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February 2022 - Interesting Times 🇺🇦

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February 2022 - Interesting Times 🇺🇦
By Nathan Thomas • Issue #3 • View online
When we last talked through this email newsletter, we really had no idea what would happen this month. Russia has invaded Ukraine. At the time of this writing, Ukraine is still holding out.
Like many of you, I’ve tried to keep myself busy with learning and building so I don’t doom scroll 24/7 on social media. The result is that this issue is a bit beefier than the last two. I have more I want to share.
I hope you enjoy it.
I hope you’re safe.
I hope, wherever you are, you find happiness and peace.
Nathan ☕️

Articles / News
Holdy’s Homies
My friend Holdy (who works as an engineering manager at Plaid) recently created a website to help people find jobs. It’s called Holdy’s Homies. You should definitely use this resource if you’re looking for a new job.
14 Islands Blob Mixer
This incredible website allows you to play around with and customize blobs of various shapes, colors, and textures. You can then export them for free and use them in your personal projects/sites. It’s also inspired me to do some learning (more on that below in the code section).
Books
“Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail” by Ray Dalio
I’m in the middle of this book right now. Ray Dalio has served as co-chief investment officer of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, since 1985, and he writes about how to anticipate and observe the transition periods of history. It’s been insightful so far.
“Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson
Written by the renowned Walter Isaacson, this book is the most in-depth look at Steve Jobs I’ve read so far (out of ~3 books). A lot of people hold Steve up as a sort of paragon of tech culture and the most innovative person of the last century. I think it’s indisputable that he was an absolute product genius, but Walter Isaacson does a good job of also covering the complex human side of Steve’s life (including his many flaws, poor treatment of others, and important life lessons he learned the hard way).
Code
Maximum Extractable Value (MEV)
A Web3 concept, this article covers both learning to use Ethereum (along with the Ethereum Virtual Machine or EVM) and the concept of Maximum Extractable Value (MEV).
MEV is using a variety of tools within the Ethereum ecosystem to create automated interactions on the blockchain that have positive value for you.
Buildspace “Build your own domain service on Polygon”
A few of you subscribed know that I’ve taken about a half-dozen classes on Buildspace at this point. They’re a great tool to quickly dive into various areas of Web3 smart contract development. This course will teach you to replicate Ethereum Name Service (ENS) on Polygon. Oh, and they’re free courses.
JavaScript Data Structures and Algorithms Class
I used this course to prep for the engineering job I got at Twitter, and I’ve been running through it this last weekend for fun. I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking to review/pick up these skills.
Kenneth Kufluk’s “Experiments” Articles
My friend and former co-worker at Twitter, Kenneth Kufluk, recently wrote a two-part series on conducting experimentation with software features (part 1, part 2). It’s a great insight into industry best-practices.
ThreeJS/WebGL Course
I mentioned up above that the 14 Islands website really inspired me to learn some new things. If you’re going to build 3D-based websites in 2022, a great choice is a combo of ThreeJS and WebGL. This course by Bruno Simon looks phenomenal. I’ve bought it and start next month for anyone wanting to learn in parallel with me. This was also partly inspired by seeing Block’s (formerly Square’s) new homepage.
Running a Bitcoin Node
I stood up a Bitcoin light node here locally this month. I used Umbrel OS running on a Raspberry Pi coupled with a 2TB SSD. I’m thinking about writing a guide on how to do this, so keep an eye out for that.
Games
Horizon Forbidden West
For those of you who’ve managed to trade your firstborn child for a PS5, Horizon Forbidden West came out this month. I give it 4/5 stars if you’re a fan of chasing around large robots in a post-post-apocalyptic wilderness.
(Note: Some of you might be like, “Why didn’t he talk about Elden Ring??” If I wanted to bash my mind against a software brick wall for several hours, I’d just open up Workday on my work laptop.)
Music
“Wonderwall” Blink-182 Style
This cover of Wonderwall by Alex Melton is in the style of Blink-182 and it made my jaw drop. It’s so on point.
“Dinner Party” by various artists
This R&B/Soul album (“Dinner Party” is by assorted artists including Dinner Party, Terrace Martin, and more) from 2020 is incredibly chill (Spotify and Apple Music). I’d recommend throwing it on right at sunset and relaxing on a couch while you listen.
“That Funny Feeling” by Bo Burnham
My friend and physicist Lorenzo recently said, “Years ago when I watched Bo get his start on YouTube, I never expected him to be the artist that ended up encapsulating the times musically, but he’s got his thumb on the pulse.” This song from Bo (from his Netflix special “Inside”) captures the growing feelings of existential dread so many of us have been feeling the last few years.
“Redbone (Childish Gambino cover)” by Joseph Solomon
This song cover is pure beauty. It’s art, and it somehow takes an already great song and elevates it.
“We Out Here” by various artists
This album from the UK jazz scene is incredible (Spotify and Apple Music). I could listen to it for hours… which I already have.
Videos
Chris Distefano’s 9/11 Story (Explicit Warning)
Continuing the standup comedy theme from last month’s email, Chris Distefano’s 9/11 story story is easily one of the top 10 funniest standup routines I’ve ever seen.
On Turning Down Hustle Culture
This video came at a perfect time when I needed to hear its message. Hustle culture has positive sides (like achieving goals), but it’s also incredibly dangerous to your long-term health if you don’t manage your work-life balance appropriately.
“Inaction is a Slow Death”
A few of you have heard me quote this saying before, and it’s directly from this channel. This video was released 3 days ago from when this email will reach you and is once again a thesis on this concept; as humans, it’s imperative that we constantly grow and improve ourselves.
Did you enjoy this issue?
Nathan Thomas

I spend a lot of time learning, reading, and researching everything I'm interested in. Signing up for this newsletter will send all my tech, book, article, and media discoveries (and learning resources) directly to you.

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Written in San Francisco, California