Weeknotes #5

I turned 39 this past week.

May 09, 2019

Last week I turned 39 and to be honest it was a bit of a downer. I know, I know, too sad. It could be run of the mill birthday depression, but I attribute it to the 5 hours of consecutive meetings I had that day. I couldn’t quite shake myself from post-meeting zombie brain. Also I’m fairly certain the month of April is trying to kill me with its allergies. It wasn’t all a loss, I did get to go to dinner with my family and my former neighbor Cleo.

Work wise, I’ve been rushing towards two deadlines simultaneously. One is a PWA for tens of millions of users and the other is a major redesign for even more. Stressful but also exciting to launch a couple projects with high visibility.

I finally finished Buddha, the eight volume graphic novel by manga artist Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy and Black Jack). It took a few volumes to ramp up but it eventually maintained a good cadence and storytelling quality. It feels good to finish a ~3007 page story. My biggest takeaway was realizing how much of Buddha’s life centered around royalty, politics, and kingdoms. In America, Buddhism tends to be fairly apolitical but its genesis is nothing but political. I find that fascinating especially how (and I’m reading another book about this) religion, race, and politics are intertwined here in America. And perhaps my Western outlook is skewed, looking at the Dalai Lama’s relationship with the Chinese government, Buddhism is still quite political.

To round out this week, I realized there’s only 4 weeks left in the school year. Yikes. This does not bode well for remote working from home. I’ve hit a major mishap in my shed building plans which means 1) it will not be done by Summer and 2) I’m now in the market for a coworking space for at least the Summer. Wish me luck. Maybe it’ll be good for me to leave the compound on occasion.

[Read]

I did not pick a theme, but a lot of these are about businesses and managers failing.

Microsoft staff are openly questioning the value of diversity (qz.com)
This is a disgusting turn. Over the last couple years Microsoft did a great job hiring diverse talent, making it an idyllic work place. But slowly those (mostly women) are being reorg’d, sexually harassed, and forced out. It’s disappointing to see Damore-esque opinions surfacing from within Microsoft. And people I know have stories to tell. This points to some huge failure in management.

Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS? Because It Would Mean Banning Some Republican Politicians Too. (motherboard.vice.com)
At a Twitter all-hands someone says the quiet part out loud. Why doesn’t Twitter ban Nazis? Because the Nazis are coming from inside the building. This is a failure of management.

Did Twitter Keep Tabs on Journalists’ Political Leanings? (gizmodo.com)
Jack tells Joe Rogan and others that the majority of journalists on Twitter are left-leaning. When questioned about this he cited a study done by MIT and Cortico. When MIT and Cortico were questioned, they couldn’t source Jack’s claim.

Jack Dorsey’s TED Interview and the End of an Era (newyorker.com)
A wonderful article from the New Yorker that cites Jack’s inability and unwillingness to moderate his own platform. And introduces the idea of a “shared reality” metric. Barf.

How Fortnite’s success led to months of intense crunch at Epic Games (polygon.com)
A depressing look at the internal “crunch” culture inside Epic Games’ Fortnite division. Despite being a historic success, Fortnite still forces its employees to practice crunch to continuously deliver new features in its Free-to-Play game. It sounds exhausting and is a failure of management.

Accenture sued over website redesign so bad it Hertz: Car hire biz demands $32m+ for ‘defective’ cyber-revamp (register.co.uk)
I don’t usually read the Register, but this caught my eye as it made the rounds. This is maybe the biggest case of a client suing a web design vendor that I’ve ever heard of. Accenture doesn’t look good here having delivered on none of the deliverables. They even tried to upcharge them for a tablet version of the website. Shameful and dishonest. For a chaser, here’s a former in-house employee talking about how Hertz laid off its entire web team in 2016 to outsource to IBM and Accenture. No doubt a failure of management or management making the decision to farm out their platform to unskilled labor.

Poor People’s Privacy Can’t Be an Afterthought (nytimes.com)
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency would, without warrants, obtain the names, birth dates, identification data, room assignments and license plate numbers of guests at several Motel 6 locations. They would then highlight the names of guests that “sounded Latino” to target them for questioning, detainment and deportation. 💔 This is a failure of Congress.

Faster input events with Facebook’s first browser API contribution (code.fb.com)
I’m very happy Facebook is contributing back to web standards. And this Scheduling API looks pretty neat. But I can’t help but to ask myself in this example… “How bad did they fuck up buttons that they became unresponsive?”

A Conspiracy To Kill IE6 (blog.chriszacharias.com)
While potentially for the ultimate good of the Web, this fascinating post shows the power that one company has in manipulating the browser landscape. Suddenly all those Google products that “oops!” lack cross-browser support seems a little less innocent.

[Watch]

Aquent Gymnasium Webinars
Next week I’m taking Prototypes over at Aquent Gymnasium and stumbled across a cache of previous webinars that is a gold mine of smart people.

Jen Simmons on Thinking With Grids at SmashingConf SF 2019
Its pretty inspiring to watch Jen Simmons live code a grid layout in front of a live audience. I’m so impressed and my palms are sweating nervously. I recommend watching all of the talks from this SmashingConf.

[Listen]

Post-Narco Urbanism – 99% Invisible
This 99% Invisible is a bit heavy, but gets to the heart of what it takes, from a city planning perspective, to bring a divided city (and nation?) together.