Web Excursions 2021-04-20

🌟 [Post of The Day] Hire me and pay what you want, just give me interesting work.

what if I make the rules? In exchange, you make the price. Here are the rules:

  1. You will give me interesting or meaningful work

  2. The work will be part-time, fully remote, flexible and, where possible, asynchronous

  3. No technical interviews or coding challenges

  4. You pay what you want, per hour

Hacker News

  • agentultra: If, however, you're like 99.99% of people and are good at what you do then you'll have to find what is interesting about the job.

    • Technology for technology's sake is fun for a while but will eventually bore you. It helps to have a reason to work on what you do.

    • you can find the reason in a "boring" job as well. You just have to be curious and look for it.

  • farhadhf: Learning the shiny new tech is only fun until you you've figured out how it works, but the project doesn't end there and you have to deliver a product in the end.

    • But for most people who exclusively want the "position where they can learn new things" fixing the bugs and doing the finishing touches is no longer fun once they've figured out how the underlying tech works -

    • they leave for the next position where they can learn another shiny new tech and you're left with a half-finished project (usually with subpar code quality because this was the first project they did using the new tech).

  • yongjik: When you're highly paid you will get more interesting work, because the company will see you as a valuable asset that should be working on "hard" things.

    • When you're being paid a penny, the company will think you're worth a penny and will assign you menial tasks.

Basic Music Theory in ~200 Lines of Python

  • I’m a self-taught guitarist of many years, and like a lot of self-taught musicians, am woefully inept at (Western) music theory.

    • So naturally, I decided to write some code.

  • This article explains the very basics of Western music theory in around 200 lines of Python.

  • We’ve looked at basic notes in Western music theory.

    • How to derive chromatic scales from these notes.

    • How to use interval names to pick out the right notes from enharmonic equivalents.

  • Then we looked at how to generate scales and chords of various kinds using interval formulas, both using

    • standard interval names and

    • intervals relative to the major-scale.

  • Finally, we saw that modes are simply rotations of a scale, and can be viewed in two way for a given key:

    • the mode derived by rotating the scale of a given key (which will be in a another key), and

    • the mode derived from some key such that the first note is the key we want.


  • Whomping: As a primer for music theory, this post doesn't teach much.

    • It's using Python to derive various sets of notes in scales and modes,

    • which is already easily available via google search, and in a more learnable format than Python code.

  • jancsika: It can be tricky to deal with the intersection of music and programming.

    • for programming, the author moves logically from an array to stepping through an array.

    • But in terms of music, they start with the simplest possible scale and then jump to a third year undergrad theory concept.

Is Facebook Buying Off The New York Times?

  • Under the cover of launching a feature called Facebook News, Facebook has been funneling money to TheNew York TimesTheWashington PostTheWall Street Journal, ABC News, Bloomberg, and other select paid partners since late 2019.

  • What Facebook News does deliver—though to only a handful of high-profile news organizations of its choosing—is serious amounts of cash.

    • The Wall Street Journal reported that the agreements were worth as much as $3 million a year, and a Facebook spokesperson told me that number is “not too far off at all.”

    • the numbers are evidently much larger - former New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said the Times is getting “far, far more” than $3 million a year—“very much so.”

  • once news outlets take any amount of money from Facebook, it becomes difficult for them to let it go

  • There’s no evidence that the deal directly affects coverage in either the news or editorial departments.

    • And Facebook and Google money is, admittedly, all over journalism already.

  • three points are beyond dispute

    1. the deals are a serious breach of traditional ethics.

      • In the pre-internet days, independent newspapers wouldn’t have considered accepting gifts or sweetheart deals from entities they covered, under any circumstance.

    2. these deals help Facebook maintain the public appearance of legitimacy.

      • the impression that Facebook is a normal, legitimate business rather than a monopolistic rogue corporation.

    3. these agreements undermine industry-wide efforts that would help the smaller, ethnic, and local news organizations that are most desperately in need of help.

  • [Mark] Thompson

    • For most of his eight-year tenure as chief executive officer of the New York Times Company,

    • was one of the industry’s most thoughtful, eloquent, and persuasive critics of Facebook and the danger it presents to journalism’s business models and essential role in a democracy.

    • called for “consistency and comparability in the treatment of news providers.”

  • But then, all of a sudden, The New York Times and Facebook were making deals together.

