Week 16, 2024 - Tidying Up

Week 16, 2024 - Tidying Up

I spent 45 minutes Thursday morning cleaning up the walking labyrinth and its surroundings that I discovered last week. All the trash, cigarette butts, beer cans, paper tissues, pieces of plastic toys, candy wrappers, and empty bottles created a strong contrast with this peaceful little forest not far from the center of the town. I struggled to decide if I should write about this. I value social feedback more than I would like, and advertising something like this feeds that addiction. Besides, (one of) the point of generous actions is not to boast about them.

On the other hand, I’m hoping this plants the idea into just one person’s head that while it might sound a bit absurd, it's absolutely doable and fun, going out with a bag and cleaning up a public area close to us. Littering is the ultimate arrogance. Leaving something in a better shape than you found it is surprisingly rewarding.

📋 What I learned this week

I realized this part of the newsletter has slowly turned into “What I did this week”. When I started, I didn't just want to document but focus on the lessons in the week's events. I shouldn’t lose that goal, so I’ll switch back to the original framing this week.

📝 It’s better to build this newsletter progressively during the week. It’s the second week now that I’m opening the draft of the newsletter on Monday, and during the week I’m adding small links, and snippets of text to it. The benefits of this process are obvious: it’s less of an effort to finalize on Friday, and more importantly, I find stuff from the earlier part of the week that I forgot by now.

🍻 The biggest source of inspiration is meeting people. This week I wrote about Driving Change Beyond One’s Role, the idea of which came from an intro chat; and yesterday I went to the public recording of the AVK Podcast (Hungarian), meeting a bunch of old and new friends. The feeling when you share a passion with others, the discussions about challenges, mistakes and wins,… it’s so energizing.

📫 Simplicity over versatility. It has been bugging me since the beginning of my homelabbing exercise that within VMs and containers I don’t receive emails sent to root, which could contain important warnings and errors. This week I resolved this, and now I receive every notification without having to run a full email server. A note for my future self: the easiest way to set up email sending via GMail’s SMTP is with DragonFly MTA. This is a good guide. You don’t need all the features of Postfix or Sendmail.

🔥 An untested backup is worse than not having a backup. If you don’t have any backups, at least you have certainty — if you don’t test your backups, you might have a false sense of security instead. I realized this after deleting one of my Linux Containers to test my offsite backup. The default Proxmox GUI restore failed with tar (grandchild): Cannot close: Permission denied, and no Googling helped. (Granted, the error message is pretty clear, yet I couldn’t get close to solving it. My final theory was that some file operations are not working on the object storage that s3fs is providing an interface to.) Keeping simplicity over versatility in mind, I simply copied the corresponding backup files to a local folder, and using pct restore 105 /tmp/vzdump-lxc-105-2024_04_18-04_52_43.tar.zst --storage local-lvm worked like a charm. Phew!

🎯 What I want to try next week

I mentioned the podcast recording and the discussions I had yesterday, and one topic emerged: handling failure. (The topic of the talk was leadership mistakes.) I’ll try to collect my thoughts on this in an article.

I didn’t progress much on the data separation in the homelab, maybe next week.

Finally, while I was not planning to go back to full-time yet, there’s an interesting Senior EM position that found me and I’ll have some interviews next week. One of them will apparently be a live coding test. I don’t think I ever did that, so it will be an interesting experience to learn from.

🤔 Articles that made me think

90 Days In: Key Lessons from My Solopreneur Journey

Sergio Visinoni made the jump from full-time employment to “solopreneurship”, freelancing as a fractional CTO/consultant/coach at the same time I left my last job to focus more on my individual professional career (resulting in this blog and newsletter, amongst other things). He’s candidly sharing the lessons learned from the first quarter, and it’s great to get a glimpse into his experience starting on this career path. The lightbulb part of the article for me was the idea to make the smallest chunk of time allocated for a task half a day. This helps to timebox, avoids delays compiling into the day, sets realistic goals, and minimizes context switches. Great!

I asked 100 devs why they aren’t shipping faster. Here’s what I learned.

I’m not linking this as a revelatory solution to Platform Engineering teams to find out The Single Most Important Area For Faster Delivery. It’s a great read to show a lot of areas where developers feel they are being held back, but that’s not the point. The point is that every company is different, and while I’m sure most of the issues in the article are also relevant to your teams to some extent, the challenge is to find which one is the most painful and where the biggest improvement can be achieved with the least investment, and focus on that alone until it’s done, ignoring all the other pain points. It’s hard and needs focus and discipline.

🖼️ Something cool: Home Dashboard in a Picture Frame

This idea came up in a Reddit thread I think. I like the execution a lot, and how it blends with the other picture frames. Very clean. I’ve wanted to play with microcontrollers or small computers, and this seems like a perfect project for the summer. We’ll see if it becomes something I commit to or a distraction that I’ll need to work on ignoring.

That’s it for today, spend some time doing what you love this weekend,


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