Week Notes: February 3, 2024

February 3, 2024

Happy Saturday. It was a very busy week. As is now my weekly routine, here are a few notes from the work week that was …

  • It’s Apple Vision Pro launch week. My pre-order arrived yesterday and I’ve been so busy I haven’t played with it yet. Hoping to find some time this weekend to dig in and figure this thing out.

  • I officially kicked off a new venture this week. No name or details to share just yet. It’s so nice to start fresh sometimes, and I’m really excited about this one. One of the challenges ahead is developing a design system and tech approach for rapid prototyping and sharing logic between a suite of apps. My goal is to make new ideas and new prototypes simple and quick. More to come here, for sure.

  • Google has notified users that they will be deleting all data from Universal Analytics (the old GA) in July. We have a ton of good data in our Air Mail accounts. I’m still annoyed we had to make the switch to GA4. It has been an inferior product in every way for us, and I suspect many other publishers too. Time to begin getting our data out of UA and into a proper warehouse.

  • Speaking of GA4, one feature I do really like is using Looker Studio for some internal dashboards and reports. Our audience team is doing some incredible things here and it’s a very nice tool. We’ve also integrated it with some of our archive and usage data in BigQuery and it’s a breeze to write queries and reports for the team to consume.

  • This week we also began the process of upgrading Air Mail to the latest versions of Ruby, and Rails. We’re not very far behind, but even a version or two can be complicated for an app of this size and scale. Upgrading Ruby was a piece of cake and took less than an hour. The Rails upgrade on the other hand, is a work in process.. This undertaking is still so much easier than it was a decade ago.

  • I’m also working on moving us off of CircleCI for our continuous integration. We’ve really had no issues with CircleCI, but our Github account offers most of the same features for ‘free’ with our existing paid team account. Github Actions is not very easy to use, but it seems good enough for our purposes.

  • Developing for Github Actions is a giant mess of trial and error commits. It took us about 40 commits to get the config where we wanted it for our needs. We tried a few of the tools out there to test the scripts and run locally, but none of them did the trick accurately.

  • This week’s Air Mail issue is rolling out a new test feature for a small subset of readers: AI translated text. We’re experimenting with letting readers consume a few articles in other languages. The AI process for converting and updating text is quite incredible. Luckily we have many non-english speaking staff members, so there’s plenty of folks to read through the pieces in other languages. The tech here is not quite ready for us to publish without a quick staff edit, but it’s getting close. Fun tech to play with.

  • Speaking of AI, we’re actively exploring and integrating with Microsoft’s OpenAI integrations through Azure. There was a quick application process to get in, and it took us less than a day to get approved. The tools Azure provides are very nice, and seem to be much closer than giving us what we need. I’m hopeful there’s more to come here.

  • Registering a domain this week was more complicated than ever before. Apparently now we need to ‘verify’ domain details after purchase through an email and from process. Weird! I used to just purchase domains and use them within an hour with no fuss. Now I’m waiting for Hover to get its act together and send me the proper link to verify the domain details, as its automated initial email contains a broken link. Ouch.

  • Lastly, I finally upgraded to a paid plan on Casey Newton’s excellent Platformer. I should have done this months ago.