AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers

Marina Gornostaeva, writing iOS Code Review Newsletter and Away App

June 01, 2022 Jeroen Leenarts
AppForce1: news and info for iOS app developers
Marina Gornostaeva, writing iOS Code Review Newsletter and Away App
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Marina is a software developer and engineering leader focusing on development for Apple platforms. She's been working in tech since 2008, building tools, products and leading teams.She runs the iOS Code Review Newsletter, and is building the Away App.

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Jeroen Leenarts:

Hi, and welcome to another special edition of our podcast. I'm sitting here with Marina Ganesh Deva. You might know her online with the handle on Twitter called hybrid cat. But that's also her website, hybrid cats. With a lot of T's dot com, I will make sure to put it in the show notes because you won't get this right. It with the number of teeth in there. So first of all Medina, welcome. And thank you for being on the podcast. How are you today?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Hi, I'm doing great. I'm really excited to be here and talk with you today.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Cool. And just to jump on the first thing, what's with hybrid cat because it's not your typical average thing that people use for a domain name, I think.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, that's, that's true. It's been my handle for over 15 years. The origins of it are a bit in the music thing. So I've been really into metal and rock. And at the time, Linkin Park was my favorite band. So hybrid cat. The hybrid part is for Hybrid Theory that's like they're the most iconic album. Okay, so So I came up with that when I was 14, then it's, it's unique. So it's really convenient and nice.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. And also, does that also explain the three T's at the end, or,

Marina Gornostaeva:

like the three T's are just for the, like uniqueness of it. And I'm also really into cats. So that's

Jeroen Leenarts:

why Okay, so how many cats are walking around in your household?

Marina Gornostaeva:

And not? Zero? Basically, right now, I used to have a cat. She passed away a couple of years ago, she was old. We're not getting a new cat yet. But someday.

Jeroen Leenarts:

She had a good life. So that's always nice to hear. Yeah, I had a cat as a kid as well. And she she got up to 18 years old. So the cat the cat itself. So that was I wasn't I wasn't adult when she passed away. But that was that was heavy. Yeah. Yeah. So um, but you also do iOS development. And that's why I have you on my podcast because I specifically tailor my podcast for iOS developers. And you just so happened to be one. So yeah. But how did you get into iOS development? Because I think that's a bit of a story with you, right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, there's a few twists and turns there. Just to start with the beginning, as a kid growing up, I was exposed to a lot of computer things. So both of my parents are software engineers by education. And they grew up with just my mom. And she worked. She studied when I was a small kid, still. And then she worked as a software developer on like different gigs, like often in evenings from home. So I actually saw her developing software when I was young. And for that reason, we also had a computer pretty early, like I think earlier than most of people my age or my schoolmates at the time. And she was making even games for me, for example, to earn to learn the multiplication table, she would make like a game where every time you get the answer, right, you'd like, make a step on like a ladder, and then progress. And then like when in the end, so that was super fun. So I was exposed to that early on. And in school, I was participating in a programming contests. And you know, we had pretty good computer science classes there as well. So when I went to university, when I was going to university, it was pretty clear that I wanted to continue on that path. So I went to study applied mathematics, and computer science. So it's like, mixed between math and programming. So

Jeroen Leenarts:

applied mathematics that's like, Yeah, let's go easy on yourself.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, but it was, it was fun. They really liked it, it was quite easy for me somehow, and later on, when on the fourth year, so last year of the bachelors, I was looking for a few like first full time job I had like a few programming gigs before and actually was Linux geek for a few years. So like hardcore installing from sources, you know, kinds of distros and stuff had long, long summers to do nothing with so was playing with it. So yeah, so when it came to finding the first, you know, real full time development job. I looked around in the in my hometown, there wasn't many exciting companies, but there was a company called IDs were a few of my schoolmates already worked. And you know, they had good reviews that it's a nice place to work and they were taking students. So it was a mobile development agents Same was 2011. So the whole iOS development Android development thing was really blooming, everyone needed an app, even nowadays, companies that you would say, don't need an app, you know, just have a website, but back then everyone had to have an app. So there was like a really good business for that. And they were hiring a lot of students to, you know, fulfill that need to have more and more developers. So I went there interviewed with them did an assignment, I think in C Sharp. It was like, make a table, some management, you know, some buttons that do things to a table of data. And they passed the interviews, and they were like, Okay, so do you want to do iOS or Android. And at the time, I had a Windows phone. I was like, I can do either. I don't care. But I know C and C++, because that's the main language. That was the main language in the university. And I didn't know Java almost at all. So that was like an easy choice. Just based on that I had no idea about either of the platforms at that time.

