Today I Learned

Feb 26, 2023

Drinking coffee after noon drastically impacts your sleep
Matthew Walker(new tab), author of the book Why We Sleep(new tab) talks about caffeine's disruptive effect on your sleep on Dr. Ragan Chatterjee(new tab)'s podcast(new tab).
Caffeine has a halflife of about 6-7 hours and a quarterlife of around 12 hours.
Meaning, if you drink a coffee at noon, that means that a quarter of the caffeine is still in your system. That's equivalent to drinking a quarter cup of coffee right before go to bed.

Check the full video on YouTube(new tab)
PS: If you drink coffee purely for it's smell and taste, you might try some decaffeinated coffee next time. I switched over - for different reasons - and got happily used to it!

Feb 21, 2023

Suggestions from a powerful person tend to be followed
Today's learning comes from another book: The Culture Code(new tab) by Daniel Coyle(new tab).
It might seem obvious at first, but I had to experience myself first to fully understand what it means. In product-focused companies, it's not uncommon that cross-functional teams work on a specific part of a product, effectively owning all processes and decisions. Yet, there often is some kind of approval process that includes C-level executives, if not the CEO themself.
A team might have put a lot of effort into a feature, including research and data gathering, but sometimes a single comment from upper management can lead to a lot of uncertainty, stress and last-minute changes in the end. Most often it turns out that it wasn't even meant that way, but the suggestion is still followed. How would you possibly disagree with your CEO, right?
Turns out, you need to be very careful with whom you ask for feedback and powerful people need to be very careful with what they say, even if it's just a little comment on something, because - even if you don't like it - it might eventually be followed.

Feb 19, 2023

Grapefruits block enzymes that clear drugs
Another one from How not to die(new tab). This can be both positive and negative.
For example, if you use a painkiller, you can prolong it's effect by eating a grapefruit. But it's also very dangerous e.g. when you're taking multiple pills and they intefere with each other.

Feb 16, 2023

Chopping brokkoli 40 minutes before cooking preserves sulforaphane
I'm currently reading How not to die(new tab) by Michael Greger(new tab) and learned that brokkoli, which is super rich in sulforaphane, a substance that has many beneficial properties, needs to chopped 40 minutes before cooking in order to preserve it.

Feb 09, 2023

Graveyards can be beautiful places for mental retreat
I'm not a religious person and thus I never really had a strong urge to visit a graveyards. Actually the concept of visiting the burried remains of deceased loved ones feels super weird to me. To put it simply, I usually avoid such places.
However, I'm using my walks for self reflection a lot lately and thought I could check out the public graveyard of my hometown, Karlsruhe.
Within weeks it became my favorite place to spend time outside and I regularly plan it into my route. Not only is it the perfect place to calm down, but it also is probably the most beautiful site in the whole city. There are artifical water courses, thousands of different plants, bushes and trees as well as birds, squirrels and other animals everywhere.
It's probably a bit ironic, but in some way it's the most lively place in walking distance.Waterfall in Karlsruhe's public graveyardIt even has a waterfall! (Source: BNN(new tab))

Feb 07, 2023

Permanent redirects are scary
I recently lead a project which was all about improving our URL structure and hierarchy, primarily for SEO.
At first glance, it sounded rather straightforward. I went in, renamed the respective files in our Next.js application and updated all internal and external links to all pages affected. In order to have a smooth update experience, we also set up permanent redirects for all paths to make that customers with old links still end up on the right page. So far so good.
Here comes the problem: Not even an hour later, we realised that our redirects haven't been exhaustive. Turns out, the sheet we used to set them up was outdated and a lot of pages where missing that now followed a generic redirect and resulted in a lot of 404s.
If you're wondering why we missed it during our QA process: We use a different database for our staging environments, so this discrepancy went unnotice.
Long story short: Since it was already live and customers already had the new permanent redirects fetched, there was no going back. We tried to act fast on it and eventually pushed 5 consecutive fixes each introducing other issues like redirect loops and typos.

My takeaway: Be very careful with permanent redirects.If you want to be extra safe, start with temporary ones and switch over to permanent once everything has been tested successfully.

Feb 02, 2023

Fair salaries are extremely hard in remote tech teams
Let's be honest. Salaries are always a delicate topic. In my career, I already had quite a few different negotations from 1-1 with my manager to open team discussions.
Yet I was always on the employee side though. This year I'm facing my first full salary review as an engineering manager and to be fully honest again: I had no idea how hard it is.
For small teams where everyone lives in the same area and has the same currency it might be straightforward, but dealing with a distributed remote-first team with different local currencies and thus different exchange rates is such a tough task.
The goal for everyone is to have fair salaries of course, but what is fair?
Do you pay the same salaries, no matter where people are located?
Do you consider different tax rates and cost of living in general or is it purely performance based?
Do you use a base currency and calculate the rest with the current exchange rates?
How do employee salaries compare to consultant rates?
Would love to hear how others are doing it, feel free to reach out to me!

In addition to that, it doesn't help that we're facing a huge regression in the industry right now with tons of layoffs everywhere in tech.

Feb 01, 2023

Reflecting on one learning per day is great
I've done it in the past, but for some reason I never really kept up with it: Writing down one thing that you learned each day is a great way to reflect on your day and appreciate what you're doing.
Therefore, I'm starting this little page to remind myself to add those learnings from time to time.