A new monthly newsletter from Dann Berg

October 2020

👋Hi everyone,

I'm trying something new and I'd like you to join me. I'm launching a monthly email newsletter, and you're looking at the first one. You're receiving this because you've gotten a newsletter from me in the past (probably through my old website Novice No Longer).

This isn't going to necessarily be a tech newsletter. Nor do I plan to cover some other niche topic exclusively. Instead, it'll just be me sharing some of the things that caught my attention throughout the past month. Maybe an article I found interesting, a useful pro-tip I found, or whatever little obsession I've dug into and explored.

I'm not trying to sell you anything — just to connect and share. I'm feeling inspired by newsletters from the likes of Kevin Rose and Nat Eliason, and wanted to try my hand at making my own.

As I said, I'd like you to join me for these newsletters, but I understand if you don't want to. Unsubscribe at any time, no hard feelings.

With that said, buckle up and let's kick off this inaugural issue.


City Life

🏙New York City has been an interesting place to quarantine during the pandemic. Everyone has opinions, some more in touch with reality than others. But it's been fun watching the back-and-forth between those lamenting that NYC is dead forever and those clapping back.

Regardless of opinion, I have watched several friends leave the city during the pandemic, many for good. But it looks like "big tech" is in fact moving in:

Collectively, Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple have hired more than 2,600 employees in the city so far this year, bringing their total employment to over 22,000 people.

I know Datadog (where I work) has been continuing to hire through all this. We brought someone new onto our team with completely virtual interviewing and onboarding. It went smoother than expected.

What does all this mean? No one knows. Companies are less afraid of WFH, but also still heavily investing in on-prem working spaces.

All I know is that it seems like the NYC real estate market won't be bottoming out quite as low as many have predicted.

The Unseen and the Unseen Unseen

🎥Charlie Kaufman's i'm thinking of ending things hit Netflix on September 4th, and while I don't necessarily recommend it, it is an interesting installment to the Kaufman universe. I'd consider it more accessible than Synecdoche, New York, but still way more abstract than his earlier work.

Kaufman is really honing in on the themes he wants to explore as an author, and each new work of his really builds upon the prior to get deeper and deeper. A lot of reviews compare i'm thinking of ending things to his earlier films, but I think the closer parallels are to his new novel Antkind in terms of theme and style.

If you're not invested in Charlie Kaufman as a creator, you can probably skip both his new movie and book. If you liked i'm thinking of ending things, you might want to pick up the book. But be warned that it's an even wilder ride, and not necessarily in a good way.

Good type of blisters

🌶Have you ever ordered blistered Shishito peppers in a restaurant? Did you know they're unbelievably easy to make at home?

I'd recommend using way less oil than the recipe above calls for — just enough to ever-so-lightly coat the peppers. If you don't have togarashi seasoning, a bit of chili power and smoked paprika is delicious. IMHO, finishing with flaky salt (such as Maldon sea salt flakes) is a must.

Playing in the underworld

🎮Hades, the new game from Supergiant (creator of the critically-acclaimed Bastion), is available on the Switch and I'm officially in love. It's one of those games that pushes an entire genre forward, in this case rogue-like dungeon crawlers.

That being said, I'm a sucker for games that take the element of repetition and find a way to create an interesting sense of forward progress. This includes big games like he Binding of Isaac, or smaller ones like Jetpack Joyride or the new Crashy Cats.

I don't want to spoil anything, but Hades manages to add a fairly complex plot to a genre that typically defies plot. And if you're feeling intimidated, don't be afraid of God Mode. It doesn't take away from the experience at all.

Bit of business

💰FinOps (short for Financial Operations) is a movement working to build a set of best practices around managing cloud spend. Basically, it's trying to do for cloud financials what the DevOps movement did for IT about 20 years ago. If that sounds interesting you to, check out FinOps.org.

This is all a lead-in to say that I've been hosting the NYC FinOps Meetup for a few months now. The next event is tomorrow (October 27th). If cloud spend is career adjacent, or even just of interest, you should pop on by. It's all over Zoom, so you don't need to be in NYC to attend.

If attending a meetup is too much of a commitment, you can instead check out an article I wrote about evolving your cloud-cost strategy as you scale your business.

Squared takes the circle

📱I'll leave the full reviews for the professionals (of which I am no longer a part) but a few hot takes regarding the new iPhone 12:

  • I love the new squared industrial design. The iPhone 5S was my favorite iPhone ever, and I'm seriously thrilled we're going back to that general design

  • LIDAR is still a technology in search of a product (outside of self-driving cars), so I'm happy that it'll now be in so many developers' hands

  • HDR video recording (which is on by default) is the actual exciting "new" technology

  • The iPhone Pros have the camera to beat, but it's not that much better than the iPhone 12 and not enough to make me personally want the Pro

  • The iPhone 12 Mini is the real gem of the new lineup here. I've been waiting for a small yet full-featured phone from Apple since the debut of the original iPhone SE in 2016. It's finally here, and I'm hyped

Safety first

😷After a long hunt, I've recently discovered that the Herschel face mask is the right one for me. It's the first mask I've found that actually stays on my nose, even when talking. Both my Atoms Mask and my fancy UA Sportsmask need to be constantly adjusted. If you're still unsatisfied with your mask options, give it a try. This isn't an ad, nor are they affiliate links. I just actually like the Herschel mask.

End note

I plan to send an email, similar to this one, once a month. If you've enjoyed it, please share with a friend! If you did not enjoy it, unsubscribe below and you won't hear from me again. Easy as that.

Again, there's no ulterior motive for sending this email. I just thought it'd be neat.

Thanks for reading. Until next time,