Jeroen Leenarts:

But then then getting started on the on the Mac ecosystem, it must have felt a little bit like, familiar because of the BSD subsystem that's available within MacOS MacOS, right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yes, exactly. So I've been using Linux by then for, like six years, and had a lot of experience with that. So the whole environment was really familiar. And I had no no issue with that. Learning Objective C was fun, though.

Jeroen Leenarts:

That's, that's, that's, yeah, I, I think I went a little bit through the same trauma as you because I came from a Java background. So I was familiar with Java, but I wanted to get to iOS development. But it does take some getting used to Objective C, but it's brackets and the long message names and the the the infix. Labels and stuff. And then of course, also memory managed because if I if I'm correct timeframe that you're indicating that you came into iOS development, you still had to do manual memory management. Yes,

Marina Gornostaeva:

yes. The first year or two was, yeah, it Ersi came out, right after I started. But that was very new. So of course, still, all existing projects still used manual memory management. So it was a while until we could start using even closures like blocks. That was also not right away. Yeah.

Jeroen Leenarts:

The big refactoring is this like, yes, we deprecated some version of iOS. And now we can start using the block syntax everywhere. Yeah, so I still remember those projects. But just to rewind a little bit. You mentioned you had an affinity with Unix systems. Was that true? Because of your education? Or did you already develop that before you get your formal education?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, that was, so first, first time I installed Linux was when I was 13, I think, or maybe 14. But remember, I was spending a lot of time at my grandparents in summers. And, you know, I had to three months each summer, nothing to do but you know, go out and

Jeroen Leenarts:

like I didn't have many friends to play with.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, it was like nothing, nothing to do really, for me during that time, besides spending time with family. So yeah, I was like downloading, you know, stuff on torrents and trying to install it and playing around with it. Honestly, I don't remember how the idea first crossed my mind to do it. But I had, yeah, I got into it pretty soon. And like hanging out in forums and trying out different distributions. It was it was pretty fun. Actually, the first article I wrote was about Linux. Yeah. Yeah. So before,

Jeroen Leenarts:

did you have a favorite distro? Or was it like any, any one you could get your hands on?

Marina Gornostaeva:

I had a favorite one. Actually. Yeah, I used the openSUSE. For the longest time. I used to tweak you know, the Windows system. So have not the KDE not not the default one, but have like, you know, weird niche ones where you could tweak all kinds of things and have, you know, different widgets and like, have, you know, fire burning at the bottom of your screen, you know? And, you know, I was 14 and 13. So it was like really fun.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, but it's like, it's not as bad as websites, like in the 90s. You should have seen that blink tax was a thing. Maybe I'm actually dating myself here. So yeah, you got started with with Unix machines, we developed an affinity with computers, in part to seeing what your parents did. And then you did your Applied Mathematics and Computer Science Education. And I think you ended up with a master in that, right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yes. Yeah. So six years, six years? Oh, yeah.

Jeroen Leenarts:

You're saying with that as if it was like, a chore getting,

Marina Gornostaeva:

it was really fun and not super hard, I would say. But the last three years of that, it was I was working already full time. So for sure, by the end of the master's degree, you I was just happy to be over with it and just enjoy the freedom to, you know, you go to work, you finish working, and then you're free. And there's no like homework or things you need to do over that you just go to the office, you're done. You can like, enjoy life the rest of the time,

Jeroen Leenarts:

more so challenging not to, not to commit to work, contract and let the education just basically be what it is and not finish it. Or was it not even in your mind that that was an option?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, that's a good question. During the time, I was really keen on finishing it, because I was always planning on moving abroad. And when you move abroad, it's really beneficial to have like, a higher like, the higher degree, the the better, basically, and Masters is the sweet spot there is like PhD is not necessary, really, but Masters is really beneficial. And in Russia, it's also free to get a master's degree if you go straight after bachelors.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay. So that was yeah, some incentives there. And what what university did you study at?

Marina Gornostaeva:

It was Volgograd State University. So it's the university University of the city. Like there's in each city, there's a university that's like the general one with all kinds of departments and programs. Specified one,

Jeroen Leenarts:

you mentioned vogacloset. That's, that's pretty close to Finland. Right? If comparatively, or trying to

Marina Gornostaeva:

really no, it's, I mean, it's in the European, it's in the European part, but it's down on the map. It's about the same level as Frankfurt.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Ah, okay, sorry, my geography. My geography is not the best subject I had. That's okay. So but So you moved from Russia to Europe? Because of probably reasons. Was it for work? Or was it more like, because you mentioned that you already had to plan to, to, to emigrate out of Russia and into another country? So what's the like, a plan that you had when you started your education? Or was it something that developed along the way?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, I've been planning to move out pretty much my whole adult life, I have most of my family living in Israel. And I've been actually planning to move there when I was 17, or 16. And it turned out at the time, they had harsher rules for for the army. So you, I'd actually have to serve in the army if I moved. So that kind of changed my plans. And I abandoned that idea, and decided to study in Russia. Yeah. And then I met my husband, who also always wanted to move away. And we've both finished our education and then started, you know, interviewing and so on. And then in the end, I got a job offer from a Danish company, or actually an American company called Citrix to a Danish office. And we just decided to give it a try. And we actually love Denmark so much, it's it turned out to be just like a perfect match for us on all aspects. So

