Weeknotes #2

February 11, 2019

Inspired by Paul Robert Lloyd and Andy Bell, I’ve decided to ride the “Weeknotes” wave. Hope that’s okay. This is “#2” because at the end of last year I wrote a post called “RSS Digest No. 1” which is essentially the same concept of sharing somethings that I did and/or piqued my interest. I renamed that post to “Weeknotes #1”.

Workwise, this week was quite busy and filled with a bunch of longtail tasks that never seem to be wrapping up. I had a business trip to Kentucky mixed in there as well. While the meetings and bourbon were great, travel always destroys my productivity. I don’t want to change anything about my job, but it’s times like these I envy people who work on a single team on a single product for a single company. That seems like a novel concept.

Adding another productivity buster, the Shop Talk site went down last week. An unannounced PHP update broke the podcast plugin we’ve been using for 8 years. That’s not good for a podcast. Soon we started disappearing from podcast apps and even Spotify. Uf. It all got sorted but was a sub-optimal time for major breaking change like that.

Perhaps it’s a sign of age or perhaps overcommitment, but I’m becoming acutely aware of the mental energy required to carry a task around in my brain. Sophie Shepherd has a great post on Context-Switching that sums up the feelings and some solutions around juggling too many differentiated tasks. I will probably ruminate on this post and begin that Brad Frost-style Deep Work tactic of scheduling out your whole day until the air clears. Busy is not bad, I expect to be busy, but holding dozens of very different tasks in my brain makes everything muddy and (not a joke) I wonder if I have some undiagnosed ADD going on.

Digest

Here’s a few bits of inspiration I found around the Web. I decided to break them up into Read/Write/Listen categories. I subscribe to a Patreon newsletter that does this and I find it helps me budget time for side quests nicely.

[Read]

  • Make it Boring

    Jeremy Wagner hints at something I think about quite a lot: being boring in development. The Boring Designer by Cap Watkins is a post I re-read often and has a similar theme but for design. One quote I loved:

    To that end, accessibility advocates aren’t yelling at you to use semantic HTML because it’s exciting, but because it’s well understood how users benefit from it.

    There’s great benefit in being boring. Your pathways are well-trodden and your solutions less brittle. I actually think the secret sauce to any successful product is to be boring most of the time, but also knowing when and how to flex your unboring skills.

  • Forget privacy: you’re terrible at targeting anyway

    I share much of the same sentiment about targeting and personalization. In my experience, marketing folks get very excited about creating an algorithm, but it usually ends up poor and not worth pursuing.

  • How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually.

    This article is shocking and fairly depressing. ~40% of Web being fake or bot generated is heart-breaking because that means there’s almost as much garbage as there is gold. This is worth a read especially if you’re a part of a business that makes data-driven decisions.

  • Nuxt.js Auth Module

    I’m in the process of making a Nuxt app. This is less about the module itself, although I hate setting up OAuth and am happy to find anything that makes it easier. It’s about how both Vue and Nuxt are surrounded by a system of first-party packages that enable you to create applications quickly. I’m sure there’s tradeoffs but for someone like me who has limited time to keep up with framework zeitgeist having pre-picked solutions for common tasks is helpful and offloads a significant amount of mental energy.

  • Mystery Book Series

    I love any list that Reagan Ray puts together but this is of particular interest. I’m already planning on putting some of these titles into rotation this year.

[Watch]

  • Making Games Better for Players with Cognitive Disabilities

    I love Game Makers Toolkit by Mark Brown and this episode about helping people with vestibular or sensory processing disabilities brought me back to thinking about web design. In games, giving the user control over nuanced settings is a key component to making games accessible. Essentially, you allow users to “reprogram” your game and create an entirely custom experience; one different than the author’s intent. I wonder if the Web needs more of these customizable capabilities… or… galaxy brain… maybe we already have this with the CSS Cascade and overridable User Stylesheets.

[Listen]

  • Shop Talk Show: Is there a Great Divide?

    Chris and I summarize our findings around The Great Divide we uncovered in our “How to Think Like a Front-end Developer” series towards the end of last year. And we dig in a little bit to the recent #hotdrama around CSS-in-JS which though separate, seems emblematic of the recent debate.
  • Aside Quest: PAX South 2019

    Aside Quest went to PAX South this year and we recap our favorites and as is the tradition, we pick a winner. We also invented a new game called Booth Tycoon.