Weekly Thing #131 / GoatCounter, Hobbies, AR, Leadership, Ring
Hi, I’m Jamie Thingelstad and this is the Weekly Thing newsletter. Isn’t that witty? I send this weekly, and it is full of various things. What would I call it if my last name didn’t start with thing? I have no idea!
Welcome back to the new and improved Weekly Thing!
So much has happened during the newsletters winter break. It was a particularly Merry Christmas season. 🎄 We rang in the new decade and welcomed 2020! 🍾 I had another in a longer and longer series of birthdays! 🥳
While the newsletter was on break I took it into the shop and did some of the biggest changes ever. I had queued up my “Weekly Thing Holiday Update” project in OmniFocus and there were four main things: Improve Template, Revise Sections, Email Platform, and Update Automation. I checked a lot of boxes. ✅
I was able to make progress in all of these areas by moving from MailChimp to Buttondown. I’ve officially declared that to mean we are now on v3.0!
- 1.0: Launch on TinyLetter
- 2.0: Move to MailChimp
- 2.1: Custom HTML Template
- 3.0: Buttondown
MailChimp has been ok but I’ve never loved it. I left TinyLetter because it had such limited capabilities, and had been acquired by MailChimp. You may think that would be good for TInyLetter, but it meant the complete abandonment of any new development, so, to MailChimp I went. MailChimp has a robust API and can do a million things, of which I needed eight. I’ve never really felt at home in MailChimp. It’s a marketing tool, not a newsletter platform. I don’t write campaigns, yet MailChimp insisted that is what I did. To their credit you can turn off surveillance (aka email tracking), but they don’t make it easy. MailChimp didn’t work at all for me on mobile, and the complexity of the whole process meant that I would use the API’s via my automation but would not touch it further. Draft, inline, send, and hope.
Buttondown is like a tall glass of cold water in comparison. It’s an IndieWeb service, which I like. Nearly all of my personal online services are now IndieWeb: Micro.blog, Blot, Pinboard, Buttondown, Feedbin. These are products built with passion and a strong set of values. There are tradeoffs. There is no 24 hours support when the service is run by one person. But I’m fine with that. I like the human scale of it.
Buttondown allows me to do all my authoring in markdown! This has allowed me to get rid of my old template cruft and move to a very simple content structure that is easily editable all the way until I publish. This allows me to be more creative. If I want to change it up for one issue, or insert something totally new into an issue, I can do that.
The main things you may notice:
- I’ve cleaned up the content a bit. I tried to tighten it up, remove unnecessary stuff, and make it even easier to navigate around in.
- I’ve added support for dark mode! I like to have my phone set in the light/dark mode that follows the sun. Now when you check out the Weekly Thing right after it arrives on Saturday, if you have dark mode on it will give you a nice dark mode friendly read.
- If you are reading this the email was delivered fine. Changing mail platforms can be hard and can result in mail ending up in spam folders. I’ve triple checked all SPF, DKIM, DMARC and FOOBAR settings to make sure it’s all right. 🤞
Other newsletters I subscribe to on Buttondown:
- Frank Chimero’s ETC
- Alan Jacob’s Snakes & Ladders
- Chris Bowler’s The Weekly Review
- Robin Sloan’s Year of the Meteor
That’s it for now. I’ll probably share some more about the other improvements but you will probably just see them as you read. I’m also playing with a new Currently section that I think will be a lot of fun!
Let’s get to the links! 👌
Om Malik making a broader point around the behavior we reward lately.
Given the size of the reward relative to that of the punishment for lying, cheating and bad behavior, there is little incentive for others not to imitate their actions. What’s good for Facebook is good for every startup that wants to cut corners and grow fast. What’s good for WeWork, is good for others. What’s good for the Astros is good for the Red Sox — and trust me, pretty much every other team. Possible even my beloved New York Yankees.
Just think about the literal billions of dollars that the founder of WeWork is enjoying right now. As a society, we need to be more balanced in what success is. Let’s start with being authentic and genuine as part of it!