Jeroen Leenarts:

we, and I know Denmark, as most countries in Scandinavia, there's quite a high tax burden. So there's a lot of tax that you pay, but pretty much everything is taken care of with like services, schools, anything you really can come up with, that's like social welfare. That's, that's very well taken care of there.

Marina Gornostaeva:

That's true. And it's really well digitized. So all the services are online. So there's very limited bureaucracy. It's really nice. On the practical side of things, yeah, I

Jeroen Leenarts:

think I think mostly most countries in the world and maybe only as long as is more digitized. And then Denmark, when when it comes to the government and public services.

Marina Gornostaeva:

And the tax is actually not that high. It's only gets high. Like we have this concept of top tax. So everything after a certain amount. Yearly gets taxed around 50%. But it's only everything over a certain amount. It actually most people don't don't earn that much. So it's only relevant for software developers and bank care managers. Yeah.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And it's the concept of the financially strong shoulders carrying most of the burden of all the costs for the for running the country. Really? Yeah. And yeah, it's I think it's good that, that there's some tax in place and that I'm happy paying my taxes actually in the Netherlands.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah. So yeah, in the end, I think what you get is totally worth it. In my opinion.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. Like, like services and like, a reasonably safe place to live and like, no, no issues if you have a health issue that you have to wonder whether or not you can afford taking care and

Marina Gornostaeva:

even just a nice city, you know, a nice environment to live and you know, parks that all takes money to support

Jeroen Leenarts:

you because the city you live in Copenhagen, right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah. It's amazing. Yeah, it's really nice. Lots of greenery and water and beaches, right in the city,

Jeroen Leenarts:

and statue of a mermaid, I'm told,

Marina Gornostaeva:

most tourist place.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, no, it's horrible. It's like in Amsterdam, you have the dump square. And some of these typical things that you can basically, during like, during holiday season, you can really, pretty much crowd surf over the tourists to your destination. So so but add Denmark, you ended up there, because that's where the best offer was, when looking for a job. So did both you and your husband pick up on a job when you went to Denmark? Or what was it like you got the job first, and then look what was available for him?

Marina Gornostaeva:

I got my job first, and then we moved together. And then he found a job here after moving Yeah,

Jeroen Leenarts:

yeah, that's really nice. Because you're just being able to pick up your things and start another life. somewhere totally different. I've heard more people tell about that. But of course, we're here for iOS development, right? Yes. So you got started with that, like, like a decade ago? Wow, that sounds that sounds long. 1011? Yeah, a long time. And have you been like, focused on iOS development ever since? Or are there also other areas of software development that you that you have explored since then?

Marina Gornostaeva:

So yeah, I've been, so to say, an iOS developer ever since. But I have worked with other things in the meantime. So in some companies where I work, like in Citrix, for example, I've dabbled a little bit in back end development and like project management, a little bit in release management for for the microservices, like for the back end. And when I worked at storytel, I was actively participating in a group called API Standards Committee. So there was like, Spotify like structure, or the structure that Spotify used to advocate for, where you have lots of different small teams working on their areas. So it was really important to standardize approaches to how API is structured. So the clients have, you know, a patterns they can look for, and what to expect from from API from different API's for different features. So I was part of that and doing a little bit of back end development as well. Reviewing code for the back end, but like 99% of the time was always still iOS development.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah. And then storytel, you left that company? Yeah. Yeah, two years ago, go with it. And you decide to venture out on your own with like, self employed. So what got into what was like, Okay, this is the perfect moment in my life, you know, like worldwide pandemic happening. Let's just try and venture out with my own company.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, it was totally not the best time for sure, in terms of, you know, objectively, but I was actually planning to do that for a while before, before the pandemic. So I joined phoebo, then Danish startup, very local Danish company, I was actually the only the first person not to speak Danish and a joint. That was quite interesting experience. And as I've worked there, for almost four years, the company has been acquired by storytel. Around the time I joined, and then grew to a 500 people company from the 30 people when I joined, so it was like a whole journey. And it was super fun. And I loved working there. But like, by the end of it, like there was changes in management and things were getting very different and not as as enjoyable for me anymore, in a lot of ways. So, while I loved working there, I decided that you know, it's time to probably look for something else because I was an elite iOS developer. Were there for like, three, three and a half years at the time. And I was feeling that, you know, I'm getting kind of stagnating there and like on the same level and people are leveling up, like going into management, or quitting essentially, like there was no, not really track for growing within the still the technical, you know, area. So you would either level up or switch rather, it's not really a progression, right? It's changing careers, going into management. And I didn't want to do that. So yeah, so

