Library Podcasts

Ep. #82, Screen Sharing with Max Andaker and Jason Thomas of CoScreen

Guests: Max Andaker, Jason Thomas

In episode 82 of JAMstack Radio, Brian speaks with Max Andaker and Jason Thomas of CoScreen. Together they explore advanced screen sharing, how it has enabled new, more efficient workflows, and getting started with tools like CoScreen.


About the Guests

Max Andaker is Co-Founder and CPO of CoScreen. He originally hails from Sweden and previously worked at an innovation lab in San Francisco for Nestlé.

Jason Thomas is Co-Founder and CTO of CoScreen. Jason has worked for numerous video conferencing related startups over the last 15 years including HireVue, Sorenson Communications, and iBAHN.

Show Notes

Transcript

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Brian Douglas: Welcome to another installment of JAMstack Radio.

On the line we've got two guests, Max Andaker and Jason Thomas. Hey, Max.

Max Andaker: Hey, Brian. How's it going?

Brian: Good. And Jason, you're here as well.

Jason Thomas: Hi, Brian. How are you doing?

Brian: Excellent.

Hopefully the listeners can distinguish who is who based on those hellos, but I invited you on JAMstack Radio to talk about your project you're both working on, which is called CoScreen.

Max, why don't we start with what you at CoScreen, who you are, how you got here, and then we'll go with Jason.

Max: Sure. My name is Max Andaker.

I'm the co-founder and CPO with CoScreen, and I've been full-time at CoScreen just about a year now.

Before that I was working at Nestle, at an innovation lab, here in San Francisco.

Before moving to the Bay area, I spent eight years in Switzerland.

That's also where I got to know Till, who is our third co-founder who isn't here today.

But I actually come from Sweden originally, so I've been living abroad for the past 12 years or so.

Brian: Excellent. Jason, you're Stateside, but you want to introduce yourself?

Jason: Sure. I'm the co-founder and CTO of CoScreen, Jason Thomas.

I've worked for various video conferencing related projects and startups over the last 15 years.

I was the first full-time engineer at HireVue, which is a video interviewing startup, and I've been programming since I was eight years old, and I still love it to this day.

It's my hobby and my job.

Brian: Excellent. I have not been programming since eight, but it is definitely my hobby and job as well.

What everybody is probably is what is CoScreen, so do y'all want to take a crack at your pitch?

Max: Yeah, sure. Essentially, we say that CoScreen is a deep collaboration platform for engineering teams.

What we mean by that is that we enable collaboration at a deeper level than many of the other tools that are out there.

What exactly do we do? We can say that we do an advanced form of screen sharing.

If you look at how screen sharing works in tools such as Zoom, it hasn't really changed since NetMeeting back in '96.

What do that's very different is that we let many people share their screens, so windows, at the same time, and interact with those windows as if they were their own.

We're creating this much more dynamic environment in which you can collaborate.

You don't spend your time focusing on chatting and looking at each other, but you're spending your time focusing on the work that actually needs to get done, which is usually attached to your screen.

That's CoScreen. It's very useful for things such as pair programming, different forms of team check ins.

But it does much further than that.

We have a lot of users using CoScreen for very different things.

Brian: It sounds like, Jason, you come from this space as well.

You had mentioned off air, but your previous startup was in this space as well, in video conferencing.

Jason: HireVue, I wrote the original video conferencing platform, and that was pre-WebRTC.

It was basically a Flash-based thing.

I wasn't very proud of that at the time, and that was what we could deliver via the web.

Before that I worked at a company called Sorenson Communications, where we basically made the first mobile VRS solution.

VRS is basically what people that are deaf or hard of hearing use to do sign language communication over a phone so they basically have an interpreter that's in the back end somewhere.

We have this big building filled with a bunch of interpreters, and then they would pull out their Android phone.

This was at the time of G1 and iPhone, so it was this very revolutionary idea that such a thing could be done on these devices, and we didn't have any idea if they'd be powerful enough to do it.

I basically put together the software for iOS and worked mostly on the codec and the SIP and H.323 pipelines and all of the low level video conferencing aspects on both of those platforms, and delivered the solution to a bunch of customers.

It was a company that served tens of thousands of deaf and hard of hearing people.

Before that I worked not really in video conferencing, but for a company called iBAHN, that was doing, in the HD from SD transition period, on the set top box that they used for viewing high definition video.

That's where I got my original video related chops.