    • Thompson stepped down as CEO in July 2020 and was replaced by his protégé, Meredith Kopit Levien, who may be even more committed to the deal than Thompson was.

  • Joshua Benton, the director of the Neiman Journalism Lab, described the big downside: The Facebook News deal, he wrote, “lets them

    1. pick the publishers they want to pay,

    2. pick the amount of money they want to pay them,

    3. get publishers to stop complaining, at least hopefully, and

    4. get headlines in the hopes that they can stave off government regulation or taxation.”

    • Facebook isn’t spending the money because they think News Tab will be profitable; It’s a way to solve a PR and policy problem.”

  • Prior to Facebook News, the company had repeatedly proved to be an unreliable partner for news publishers.

    • “Instant Articles” feature in 2015 was a bad bargain, and, as a result, many outlets abandoned the feature.

    • a “shift to video” in 2016, but inflated its video use metrics and then refused to pay publishers.

  • The world watched an extraordinary exercise of Facebook’s massive power in February when it stymied an Australian government attempt to force it to pay to link to news.

  • Some sort of trusted intermediary or collective agreement seems necessary,

    • because it’s hard to see direct handouts as anything more than a corrupt stopgap measure—especially

    • when they’re mostly given to the news organizations that need the money the least.

Setting Boundaries in Biglaw

In my experience that traditional advice [“just say no to that extra assignment”] does NOT work in Biglaw for those in most practice groups in NYC/DC/Chicago/London/etc.

  1. “Set strict limits. For example, tell your team that you are unavailable for calls/work after 6pm every night.”

    • You CAN set limits and boundaries on your time. But that likely can’t look like an entire chunk of your day, every day, where you can’t be contacted.

    • be flexible with your personal time.

    • don’t try to force it during a time where you often have work or calls to join.

    • accept that this time will likely change from day to day.

    • So long as you can schedule SOME time for yourself, it’s ok if it’s not at the same time every day. You’re still setting boundaries.

  2. “Don’t check your email when on vacation or over the weekend.”

    • This is highly dependent on who you work with.

    • you can limit your responsibilities when away.

    • Never be the only person on an email chain or with a piece of information. If you do this, you can be confident someone else will cover for you and the client will still get a response.

    • always be sure someone on your team has your back.

  3. “Just say no to more work or assignments.”

    • take ownership of your career by figuring out who the best people to work for/with are.

    • have someone else in your corner who can say no on your behalf when you are too junior to push back yourself.

    • Find your support system at the firm and stick with them.

  4. “Prepare for pushback on your boundaries – pushback is ok!”

    • The problem is that pushback might mean you won’t ever get another assignment from that person or group.

    • assume that if you are in Biglaw, that you want to stay until you choose when it’s time to leave. If that’s the case, you will have less wiggle room to pushback.

    • talk to your coworkers about your boundaries.

    • No, you don’t owe anyone an explanation about why you can’t do something (ever), but giving one can help.

    • You will get less pushback if they understand and see you as a whole person instead of just another replaceable associate.

    • while getting pushback might be OK for some, it’s not ideal if you see yourself in Biglaw long-term (or if you want to have full control of when you leave and your exit opportunities).

    • Instead of preparing for pushback, prevent it by communicating your boundaries with your team.

What else does work?

  1. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

    • Get some of that work off of your plate and onto someone else’s.

    • Even at the most junior level, there is someone you can delegate to (a more junior associate, paralegals, practice assistants, word processing, etc.).

  2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

    • When you do plan to be unavailable, communicate your absence well in advance.

    • Do this even for seemingly little things. Even if it’s just a night off or a weekend away – communicate your availability to EVERYONE on your team

    • You want to OVER-communicate your unavailability. That way, nobody can say they didn’t know you were going to be out and expect you to work during your time off.

    • Ask your team to put all of their time off into a vacation/OOO calendar that everyone has access to. This will help everyone understand everyone else’s boundaries

    • If your team doesn’t already have a system like this in place, take the initiative and create it yourself

  3. Act How You Want to Be Treated

    • when it comes to boundaries, act how you want to be treated.

    • If you respect other people’s boundaries, they will be more likely to respect yours.

    • If you send an email to a teammate, clearly communicate in the email by when you need a response. If you don’t need to know something ASAP, tell them that.