Digital Tech Trek Digest [#Issue 2024.03]

Lessons from going freemium: a decision that broke our business

As an entrepreneur always considering how to produce a sustaining passive revenue, what licensing model to use, and how to acquire and retain customers, the allure of a freemium model is ever present in so many offerings. You may wish to read this article and look at the visualizations provided with the narrative. I found this a useful data storytelling example.

The allure of seeing a new product is the strongest motivator new users have to complete setup. If you make onboarding too easy, they’ll never come back to do the hard task you let them skip.

Read more at Lessons from going freemium: a decision that broke our business Source: TLDR

Newsletters and online content creators

Lenny’s Newsletter from the prior article, listed with over 574,000 subscribers is one of several Substack newsletters I subscribe to. Substack is described as “The subscription network for independent writers and creators”. I have been collecting the number of subscribers from several newsletters I follow, however, there is no way to see that growth over time. Also missing are the price rates over time and the ratio of free to paying subscribers. Random Idea: What is missing is a history of this information. Other stats I’ve noted previously include 66,000 subscribers for Kent Becks Newsletter with 3 subscription plan offerings, 1,250,000 subscribers for the free TLDR (I can remember this years ago being much less) and 65,000 subscribers for the Seattle Data Guy newsletter.

FWIW this post from Lenny’s Newsletter This newsletter is growing up is from 2020.

Golden Kitty Awards 2022

I came across the Golden Kitty Awards, which unfortunately are only current to 2022 (fail on being current). It was interesting to scan the list for innovative ideas. I’ve yet to visit any sites, but I’m always encouraged by what people think of and commit to building, regardless of the motivation or incentive. What counts is an entrepreneur takes an idea and releases a product. 

Source: Random

Streamer JS – Video stream layout manager for OBS Studio and other streaming applications.

I am a new user of Twitch streaming for personal projects.  My good friend Sergey Chernyshev organizer of the large New York Web Performance Group has created Streamer JS as a means to drive more dynamic content in the browser and with common languages of HTML/CSS/Javascript and using OBS more as the streaming only component.  One objective is better version control management of assets/scenes/sources/filters/etc.  It’s interesting that  PouchDB is an eventually consistent distributed datastore in Javascript. Yet another simple data store to review for suitability. 

Source: Word of mouth

The 37th Chaos Communication Congress (37C3) by the Chaos Computer Club

Last month I was introduced to the Chaos Computer Club. This large German-based annual tech conference focuses on security & infrastructure/hacking.  Over 100 talks from the most recent event last week have been posted here.

Source: Word of mouth

About ‘Digital Tech Trek Digest’

Most days I take some time early in the morning to scan my inbox newsletters, the news, LinkedIn, or other sources to read something new covering professional and personal topics of interest. Turning what I read into actionable notes in a short, committed time window summarizes what I learned today, what I should learn and use, or what is of random interest. And thus my Digital Tech Trek.

Some of my regular sources include TLDR, Forbes Daily, ThoughWorks Podcasts, Daily Dose of Data Science and BoringCashCow. Also Scientific American Technology, Fareed’s Global Briefing, Software Design: Tidy First? by Kent Beck to name a few.

Why is my database slow?

Not part of my Don’t Assume series, but when a client states “Why is my database slow””, you need to determine if indeed the database is slow.

Some simple tools come to the rescue here, one is Firebug. If a web page takes 5 seconds to load, but the .htm file takes 400ms, and the 100+ assets being downloaded from one base url, then is the database actually slow? Tuning the database will only improve the 400ms portion of 5,000ms download.

There some very simple tips here. MySQL is my domain expertise and I will not profess to improving the entire stack however perception is everything to a user and you can often do a lot. Some simple points include:

  • Know about blocking assets in your <head> element, e.g. .js files.
  • Streamline .js, .css and images to what’s needed. .e.g. download a 100k image only to resize to a thumbnail via style elements.
  • Sprites. Like many efficient but simple SQL statements, network overhead is your greatest expense.
  • Splitting images to a different domain.
  • Splitting images to multiple domains (e.g. 3 via CNAME only needed.) — Hint: Learn about the protocol
  • Cookieless domains for static assets
  • Lighter web container for static assets (e.g. nginx, lighttpd)
  • Know about caching, expires and etags
  • Stripping out from all your internal links (that one alone saved 12% of HTML page size for a client). You may ask is that really a big deal, well in a high volume site the sooner you can release the socket on your webserver, the sooner you can start serving a different request.

Like tuning a database, some things work better then others, some require more testing then others, and consultants never tell you all the tricks.


As with everything in tuning, do your research and also determine what works in your environment and what doesn’t. Two excellent resources to start with are Steve Souders and Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site by Yahoo.

FireFox's Live Bookmarks

I’m just about to launch a new project I’ve been working on in the past week. It has a RSS feed, and I wanted to ensure that within FireFox, this could be picked up as a live bookmark. This alone is a very cool feature. Using my Blog for reference, the following code is used.

	<link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS 2.0" href="" />
	<link rel="alternate" type="text/xml" title="RSS .92" href="" />
	<link rel="alternate" type="application/atom+xml" title="Atom 0.3" href="" />

So adding a RSS2 live bookmark link is as simple as a header tag.

Live Bookmarks – Mozilla Description
Good Introduction Tutorial

HTML (ampersand) Character Codes

· (&middot;) Middle Dot
• (&#149;) Bullet, black small circle
« (&laquo;) Left-pointing double angle quotation mark
» (&raquo;) Right-pointing double angle quotation mark