Tidbits | Dominik Mayer – Products, Asia, Productivity

Interesting articles, videos and other tidbits from around the web.

Reclaiming Land on Sinking Islands  

In the New York Times Magazine, Samanth Subramanian describes how Singapore reclaims land from the ocean. Less wealthy nations cannot afford these measures:

Kiribati, an island nation in the Central Pacific, has bought 6,000 acres of forested land in Fiji, more than a thousand miles away, hoping to resettle some of its 100,000 people if a crisis hits. The Maldives, similarly, has talked about buying land in Australia.

How is that going to work, I wonder. Moving a whole nation into another country will cause tremendous political, legal, social and cultural issues.

Goals, Not Tasks  

Matt Blodgett:

There’s a whole class of bugs that comes down to the developer followed very specific instructions without understanding the goal. And a well-meaning manager will take that to mean I wasn’t specific enough in my instructions. No! Computers need instructions. Humans need understanding.

Exactly.

I like to take developers with me when visiting customers. A common understanding of the goal removes so much friction and makes life so much easier.

I also recommend Basecamp’s Shape up to break down the barrier between product and IT and have small teams work closely together to ship a new product or feature.

Wanting to Learn

Sir Jony Ive in the California College of the Arts’ virtual commencement for the graduating class of 2021:

Being curious fuels our appetite to learn, and wanting to learn is far more important than being right.

MVP Park  

Using a public park as an example user experience consultant Paul Boag explains how to iteratively build products. And why you should do it.

The Hottest Tables in Saigon  

Travel+Leisure portraits Anan’s Peter Cuong Franklin and Å By Tung’s Hoang Tung and mentions a couple of other fine dining restaurants.

Having been to Anan twice I’ll add some of the other places to my list.

From Bauxite to Aluminium

Emirates Global Aluminium explains how Bauxite is mined and refined.

And some footage of an aluminum smelter:

Paul Simon

Paul Simon explains how he wrote Bridge Over Troubled Water and Mrs. Robinson.

I like this line:

Everywhere I went, led me where I didn’t wanna be, so I was stuck.

The Future of Web Software Is HTML-Over-WebSockets  

Over at A List Apart Matt E. Patterson describes HTML-over-WebSockets:

What about multi-user chat? Or document collaboration? In classic frameworks and SPAs, these are the features we put off because of their difficulty and the code acrobatics needed to keep everyone’s states aligned. With HTML-over-the-wire, we’re just pushing tiny bits of HTML based on one user’s changes to every other user currently subscribed to the channel. They’ll see exactly the same thing as if they hit refresh and asked the server for the entire HTML page anew. And you can get those bits to every user in under 30ms.

Most interesting tech article I’ve read in a while.

Basecamp has been pushing this approach with Hotwire.

And Phoenix with LiveViews:

Xi Jinping Turned Me Into a China Hawk  

China expert Michael Schuman describing his disappointment with where China is headed:

Xi’s vision for “a community with a shared future,” as he calls it, is like a neighborhood where a man beats his wife every night, but anyone who tries to help her is “intervening in his internal affairs.” In order to show you are not “prejudiced,” you invite the guy over for pool parties, and smile as if nothing’s wrong. Maybe he’ll bring you a few beers. That’s how Xi defines “mutual respect.”

Currency Exchange Rates in the Apple Ecosystem  

Paul Horowitz describes on OSXDaily how to add currency exchange rates to the iOS stock app:

All you need to do is search for a ticker symbol containing the two currencies, USDEUR=X, for example.

In the four years since the article was published macOS has gained support for Stocks as well and you can show the exchange rate in a notification center widget.

Changeling

Director Clint Eastwood’s soundtrack to Changeling.

Nian

Every Chinese New Year, Apple commissions a short film.

This year it’s about the mythical Nian. Wikipedia explains:

Once every year at the beginning of Chinese New Year, the nian comes out of its hiding place to feed, mostly on men and animals. During winter, since food is sparse, he would go to the village. He would eat the crops and sometimes the villagers, mostly children. […] The weaknesses of the nian are purported to be a sensitivity to loud noises, fire, and a fear of the color red.

Hence the fireworks, noises and the red color everywhere. I remember riding my bike through Shanghai on Chinese New Year with things exploding left and right. It felt like crossing a battlefield.

Here’s the making-of video to the short film with director Lulu Wang and colleagues touting the iPhone 12 Pro Max as a cinema camera:

The Dawn of the Dragon: How Xi Jinping Has Transformed China  

DER SPIEGEL correspondent Bernhard Zand:

Deep in Siberia, at the same latitude as Hamburg, China begins. It only comes to an end some 4,000 kilometers away, on the beaches of the tropical island Hainan. Both are places of great beauty.

In the north, the Heilongjiang, the Black Dragon river, winds silently eastward. It marks the border to Russia, where it is known as the Amur. The pine forests of the Taiga stretch out behind it.

In the south, the surf of the South China Sea gently rolls into Hainan’s Yalong Bay. Plane and palm trees line the coast and children frolic on the beach. Hainan is often called “the Hawaii of China.”

In between lies a country about the size of the United States, but with four times as many people – twice as many as in Europe, more than in Africa.

Before leaving mainland China for Hong Kong, Zand once again travels the vast country.

He wants to understand how Xi Jinping has shaped China in the past eight years. Eight years, in which Zand had been living in China, eight years that Xi Jinping has been president.

The Source Code of a Coronavirus Vaccine  

Bert Hubert dives into the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 vaccine:

The code of the vaccine starts with the following two nucleotides:

GA

This can be compared very much to every DOS and Windows executable starting with MZ, or UNIX scripts starting with #!. In both life and operating systems, these two characters are not executed in any way. But they have to be there because otherwise nothing happens.

It’s absolutely fascinating how we’re just a combination of myriads of little biological computers.

How Vietnam Fought a Pandemic and Won  

For VnExpress Phan Anh retraced how Vietnam successfully contained the Coronavirus in the first and second wave. It all started way before other countries realized what was going on:

Despite its best preventive efforts, Vietnam recorded its first Covid-19 cases on January 23 in HCMC: two Chinese nationals, a father and a son, who were quarantined at Cho Ray Hospital after testing positive.

Immediately afterward, on January 24, Vietnam suspended all flights from and to Wuhan despite the World Health Organization (WHO) saying there was no need for widespread travel bans at that point in time.

More flight suspensions followed in the days after that as more cases sprouted up until finally flights to China were completely stopped on February 1.