Frank Chen

Frank Chen

email newsletter #3

zero knowledge, baking shows, better writing through twitter

For those who are receiving this email out of the blue, I've been slowly adding friends to this weekly newsletter. It's mainly a fun way to share what I'm doing and what I'm discovering. Opt out anytime by hitting me up, I won't be offended.

zero knowledge

Yesterday was my first day at a new job, which is doing product at a small startup called Aleo. They're currently building infrastructure for developers to build zero knowledge applications. There was a bit of a rough start, since the operations person in charge of bringing on new hires basically was not with the company anymore. It ended up being a bit of a "helllo, anyone home?" situation where I had to reach out and see what the hell was going on. 🤨

I'll explain zero knowledge. You go to a bar. To get in, the bouncer has to verify that you are of age. By looking at your ID, he learns you are of age, but also sees your name, your birthdate, and address. A zero knowledge version of this is some application where the bouncer scans a QR code you present. The scanner does some math (cryptography) and basically outputs "true" or "false" indicating that you are or are not of age. No other information about you is revealed to the bouncer. Ta-da! Your information remains private, and you still get to go in and imbibe.

baking shows

I read a piece of satire describing contestants on American versus British baking shows. Even if you haven't watched any baking shows, it's a hilarious read. You may or may not agree with the obvious cultural differences presented, but it should tell you something about American "hustle" culture.

Other than that, I'm currently reading "Taste - My Life Through Food" by Stanley Tucci. It's his autobiography.

for your viewing pleasure

Hunters Season II. It's a fictional series following a group of Nazi hunters in a post World War II world.

save to read

I've been using Instapaper as a new tool to sync and download articles I want to read across my devices. There are additional features like "speed read" (shows you one word at a time), or "dictate" (robotic voice reads it to you), and also highlighting/notetaking, but I haven't gotten to those yet.

writing better through twitter

I've found that writing Twitter threads actually helps you write better. I think the way it does this for me is:

  1. It caps my sentence length - I have to get to the point for each sentence.
  2. Splitting up my writing in to 1-2 thoughts per tweet makes me really think about whether or not the transition to the next thought makes sense. There's a sense of forced organization.
  3. I zoom in for my old man eyes, so seeing larger text maybe helps me read better. 😂

That being said, I think the main thing that's happening is that I'm investigating my sentences in much more detail, leading to high quality editing. My year in review tweet, for example, took a solid 4-5 hours to construct.

quote of the week

"I don't know why, but we Americans feel little obligation to preserve what once was because we choose to see it as less than what is or what could be ... the present isn't the only thing. Obviously, change is good, but there is absolutely no need for us to obliterate the past while creating the future." - Stanley Tucci