Jeroen Leenarts:

you basically, we're at the end of the technical career ladder within that company. And then it's like, yeah, and I want to stay technical. And, of course, you can become something that is called an architect. But in those companies, they they don't do much technical work anymore. It's more paper pushing and discussions and still important work. But it's it's not as much with your hands on the keyboards anymore. For coding.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, exactly. So I was planning to, like, find something else from 2019. And actually, when you're on a work visa, it's not as easy to change jobs. Sometimes, I was applying for permanent residence at the time, and you can't actually change jobs while you're waiting for your permanent residence application to go through. And when I applied for permanent residence, I thought okay, so I have to wait for a bunch of months, it ended up being nine months, I had to wait. Let's see how it goes. Because I wasn't yet sure whether I actually want to leave, you know, it was still the beginning when we got new management then. So I ended up having to wait nine months to be able to change jobs. So by that time, the pandemic has hit, unfortunately. But I was sure by then that I do want to try something else. Yeah.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And of course you having Danish passport by then?

Marina Gornostaeva:

No, it's just permanent residence. Okay, so what's the same?

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, I'm not entirely. Yeah. up to speed with with the differences in the details. But I know that permanent residence residency, if you got that and pretty much you're free to move about in the entire European Zone, I think

Marina Gornostaeva:

I actually know, at least with the Danish permanent residents, you can only be free kind of in Denmark. So you can start your own business, you can like not work at all, you can basically do whatever, whatever you want or change jobs every month, or you know, absolutely. Whatever you want to do. Without the permanent residence, you can only work in the job you were given the visa for. Yeah. And if you change jobs, you need to apply for a new visa. Yeah. Then so it's you can like go freelancing, for example, if you're on a work visa.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So and then yeah, and after, after a permanent residency, the you could potentially at some point. Yep. What do they call that? Yep. Did basically become a citizen of, of Denmark, if you would want to do that. But in

Marina Gornostaeva:

a couple of years, I could apply? Yeah, yeah. Cool.

Jeroen Leenarts:

So basically, it came down to you having made up your mind. The permanent residency came through. In the meantime, COVID happens, and you will like that saw that set on your goal. Okay, I'm going to venture out once I'm able, within, within some restrictions, of course, because yeah, there was some self isolation going on, once you were free to do what you want. But what did you do then? Because having all these options available, and to just make your work life what you want for yourself? Without having to do that through a company? That's kind of different, right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, it's very different. And they haven't done that a lot before. So I worked in an agency in an environment where you work directly with clients and where you work on different projects, like changing projects quite often. And then I worked in product companies with like a longer commitment and maintenance and all that, that comes with that. So I had various experience in different companies and different kinds of products, like b2b, b2c, small apps, big apps, you know, legacy projects with lots and lots of legacy code from different people, and like debugging, all kinds of things, refactoring. So I was like, really feeling confident, comfortable with going in with whatever so like, taking on clients, myself and not being worried that it would be something you know, out of out of my comfort zone. So to say, Yeah, I do have a network and my community efforts which we can talk about next, if you want did really help with you know, bringing in color Since and I actually just get people reaching out to me, mostly, and all the clients that I'm working with and have worked with, they reached out to me, not the other way around. So it's been quite nice.

Jeroen Leenarts:

What's like an average client portfolio that you're that you're running with month to month? Is it like a single client? Or do you serve a couple of clients simultaneously? Or what's most comfortable for you?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, that's a really interesting question. So I actually work with multiple clients at the same time. It is, it is quite common in the industry, at least in this part of the world, I guess, in Denmark to work like six months contracts, where you go in six months full time, and then maybe take a break, and then go to another one, I decided to try something else. So I have been working with mostly small companies, tiny companies, I also really like that for a change, because I worked for a very big company for a number of years before that. So I like to change things up a bit. So I have startups that I work with part time, mostly, or sometimes even, like few hours a week, mentoring them. So like, some companies can't afford to get a full time senior developer. And what I offer is I come in, and I offer expertise, and mentorship and coding, as well. But not full time, but complimentary to the rest of their team, because a lot of the work can also be done by more junior developers that are also cheaper. You know, so I'm really going for that kind of business model, like complementing on where the, the experience that I have, actually can bring, bring in something unique to the company, so and

Jeroen Leenarts:

then what you bring to the table is quite a long period of experience, but doing iOS development, and then also being able to transfer that knowledge onto people that you're working with within this company, or within your clients, I should say,