As an aside, my son has this infatuation with the Astros. I’m struggling with how much at the age of 9 he should be getting a complete view of this, versus his young love and fervor for the sport of baseball. Greed puts us all in awkward spots.
What a great read and an interesting concept. I read this and felt a lot of truth ring through in my own experience.
The magic, the alchemy, occurs when what we do mixes with who we are and is cooked by the heat of what we believe.
This is worth reading a few times, and probably keeping a bookmark to for the future.
I can say with total conviction that as I have worked on being a better leader it has required me to get better with myself first. As I’ve broken down those barriers, I’ve been able to engage others better. After all, if you cannot have a constructive conversation with yourself on a difficult topic, how can you ever with another person.
That’s often the biggest obstacle to becoming your self. The frenzied, frenetic, do-it-now, answer-the-email-now-or-the-company-will-die-even-though-it’s-3 a.m. attitude is precisely the wrong process of becoming your self.
You need space and room.
Dissatisfaction with materialism and the usual rewards of society is not new, but minimalism is not an idea with a straightforward chronological history. It is more like a feeling that repeats in different times and places around the world. It is defined by the sense that the surrounding civilisation is excessive, and has thus lost some kind of original authenticity, which must be regained. The material world holds less meaning in these moments, and so accumulating more stuff loses its appeal.
Reading: My book club has started reading The Nordic Theory of Everything and I’ve enjoyed the first third of the book I’ve read thus far.
Watching: Recently finished watching Succession S2 and absolutely loved it! S1 was good, but S2 was great. I’m already searching online to see when S3 is going to air. It felt like in S1 the show was all about the kids and the father, Logan Roy, wasn’t as big of a character. In S2 Logan was central to much of the story. I wonder if this was planned or a reaction to Brian Cox‘s amazing performances.
Deleting: Any apps I don’t use regularly on my phone.
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This headline is a little misleading. More accurately, Google acquired a small company with a presence in Kyiv and is keeping it. The general trend of more technology development, not only outsourcing, happening in Ukraine is real though. I travel there twice a year to work with our team of 80 technologists there. 🇺🇦
This seems like a really cool service. You send an email to your diary and then this service keeps it private and secure for you. It’s a very simple way to author. It also has a newsletter like extension of allowing friends to subscribe to those notes you send. I’m not sure about this being a black box, I’d want to know there is a way to always keep a copy of my data, but the user interface being simple email is good.
In short, instead of taking all of the productivity leverage technology has provided us we’ve instead raised the bar and increased the amount of work we do to fill the space left open.
Better technology means higher expectations—and higher expectations create more work.
Seems like a similar argument that is made about making more money just means you spend more. 💸
A radically simple web statistics offering that removes all privacy concerns I would have with these services. It tracks no individual data at all. This is essentially like a simple server-side analytics package, but implemented in a very convenient web model. Open source, written in Go.
I’m a big believer in hobbies and enjoying a variety of different activities.
Not everything needs to be a side hustle, and not every hobby needs to make us more marketable. Set out to try something new with no expectations attached. Let go of your perfectionist instincts to find the joy and the worthwhileness of experimentation. Maybe it’ll turn out for you, like it did for me, that the freedom to fail outside of work makes you more willing to take risks at work. But even if your hobby doesn’t have an effect on your professional life, it’s still valuable.
Seriously good advise for entering a new role as a leader.
I can’t recommend Ring to anyone. The company has a bad reputation with security and I think their fear based marketing campaigns are despicable. Before you think this article is good, since Ring took action when someone watched videos, ask yourself why they even could do that. This shouldn’t even be possible to do.
Very interesting personal knowledge system.
I’ve been trying to use streaks to reinforce good habits.
But it turns out that real progress comes not from measuring ourselves against everyone else’s pace, but in building habits. And habits come from streaks.
I use Streaks on iOS to keep track of mine. My longest streak is currently at 336 days! 🏆
I’ve coached many people on this over years. The most common place in technology for anger, or anger-frustration, to appear is dealing with system failures. Everyone is on edge, tensions are high, and people have a swirl of feelings from fear, anger, frustration, anxiety and many more coarsing through their system. The cortisol is pumping. But anger is not helpful, and creates a cancer in a culture. Leaders cannot exhibit it, and cannot condone it.