I've been working in this space for a very long time as it's evolved and changed over the years and now become this very common commodity that people consume.

CoScreen is our attempt to break people out of this monotony of what screen sharing and video conferencing has become, and trying to build something that's going to be less about screen sharing and video conferencing and more like this parallel interaction platform that people don't even think about, that just sort of fades into the background.

Brian: Awesome.

I'm curious, Max, you mentioned your co-founder had the idea for the-- The third co-founder had the idea for the project, but what's your background in the space and also, what's the background of how this thing all got started together?

It seems like a couple years y'all been chatting about this and working on it, but recently took the seed funding. Interested in hearing that story.

Max: Yeah, sure.

Essentially, our third co-founder and CEO, Till Pieper, who's not here today, he was working at SAP at the time in the SAP labs in Palo Alto, to be specific, and he had this idea.

How do you make collaboration more interactive?

How can we create this experience where you feel like you're almost sitting side by side.

He started this skunkworks project, which he was working at SAP at the time, but then fast forward, it wasn't the focus area of his unit at the time, so he managed to get that spun out as a side project.

That's when he pitched it to me and I immediately got very interested.

We knew each other from when we had been working together back in Switzerland, and I was at Nestle at the time.

Obviously, I was in FMCG, but I'd always worked in different types of product and tech related roles.

And as he pitched this, I could very much relate to it because I always had to work with people remotely.

I always had this challenge of how do you make this flow efficiently. Was trying to hack things together using different tools, but whatever was at our disposal through Skype for Business, the Office 365 package, but it never felt really good, so I thought there's a great opportunity here.

Essentially, that kicked off a journey where we were trying to use the prototype from SAP to build something a bit more solid, but we realized that we needed a solid technical co-founder to get involved in all this, and that's when we posted an ad on Angie's List.

That's how we find Jason. And we kept on working on this as a side project, the three of us.

But fast forward to end of 2019, we had come to a point where we thought we built something that is just about good enough.

We really want to see what people think about it, so we posted it on Product Hunt and Hacker News, and it just blew up on Hacker News.

It stayed on the front page for close to the whole day.

We got a couple of thousand sign ups during that time.

I think that really gave us the confidence to pursue this as a potential full-time job.

That's when we went out to raise money.

Of course, right after that, the pandemic hit us.

It's not something that we saw coming, but of course that helped us a lot, and for the past year or so we've been working on developing this for Mac OS and Windows.

And just last week we released these two versions officially, and we got some really good press behind it, both in Tech Crunch , VentureBeat, and we also, again, stayed on the first page of Hacker News for the whole day.

We'll see where this takes us.

Brian: That's excellent.

That's great to hear too as well, y'all got in before everything shut down, but also the tool you are building leans into the situation.

Jason: It's purely incidental.

It's weird because to begin with, we were not necessarily even planning it just to be a remote tool.

We used it a lot just in the same area.

You could be in the same area and be throwing window to your partner on your local area network and stuff.

That's definitely a huge use case of it, but it turns out that the remote aspects of it are much more compelling, but when the pandemic hit, we'd already had the term sheet.

The business was a sure thing, and then the pandemic hit.

As terrible as this has been, for us at least there was somewhat a silver lining in proving out remote work, and that remote work can be a thing, and that it's something that's here to stay.

Brian: Yeah. That's excellent. I've really leaned into remote work.

I came from a world where I traveled every month and was on the road, so it was hard to stay consistent on projects that needed my full attention, so a lot of projects got stalled or staled throughout the years, but this year has been quite different for me where now I can access all my team.

Jason: From anywhere.

Brian: From anywhere, yeah. I can pair program on things.

I had to ship a new project onto some internal cloud systems that we have GitHub, and to be able to ping someone, jump on a quick call, and say, "I don't understand this Kubernetes thing. Can you please explain this to me and let me watch you do the magic?"

It's a whole other world. But speaking of a whole other world, you mentioned a term.

It might've been you, Max, but I'm curious what you meant by advanced screen sharing, what that entails.

Max: Advanced screen sharing, in our case-- Sometimes talk about deep collaboration as well.

It's essentially this idea that we wanted to make more conversation around what you're working on.

What's happening in Zoom and other screen sharing tools, is you effectively have to take turns.

Either I share or you share.

If I want to control your window I have to ask for control rights, or maybe I even have to ask for presenter rights in order to show.