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yes, cool. Yes, exactly. Not everyone, not every client that I have have people I mentoring. So for some, it's just a really old Cold code base where they need someone with experience to help them maintain that and still keep, keep that going. Because the product is, you know, has customers and needs to be alive. And, you know, it needs improvements to be able to live on in, in these changing times, like with Swift UI and everything. Not to get stuck back in, you know, very old approaches. But yeah, for some, it's mentoring people and my experience mentoring people before really helps with that. And it makes it much easier to sell that service because I have I have experience with that. And it's it's something that I can comfortably say, hey, I can come in and do this for you. Right, people are really into that I feel.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And you mentioned to me, you mentioned a bit about your network. And that was mostly created through. Yeah. Going to meetups, and at some point, also organizing meetups, because you are kind of involved with cocoa huts in Copenhagen, right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yes. Although it's not called cocoa heads these days. We call it Copenhagen cocoa.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, cool. Yeah. Okay, the changes. Okay. Sorry. Yeah, it

Marina Gornostaeva:

used to be cocoa heads. But I think you need to be connected to like the some parents organization to be called that. I know that at some point, they had to change the name to something else. It was before my time.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay. Yes, I'm organizing coke at Snell. In. In the Netherlands, of course. Yeah, so it's it? I think it got started with Coco hats. org, which is something in the US. And yeah, it's loosely an offspring of that. years ago, initially. But nowadays, it's just a nonprofit foundation in itself, not attached to anything and run by by four people. And I'm just so happens to be one of those four. But you're running Copenhagen Kocha. Then? So what's it like? How did you get involved with with that? And and how did you become an organizer of this Meetup group?

Marina Gornostaeva:

I've been active on the in the meetup for almost as long as I've been in Denmark. And I've made some friends there. So like people who, who you're connecting with and talking with and so on. So and I was giving meetup, the meetup talks there a few times. And yeah, so at some point, a couple of organizers were stepping down or whether reducing their involvement and they were like, do you know you seem interested in this stuff and quite active in the community, do you want to, you know, join our organizer group? And so yes,

Jeroen Leenarts:

and how often do you people meet?

Marina Gornostaeva:

We used to meet quite often almost every month, before Corona. During Corona, we did three or four online meetups. So not not very regular. Few months ago, we decided to resume the operations. And now we have monthly meetups. And last last week, we just had first IRL meet up with actual talks offline. That's first since Corona. So that's exciting.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, with with Cocottes. Now we're starting up as well. And I'm curious to hear how things seem to be picking up again, with you people because I noticed because what we did was a little bit different, or during the two year period, because we kept on doing our our meetups, but online. And we really saw initially, there was like, a lot of enthusiasm, relatively to participate. But that's that declined slowly, till like the end of this two year period, so that we were left with like, online meetups with like, you know, 1020 people, which is still if you would have them all in a room, it's still a meetup. Right. But for an online livestream, if initially you had like 200 people, and to gradually see it declined to that, that really was hard for us to keep going. But we're also like, really starting up the the in person meetups again, and I think we have, we have one planned for for tomorrow, actually, I'm recording this on May 17. And really looking forward to see who will show up. And it's for me my first in person meetup again, since I don't know, over two years, I think now. So kind of nervous to stand in front of the group again, and just say Hi, and welcome and do the blurb and welcome everybody and thanks sponsor and announce the first speaker and make sure that everybody cleans up after themselves. And you know, the usual. But what, what do you expect? When you venture out yourself again?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Do you mean meetup wise, or so we haven't had so much of an issue with attendance, maybe because we haven't had 200 people before either. It would usually be around 50 People like a good good meet up sometimes, like 30 something. And last week, we had 28 people show up, which is just a bit less than usual. But it's actually pretty good number. And it was a reunion, like it felt like a high school reunion, because it's a lot of the same people that attend. So sometimes, you know, some people come and other time other people can't. But generally you recognize the faces. And it was you know, like seeing old friends, even for people that you're not, you know, actually friends with just seeing someone that you know, that you haven't seen in two years, you know, there's this feeling that, you know, we're getting back to normal and it's so good to finally see everyone. So it was like a super sweet and warm and positive environment. I mean, it's always that of course, but it was like extra

Jeroen Leenarts:

exact externalities. Me that should be right. Yeah. So budget, just to be clear. If you do in person meetings with Cocottes, we're also looking at like 50 people, Max. But but the online thing initially that was like really high. And that tapered off because tomorrow I'm expecting like 30 people. And then next month, hopefully we'll hit 50 again, because we have to space. And I understand what you're saying there because with these meetups, it's the reason I go to the to a meet up for Coke ads and you're to Copenhagen, Coco, is to just catch up with the people that you haven't spoken with for a month to do. And it's like catching up on like, tech stuff, work level, you know, hey, what's your next project? How's it our somebody shared something about a project and just want to have an update? If the client is is any good, right? So like you said, basically, it's about networking, but catching up. It's, it's it's not like a group of friends. But it's also not a group of colleagues. But it's something in between, I think like minded people. Yeah, that's, that's what it is. And it's really cool that that's also in Copenhagen. If I ever go there, I'm definitely going to check out if there's a meetup happening while I'm there. Because it'd be

Marina Gornostaeva:

very welcome.

