Sunday, February 3, 2019

One thing that’s a pain in the ass about living in Berlin is the airports. Both of the currently operating airports, Tegal and Schönefeld, are Cold War relics that are ill-maintained jokes by modern standards.

There has been a replacement airport in the works for years that was scheduled to open in 2011, but it’s been delayed so many times that there are now entire international airports elsewhere in the world that have been conceived, built, and opened in the time that they’ve tried to fix the new airport’s mess.

They could have scraped the new airport terminal to the ground and rebuilt it in the time they’ve been faffing around trying to fix what’s been built.

Autumn 2020 is the new target date for completion. Nobody believes it. I’ve seriously started considering taking the train to Frankfurt or Dusseldorf in the meantime.

16:00 UTC
Monday, February 4, 2019
Snowy morning in Bellevue Washington

Waking up in my hotel room, I saw a message from my colleague — who I’d planned to go into the office with first thing in the morning to catch up on life — saying, “Guess I won’t be going into the office with you today.”

“Wha? Wha? Wha?” I thought, “Did I wake up too late? Shit.” Man, I was really looking forward to catching up.

I opened up the windows and saw a bit of snow. Nothing serious, but dammit, I wish I had brought a bigger jacket with me on this trip. Then I opened my laptop and saw messages talking about snow everywhere and offices being closed. Shuttles weren’t running. Everybody was recommending staying home and working remotely.

I finally got that my colleague wasn’t telling me that he had already left. Welcome to Seattle. A couple of inches of snow and no snow equipment equals total shutdown. Alright then. Luckily, he was staying at the hotel next to mine, so we met up and had a long coffee and then lunch and really caught up. Perfect.

20:00 UTC
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Chad Fowler speaks to the Azure Developer Advocacy team in Bellevue, Washington
21:00 UTC
Sunday, February 10, 2019

After hearing several good reviews, I’ve been playing with Timeshifter to help with jet lag. From their marketing material:

Generic jet lag advice is, well… generic. It won’t reduce your jet lag and can actually make it worse. Each traveler and trip is different and requires a personalized approach taking your sleep pattern, chronotype, itinerary, and a range of personal preferences into account.

After two trips, the advice the app generates has been working really well. It doesn’t eliminate all the symptoms of jet lag for me, but the fairly mild symptoms I do have on longer trips are compacted nicely into just a few days. The app isn’t cheap to use, but anything that helps beat jet lag is worth a lot.

I think I’m going to have to extensively update my own jet lag advice article.

16:00 UTC
Monday, February 11, 2019

A couple of years after activating my account, I’m finally putting it to use. I’ve set it up to pull from the Atom feed from my website and then repost content on both and Twitter.

15:00 UTC
Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I think I was 12 years old the first time I went skiing. It was a church youth group event, and we took a charter bus to Copper Mountain. Spending 5 days on the slopes was a great way to learn how to ski. I spent all day, every day on the mountain, and the rest of the time either asleep or listening to Pyromania on my Walkman and avoiding interacting with the other kids as much as I could get away with.

I fell in love with mountains and snow on that trip.

Today, my son took his first ski class. He’s not yet three years old, but loved gliding across the snow on skis with a grin on his face as he learned how to make a wedge — the instructor called it a pizza for easy understanding. Towards the end of his lesson, he said, “I don’t want to make a pizza anymore. I want to ski!

I think he’s found the love, too. I couldn’t be happier.

15:30 UTC
A snowy gondola ride in Austria.

Not only is the kid going to totaly kick my ass at skiing one day soon, but he’s also going to be a good photographer as well. I had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of this photograph other than handing him my iPhone and letting him snap away. Even the square crop was his decision.

21:30 UTC
Friday, February 15, 2019

The history of budding authoritarian leaders who used emergency declarations to get their way in a nominal democracy (or at least a republic) is a long one. Not every leader who does so will become a dictator, of course, but it’s high on the list of tactics for dictators to use to wrest power from an elected government.

Trump’s use of emergency power today isn’t the final death knell of the Republic. But damn, it’s unsettling.

21:00 UTC
Belle Époque hotels in Bad Gastein, Austria.
22:30 UTC
Sunday, February 17, 2019
Gasteinertal with a fresh layer of snow.

There’s something magical about waking up, looking out the window, and seeing the land covered with fresh snow. I love it.

08:00 UTC
Monday, February 18, 2019

IKEA should make up a word, in that funny IKEA product name way, for that feeling when you’re several hours into a visit having debated twenty-three different options with your partner about stuff for your home; and you’re not even to the marketplace yet where you can buy pots and pans.

And let’s not forget the variant of the feeling where you go to IKEA all by yourself in an effort to avoid it, and yet it still strikes.

08:30 UTC

The real emergency is the climate. Greta Thunberg, an autistic 16 year old from Sweden says everything that needs to be said:

…everyone keeps saying climate change is an existential threat and the most important issue of all, and yet they just carry on like before. I don’t understand that, because if the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. To me that is black or white. There are no gray areas when it comes to survival. Either we go on as a civilization or we don’t. We have to change.

Instead, we’re all worked up over building walls.

18:45 UTC
Friday, February 22, 2019

“Will you move back home?” It’s a question I get from people now and then, especially from the family where home means back to America. My answer is always swift: “For sure, not soon.”

”Why not?” is the predictable question.

There are dozens of reasons, but the one that comes first to my mind is always this: I don’t want my child ever having to take part in an active shooter drill at school. It’s such a uniquely American thing at this point in history, and so completely and utterly unimaginable to me, now that I live outside the states.

20:50 UTC
Saturday, February 23, 2019

Maxime Rouiller’s article about building a multi-stage Dockerfile for SPA and static sites kind of opened up my mind a little bit. I’m pretty comfortable with containers at this point, but the simplicity of the idea is so damn elegant.

Take an NGINX base layer, and put the static content in on top of that, and done. You now have an instant packaged website in an efficient deployment mechanism that can be executed anywhere you can run a container.


19:00 UTC
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Happy wife, happy life?
09:00 UTC

Being on a remote first team means that instead of having to miss your group’s all-hands meeting scheduled for 00:30 your local time, you can wake up the next morning and instantly watch a recording of the meeting and be up-to-date on the conversation happening in Slack (or Teams). I’m glad to be on such a team.

09:45 UTC

Pitching is broken, argues my colleague Ian McDonald. In the London office, Microsoft for Startups no longer requires a pitch. Instead, they use an intake form and then interview.

Isn’t it much better to explicitly ask people for information, rather than hoping that they’ll give you the information in a short pitch? How are people who haven’t seen a pitch deck or worked with VCs before meant to know what they are being judged on? The tech industry is (unconsciously) excluding people who don’t have an understanding of, and connections into, the startup ecosystem.

The only counterpoint I can make is that a good pitch shows that a company knows how to communicate what they’re selling. A company that can’t pitch their product is going to have a hard time with marketing. But, for what we do, that shouldn’t be a barrier to filter on. It should instead be something we work with companies to do better.

10:30 UTC
Office view from Microsoft for Startups in Berlin
17:00 UTC
Thursday, February 28, 2019

WSL pro tip: Don’t mix the streams. For example, don’t try to work with an NPM-based project using the Windows version of NPM when you set up the project on the Linux side a while ago.

13:25 UTC

Duncan Davidson is a software developer, startup advocate, speaker, book author, and photographer living in Berlin.