This created a walkie talkie effect, where it's either you or me sharing.

There's a switching cost between us, so what ends up happening is that we don't work as much on what's on the screen as we can.

There's too many hurdles in between us.

What we usually say is CoScreen is more taking the phone approach, where we make this completely dynamic.

I can share my I.D., the code I'm working on.

At the same time, Jason might be telling me that, "This is not really rendering correctly on my screen," so he brings up his browser.

He shares-- Maybe we're working on a mobile app or want to see how it renders on the mobile.

We bring up the emulator. And all those things can be shared in parallel regardless of whose screen it's actually on.

It just makes it so much more dynamic, makes it so much more of a conversation.

We say screen sharing, as it's done in most other tools, is more like the walkie talkie type of setup, take turns, and it doesn't help you really to have a conversation.

Whereas in CoScreen, we really lower the hurdles for you to engage with each other in an effective way.

Actually what happened right before this call is Jason and I were working on something, and he, without thinking about it, copied a URL from my window and pasted it into his.

Obviously, that's not something you can do in any other tool.

You can only do that if you can share at the same time.

Jason: I was even copying things from an editor I had opened, just in his window, and I'm like, "Wait, you wouldn't even be able to do this without CoScreen."

This is not even a workflow that's possible.

Zoom, most other screen sharing tools, they take over your whole screen real estate, and they're built to do that.

You're either looking at the remote screen or you're looking at your screen.

You're not really switching between those things.

What we've really tried to do is create this paradigm that's different than screen sharing.

It's more of this concurrent application sharing, and we think it's this foray into multi user real time environments that we think will become much more prevalent in the future.

Maybe it'll even become a part of the operating system, that you have the ability to move windows onto another system.

We're becoming more network connected. It's becoming more interactive. It's becoming more open.

The way that operating systems have been designed are not for the Internet.

The browser is our window into the Internet, but even those things, you're starting to see applications like Figma.

You're starting to see applications that are built around this concurrent interaction, and why not have everything be built around concurrent interaction.

We're trying to bring the future here sooner with CoScreen. It's a very difficult task.

For some use cases, we've hit the mark, and for some use cases, we're still working to hit that mark, and we'll probably continue to for some time.

Max: Something I think is important to mention here as well and why we're talking to developers, I think the reality of how developers work today is that they use a different toolings, and it's a very personal thing what tooling you need in order to be fully effective in your work.

At CoScreen we're not too opinionated in terms of what you share.

Because of course there are a lot of other tools there that you share, more the Google Docs approach.

You work on this document together, but you can only work in that specific document.

Or you're using a collaborative I.D. development environment and you can only work on that specific I.D.

What we like to do is essentially share your I.D., but in parallel share your terminal, share your Chrome debug window, share an emulator, work the way you like to work.

Brian: I love this. Earlier when Jason was talking, listeners couldn't see me smiling ear to ear, but my use case --

And actually I'm just going to pitch this at you, because we originally got connected through one of my former colleagues and friend who used to work in a whole other screen sharing software.

But he intro-ed us because he knows I've been doing a lot of live streaming on Twitch, and the way I approach that is I have a MacBook and I found out very quickly if I want to do any sort of processing intensive stuff on my MacBook, I can't do that and stream to the Internet at a high bit rate.

So, I have a second computer that only does the streaming.

It's my PC. And it's common setup for most live coding, but also game streamers, of having the gaming PC and the streaming PC.

But what I'm getting at is the most struggling part about doing that setup is when I set up my server on my Mac, but then I want to be able to interact with it on my PC.

Or if I have a Twitch chat that happens on my streaming PC, I build a lot of Twitch interactions, I need to connect that to my Mac.

When you mentioned about copying and pasting from one browser to the other, could one use case be, "I'm going to CoScreen with myself to be able to talk to two different PCs"?

Jason: Absolutely that's one of the use cases.

Pretty much all of our connections are peer to peer at that point, and of course you're going to run into similar scenarios.

If your WiFi is not doing very well and it's patchy and spotty, that's actually--

The most difficult thing for video conferencing is that last connection.

If there's noise on your WiFi, that's often where packets are lost these days.

The backbones and back ends and stuff tend to be much more reliable once you hit the LAN at transmitting your video from one place to another.

But we basically do support P2P. If you're in the same environment and you're just connecting to yourself, it's literally just going to be a little UDP connection between those two systems.