Jeroen Leenarts:

And but next to client work, and next to meetups, there are some other things that you do as well, right? Because you have a newsletter and I think you also have some apps in the App Store. So let's let's dig into that a little bit. because then we're talking about you again. And that's that's the whole point of this, this conversation, right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Sure. Yeah. So I have the I have a newsletter. It's called iOS code review. Every two weeks, I send out a curated list of code improvement tips that I found, posted by community members. Sometimes it's something I've posted, but very rarely, usually, it's what I see on Twitter or articles or wherever publicly shared, then then I can include that. So the little bit of history behind that, back when I was No, let's, let's put it this way. In around 2019, I started giving back to the community more, I actually got inspired by tweet by Johnson, Dell around 2018. He posted like his new year resolutions, like what he wants to do more, and there was like, post more YouTube videos, like be more present in the community, or there was like a number of points. And it was like, I should, you know, I should think about what I want to, you know, commit to that year. And I decided to give back more. So I started. So I started using Twitter more. And I spoke at a couple of conferences. And eventually, I started this Twitter account. So it wasn't the newsletter right away. I just started a Twitter account, where I would retweet these code improvements related content that I would find, like iOS related, of course, Swift, Objective C, iOS, Mac OS development, all that. Yeah. And I would just retweet things that I find useful. So it's just like bite sized content, you could say. And then as I was starting to use Twitter less last year, and I made an app for that, we can talk about it next. But yeah, so I was always starting using Twitter less, I had like less chances to be there all the time. And you know, regularly retweet content, and regularly find content. So I was thinking, What should I do with this account? And I just posted on Twitter, like, hey, what do you guys are Fox? Should Do you think I should do with it? And yeah, I thought maybe I should convert it to this newsletter. And the number of people said, Yeah, that's a great idea. So I just did it. Like, same day, I was like, eff created the newsletter. There's gladly a number of services where you could just register and start basically, right away. Yeah, and it's been really well received, since people write me like, it's my, not to brag, but some people say it's their favorite newsletter, and I'm sure other newsletters experienced the same, and people tell them that it's someone else's favorite newsletter, what people really like is the format where it's a few tips, usually five, or six. And my focus is usually that you can read or get the value of it right from there. So you don't need to click on an article and go read a lengthy article for each of the entries. So it's usually something that you can clearly see. And I add my comment, if there's, for example, a tweet, saying like, Oh, this function is nice. And I think that's really valuable. But it kind of lacks context, I would add a comment on top linking to you know, documentation for that, or adding a few additional points there that help, you know, shape, the shape the topic and kind of build a picture, a better picture. Right from there without having to go somewhere and read for longer. And I think that's something that didn't exist at the time on the newsletter scene, so I think that's why maybe that's why it's been going pretty okay, I think

Jeroen Leenarts:

it's just 22 issues in and having like, a decent subscriber list, it's, it's yeah, it's like, you just keep on you keep on doing it, and slowly it, you start getting feedback, and people start basically, getting in touch with you. And yeah, who knows what will come of it? And, and again, it's one of these network things, right? Because, yeah, what's the fact you've did, you've done some talks, you do coca hits, sorry, Copenhagen, cocoa. And, and it's really like, you, you do certain things, and just, it's always surprising in what way it will be a benefit later on. So because I can imagine that if you submit a talk to a conference somewhere that people they they started looking into you and you say like, okay, she did some talks, or there's videos of that now that's at least she has some stage presence and she seems to be able to tell at Inside Story, oh, she has a newsletter. She has some reach as well. So okay, that's interesting. Sure. And that's, and it's, that's always what I tell people and also what I consider him a friend, but he's somebody who participates in coke ads. That's Antoine. And he also says, send it to me, like, Yeah, you should just should, you just should get started with it. And if you like it, keep on doing it. And if you don't like it, find something else. And just just create something, because doesn't matter how big how small, just creating something in itself creates value. And, and it's also probably one of the things that you're wondering yourself, right, starting a newsletter put so many already what could I add? But yeah,

Marina Gornostaeva:

