Links and Notes - March 31st 2021
On browser extensions and alternative platforms
Another school day, another podcast. I'm currently catching up on the My First Million podcast and I'm in the middle of episode 163: Plugins Making Millions, Gumroad's Crazy Valuation & Why a Studying App is Going Viral. It's definitely one of their better ones where both Sam and Shaan riff off each other's thoughts and come up with juicy ideas for browser extensions. I say juicy because the ideas they mention generate even more ideas as I listen to it.
One of the ideas that Shaan mentions is something along the lines of meditation and perhaps there's opportunities for an extension to remind us to close/clean up tabs after a while. This idea resonates with me. In 2018, I actually wrote about attempting to build up a habit to keep only a certain number of tabs open at a time. I definitely failed miserably when it came to following that, but I think a browser extension would be great for that. Funnily enough, one of the titles from yesterday's notes was literally Extensions to save attention.
I like working on extensions. I like the ideas that are bubbling in my head right now. And I think this is good motivation to try and start something (where hopefully it won't end up in the graveyard of ideas).
But that's not all I wanted to put into this thought. I think the most interesting idea from this whole conversation was where Shaan and Sam discussed the untapped potential of alternate platforms. When we think of platforms to create "apps" for, we tend to think Apple and Google. But Sam points out (paraphrased):
There's 1.6 billion iPhone users and 2 million iphone apps in the store. Chrome users? There's 3 billion chrome users, 200 thousand plugins
I put together a notecalc notepad here which basically goes to show, that there's an app for every 1000 users of iphone whereas there's only one app per 15000 users in the chrome plugin world. That's a weird way of thinking about it. I get it. But it goes to show how much better the odds are which is what Sam is basically saying. And Shaan points out the other apps stores around the world: Hubspot, Slack, Salesforce. My mind was shouting "WINDOWS APP STORE" while listening. It's a great point though. Go looking for underserved markets. Use the "method" in that notepad to see how good your odds are. It'll probably make for a fun experiment.
Ember conf 2021 Keynote is up
The keynote comes in 2 parts. This is the 1st
Although I don't actively use emberjs, I love watching their keynotes. They are informative and every year I tell myself, this will be the year I work on an app and I'm going to use Ember for it. I still haven't done that but at some point... Some day.
More importantly is why I keep coming back to Ember. When I listen to this 1st part of the keynote, it's a recap of the process that the emberjs team built around building emberjs. I'm reminded again and again how much the core of emberjs appeals to me philosophically. They set out to build a framework which would allow people to keep taking advantage of its improvements without having to pause the actual work of shipping.
This is almost a mantra within the Ember community and the leaders constantly preach this value. This stands in contrast to other projects such as react where the goal they state is "Make it easier to build great user experiences". There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but when I read about it and listen to what is said in the conference, I can't pretend that I feel all that excited. In fact I feel disconnected enough for it to feel more generic than inspiring. To be clear, this is purely my reaction to it; it's likely to be exciting to a lot of other people and that's awesome for them.
So when I listen to the keynote at Ember, I keep hearing a voice in my head saying "these are my people!". I know that ember isn't one of the "cool kids". I know that ember gets mentioned as being part of the "backbonejs era". But it really doesn't seem to be that way at all. I may not use ember, but from what I have tried out with it and everything I know about the direction of the project and the community, it seems to be a vibrant and innovative project which deserves more love.
If you haven't really followed along with ember, I recommend giving that talk a watch. It's a little janky at the start but gets better and better as it goes along. If it sings to your soul, lemme know! Or, just join the community too :D.
One last note, Emberjs really should consider creating a course at frontendmasters.com. The material that's there is sadly outdated and contributes to the impression that ember is a sleeper project despite being in production at some amazing companies.
Following people who blog as a hobby
For a while now, I've been feeling a little sad that almost every personal site/blog I see seems to be built around building an individual's business or brand. There's nothing wrong with this. I'm actually writing a longer essay on the topic. It's just something that makes me really sad when I think that one promise of the internet was that we would have permission to carve out a space to express ourselves freely and somehow that doesn't seem to be a thing anymore. It almost feels like that playful attitude died off after the peak of Tumblr and was replaced with a poorly hobbled version when Twitter came along.
Two people I know who still follow this ethos of using their space to express themselves without worrying about the commercial upside are Dave Winer and Rubenerd. I've even written about both of them here and here.
- https://danshumway.com/ Hasn't published in a long time. Should. Interesting writing.
- https://www.swyx.io/ideas/?show=Essays Mostly on technical stuff but not afraid to throw in life stuff including their love for Singapore Mixed Rice
- https://benjamincongdon.me/blog - Productivity and programming
- https://blog.steve.fi/ Occasional posting
- https://jmtd.net/log/ - Everything and more!
There's more in that post but I don't have time to dig through it all. Basically it seems like there are plenty of people who blog for the joy of just sharing their thoughts into their space on the internet. I just need to dig a bit more. I'm looking forward to curating a list and sharing more.
This blog doesn't have a comment box. But I'd love to hear any thoughts y'all might have. Send them to [email protected]
Note that I haven't looked at the content of any of these. Apologies if there's anything in there that raises eyebrows ↩︎
Posted on March 31 2021 by Adnan Issadeen