From the mailbox: GAN Chargers

I wrote about my Travel Setup a bit back and it already changed. Thanks to my amazement and obsession over the GAN chargers (well batteries and chargers in general) and Andrew being a generous chap I now own Anker PowerPort Atom PD1 first which is a 30 Watt single port USB-C PD charger.

I think I obsessed in an early installment of Angelesen about the new technology that allows to drastically minify charging circuits.

As one port can get a bit crowded I looked further and found the PowerPort Atom III Slim which comes with 1 USBC (45W) and 3 USB Ports (20W). Which solves most of my charging needs.

The Nano is tiny enough to just toss it into a bag and have a charger handy at all times. The multi-port charger currently takes the front seat in my current travel setup. It’s a bit smaller compared to the Satechi charger but I rarely need the full 60W of output.

Thanks again Andrew!

On Virtual Events

With the current situation carrying on for most likely another while and conferences not happening in person one of my main reasons for travel falls away. It is also interesting to see how a few conferences deal with the new reality.

There are many variations of it but I see a few reoccurring themes:

Postponed to next year

This is mainly due to contractual obligations – as sponsors might already have spoken their grants to events that’s a tricky one. Postponing makes sense as most of the contracts aren’t breached and also cancelling would land many organizing teams in hot waters when they don’t have a legal basis to do so. In short: you would lose a lot of money.

Cancelling and moving fully online

Kubecon and DrupalCon Global, for example, do exactly this. They moved their event completely online which is a great move. But more on that later. I find it hard to take a day off work to attend an online conference. As for now, everything revolves around the work from home situation it’s even harder to make a distinct cut from working to attending a conference. Also, I very much feel that I have less attention span on online conferences as everything is recorded and can be watched later. From my past few online conferences, I attended I’m usually just watching the recordings as there’s little added value in seeing an online-only live talk in most conference setups.

Drag along and facing the facts later

The most dangerous approach, in my opinion, is just dragging along and continuing efforts. This will most likely lead to slow ticket sales (if at all) because people won’t just fall back to the old norm. This is the best case leads to an event that might work out but also could lead to quite some headache if you need to cancel on short notice.

General Implications

In general, seeing events moving online made me think quite a bit. As it changes the entire dynamic of events. For a conference, I wanted to attend this means that the ticket price drops from 1500$ to just around 100$ for the attendance fee. I’d be hugely surprised if the sponsors will still chip in the normal amount of money as the event would have been an on-location event. As an online event is relatively cheap to create and there are tons of new tools that made an appearance which makes it interesting to start something your own.

What does this mean for me as a speaker?

I always questioned the high profile conferences where tickets go for high prices and usually stick to community-driven efforts. Most of the conferences already published most of their talks so there all the venue, food and activities around the conference made it worth. Now with that falling away, it gets tricky also for the speakers. Rerunning talks gets even harder as the recordings are now the core of everything.

I have sat through a few live conferences where the speaker performs his talk live – This comes at the interesting fact that there are so many things that can go wrong – It’s basically like you don’t have a professional stage crew that takes care. Having run several big events this sounds stressful to me from a tech perspective. I think recording talks before and streaming them on the day of the conference is the best compromise. There are many takes you can do and pick the best one and hone into the best end product. It also gives much more time for Q/A and speaker availability. As the speaker can answer questions during the talk – which helps to get the missing hallway track back 🙂

So. Much. Content.

Currently, there are so many online conferences you can spend your day’s binge-watching online conferences. The current abundance of content makes me wonder – What happens to the Ticket Prices. As there’s an oversupply of great content and most of it will be released online there’s not much of a point paying a lot of money to “live” attend.

Where’s the hallway track

When it comes to conferences it’s usually the hallway track that sparks the most interesting discussions. With an online-only setting, this falls away. I saw a few ideas evolving around Slack-Channels and online rooms to chat – but still, it feels kind of weird to me. I’ll give it time and observe what creative ideas conferenciers come up with.

Your Email address is now your most wanted info

There’s nothing like a free lunch – I ran into that trap on my first online conference. It was free and I paid the price. Giving the email address without adding a +conferencename filter was a huge mistake – I think I finally managed to get unsubscribed from all newsletters but there were at least 20-30 emails in the week after the online happening haunting my mailbox. I will stick to using a filter tag now, this was pretty unpleasant.

Attention span

I joked last week that I can also go to an online conference and only see 1 talk in full. While some of my conferences are hinted by a lot of talking and the occasional booth duty it’s interesting to see that my attention span is very short, to say the least. Now that I’m working from the same place as I’m attending the conference leads to me missing a lot of talks and sometimes it’s just a pain to navigate through tons of schedules to find the nice talks. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one having this issue and conference teams will need to plan for this fact

This got way longer than first anticipated but these are my current observations in the conference space. Looking forward to what may come 🙂

Angelesen #68

This week I read into a few very good pieces – There was an interesting attack on twitter which can be read from both perspectives, some good blog posts about post-mortems from Slack and you might want to dust off your YAST skills as Suse just bought Rancher Labs. Plus you might want to think about the future and if you want to force people back into offices or support Work from Home (WFH) indefinitely (if your organisation can do WFH).