It's going to be as efficient and as low latency as possible at that point.

Still, you're probably doing very high bit rate streams and stuff.

Brian: Yeah.

Jason: You're not going to get past that reality, unfortunately.

We've had some people that have done streaming with CoScreen.

We had an Elm Podcast, which was really cool.

We had a user that basically was showing off coding in Elm with a friend, and it worked really well.

Somehow he had set it up so that the bandwidth concerns and stuff just weren't an issue, and we had the video conferencing and stuff.

It might be something that we go into in the future.

We're looking at other use cases, because we know that a tool like this obviously has way more use cases than just developers.

Actually like screen casting. That kind of thing.

There's obviously some synergy between what we're building and that.

It's definitely something we'll probably want to look into and officially support and provide tutorials around and things like that in the future.

Brian: It sounds like as well, even take the general workshop for developers, I have to do it through Zoom because of the current situation, so I want to be able to say, "Are you stuck on this? Why don't you throw me a CoScreen and we can debug it as if it was on the chalkboard?"

I can share it with the rest of the class. Everybody could follow along.

And it's something that's missing in the current environment of doing a Zoom webinar or a workshop or et cetera.

Jason: Right.

Max: Absolutely. We have a lot of users who use it for different forms of coaching and debugging.

Essentially, any scenario where it can benefit from, "Here's what I'm seeing. What are you seeing? How is this different?"

Whenever you have a scenario like that, CoScreen is super helpful, and you can't really do that in any other tool.

Brian: Yeah.

Jason: Even in debug mode, we have the ability to share CoScreen itself.

When we're debugging CoScreen, we share CoScreen and then look at CoScreen like, "Look at this UI issue."

We share the CoScreen UI. We disabled that because it's this inception-like thing.

You end up with windows and windows and windows, but it's a cool thing that we do in house to debug CoScreen.

We're dogfooding it every day. We use it every day.

It's our sole platform we use for standups.

It's our sole platform we use for everything.

Max: We hear lots from our end users how they use it in different forms of onboarding.

You have a new engineer on the team.

It used to be that this person could walk around the office, sit down next to the more senior engineers or the people who have been there for a while, understand their setups, understand how to use the tooling at that particular company.

That's just not possible anymore during the pandemic.

You need to find other ways, and I think yes, that's an area where it really shines.

Brian: I think your debug mode is something I would love to have integrated in something like GitHub, where a PR is open.

It's a PR as like, I can't figure this out PR, so I'm going to give you all the code upfront.

And I need you to jump on this link because we're going to have to hammer this out and figure it out.

But the primary platform I've been using as of late has been Zoom, and Zoom is not built for interacting.

I have to sit and watch our-- They have to sit and watch me struggle through, when it'd be so great to have a link to what they're working with, and be like, "Let me click over here and do this."

We did this IT and being able to have people remote into our systems, which it makes sense to have it in the developer capacity too.

Jason: That war room scenario is one thing.

I've been worrying with COVID, how do people do a war room?

If your server goes down-- At HireVue, we have everyone get behind a laptop and there would be one person there logging into the production systems.

And someone that has splunk logs and someone would have this log from another system, and everyone is bringing their laptops over and trying to shove them together in order to try to figure out what's going on.

With CoScreen, everyone could just join a CoScreen.

They could all sit in their office and everyone could just, "Hey, look, here's the splunk log. Here's all these different pieces of information we need to solve this production issue that we're having."

That's something that we've experienced in house. We have users.

Most of the things that we know about them, we've gathered just by talking to them and such.

But we're not quite sure all the use cases our using it for yet, but I think the limits are endless.

Max: I also think you bring up another good point, Brian, which is regarding integration.

We have an integration with Slack already.

We have a Chrome extension that works with Google Calendar, but I could definitely see us having something that integrates with GitHub.

You mentioned a PR, or if you want to jump on an intercession from an MR.

And of the type of environments you're in when you're facing these issues, what we often see is there are different categories of users of CoScreen.

You have the ones that use CoScreen for almost throughout the day, several hours in a row, because they're doing some deeply focused pair programming session.

But what we see on the other side is that you have a lot of these shorter sessions, where people just check in for 10, 15 minutes to solve a problem.

We tend to think that those sort of sessions are great because they're a replacement for these longer meetings where, through video chat, you would try to figure something out and you would feel like most of the time it's just a waste.

Here you get more into the details earlier, and therefore, you solve it faster.

