Don’t “empower” anybody.

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Claire Lew:

I hate the word “empowerment.”

I never think I should “empower” anyone — especially our employees.

Why? The definition of the word “empower” is:

to give power to (someone); to make (someone) stronger and more confident.

The key words here are “give” and “make.” Empowerment means you’re transferring power to someone else. You think someone else needs you — your permission, your influence, your talents — to do something. And I don’t ever believe that’s the case.

Our employees don’t need me to do anything.

When it comes to motivation, everything people need they already have inside them. Each person has something unique, special and important to offer the world. And as a leader, it’s my job to merely create the best environment that allows them to come into that themselves.


What makes a programming language cool?

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Richard Kenneth Eng:

There are many programming languages today vying for your consideration, especially the “hot” (or “cool!”) new languages like Ceylon, Crystal, Dart, Elixir, Elm, Go, Haxe, Julia, Kotlin, Rust, Swift, TypeScript. And new ones seem to be popping up every month!

Even some of the not-so-new languages are grabbing attention, languages like Clojure, Erlang, F#, Haskell, Lua, OCaml, Scala. Some of these languages are decades old!

So it got me wondering: What makes a programming language, regardless of age, trendy and exciting?


Unnecessary Qualifiers

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Tara Mann:

Most people struggle with confidence at times, especially in the workplace and I’m no exception. I often find myself presenting my design work and my opinions with a variety of qualifiers, as if pointing out my perceived flaws before someone else can will negate them. This is just as much a reminder to myself as it is to anyone else, but please, present your work without apologies.

Here are a bunch of unnecessary qualifiers and why they’re unnecessary. When I find myself typing one of these, I take a step back, read over what I was trying to say, and rewrite…

Interesting reading from Tara with several key take aways.


How to Boss

Links , Startups

Cameron Moll:

Years ago as a high school student I was driving to school and Bruce Springsteen came on the radio. Except he wasn’t singing. He was answering questions from a local radio host.

At some point in the interview, Springsteen shared an uncanny observation about parents, paraphrased as best as I can I recall:

The best way I know how to honor your parents is to take all their good attributes and incorporate them into who you are, and leave behind all the bad ones.

That observation has stuck with me for more than 20 years.

No one knows how to Boss like the Boss himself, Springsteen.


Build a Status Page powered by Github and Uptime Robot

Code

This post was originally posted on Coded Geekery, my personal blog about finding a work-life balance, but I wanted to share it here as well since it’s about the Flybase status page.

Overview

We built our own status page for Flybase, you can see it here.

It was built as a static HTML page on Github Pages. It uses Github Issues to report any incidents and Uptime Robot to monitor our sites.

This idea is based loosely on the statuspage repo created by @pyupio, but simplified, as I wanted this to be pretty much automated, plus we already use Uptime Robot for monitoring, so combining Uptime Robot with Github Issues works great.

To get started, you’ll want two things:

  1. An Uptime Robot account
  2. A GitHub repo where you can throw your site up and use the issues system.

Create a branch in your repo called gh-pages, this is where your files will sit.

Ok, let’s build our status page:

1. create index.html

First, create our index.html file:

2. Create script.js

Next, we’ll create script.js, this is the file that talks to our services.

Replace the following variables with actual lines:

YOUR-UPTIME-ROBOT-API-KEY-1 and YOUR-UPTIME-ROBOT-API-KEY-2: Uptime Robot’s default API key is universal, but is also read and write. We want this monitor to be read-only so we have to create an API Key for each site we are creating. This is an array of keys.

To add more sites, just add a new line and add a new monitor key.

YOUR-GITHUB-USERNAME: Your Github username where the repo you created lives.

YOUR-GITHUB-REPO: The Github repo you created to use.

2. Create style.css

Finally, we want to create our style.css file. Just copy this entire block into the file.

4. Git it Going

Once you’ve created your files, you want to put them on your repo, you can either create them directly from the github.com interface, or you can create them locally and commit them.

If you want to add this to a specific domain, then create a file called CNAME and store your domain or subdomain in there.

Finally, create a file called .nojekyll which tells Github Pages that this is a strictly static site.

