bye bye Green Ruby

Today I’m closing Green Ruby. That newsletter, started on february 2013, has been a self-imposed weekly duty for more than 4 years. I take a lot of pride not to have missed one single week during those 225 weeks.

But now that we decided, my friends and I, to put it to an end, there is an interesting question popping up. What will happen with the list of 2,000 subscribers?

It’s common knowledge that nowadays, when you don’t pay for a service, you are the product. But honestly, I hate this statement, however relevant it may be. It eludes any possibility of generosity, and any chance to enjoy a gift economy. Open source software is an example of this. You don’t pay for it, but by using it, you are not used as an asset or a resource.

So as a symbolic gesture of rebellion, I decided that, by ending the publication, I will delete the list of subscribers. Forever.

I always felt raped when I subscribe to a service under a certain context, and then the service provider gets acquired by another company and my account gets automatically transferred. The contract changes, I have agreed to the initial setup, but why presume I would automatically agree to any other context? This is the real annoyance in that user-as-a-product thing. You are not considered as a thinking being anymore.

I hate this!

So the deletion of that list of email is a symbolic sacrifice. Why did you invest all that time and effort during those 4 years then, will you ask me? Well, I was willing to contribute to a common interest, out of generosity and love for my peers and friends. Why should I need a money-related reason? Money kills the social link, it neutralize the unmeasurable debt that we establish between each others as a community.

A society without generosity, is a society of isolated people. Gifts creates a feeling of debt, that debt is a bond. If the gift is not personal, it relates you to a community. Never forget about it. Pay it forward.


The virtues of transitions

A collection of events occurred since my last post. I was really hoping to get some deep dive into writing more about collective intelligence, in the background. But various things came and distracted me from that initial trajectory.

Hubot revival

First, there has been a revival of the Hubot project. I wrote a bunch of plugins for that chatbot for internal usage at Gandi in the past year. I have been poking around in the community complaining that it became some sort of abandonware. Issues on github were not addressed, PR unanswered, irc was silent.

Then one day 3 weeks ago, bkeepers came up and woke it up. It appears that now Github has plan for this codebase. They want to include it in its products more officially, says the rumor (nothing official yet). But it makes a lot of sense. So then he gathered people that could be involved in the revival of the project. I was contacted to join the core team. That’s what you get by nagging people.

Since then it has been quite great to clean up backlog, re-examine old ideas, help setup new process and tooling for community gardening. I never get tired to see how informal communities can shape up and self-organize.

Quiting is not a bad thing

Around the same time, I felt inspired by handing my resignation of my current job at Gandi. There is nothing wrong with the job, and most reasonable people could argue that I’m just stupid. But there are a combination of factors that led me to think I was not using my potential at full capacity.

Working on a large infrastructure as a sysadmin was great, but it’s pretty hard to build new things properly in the service industry. It’s always about contingency management, and reacting to the environment. It’s more about doing the fireman than the gardener. Well, honestly, I think it’s a question of intent and culture and that could have been addressed. But I didn’t see any hint that could let me think this environment would become intentional about gardening anytime soon.

So, out of the blue, I left. I chose a moment where there was no crisis, no trouble, no real reason to quit except a strong feeling that it was time to move on. That way, transition is painless, there is no frustration involved. I hate conflicts. My advice: never wait the burn out to make your move out.

Green ruby end of life

In the mood of transitionning, this week I proposed that we close the Green Ruby adventure. For some months Xenor has taken over the publication process. But he’s himself bunt out a bit. So after 4 years of publication, it’s time to close this properly and move on.

That weekly links collection was a fun exercise. And I’m really happy to have refused any business side track on this operation, it would have been much harder to close.

What next?

I decided that I could stay funemployed for a while (that’s the proper term, right?). I’m planning to look around, play with techs, talk with friends, hold on any decision to engage in anything. It’s time to re-assess my roadmap. This is what is great in transitions. By losing contact with the ground, you can feel the direction of the wind.

Maybe I will get back to entrepreneurship, and setup some business venture. Maybe I will freelance for a while. Maybe I will find a context in a company where I feel comfortable contributing. But honestly I have no clue. And yet, this feels great.