We also feel that the ideal use of CoScreen is not necessarily that you're on it all day.

It's rather that you find a good balance between asynchronous and synchronous work, but that when you do those synchronous sessions, and you have to be together, that those are very productive and you get into this really deep collaboration mode that we often talk about.

Brian: I see this as a-- Going back to war room, I've definitely been in those rooms where we have the one screen in the room and we take turns AirPlaying to it, and solving problems and showing them up there.

There's another situation on the support end where I've been in the back room managing curation of content for discussions and community and also Slack rooms as well.

You want to have that second room where you can have the conversation and the video so you can moderate what's happening.

Actually, just over the weekend we had an issue that came up over on Twitter where someone made a--threw out a concern.

I had to bring a couple different people in from different teams on a Sunday to basically say, "Thoughts? Is this important to address?"

And then at that point, we're all in Slack looking at the same channel and just waiting for someone to respond.

In that case, it would've been great to say-

Jason: Click, click, click.

Brian: Just click. Have a-

Jason: Refresh.

Brian: It would've been great just to drop a link in the chat and be like, "Let's all sync up, look at the same thing at the same time, and go through the same ..."

The problem was we had things to figure out in the documentation, where did they get the solution, because we all knew, we know it's somewhere, but no one knew where it was, so we're all searching on our own in silence instead of looking at it like, "Actually, it's not there. Check over here. I found it." Pull it up.

Jason: Right.

Brian: Okay. Type it in. We're done. Have a good weekend.

Jason: Yeah. We've had that same situation.

I still think the async communication and problem solving is still extremely valuable.

I think the uninterrupted time you get from being in this remote environment is actually really good for some engineers.

But then all of that in office communication is just gone, and I think that there's this inflection point where it goes from solving problems on your own to solving problems together, and trying to make that inflection point as painless as possible is a big hurdle right now.

If you're doing Zoom, if you're doing Hangouts, it's like, here's the calendar link. Everybody joins in. Everybody stops what they're doing. It takes over their whole experience. Everyone's getting Zoom fatigue and stuff, and so we're really trying to make ... We're working presence right now and some other things to try to bring this all together.

But what we really want is for this just to be something that goes into the background.

During our press release, we were using it this way, but we're all in basically a war room.

There would be times where everyone's on mute and nobody's sharing anything, and then there's times where people start chiming in, like, "I saw this link. Go to this Twitter link."

Pop up a window. We go start looking at this, where we're actively monitoring this real time situation that's--

It's just impossible to do with these tools that we have at the moment.

It's just so inconvenient that nobody is going to do it.

I'm sure there's lots of people that are longing to go back to the office because of that, like you were saying, the share of monitor and things like that.

Maybe CoScreen will never be able to completely emulate that environment, but we hope that we can get most of it, that we can do a large part of what makes that concurrent experience so special.

And even do some things better. I think the fact you can mix this screen together, it's so non-invasive to bring things up, take things down, that in a way has some level of superiority over everyone's got their independent device, and so you're even together, but it's like how do I get that splunk link to you, and then you go into splunk and it finds something else in the search box or whatever.

It's much easier to just say, "Here's the point in the log that I found that has the problem," and show it to everyone.

Here it is. This is the line. I'm on the line right now.

It's showing right now. I can highlight it.

You can move your mouse over it. We can talk about the words.

We have this shared cursor state.

I think that type of collaboration is, in some ways, superior than to being in the office and saying, "I've got the log here. Walk five feet over to me and look at it."

Brian: How does CoScreen stand against-- I alluded to Screenhero.

My former colleague used to work at Screenhero.

Everybody, including myself, I was sad when Screenhero was bought by Slack because it sort of disappeared.

There were other tools that are doing screen sharing.

How does it stand the part from all those other ones?

Max: First of all, we're big fans of Screenhero as well, and it was definitely a precursor to what we do right now.

I'd say that-- And we've heard this story from many others, how sad they were.

They weren't necessarily sad when Slack acquired Screenhero-

Brian: Yeah, it was more excitement.

Max: More excitement at the time because they thought this is now going to be made available to everyone.

It will be so easy for me to use Screenhero without my colleagues who don't want to install another tool.

But then of course what ended up happening is that Slack took another path.

They took path more down regular video chat and normal screen sharing.

I'd say the key difference is that we let several people share a window at the same time.

