Book Review — Coming into the Country

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Cross-posted from Goodreads

It’s said that Coming into the Country is one of the finest books on Alaska and wilderness ever written. That may be true, but I wouldn’t know as this is the only book on wilderness I’ve read. I picked up this book from The Tim Ferriss Show podcast episode with David Heinemeier Hansson.

At the outset, one likes the literary style used by McPhee to describe complex sceneries and wildlife. The detailing is so vivid that one wonders if the author was taking notes every minute of his stay in Alaska. Perhaps there’s an element of fiction in this nonfiction work, one continues to ponder. The fact that McPhee is considered a pioneer in creative nonfiction writing probably solves this puzzle. I discovered this fact after finishing the book. As an aspiring writer, there is much to learn from McPhee’s mastery of describing everyday objects and extraordinary stories with the same panache that makes them sound entertaining.

The book is divided into three parts — expeditions in the wilderness (around the Brooks mountain range), life & politics in towns and cities (Juneau, Fairbanks, Anchorage), and stories of settlers in the wild (in and around Eagle and the Yukon river). Each part approaches Alaska with a different theme, tonality, and sentiment.

I was amazed to discover in part 1 that Alaska is not all that white all through the year. In part 2, it was enlightening to know the differences in the attitudes of villagers and townsfolk, and the power struggle ensuing from statehood and the construction of Trans-Alaska pipeline.

I had mixed feelings about part 3 where McPhee tells the stories of people with roots in the “lower forty-eight states” who have adopted Alaska (come into the country) as their new home, and of the indigenous people, their modernization, and attitude toward the government. A handful stories of capitalistic Alaskans provides some contrast, but the last part of the book is mostly dominated by isolation-loving folks who wanted to live a life of self-sufficiency away from civilization. Trappers, hunters, fur traders, nomads, Indians… you’ll find them all in there. To be honest, I enjoyed the initial few stories but after a while, the narrative became repetitive and redundant. It made me a bit impatient, wanting to finish the rest of the book ASAP. I even skipped a few pages, something I never do.

All in all, it’s a good book to learn about a very different part of Earth — its climate, wildlife, culture, habits of people, civilization, etc. I had never read such a book before, so it took me more will and effort to read it till the end. Maybe people with excellent reading skills will cruise through this one much better than I did.

Book Review — The Psychology of Money

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Cross-posted from Goodreads

The book presents a collection of simple and neat ideas around how to think about managing your money. Notice my emphasis on “how to think about managing” rather than “how to manage.” I guess the title itself makes it abundantly clear that rather than discussing “proven” formulae for increasing your wealth it will talk about the psychological or emotional part of wealth management.

It’s much like how the book Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It discusses the various tactics of negotiating in the light of human behavior and emotions. So, rather than giving you step-by-step techniques to increase money, it tries to convince you to change your mindset and lifestyle in order to be wealthy. The author nicely backs his arguments up with some good real-world stories and examples. I found it thought-provoking enough to take away a lot of ideas for my own good, and note them down in my personal diary.

If I were to reduce the book to one or two lines, it would be this — the only way to get rich is to save more, be consistent and patient with your investments, believe in the power of compounding, and the ideal financial goal is to be able to do whatever the fish you want to do in life.

The postscript chapter on how the American economy became the biggest in the world through self-sustenance and internal growth is an interesting read. Not to be skipped!

Hello, Automattic

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I cannot be happier to write my comeback post to say that I’ve joined Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com. A8C is an open-source-focused, remote-first, distributed company that has many other cool products in its arsenal, like WooCommerce, Gravatar, Day One, and Tumblr. I’ve joined the WooCommerce division.

Joining this wonderful bunch of like-minded people passionate about making the web a better place is a dream come true for me. This is my chance to work at a product company after more than 10 years of working at consulting/services firms. Product engineering is quite different from the mind-boggling pressures of life in deliveries. It was one thing sorely missing in my resume.

From product development experience, what I want to take away is:

  • thinking in terms of creating high quality software directly for the end users rather than a creating custom software for handful of business folks
  • meaningful impact made through software to a wider community
  • getting paid while working on a popular open-source project 😜
  • a feeling of pride when I could walk to a bunch of random people discussing a software and say, “hey, I am part of the team that created this software”

Automattic is a flat hierarchy organization where everyone is a software engineer, including me. So, there’s no manager, director, architect, etc. Each team does have a lead, but it’s not a higher-up or a special role. Having worked in hierarchies for over a decade, it’s a substantial change for me (which will need a bit of adapting) but one I am looking forward to.

I see my new role as an adventure with plenty of opportunities to learn, work without interruptions, live life freely, travel, and do what the flock I want to do. To know about life at Automattic and the various benefits/perks that come along, head over to our Work With Us page.

Ep. 5: Micro Frontends Architecture in Practice Pt. 2 w/ Rakesh Menon & Gautam Chadha

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This is the second part of a two-part series.

This episode is hosted by AnuRock. In the last episode we were joined by Rakesh and Gautam to talk about micro frontends. We discussed the origins of micro frontends and dissected its various integration approaches. Today we will continue our discussion with Rakesh and Gautam.

Topics:

  • Micro frontends as default for all modern web projects?
  • Micro frontends decision framework by Luca Mezzalira 
  • Horizontal vs vertical splitting
  • Communication between micro frontends
  • Pitfalls of using micro frontends
  • Monorepos
  • Sparse checkout
  • Tools to manage micro frontends: Nx, Lerna, Yarn Workspaces, Gitlab
  • Jade
  • Libraries for micro frontends: Webpack 5, Piral, AWS Serverless Micro Frontends@Edge
  • Special advice

Quick Snip:

Microservices with Nest.js (by Prashi Kapoor)

Side Bytes:

  • Masala Labs (a book on culinary skills)
  • Model-based testing
  • The Code Breaker (a book by Walter Isaacson)
  • Blockchain Revolution (a book by Tapscott brothers)
  • Luca (a movie by Pixar)

Transition music courtesy https://mixkit.co

Ep. 4: Micro Frontends Architecture in Practice Pt. 1 w/ Rakesh Menon & Gautam Chadha

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This is the first part of a two-part series. To be continued in Ep. 5.

This episode is hosted by AnuRock. Today we are joined by Rakesh and Gautam to talk about micro frontends.

Rakesh Menon is a Senior Experience Technology Architect and a polyglot developer who specializes in JavaScript. He works with different teams to implement and enforce engineering best practices and modern standards. He’s perhaps best known for consulting on GraphQL and Micro frontends.

Gautam Chadha is a hands-on Senior Experience Technology Architect, specialized in building high-performance web applications. He has architected enterprise applications for Financial, Retail and Hospitality clients. He has also worked in multiple implementations of micro-frontends and microservices in Node.js and demand driven design using GraphQL.

Topics:

  • What is a micro frontend?
  • Micro frontends vs. library of components
  • Independent deployability and testability
  • Different approaches to stitch together micro frontends to create a unified application: client-side composition, server-side composition, edge-side includes
  • Routing
  • Communication patterns
  • State management
  • How to compose a page with a couple of components from Frontend A, one from Frontend B, another couple from Frontend C, and so on
  • Microservices as an inspiration model
  • Core/Platform vs. Domain teams
  • Backend for frontend (BFF) strategy

Quick Snip:

Real-world case study of micro frontends including challenges (by Sudhir Madaan)

Transition music courtesy https://mixkit.co