Getting back to old friends

In the first days after my decision to renounce my day job, I got back in contact with a lot of old friends. Transitions have that side effect that you have to re-evaluate your environment, your network, your values.

Getting into a full-time job doesn’t prevent that, of course, but you cannot give the same attention. The center of gravity of an employed person is static. Now that I’m floating, I have to dedicate much more attention to my environment. And it’s an excellent thing.

I will certainly have occasion to talk about my adventures very soon. Maybe I will force myself to write more.


GreenRuby IRL and Remote meetup

Last week I posted a link about Remote Meetups, but, as it sometimes happens, it didn’t stop there. The basic principle was appealing to me. It’s true that we don’t all live in the Bay area or in New York. Having high quality speakers in meetups is hard when you live in a small city or a remote country. And this is exactly what that initiative tries to address.

So I jumped in and had some talk with Franze. The result is that the GreenRuby meetup we will have this friday will also be remote. Some people will attend physically, some people will come virtually using the Bigmarker platform on the RemoteMeetup account.

Those events usually are based on a format including a presentation followed by interactions. My plan is to go nuts and try a full-social format, with no presentation at all, jumping directly to the interactions. It’s going to be highly experimental and may lead to failure, but it certainly won’t kill any kitten in the process so I think we are safe.

The mix between physical and remote event is the challenging part. We may try the usage of mobile phones to make local people become remote participants (but it seems to be IOs only for now). I will get an iPad ready for easier floating access, that can be fun.

You are welcome to join, either online or irl. I heard Gandi, the physical host and my employer, is going to fill up the fridge with hundred of various beverages and won’t mind us to help reduce that quantity.


First GreenRuby Meetup

Recently Gandi moved to a much bigger office in Neihu, Taipei. And I got permission to use the space to organize events. We got a great space, sound system with wireless mikes, a beamer for presentations. So, if you are in Taipei, feel free to join us on wednesday next week. I will try to make it a remote meetup, and give more details next week.


3 years of Green Ruby

Well, almost 3 years. Green Ruby #1 was sent on feb 12th, 2013. Since then, we sent 156 editions, one per week without discontinuation, including a total of 5556 links. There is now 1691 subscribers to the newsletter. That’s quite something, for a mail that was just sent to some friends at the beginning.

During all this time, things didn’t change that much. In july 2013 the code was put on github and the process didn’t change much since then. I got a Rakefile to build the letter from yaml files and there is no need to change it. For the first 2 years Xenor was sending me some links by mail every weeks, then in 2015 Tysliu got back in and we used git to get both of their contributions. Later on, we got the slack channel where we throw between 10 to 30 links per weeks that I do my selection from. Nauman recently proved to be the most prolific contributor on slack. (btw if you want to join our slack group, it’s pretty open, just fire me an email).

We still don’t have any business project behind this publication. We are just a group of friends that like to keep in touch with the current trends, and that like to share the result of our weekly workout with our fellow coder brothers and sisters. Soon we will reach the limit of the free mailchimp usage (at 2000 subscribers), and that will be an interesting time. We will then ask people to unsubscribe if they don’t read the letter. Maybe registration will be closed if we reach the hard limit. But there is no plan to become a sustainable money-based adventure. So we’ll keep the cost to the minimum.

If you feel any gratefulness at all, pay it forward. Share your knowledge around you. Publish more open source code. Hug a friend or a stranger. Be nice and tolerant. Send some thank-you email to someone that published some open source code that saved your day. Love is wealth.


150 weeks

It’s kind of a round number, this 150th edition of the Green Ruby Newsletter is an occasion to see where we are. At this day there are 1,610 subscribers to the email newsletter. The website has around 250 unique visits per day, which mostly are RSS readers. Those are anecdotal numbers. As we have no intention to monetize this initiative, it doesn’t matter that much. Soon we will enter in the red zone in the amount of subscribers and we will need to push some people out, those who forgot about the newsletter but also forgot to unsubscribe. It will happen when we reach 1,800 (because Mailchimp is still free under 2,000 subscribers).

During the whole life of the publication, we never missed one week. Last week, thanks to Xenor, I even could have some rest. Now I’m better, flu never last. We also have, for a couple of months, much more links contributions (thanks Nauman Tariq). All in all, our model seems to have been pretty sustainable.