We allow the same type of multi user player or multi user interaction with the window, but we make it more seamless by-- I sort of explained earlier I can bring up my I.D.

If Jason finds something on StackOverflow that he wants to talk about in this context, he can bring it up himself.

We don't have to take turns. In Screenhero, effectively, you still had to take turns to share.

Jason: That said, Screenhero was definitely an inspiration for us.

There are things that they did with terms of latency, with terms of multi user input control, problems that we run into while implementing CoScreen that I appreciate so much more what they were able to accomplish with that product.

It was kind of a sad day when Slack ceremoniously killed this tool that everyone loved.

I think it was one of the original software developers of Screenhero said that he thought that our tool was as close to carrying on the legacy of Screenhero of any tool that he'd used.

I think that looking at Screen.so, I know that they have a lot of the team there from Screenhero and such, but I think they're trying to build what was already built, and I think we're really trying to make something different.

We don't want to not call CoScreen screen sharing because I think it's a market and people understand that, but I think it does challenge us when we try to explain what CoScreen is and why it's different.

People just need to use it. I think with our elevator pitch or whatever, coming up with the way to convey this different concept of how people interact remotely, it's difficult because you say, "It's screen sharing."

Okay. I know what screen sharing is.

They have this preconceived bias of what screen sharing is, and so it's hard for us to indicate, "No, this is different."

That's even true with Screenhero to some extent, because Screenhero had gone beyond just screen sharing.

They had thought a lot about concurrent interaction.

They had thought a lot about how to make this usable remote experience.

I think that they started the field that we are jumping into.

Like you said, Slack just didn't have the imagination to see that future, and they killed it, and didn't extend on it, which is unfortunate, but I think we've been in this space where everyone thinks they know what screen sharing is and it's terrible.

It's like, we already know just from Screenhero's experience, it could be so much better than what it is.

I think CoScreen is-- I'm hoping more people get to use it and such, they start to realize it can be even better than that.

Brian: It sounds like a good segue into even winding up the conversation.

How can folks use CoScreen today? How can I sign up? Where do I go?

Jason: You just go download it.

Brian: Just download it.

Jason: It's on our site.

Max: Yes.

Brian: Nice.

Jason: Yep. It's there. It's available. Download it. Go try it out. It's still in beta. There's going to be issues.

There's bugs here and there, but we're working tirelessly every day.

We have the best team of engineers I've ever worked with in my life.

We've got enough funding to carry us through for the foreseeable future, and we've got a lot of teams that use us every day and love what we're doing, and we've got a Discord community.

Max can drop you the link there if you have people that are interested in popping in.

We're hoping to create a space that's not just for talking about CoScreen, but that's talking for deep collaboration in general.

If people want to come and talk about remote interaction and tools that help facilitate that, I think those are the kind of people we want to hear from in that community.

Obviously, we're hoping that one of those tools will be CoScreen, but we're really interested in any tools, and maybe even integrating, leveraging CoScreen with other tools that help people to do this type of remote work as frictionless as possible.

Brian: Awesome. Max, did you have anything else to add?

Max: I think Jason summarized it pretty well. Just head over to coscreen.co. Hit the download link.

It's available Mac OS and Windows, but there will be other platforms supported eventually.

Jason: There will be Linux.

Brian: That's very definitive. Can't wait. All right.

I appreciate you all coming on, talking about CoScreen.

I am actually real anxious to get this in my arsenal for tools.

Max: Yeah.

Brian: Start collaborating with other developers and folks in my community as well.

Max: We love feedback, so please send us feedback if you try the tool.

We read all the feedback that's being left at the end of a session.

We try to respond as many as possible of these users, so for sure, feedback will never go to waste.

Brian: Cool. Speaking of not going to waste, I don't want to waste our segment at the end, which is called Picks.

These are things that you're jamming on, Jam Picks, music, food. Everything.

It could be tech related as well. We do have some dev picks as well, so come ready.

But I'll open it up to you. Who wants to go first and share some picks?

Jason: You go, Max.

Max: I'd say a pick from my side, it's more of a general one, but we're expecting our second child any day now.

And of course there's a lot of logistics to be figured out around that, where do we put our previous child, et cetera.

I think you learn to appreciate the social networks that you can build up with friends, especially when you live in a place where you don't have family around, so that's something I will always keep in mind for the future, especially as we, in the pandemic, how important those relationships are in your overall happiness.

