Links to read - January 5, 2016

After the doldrums of the week between Christmas and New Years, I was excited to see some amazing articles start cropping up on various services.

The ghosts of Baha Mar: How a $3.5 billion paradise went bust

I have been lucky enough to do quite a bit of business with Chinese companies and my experiences have always been positive. Granted, I am lucky because I have always found Chinese culture fascinating and dream of eventually becoming fluent in Mandarin. In my experience, having some understanding of Chinese culture makes many of the problems cited in this article moot, but then again, I have never worked with such big numbers. Either way, this is an excellent article about the absolutely worst case scenario for a major real estate project with an international cast of investors.

Income inequality

Paul Graham (founder of Viaweb/Y Combinator) is an absolute hero. His essays about starting and running successful high growth companies were the perfect supplement to business school. And his essays on Lisp convinced me that there was something to functional programming. Consequently, when he writes something controversial, I am significantly biased in his favour. This particular article unleashed a torrent of horribly written, condescending, and contradictory articles against it. In this case, I cannot understand what PG's critics are talking about. Perhaps this is a sign that I am an unabashed fan boy, or maybe it's a sign that my ideas about economics are just skewed to those of the tech industry. But whatever it is, I agree with PG here.

Fundamentally, you cannot solve inequality by taking from others.

Three hundred programming interviews in thirty days

I absolutely dropped the ball on this one. It was published one month ago, but I just found it today when it front paged Hacker News. Ammon Bartram though wrote an amazing, transparent article on what his startup (which builds better hiring processes for engineers) has learned from its first 30 days of operations. Definitely a must read for anyone hiring talent...even if the talent is not technical.

An update from Linode about the recent DDOS attacks

It is always interesting to me when a large IAAS startup is victimized by a highly organized attack directed right at its reliability. My inner marketer wonders if it is an example of the tech industry's 'compete them to death' ethos. Even if this is not a competitive action, it is certainly interesting that a DDOS attack like this would happen over the holidays when most PR/communications types would be on holidays. That fact more than any other likely explains the days of radio silence from Linode. (Disclosure - I used to be a Linode customer, but chose to start hosting my websites elsewhere. Despite this, I still think their tech support is some of the best I have ever used.)

Twitter considering 10,000 character limit for tweets

This strikes me as one of the worst ideas that I have ever heard. I'll admit that I haven't used Twitter in over a year and that I only use social media accounts now to buy ads, so I'm not exactly a user of the service. But if you take away the 140 character limit, you're left with Facebook. Jack Dorsey is under huge pressure to grow the user base, but Twitter, by its definition does not appeal to everyone. In fact, that was my initial draw to the service - I got to follow the smartest people I know and learn what they are thinking in particular moments, and in relation to certain events.

I tend to argue that Twitter is a protocol, not a service and as such, it really had no business going public. When Wall Street applies its valuation lens to a protocol, the results usually aren't good. TCP/IP would have died had it gone public just a few years after launch and yet, where would our economy be without those important protocols??

Twitter lost its way when it started cracking down on its developer program and locking up its API. If I were Jack Dorsey, rather than try to turn a protocol into a service, I would open up the developer program and let talented, creative people build a generation of tools upon Twitter. I can see a whole world of location based games, marketing tools, and even business productivity tools built upon Twitter. Alas, with its current developer program, it would be foolish to build anything major upon the platform.

Written on January 5, 2016