Companies - algorithms: good, algorithms in interviews: bad, just look them up when needed or use libraries

Tech firms like Facebook must restrict data sent from EU to US, court rules - as usual this will be painful for small businesses and worked around by the big ones

Ron Jeffries is posting his adventures in programming classic video games. He just finished Asteroids and is now working on Space Invaders.

Testing sync at Dropbox
- nice in depth look at testing at Dropbox and how they improved it through a rewrite.

Testing on the Toilet: Don’t Mock Types You Don’t Own - Interesting, as I would do exactly that. Solving it with a fake provided by the third party is obviously nicer or having a wrapper class.

P vs NP (Summer Repeat)
- In Our Time is one of my favourite BBC podcasts with diverse topics. I usually skip the history ones, but this is an older gem which hits closer to my interests.

Product Management

The saddest "Just Ship It" story ever - Sometimes you still can ship late and be better, but usually shipping early is the right call.

productboard - I am somehow interested in product and idea management in companies. I tried various things from spreadsheets to Jira. This seems to be another feasible option. 

Engineering Management

Tech Sector Job Interviews Assess Anxiety, Not Software Skills - I kind of knew that. I am really bad at interviews myself, thankfully I haven't have to solve any weird programming problems in interviews for a long time.

The Pursuit of Perfection: Dominant Architectures, Structure, and Dynamics: A Conversation With Dr. Steve Spear [Podcast] - the usual Toyota Production System example, but also some good other anecdotes.

The other thing

Fernando Simón: dissecting the public face of Spain’s coronavirus crisis - nice profile of the Spanish guy dealing with our health crisis.

COVID Risk Chart - helpful stuff by xkcd


Six Months on a Planet in Crisis: Greta Thunberg's Travel Diary from the U.S. to Davos - our whole inactivity regarding the climate crisis is very depressing. I have given up hope already, but it is glad to see people like Greta pushing everybody to do better. This is also available as podcast from the BBC: Summer with Greta [Podcast]

Car tyres are major source of ocean microplastics – study - electric cars won't save us from this. Cars tires are a major source of pollution in cities and now we know what they are doing to the environment globally too.

Car Dependency Baked Into Joe Biden’s $2 Trillion Climate Plan - Maybe I am ageist, but choosing ancient leaders might be one of the problems. He really doesn't have to care about the future any more.

#FaceTheClimateEmergency​ - if you do anything, sign this letter of demands to the EU

Random hot dogs

Competitive hotdog eaters nearing limit of human performance - it is amazing what people can do, it is also amazing what people think is a sensible thing to do

The Post-Meritocracy Manifesto - what he said: "But meritocracy has consistently shown itself to mainly benefit those with privilege, to the exclusion of underrepresented people in technology." and not only in technology.

The More Senior Your Job Title, the More You Need to Keep a Journal - this has been on my to-do list for years. I just haven't found a way to make it a habit yet.

Infrequent Roundup, part N - I stole some of rjp's links already

Google continues to move towards YouTube Music, sadly the first upload efforts aren’t great - Google has a habit of annoying all of their users, especially in the media area. I love the upload functionality of Play Music and as far as I know no other service provides something similar. I mostly listen to Techno mixes and this is a good way to share them between devices. With the switch from Play Music to YouTube Music (why?) some of the functionality is being messed up. And Play Music is pretty minimal already.

Good Meetings are Jazz - good tips for video conferencing from home. I am still looking for a good microphone set-up, but the lightning tip is also good. I am definitely not going €200+ Euro camera or SLR for the video though. My background needs some tidying too.

Blindboy Podcast: Clancys Pancake [Podcast] "How 1990s professional wrestling predicted the 2020s". There really is no hope for the Land Of The Free.
Friday Links Disclaimer
Inclusion of links does not imply that I agree with the content of linked articles or podcasts. I am just interested in all kind of perspectives. If you follow the link posts over time you might notice common themes though.
More about the links in a separate post: About Friday Links.

by Christof Damian (noreply@blogger.com) at July 17, 2020 09:31 AM