To customize Github Issues, we set up labels to identify issues:

  • operational means all systems good.
  • investigating means under investigation.
  • outage to identify an outage.
  • degraded to identify an issue causing degraded performance.

On top of that, you can add labels that start with system: and they will show what system the issue is related to. For example system:blog would show an issue with our blog.

Labeling an issue with any of these tags will reflect on the status page.


This status page works pretty well, and was useful last week with the AWS outage that happened. It showed the status of our various services, and let us push updates via Github Issues that showed up below.

I do plan on making an update at some point to take into account comments inside issues.

This is a basic status page, but it helps show people what is happening with your sites, and keep everything nice and transparent.

Originally posted on Coded Geekery, my personal blog about finding a work-life balance


Unlock honest feedback with this one word

Links , Startups

Claire Lew:

A few years ago, a CEO told me how she was struggling to get honest feedback from her board.

No one seemed willing to be critical or give her pointers on things she could improve. After every board meeting, she would turn to them and ask directly:

“What feedback does anyone have for me?”

She’d hear crickets. Every single time.

Good advice for getting feedback.


Seth Godin: Drawing a line in the sand

Links , Startups

There are two real problems with this attitude:

First, drawing lines. Problems aren’t linear, people don’t fit into boxes. Lines are not nuanced, flexible or particularly well-informed. A line is a shortcut, a lazy way to deal with a problem you don’t care enough about to truly understand.

Most of all, drawing a line invites the other person to cross it.

Second, the sand. Sand? Really? If you’re going to draw a line, if you’re truly willing to go to battle, you can do better than sand.

  • Seth Godin

That saying has always bugged me too, and we never draw lines here at Flybase.


Uncovering the why behind customer questions

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Paulina Welnic:

When it comes to customer support, great product knowledge and technical skills go to waste if we’re answering the wrong question.

Customers reach out to you when they hit a roadblock in using your product and getting their job done. So getting your customers answers not just quickly, but correctly, is key.


All or something

Links

DHH:

One of the most pervasive myths of startup life is that it has to be all consuming. That unless you can give your business all your thoughts and hours, you don’t deserve success. You are unworthy of the startup call.

This myth neatly identifies those fit for mission: Young, without obligations, and few if any extra-curricular interests. The perfect cannon fodder for 10:1 VC long shots. They’re also easier to rile up with tales of milk and honey at the end of the rainbow, or the modern equivalents, “compressing your working life into a few years” and “billon-dollar waves”.

But running your life in perpetual crunch mode until the buy-out or bullshit-IPO fairy stops by your door is not surprisingly unappealing to lots of people.

The problem is that most “exciting new company” lore is intermingled with that of Startup Culture™. This means it’s hard to find your identity when it doesn’t match the latest company write-up of How Those Crazy Kids Turned VC Millions Into Billions!!!

Most people will look at that and say that’s not me. I don’t have 110% to give. I have a family, I have a mortgage, I have other interests. Where’s my place in the startup world if all I have to give is 60%? What can putting in part-time give?

DHH wrote this five years ago and just republished it. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone starting up something.


Betakit's Open Letter from the Canadian Tech Community

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The Canadian tech community comprises many different nationalities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, mental and physical abilities, and perspectives. We believe that this diversity is a source of strength and opportunity.

On this topic, we are united.

Canadian tech companies understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders. In choosing to hire, train, and mentor the best people in the world, we can build global companies that grow our economy. By embracing diversity, we can drive innovation to benefit the world.

The 21st century will be driven by pluralistic economies powered by pluralistic societies.

This is a belief founded upon personal experience for many in our community. Many Canadian tech entrepreneurs are immigrants, are the children of immigrants, employ and have been employed by immigrants.

As connected economies, decisions by the United States can directly impact every business north of the border. The recently signed Executive Order to block entry of citizens from seven countries has already impacted several in our community. As a community, we are all affected.

As a community, we stand together in opposition to the marginalization of people based on their birthplace, race, or religion.

The Canadian tech community supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s message that Canada will and must remain inclusive to all nationalities. We also stand directly opposed to any and all laws that undermine or attack inclusion, and call on Prime Minister Trudeau and our political leaders to do the same.

We’ve signed the open letter, one of 1297 other signatures on the list and 1 of the 881 Canadian companies who have signed at the time I shared this post.