In December the &yet team had an all-day, all-remote holiday party. One of our activities was live-collaborating on a Recommendations doc for all the things we enjoyed throughout 2018 (and earlier years too). There’s some good stuff in here so we figured we’d share it with you!

(Things are organized in the order they were added and include some comments that were left in the document, too.)

Books (nonfiction)

  • One From Many by Dee Hock
  • Principles by Ray Dalio
  • Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer
  • The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
  • Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms by Dr. Hannah Fry
  • The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer
  • The Art of Gathering: How we meet and why it matters by Priya Parker
  • The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavitz
  • Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisa Kitaiskaia
  • A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker Palmer
  • The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner
  • A Soprano on Her Head by Eloise Ristad
  • The Chairs Are Where the People Go: How to Live, Work, and Play in the City by Misha Glouberman
  • Teaching a Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • The Courage to be Diskliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
  • Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine
    📝 +1
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson
  • The Seven Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler
  • How To Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
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Ever wonder what other people’s home office setups are like? Well my friend, wonder no more. (Okay, you can wonder a little. These are only the setups of a couple of people on our team, which probably do not represent the entirety of the human experience. But anyway. Enjoy.)

Where do you work?

Luke Karrys, Senior developer

Luke's Desk

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SimpleWebRTC Logo

The original SimpleWebRTC was one of the first Javascript libraries for WebRTC out there; the first public version was released more than five years ago. It offered a simple API that allowed JavaScript developers to prototype stuff quickly without having to understand the intricacies of the WebRTC APIs. “You can build cool stuff with WebRTC in five minutes” was true. Taking it to production at scale remains a bit more difficult.

Under the hood, SimpleWebRTC consisted of a bunch of Javascript modules that let you access the camera, microphone, screen content, a wrapper for the RTCPeerConnection API, and something to keep track of your peers and do all of the signaling. It came with a very simple NodeJS signaling server called signalmaster. Socket.io was used for signaling.

This simplicity came at a cost. SimpleWebRTC was designed for a single use-case: multiparty video chat using direct peer-to-peer connection between the participants. For the more complex problems we had to solve, we needed something better. Which is why we rewrote SimpleWebRTC almost from scratch, taking into account what we had learned in the last five years.

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Software is about people wallpaper

One thing I've noticed since starting to work for &yet is how much pride everyone takes in the company; the employee love for &yet is prominently on display, and it seems like everyone is repping at least one piece of &yet swag at all times.

Our very own Kate took some time out of her busy schedule earlier this year and turned some of Amy's work into some awesomely fun wallpapers for all of us at &yet to enjoy. We have been absolutely loving them, and we figured it's about time to release them for everyone!

From Software is for People to the &yet yeti, please enjoy Kate’s awesome wallpaper collection.

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When evaluating programmers, it’s very easy to see the value of someone writing a lot of new code. Do not, however, fall into the trap of only valuing developers that write quickly. A healthy project has a mix of developers in terms of values, strengths, and weaknesses.

One productive way to categorize programmers is starters and finishers.

A starter creates a vision for new code and writes the initial version, prototype, or skeleton. Starters usually lack motivation for bringing the project to the next level, making it easier for others to work on the code, or generally polishing. That isn’t to say that they can’t do it — it just costs them much more mental energy than a finisher, so they often don’t.

A finisher, conversely, takes an existing vision, fills in the details, and turns it into something more practical. That might be implementing a spec (and suggesting revisions), rewriting a prototype, filling in a skeleton or tracer, making a project production ready, or making a project easier for new contributors to on-board. Finishers struggle with a blank sheet of paper in the same way that starters struggle to improve the work of others.

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Very soon we’ll be shipping a brand new version of SimpleWebRTC, and everything about it is different.

What’s different?

The biggest feature of the soon-to-be-released version of SimpleWebRTC is that it will just be a bunch of flexible React components.

These components will make it so that anyone with a basic understanding of React can build advanced WebRTC applications. No need to understand anything about how connections are set up, no need to set up signaling or STUN/TURN servers, and it gets even better than that.

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Earlier this year, we teamed up with our friends at npm to design some shirts for Pride. When they asked us about working with them on the project, we said, “Yes, please!” and then had an idea to do something of our own.

We believe being People First means standing with the LGBTQI+ community during Pride month (and every other month). In 2015 one of our designers, Amy Lynn Taylor, made a version of our logo with the Pride colors to show our support for Marriage Equality. We really like the design and, in true &yet fashion, thought it was time to put it on a shirt!

These Ampersand Pride shirts are now available with 100% of the proceeds going to The Trevor Project, an amazing organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQI+ youth.

Two design options!

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To the thousands of people who made Talky calls on February 14, 2017, Talky didn’t seem much different. There were some icon and button color changes, but nothing to write home about. However, it was a very big day in our world.

For the past couple of years, we've been transitioning Talky from AmpersandJS to React. The reason for the transition is an article on its own, but to put it simply, I only need one word. Components, heard of 'em?

During the rewrite, we moved the core functionality of Talky into its own library of super slick React components which... [SPOILER ALERT] we'll very soon be making available to anyone who wants to build an app using them. This very simple webrtc react library enables us to build robust video chat features in very little time at all, and we're excited to say we'll be sharing it with the world in the coming months. 🎉

While Talky on the web was receiving consistent upgrades, our Talky iOS application hadn't been updated in quite some time, and it really needed an overhaul to take advantage of some backend upgrades. When trying to figure out what to do about our iOS application we had two options:

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On the last page of Matt Nelson's seminal work "#WeRateDogs: The Most Hilarious and Adorable Pups You've Ever Seen", you'll find a definition for the word "zoom":

zoom /zoom/ noun

  1. A very speedy move done by a dog. Incredibly hard to document, but universally recognized as a thing that happens. Appears to break laws of physics, but only because when your dog does something average, you think it is the greatest thing ever.

Most dog owners (and even owners of some ambitious cats) are familiar with these "zooms", also referred to as "zoomies". For those of you who aren't, let me point you in the direction of this instructional video from my dog, Jpeg.

A few months after I joined &yet, I wanted to give our flagship product Talky a case of the zoomies. Here's how I did it.

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