#63

First do it, then do it right, then do it better
— Addy Osmani, engineering manager at Google

The Speed Dial - An abbreviated set of articles for the reader who has limited time.

Where Countries Are Tinderboxes and Facebook Is a Match
[nytimes]

False rumors set Buddhist against Muslim in Sri Lanka, the most recent in a global spate of violence fanned by social media.



Amazon: CEO Jeff Bezos' 2018 shareholder letter
[sec]

How do you stay ahead of ever-rising customer expectations? There’s no single way to do it – it’s a combination of many things. But high standards (widely deployed and at all levels of detail) are certainly a big part of it. We’ve had some successes over the years in our quest to meet the high expectations of customers. We’ve also had billions of dollars’ worth of failures along the way. With those experiences as backdrop, I’d like to share with you the essentials of what we’ve learned (so far) about high standards inside an organization.



A Taxonomy Of Tech Debt
[engineering.riotgames]

When engineers talk about any existing piece of technology - for example League of Legends patch 8.4 - we often talk about tech debt. I define tech debt as code or data that future developers will pay a cost for. Countless blog posts, articles, and definitions have been written about this scourge of software development. This post will focus on types of tech debt I’ve seen during my time working at Riot, and a model for discussing it that we’re starting to use internally. If you only take away one lesson from this article, I hope you remember the “contagion” metric discussed below.


 

Management/Culture

Diversity, Inclusion and Culture: How to Build Great Teams
[open.nytimes]

I recently became an engineering manager on the CMS team at The New York Times, and have gotten to experience the issues of diversity and inclusion from a new perspective: that of a hiring manager and a team leader.



Blameless Culture
[medium]

Blameless culture has been on my mind recently. Aspects of it can be seen in the Toyota Production System, however, only more recently did “blameless” start to be used to describe it. Across the software engineering profession, it seems to have become the gold standard and practiced by all the top tech companies.



Leaders, Stop Avoiding Hard Decisions
[hbr]

Too many leaders avoid making tough calls. In an effort not to upset others or lose status in the eyes of their followers, they concoct sophisticated justifications for putting off difficult decisions, and the delay often does far more damage than whatever fallout they were trying to avoid. 
 

 

Development/Releases

Do we need QAs/testers?
[rea]

… and flavours thereof, is a question I have been hearing for years now. The same has been asked of Tech Leads, Operations Engineers, “Front End” devs, “Back End” devs, Security, Iteration Managers/Scrum Masters, Business Analysts, etc. Anything that is not a full-stack dev. The #NoOps conversation is interesting research material.



Making Decisions and Keeping a Product Team Firing on all Cylinders
[robots.thoughtbot]

Developing software is a collaborative process that takes a tremendous amount of input from customers, designers, developers, and a company’s leadership team. We know the merits of shipping early and often, but doing so requires regularly making decisions with imperfect information. When it comes to effective decision-making, there is no one size fits all approach, but there are decision-making “smells” that can disrupt a product team’s effectiveness. Like “code smells,” a team should acknowledge and consider addressing these dysfunctions.



What are we measuring and why?
[tech.xing]

For starters, I want to assure you that this won’t be a deep dive into #NoEstimates (even though I am a big fan of it :-)). Rather, I want to dig deeper into the question of team kpis and which ones are worth measuring and why.



A Better Way to Build Products: The Journey Team Model
[medium]

To consistently build exceptional products, you need the right working model and process. At Soluto, we’ve developed what we call “Journey Teams” — inspired by both the Lean Startup methodology and Spotify engineering culture videos. The name comes from the concept of mapping a user’s journey with a product or service. Our Soluto teams are designed around unique points of the user’s journey. Journey Teams have their core tenets, but let’s look back at a few different models to see how we landed here.


 

Technical

CSS at Scale: LinkedIn’s New Open Source Projects Take on Stylesheet Performance
[engineering.linkedin]

Like many developers, we initially took a very manual approach to fixing our CSS infrastructure through process, training, and conventions. But we have also been investing in technology to help take our stylesheets to the next level. As we start to roll these out within LinkedIn, we believe now is the perfect time to make two new tools available as open source software.