And otherwise, there's of course a lot of work on CoScreen right now that we're excited about, but that takes a lot of our time.

I'm specifically interested in listening to everything that users have to say and how we get that into the product.

Brian: Excellent. Jason, you got a pick for us?

Jason: Yeah. It is a development pick. You can't make me switch it.

I've been really interested in, and recently working with this tool called Comby, which is-- You can go to comby.dev. C-O-M-B-Y.dev.

It's just a really cool little tool that's written in OCaml. It's basically for refactoring projects.

For years I've used a combination of-- for basically finding and replacing text across projects, but it's incredibly haphazard.

You basically are using Get to evaluate the changes and revert back.

Also, it doesn't really understand the underlying language that you're refactoring, so if you go and change some text inside of a statement or something, sometimes your reg ex will get messed up on particular lines.

You have to go through and tailor it and specialize it, and so Comby is basically this tool that basically has a search replace language associated with it.

It understands the underlying syntax of the language that's involved, and then it generates a really nice terminal formatted death that you can look at.

You go and do the changes across the project, and then you can use the syntax to do almost any language transformation, look at the output, and get this dif behind it before you apply any of the changes, and then you can basically go and apply it as a patch, and you can reverse the patch.

It's a complete tool for that refactoring workflow. I don't know.

I thought it was pretty cool and something I would share.

Brian: Cool. Thanks for the tip. I have a quick tip, and it's actually this barbecue rub I've been using on too much stuff.

I've been in Florida for the past three months hanging out with my grandma.

I'm mainly based on Oakland, California, but during the pandemic, taking care of an elderly woman.

And one of the barbecue places I love in Florida where I'm from is Four Rivers, and they've expanded since I left, so I haven't been in Florida for six years.

I've been in Florida, but I haven't been full-time in Florida for six years.

They've expanded to the point where they have multiple locations across the state of Florida, maybe even Georgia at this point.

It's great barbecue, but what I'm getting at is in the grocery stores their coffee rub is now in the grocery store.

I've been using Trader Joe's coffee rub, which is kind of a mix of coffee, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, all the good seasonings you want to throw on a pork butt or something, or even a brisket.

It's an excellent blend of spices and coffee.

And Four Rivers I think knocked it out of the park. It's excellent. I made a chicken last night.

I made actually, a Boston butt the weekend before, and I cannot get enough of this stuff.

I'll need to order a case when I go back to California.

Jason: You can't have it delivered by Amazon? You can't--

Brian: I actually haven't even looked that far ahead. I know they sell it at a local Publix.

It might be at a couple other places, so I assume they have distribution somewhere.

But when I get back to Oakland, I'll have to figure it out.

Jason: Your grandma is very lucky to have you taking care of her via barbecue. That's the--

Brian: Yeah. She's guaranteed for me to come back at least another time this year, just so I can stock up.

Max: I definitely have to try that one.

During the pandemic I think a lot of us have been forced to cook more at home than we did previously.

Even the delivery service and stuff was available.

I finally got around to replacing my own skillets and pans, and that's been a game changer in my cooking game.

Jason: Cast iron.

Max: I have both cast iron, and I also bought these fancier non-stick pans, and my God, it makes such a difference.

I will never go back to that Ikea pan again.

Brian: That was definitely one of my picks a couple episodes ago, was actually I switched to some copper non-stick pans.

I've always been stainless-- I still have stainless steel, but for doing different types of cooking, it's nice to have a non-stick that's not Teflon-based because Teflon is cancer causing apparently.

Max: Yeah.

Jason: Yeah.

Brian: But the copper pan works perfectly.

Cooks evenly, non-stick.

Also, another note, I inherited a bunch of pots and pans when I got married from my dad, and they were old, old school, like probably 20 plus years old at the time I was married, so add 10 more years to that.

We recently replaced those in the beginning of the pandemic as well. I was on that track too.

Max: It's a bliss to cook after that, right?

Brian: Oh, yeah.

Jason: Turns the pandemic into a pun of some kind.

Brian: That was almost too easy.

Jason: I know.

Brian: On that note, I'll have to end it there because you just one upped me on the dad jokes. I had zero dad jokes.

Jason: I've got two kids now. I just have to do them.

Brian: Thanks for that, Jason, and Max, as well, thanks for the conversation about CoScreen.

I can't wait to have users give you feedback, try it out. I'll definitely be trying it out.

I will be in touch. And listeners, keep spreading the jam.