Hackers Tell the Story of the Twitter Attack From the Inside (www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org)

Twiter Hack 1

Mr. O’Connor said other hackers had informed him that Kirk got access to the Twitter credentials when he found a way into Twitter’s internal Slack messaging channel and saw them posted there, along with a service that gave him access to the company’s servers. People investigating the case said that was consistent with what they had learned so far. A Twitter spokesman declined to comment, citing the active investigation.

An update on our security incident (blog.twitter.com)

The attackers successfully manipulated a small number of employees and used their credentials to access Twitter’s internal systems, including getting through our two-factor protections

Twitter Hack 2: Massively owned but it’s great to read a first pass on the post mortem.

WebGazer.js: Democratizing Webcam Eye Tracking on the Browser (webgazer.cs.brown.edu)

WebGazer.js is an eye tracking library that uses common webcams to infer the eye-gaze locations of web visitors on a page in real time. The eye tracking model it contains self-calibrates by watching web visitors interact with the web page and trains a mapping between the features of the eye and positions on the screen. WebGazer.js is written entirely in JavaScript and with only a few lines of code can be integrated in any website that wishes to better understand their visitors and transform their user experience. WebGazer.js runs entirely in the client browser, so no video data needs to be sent to a server, and it requires the user’s consent to access their webcam.

Played around with it a bit. It’s insanely accurate after a first calibration pass… and it’s written in JavaScript!

Huawei 5G kit must be removed from UK by 2027 (bbc.com)

Mr Dowden added that the cumulative cost of the moves when coupled with earlier restrictions announced against Huawei would be up to £2bn, and a total delay to 5G rollout of "two to three years".

Something you can do, but probably not solving the problem you wanted to solve.

WindowSwap (window-swap.com)

Let’s face it. We are all stuck indoors. And it’s going to be a while till we travel again. Window Swap is here to fill that deep void in our wanderlust hearts by allowing us to look through someone else’s window, somewhere in the world, for a while. A place on the internet where all we travel hungry fools share our ‘window views’ to help each other feel a little bit better till we can (responsibly) explore our beautiful planet again.

It’s brilliant!

The Future Of Workspaces Will Be Unrecognizable (forbes.com)

Many startups, ours included, have operated in an exclusively remote capacity from the start. Yet many organizations hadn’t embraced a work-from-home culture, due in part to the cost associated with establishing the infrastructure to make it work, as well as the cultural shift that running a remote team requires.

Covid-19 instantly changed that, and because the novel coronavirus has no known cure or vaccine at this time, the path back to “normal” will likely be a long one. When it does finally come time to return to the office, it likely won’t resemble anything we would recognize from before. Here’s why.

Normal is a long way away if it ever comes back. Change is the only steady thing after all. I’d be not hugely surprised of there will be 2 camps going forward: Companies that evolve and support WFH entirely and companies that seek to go back to "what always worked in the past" and force their people back into their office for better or for worse. I’m happy to work with a completely remote team 🙂

A Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day at Slack (slack.engineering)

The broken monitoring hadn’t been noticed partly because this system ‘just worked’ for a long time, and didn’t require any change.

I don’t laugh about others downtime – Today it’s theirs tomorrow we’re in the rotation of something spinning out of control. Slack published 2 very good articles – This one is the technical one and a good read on the whole situation.

All Hands on Deck. What does Slack do when Slack goes… (slack.engineering)

4:51PM One of the responders declares, “we’re about to go offline, we just lost all main_wwws in the webapp pool”. This is the moment where you feel the blood drain from your face. What does Slack do when Slack goes down? In such unfortunate situations where we aren’t able to rely on Slack, we have prescribed alternative methods of communication. Following incident runbooks, we quickly moved to the incident Zoom and elevated the response to a Sev-1, our highest severity level. Executives were paged, per the runbook. A company-wide email was sent out, with links to department specific runbooks for full site outages. Our real-time client instrumentation, which sends telemetry to an isolated endpoint, showed that success rate on the clients had dipped to abysmal levels. It was all hands on deck at this point.

Post Mortems are an art form. Slack shows so many great details in this overview on handling this outage. Must-Read for Ops people.

Department of Health website saw 760% rise in traffic at peak of COVID-19 (themandarin.com.au)

The Services Australia website experienced a 650% rise in traffic. The agency worked closely with the GovCMS team to increase database capacity so the website could handle heavy traffic, according to Services Australia general manager Susie Smith. […] Meanwhile, health.gov.au experienced a 760% increase in traffic, with up to 6 million visits a day during the busiest times.

Do good and talk about it: Most of those sites run on our Platform 🎉

SUSE to Acquire Rancher Labs (rancher.com)

SUSE, the world’s largest independent open source company, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Rancher Labs. Based in Cupertino, Calif., Rancher is a privately held open source company, providing a market leading Kubernetes Management platform.

Ok didn’t see Suse sneaking up and buying Rancher. That’s a surprise. Guess I need to get my YAST skills back in shape.

13 lessons learned from taking 8 AWS certification tests in 4 weeks (medium.com)

Some good bits if you are taking a AWS certificate soon 🙂