I do tend to overthink things often in terms of like, what would the benefits be? And then think, oh, maybe you know, maybe it wouldn't be enough benefit? You know, it's kind of you start overthinking it. But this one, I was like, people said, Oh, it's a great idea. And I was like, I'm just gonna do it. So I just did it, you know, on the spot. And I should do more, you know, do more of that kind of stuff where you just do it, you know, you get an idea, just do it right away, start at least

Jeroen Leenarts:

but doing 22 issues, like every two weeks, get an issue out? Has it ever been an issue getting an issue out or because finding the motivation, the time or like the perseverance to dig through the articles of that two week period that you've that you've collected, because I imagine that during these two weeks, you gather all kinds of links or snippets and stuff. And then you have to sift through that and come up with what's good enough for the newsletter. And then you have like, but it's too much for my newsletter. Now I need to trim it down that it's like, newsletter size, what to end up with?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, it's been, it's been kind of like that, yeah, gathering content. And then, before sending out the issue, I have to find, what's the Yeah, what's the most interesting things. But actually one thing that, oh, there's two things that really helped me make it easy on myself because I have friends from the community who are also those who stopped doing newsletters, for example, I spoke with Marius, who did iOS goodies for a few years. So it's been really, he's also from Copenhagen. I met him through the Copenhagen cocoa community. So he's been really helpful and like talking about this stuff, and sharing his experience writing a newsletter. So the two things I did to make it to like, go easy on myself is first to go every two weeks instead of every one week. And the second thing is that it's code improvement, things they don't age, so I'm not as often, at least, not as quickly. So, you know, two, three years sometimes is, you know, a good life, you know, if you have a swift, something about Swift, it's so relevant, you know, whether it was, you know, originating from two years ago, so I actually sometimes share tips that were posted a year ago or two years ago. So I don't have the pressure of including the most freshly generated content. So I do have a backlog of older things as well, like, even from a month ago, so sometimes I have too much. Yeah, then it's, you know, just for another time, sometimes I have too little. So yeah. Then I

Jeroen Leenarts:

pick from you have your little secret stash of, of code review tips, then, yes,

Marina Gornostaeva:

for sure. For sure. And also, I tried to match the content for each issue to be interesting to be like, varied. So in each issue, I tried to include content on like swift UI UI, Kid Swift, general code styling, you know, some kind of architecture things or more like philosophical approach to things or approaching code reviews. So just trying to make sure that there's not too many tips of the same kind of thing. Yeah, just to vary a bit. So that matters as well, when I'm picking

Jeroen Leenarts:

thoughts, it just shows how much thought or actually goes into something that as an end result, it looks quite simple. It's like a bunch of text, a bunch of links, some comments here and there. But there's a lot of work going on behind that to just get it out. But you also mentioned just that you have an app that is specifically aimed at getting you off of Twitter. Yes. So what's the deal there? Because wouldn't you want to be on Twitter to collect all these tips and bits or yeah, there's

Marina Gornostaeva:

a little bit of a contradiction there. And I do have to be on Twitter a little bit for for the newsletter, for sure. But I have been in the past year, trying to use social media much less than before. At some point I noticed that you know, I'm just instinctively opening Twitter, you know, when you're just bored or just instinctively sometimes, you know, when Xcode is you know, building your project or something, and you know, it's Facebook, Instagram or Twitter on my phone so you could you know, easily reach into all of those things. These days, I don't have either of those apps on my phone. Getting rid of Facebook was easy. Like, there's not much going on there. Like, people don't use it anymore for social things. Instagram I have on my iPad and change. Check it once, once in a few days, Twitter, I only checked on my desktop. And but the problem was that I was missing some messages from people that I talked with, because I mentoring people and there's even clients reaching out. And sometimes there's these networking things like you reached out to me on Twitter, like, hey, let's let's do a podcast together. And you know, if I'm not checking Twitter, I would miss that and not see that message. So that was really a problem for me. Because my reply times were longer than then appropriate. And for some people, like some clients I spoke with, it was on Twitter. And surprisingly, people don't like using email as much. So sometimes when you say, Hey, can we use email for that? They're like, maybe we can keep using Twitter, for for messaging. So yeah, I made an app for for that, as they say. So basically, it's, it's a small app that you can use, if you're don't want to go on Twitter to check if you have new messages, or if people have replied to your latest tweet. So just to see if there's anything you need to engage with. So it's just a simple app, it shows all your unanswered messages, and your latest tweets with their stats, like likes, and replies, and so on. So you can see, for example, if you tweeted, after I removed the Twitter app from my phone, of course, I still tweet I still had, you know, things I want to say and kind of be there in the community a little bit. So you tweet something, and then you go out, like shopping. I remember clearly I was going to a store, it was like half an hour away. And halfway through there. I was like, oh, maybe someone replied to my tweet, and then go in the Safari browser. And just in the browser, just to check because I was anxious to know, there was anything, you know, maybe people are, you know, replying and sharing ideas. So right there, I was like, okay, it can be solved. Go and see,