Completely agree with this, and I also see it from time to time. If you are presenting to the room, then stand in front and present. Take the stage!
Interesting advice for managers.
How often do we just move on to the next thing? ESPECIALLY in our work as managers! There’s no launch party for a reorg :D There’s no trophy for writing that really hard email, or delivering that really challenging feedback.
Find trustworthy peers to lean on so that they can celebrate YOUR progress, and you can celebrate THEIRS, too. It’s a game changer.
Oftentimes this happens through formal or informal mentor relationships, but I like the idea of being more deliberate with it.
I think that augmented reality is going to be a huge deal. I’m intrigued by visual AR, but I’m also intrigued by audio AR. When we can engage with the real world with all the insight and capabilities of technology it could be amazing.
Where AR has the potential to change everything is the ability not to be ‘in your face’, but to blend into the world around you. The capability to seamlessly augment your vision is so powerful that if Apple – or anybody else – ever pulls it off, it will upend how we interact with technology as much or more as the smartphone ever did.
There is a very real negative path here too, and I’m hard put to give a good answer why that won’t be where we end up. But the potential here is amazing.
To the point advice for leaders.
When I’ve screwed up as a leader it has been a lack of clarity or presence. Why have I done this? Another truth related to leadership is that all leadership flows from character. Every time I’ve done wrong or less than I could have as a leader it has been a character weakness, either temporary or an ongoing struggle.
This is one to refer back to from time-to-time, especially if you are facing some challenging decisions or situations.
Mind maps are a tool that I feel I could get a lot more value out of so I enjoyed this take from Brett Terpstra. I have all the same tools that he has, and this article helped me think about them differently. I might sign up for the Mind Mapping Course at The Sweet Setup.
Frank Chimero is a renowned designer, and he’s taken to redesigning his website in the open, and documenting the process. This is a lot of fun to follow. 👏
What do you call the parts of a story? Or: why can’t journalists spell lead? · The Ethically-Trained Programmer
I spent a bunch of time working very closely with newsrooms and building bespoke tools and content management systems for them. This breakdown of the various components of an article is a good glimpse into the complexities in that world.
A bunch of #TeamSPS volunteered to demo multiple rooms at Erik’s Ranch & Retreats as they get ready to renovate them. Hard work! Great organization! Give Back!
Easiest way to make customers not feel valued? Address communication with “Dear Valued Customer”. 😏
Outdoor fun at Central Park Ice Skating Loop. ⛸
We took turns hitting a couple hundred balls at Batting Cages of Minnesota. ⚾️
We had a great time at the Mediterranean Small Plates class at Kitchen Window. It was the first party-style participation class we’ve taken and it was a lot of fun!
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Nice insights on how to make Python faster. 🏎
The GTD Weekly Review is a hard habit to build out, and these are some good suggestions to make it easier and more effective.
What an amazing video. Wow.
I often find little nuggets when reading how other people manage information flows.
My book club read How to Read a Book which is a much deeper dive on this topic, but there is a lot of similarities.
I love all the innovative projects going on right now to make blogging easy, and importantly beautiful, again. We need these projects to create a path for people that want to opt-out of the surveillance systems of social media.
Open-source pub-sub messaging system. Originally from Yahoo! and now part of Apache.
Interesting ideas for different 1:1 conversations.
Very nice writeup from one of our #TeamSPS members on their experience applying for and getting an offer to join our team. 👍
✔️ Demi. 🔲 MN BBQ!
You’ve made it all the way to the end! 👏 Here is your fortune for this week.
Don’t read everything you believe.
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The Weekly Thing is a weekly newsletter highlighting helpful, interesting, or insightful articles from the week. I am a voracious reader of technology, culture, leadership, privacy, and many other topics as my interests roam. Each article I share is framed with personal commentary combining my decades of experiences. My goal is to positively impact your journey with knowledge and insight.
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