Phones, Lambdas and the Joy of Snap-to-Place Technology
[eng.datafox]

At the core of DataFox is a focus on creating a pristine dataset of company information. We want this data to be as clean, accurate and all-encompassing as possible. In practical terms, this means we want to gather as much relevant information as possible on every company in our database. In one workflow, we contribute toward this goal through data partnerships; we combine, prioritize and resolve a huge variety of data sources.



Extracting Signals From the News
[engineering.foursquare]

In this post, we’ll explain the power of phone’s-eye-view data and how we enhance our location insights via customized applications of machine learning methods.



Building a Text Editor for a Digital-First Newsroom
[open.nytimes]

While you may not think about the code powering these complicated text-editing maneuvers, my team here at The New York Times thinks about it constantly. Our primary task is to create an ultra-customized story editor for the newsroom. Beyond the basics of being able to type and render content, this new story editor needs to combine the advanced features of Google Docs with the intuitive design focus of Medium, then add lots of features unique to the newsroom’s workflow.


 

News/Other

The Hardest Job in the World
[theatlantic]

What if the problem isn’t the president—it’s the presidency?



‘Forget the Facebook leak’: China is mining data directly from workers’ brains on an industrial scale
[scmp]

Government-backed surveillance projects are deploying brain-reading technology to detect changes in emotional states in employees on the production line, the military and at the helm of high-speed trains



WhatsApp photo drug dealer caught by 'groundbreaking' work
[bbc]

A pioneering fingerprint technique used to convict a drugs gang from a WhatsApp message "is the future" of how police approach evidence to catch criminals.



What I Learned From Briefing Robert Mueller
[lawfareblog]

But presenting complex information to Mueller, watching him digest it, answering his inevitable questions, and chatting with him and his staff on the margins of the sessions afforded me insight that I can appropriately share regarding his approach to complex problem sets—from L’Affaire Russeto Mueller’s personal style. This experience gave me confidence then about the fight against terrorism and the integrity of the Bureau under his watch, and it gives me confidence now in the work he is doing as special counsel.



A suspect tried to blend in with 60,000 concertgoers. China’s facial-recognition cameras caught him.[washingtonpost]

The 31-year-old man, wanted by police, had thought playing a numbers game would be enough to allow him to fade into anonymity.



Disneyflix Is Coming. And Netflix Should Be Scared.
[theatlantic]

Will Disney destroy the movie theater?

 


How the UAE’s Chinese-Made Drone Is Changing the War in Yemen
[foreignpolicy]

An airstrike that killed a senior Houthi leader shows that the Emirates is growing more assertive in its military operations.



Palantir Knows Everything  About You

[bloomberg]

Peter Thiel’s data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. The scary thing? Palantir is desperate for new customers.



A Serial Killer Was Caught Because Investigators Found His Family's DNA On A Website
[buzzfeed]

Experts say it's likely an unprecedented use of the technology, and worry about privacy implications.



Airlines Are Backing a Startup That Could Fix the Overbooking Problem
[bloomberg]

It’s helping airlines make more money at the benefit of passengers—a rare combination.



This is what foreign spies see when they read President Trump’s tweets
[washingtonpost]

Every time President Trump tweets, journalists and Twitter followers attempt to analyze what he means. Intelligence agencies around the world do, too: They’re trying to determine what vulnerabilities the president of the United States may have. And he’s giving them a lot to work with.



Foreign Aid Makes America Safer
[foreignpolicy]

Critics of overseas development assistance say it's a waste. The evidence shows that investments in public health enhance stability and security.



Hickam's dictum
[en.wikipedia]

Hickam's dictum is a counterargument to the use of Occam's razor in the medical profession.


 

Books/Podcasts/Videos

Caliphate
[nytimes]

A new audio series following Rukmini Callimachi as she reports on the Islamic State and the fall of Mosul. Times subscribers get early access to each episode.



The US President's Bulletproof Railcar
[youtube]

US Car Number 1, the Ferdinand Magellan, sits in the Gold Coast Railway Museum in Miami. It's 120 tonnes of bulletproof, armoured railcar: a train carriage designed to move the President of the United States around the country in safety and style. At least, it was, until other transport came along to do a better job.