• "My class handouts grew into a crude PDF textbook, which somehow escaped the walls of the school. Emails began to arrive asking me to conduct workshops. An editor at Routledge, invited me to elevate my drawings and prose to a publishable state, and the result was Handmade Electronic Music — The Art of Hardware Hacking" Might have to get this.
  • "What did The Hustle™ accomplish? I gained weight. I wasn’t spending enough time with my (now) wife. I felt like shit. I began to resent my work, and the work I was producing clearly wasn’t my best. I started cutting corners. I went from a mindset of shipping with quality and integrity to “when is this going to be over?”" I've almost never worked like this – but every time I have, it's always been as terrible as I've suggested it will be beforehand. Mainly on the software end of things, but not always. And the hustle is short-term thinking: the long-term damage is usually so much worse, including, but not limited to: technical debt, RSI, ill health, weight gains, emotional exhaustion, damage to relationships, friendships, and family. I am not only convinced that nothing is worth that; I know it.
  • Really excellent technical article on the development of Novation's Launchpad S. It's not that remarkable a product in many ways, but this is a super-detailed post about some of the thought and improvements that have gone into what looks, on the surface, like a most incremental upgrade – but is in fact surprisingly comprehensive and affects many things at low levels. Really clear, well explained – as is the rest of Focusrite's engineering blog.
  • "I think recognising this – when there is a path from a crisis that involves risk but rewards you hugely – with something you wouldn’t have imagined, is at the very heart of design. It’s certainly an incredible feeling when it works, when the judo-flip flows just so, and you end up somewhere brilliant." Yeah. I really, really need to trust that more when I feel it.
  • "Though adept at mathematics and engineering science, his inventions were all human-centred and focused on the experience and enjoyment of the user. He abandoned his design of a steam motorboat engine, for example, because once he had developed it to rival diesel power it lost its suppleness and "was not a nice thing any more". His car suspensions and the cycle developments were entirely aimed at providing a superior experience for the user. He was very taken, through his association with Bridgestone, with the Japanese sense of the "spirit" of an artefact, reflecting its origins and the care with which it was made. He liked the idea that by seeing and using something one can detect this "spirit", which fitted his own conviction that manufacture and industry are morally rewarding. "Man should make things … Make a profit, of course, but don't take the money gain as the prime judgment."" Great paragraph from this obituary of Alex Moulton.
  • Wonderful article about Hackney – and, specifically, a natural history of the borough as it is right now. The history of social housing throughout the area is particularly interesting; also, I found the distinction between "gentrification" and "yuppification" useful. Ignore the title – it is a meaty piece, with about 2% of it being about hipsters.
  • "…if any one of the participants at the meeting starts to deviate away from the subject, repeat themselves or get a little carried away with their topic, the "Scrum master" presents them with the baseball cap to wear – the idea being to "cap" the conversation at source! This indicates that the person presented with the cap is now prohibited to speak until asked to contribute again, or until the cap is passed to someone else during the course of the meeting." Iiinteresting.
  • "I think one of the most gut-wrenching realizations that small companies have to make is that they aren’t Apple. Apple spends over a billion dollars a year on tooling. An injection molding tool may cost around $40k and 2-3 months to make; Apple is known to build five or six simultaneously and then scrap all but one so they can evaluate multiple design approaches. But for them, tossing $200k in tooling to save 2 months time to market is peanuts. But for a startup that raised a million bucks, it’s unthinkable. Apple also has hundreds of staff; a startup has just a few members to do everything. The precision and refinement of Apple’s products come at an enormous cost that is just out of the reach of startups.

    I don’t mean to say that design isn’t important — it still is an absolutely critical element to a product, and good design and attention to detail will enable a startup to charge more for a product and differentiate themselves from competitors. Apple has raised the bar very high for design and user experience, and users will judge your product accordingly. But it’s important to keep in mind that your true bar for comparison is other startups, and not Apple; and if your chief competitor is Apple, you either need your own billion dollars of cash to invest in product design, or you need to rethink your strategy."

  • "Where you see gadget, I see process. Moreover, where you see prose, I see poetry: for the UK will continue to have no manufacturing all the while it has lost its collective sense of the poetry of production. The ignominious application of production line metaphors to (the actually very creative) industrial life has helped alienate people from the process of making: whereas Lean Manufacturing instead helps to reconnect workers with the project as a whole, by seeing waste as a thing that erodes value, and that corrodes the relationship between customer and producer by making it unnecessarily fragile and contingent." There's lots to recommend in this piece. I'm not sure I agree about software, even ignoring my vested interested and perspective, but there's so much else of value in here. I think this paragraph spoke most to me, though.
  • "When a product is connected to the network it has two brains. A little local one that can perform cheap calculation, and a big one in the network that can do potentially anything at all: massive facial recognition, searching all of Amazon, advanced artificial neural networks, whatever." It's great that Matt's writing so much again – but "little brain, big brain" is a great explanation of the concept.
  • Stanford's iPhone development course.
  • "Is writing ever NOT collaboration? Doesn’t one collaborate with oneself, in a sense? Don’t we access different aspects of ourselves, different characters and attitudes and then, when they’ve had their say, switch hats and take a more distanced and critical view — editing and structuring our other half’s outpourings? Isn’t the end product sort of the result of two sides collaborating? Surely I’m not the only one who does this?" Something else that's been on the pile (to link) for a while now.
  • "The craftsman as hero is a consistent motif in Ruskin’s artistic and social theories. To him, mechanisation and division of labour dehumanise workers, enslaving them to execute exactly the specifications of others. The only way to recapture the humanity in labour is to put the designer back in touch with the tools of the craft and to unleash the creativity of the maker." A lovely metaphorical piece from Matt Edgar, reminding me of how much I need to brush up on my knowledge of the Arts and Crafts movement, if only because of how much I appreciate their sentiments.
  • "At some point, I begin to feel that I am carrying entire Latin American forests home with me. Also, I am afflicted with a terrible need to stop and write things down, at almost every corner, slowing my passage through the city and impeding motion. I am locked in this ridiculous two-step, unable to travel more than half a block before sitting down and writing out more, papering over the last thirty feet, dripping more ink onto the street: this absurd project, this incomprehensible, incompletable urge, this terror of forgetting and compulsion to record." Beautiful writing from James, which has been sitting on the "to link" pile for far too long.
  • "Here is an extraordinary piece of film. It is a live outside broadcast of a British army simulation of an attack on a train in Britain. It went out at prime time on a BBC programme called Saturday Night Out. And it happened in 1956."
  • "Maps are having their F-64 moment, right now, which is important and wonderful but I don't think anyone really wants to live in a world with an infinite depth of field. It's an appealing idea but then something like the Hipstamatic comes along and we all get irrationally weak in the knees, all over again." As usual with Aaron, I could quote most of the article, but in this case, I'll pick my favourite piece of writing, rather than perhaps the most succint quotation; just read the whole thing. (And: I wish I could code or even write like this).