Jeroen Leenarts:

what's the name of the app.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Right? It's called away. So on the App Store, it's called away for Twitter, because you have to have for Twitter. For these third party things. Picking a picking a name was hard. So I just ended up with this one. And, yeah, it's a very small app. But I had a few sales already. So that was quite surprising, even with no marketing at all. It was it was actually featured on it more. Almost by itself, in a way, I had a waitlist, and there was around 90 or 100 people there on the waitlist for the beta. So the those people try it the beta, of course, less, use it actively. But at least that amount of people signed up and I had their emails. So when the app was on live on the app store, I sent an email like, hey, the app is now on the light on the App Store. It was actually because the testflight build expires. So I was like, oh, yeah, I have to I have to. I mean, I did post it on, put it on the App Store. But I didn't want to make any big announcements. Before I'm like, you know, see people try it a bit that it's not crashing, and so on. Yeah, but it turned out that I needed a referral from a more was on the waiting list, apparently, and it was just people's email. So I had no idea who those people were. So it totally caught me by surprise that the app was featured on on it more. And I got quite a few downloads from that. And quite a few purchases. So

Jeroen Leenarts:

that was so and basically what the app does is it allows you to see what the amps you have received. And how the tweets that you posted are doing and yes and and engagements on your tweets that you get, like, updated on that. So they share these know, hey, somebody is responding to my tweets.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yeah, how many replies likes you have? Yeah, and you can actually turn off them. So my focus there is really mental health because what you're trying to do is care about Twitter less and not more. So anything that's about, you know, improving engagement and, you know, increasing amount of likes, you know, and all of that stuff. It's not about that, right? So the goal is the opposite. So you can actually even hide, there's a setting where you can hide the things you don't care about. So for example, you can hide the number of likes, hide the number of retweets. So for example, if you only want to see if there were replies, you can make it so it's the only metric that you see and you will only see the counter replies on your tweets and nothing else.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Okay, cool. So I think people should check that out away for Twitter.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Just look, and the website is a wait for Twitter away for twitter.com. If you want to check a landing page, and there's a link to download the app from there, and and it's available on the Mac for and one, of course,

Jeroen Leenarts:

yeah, something good. But that's that's the that's the iPad like version that's automatically made available. Right. Well, if it's good enough, it's good enough, right? Yeah. I think it's mostly an aptitude that you create it to scratch your own itch. Footwear. Yes. Yeah,

Marina Gornostaeva:

exactly. So I thought, even if you know, even if people don't, not a lot of people use it, at least I needed. And maybe there's someone like me, who will find value in that as well.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Just looking at the time and the things that we've talked about. Is there anything that we that we missed or something that we still have to touch upon?

Marina Gornostaeva:

I think we did pretty well. Cool. Sign up for my newsletter.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yes. iOS code review newsletter. You can find that on Twitter. If you look at hybrid cats, with treaties, or you can go to I think it's iOS code. review.com. Right?

Marina Gornostaeva:

Yes. Without spaces, anything, just iOS code, review that calm?

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, and subscribe to that one, because it's a really nice newsletter. So yeah, with that, Marina, I want to thank you for your time. And, yeah, I'll make sure to link up all the stuff that we talked about in the show notes so that people are only one tap away with subscribing to your newsletter and having a look at your app. And just following you on Twitter, even though that you try to stay off of Twitter a little bit. But I still see that you are sometimes active on Twitter. If there's cool stuff happening.

Marina Gornostaeva:

Candidates can't escape it. It's a really wonderful community there. So you kind of want to be there and be part of that.

Jeroen Leenarts:

Yeah, that's, that's so and I'd say, Yeah, let's, let's talk again some other time. And hopefully, at a conference, we maybe get to meet in person. Are you planning on going to conference anytime soon or

Marina Gornostaeva:

not this year, maybe next year. I'm still in Corona mode. And to some extent,

Jeroen Leenarts:

still being careful, which is which is still totally fine. So then, hopefully, we'll meet next year and in person and in the meantime, we'll just stay in touch on Twitter and make sure to, to like and, and have a look at the stuff that that you're sharing, because it's always worthwhile having a look at your tweet. So, Medina, thanks for your time and talk again

Marina Gornostaeva:

soon. Thank you for having me. It was super fun and talk soon

(Cont.) Marina Gornostaeva, writing iOS Code Review Newsletter and Away App
(Cont.) Marina Gornostaeva, writing iOS Code Review Newsletter and Away App
(Cont.) Marina Gornostaeva, writing iOS Code Review Newsletter and Away App