Meet at rubyconf

Next friday we will be at rubyconf Taiwan. Last year there was around 300 attendees and there is 256 this year. But maybe there will be more last minute registration, there is still some spots available (well just 14 at this time). I will also be at the pre-conf evening on wednesday. Good time to meet if you are in Taiwan (we have 37 subscribers there).

Some stats on greenruby

From time to time I check an export of the subscribers list and do some stats out of curiosity. As of today there are 1466 subscribers, and more than half in the US (844) all the rest are in 88 other countries (most in India, UK, France and Taiwan, in that order). In the US most people are from New-York, just a little more than Los Angeles, and Monticello in Kentucky. I wonder what there is so special in that city of less than 10k people. Maybe that’s a geo-location glitch? If not, please someone tell me what there is in that small and probably nice city. But if I had to bet, I would put my money on the glitch.

Every week there is a small number of new subscribers, especially during summer. But if you don’t really read or if you don’t care that much, please unsubscribe. I will certainly have to do some invitation to unsubscribe when we will reach around 2000, because mailchimp if free of charge only under that limit.

There are also a lot of unaccounted subscribers to the RSS feed, which is the most popular page on the website. But I don’t use feedburner or any kind of tracking so I don’t really know. And I kind of like it that way.


Back on tweeting

I really don’t like my phone. As an old timer I’m reluctant to trust my android, but it would be the same on an iphone. The way applications require access to the device, on android, is especially annoying and dishonest. They make the slope slippery for the sake of saving seconds in adopting new apps, but it’s leading to a total remission of users control over their devices.

But well, I still have a commute several times a week and I use my phone to listen to various podcasts. But I recently configured some accounts and some news readers, so I also can just do some links curation along the way. So I suspect there will be more tweeting on the greenrubist account from now on. It helps quite a lot when I want to gather links on every sundays.

Well, nowadays, most of the links are actually gathered by xenor and tysliu, but I always add a few on my own (especially the devops ones). Those 2 guys are really doing an amazing demonstration of consistency. After 129 editions, we still didn’t miss a single one week in our publication. It would not have been possible without my buddies. Thanks so much for their contribution.


Greenruby Better process and numbers

That’s a few weeks now that we are getting organized better, with Xenor and Tysliu, on the preparation of this newsletter. The guys are now putting more attention to the news gathering and preformatting the yaml source file that I use to generate the letter and the website. After some time of practice, it is much better for me, as now I don’t spend 5 hours each sunday anymore and I can manage the publication process in less than 2 hours. I still gather some extra links after the editors push their contributions. Then I verify the links, the categories, edit the comments sometimes, add dots at the ends of line, such tiny things. A huge thanks to Xenor and Tysliu!

Now we have 1312 subscribers to the newsletter. Plus an unknown number of RSS subscribers, maybe around 200. We get 250 visits per day on the website (according to webalizer), and most of them come from rss readers of many sorts. As the mailchimp is still free until we reach 2000, there is some margin. When we reach 1600 I think I swill begin a cleaning campaign, to help people that actually don’t read the letter to unsubscribe. I kind of like the idea of throwing accounts away. Usually in web business, an account is an asset and they are never thrown away. There is so much to be told about numbers, and their reality, in our industry.

But the reality about numbers is usually the consequence of the over simplification required by marketeers. Things are never so simple as just a single number. The technicians among us are always in pain when we need to provide numbers, because they come with a strict definition of what they count, and that definition is never respected by the people that just want to use the number and put a sexy label on it. When we say ‘registered accounts’ they say ‘users’. Do you see the difference? Damn, I hate that system that forces salesmen to become a liars.


Green Ruby New Generation

We had this week a very productive meeting with xenor and tysliu in our preferred coffee shop. I explained more in detail my workflow and my quality criterias. So now they can feed the links section and become the major editors of Green Ruby. I Still keep the role of the publisher. I get their links, I clean up stuff, verify freshness and reachability, remove superlatives, fix category if needed.

Special thanks a lot to Xenor and Tysliu (aka. Simon). Now they do the heavy lifting and they are the reason why Green Ruby is still in your mailbox every week.