• "At a coffee shop near his office, Kazemi says he feels about his bots the way he imagines parents must feel about their children. “I’ve created these things, and they’re kind of separate from me now, and so I do feel kind of proud of them,” he says. “Every morning I wake up and I look at the last two hours of TwoHeadlines, and it just gets me every time.”" Yup. That.
  • "Under the [Do What You Love] credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love (which is, in fact, most labor) is not only demeaned but erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from the spectrum of consciousness altogether." This is astute and good, on what happens when work is divided into either "things you love anyway" or "labor that we will banish from view" – and the enabling forces that let someone Do What They Love.
  • "…we though it would be it would be interesting to ask the students to deconstruct a logic prevalent in the games industry (F2P) and to then apply that logic to a real-world system (in this case, a London transport) service." I loved this when Kars first told me about the brief, and I love seeing it again now.

Quiet around here

05 January 2014

I write here a bit less these days. Mainly, I’m writing weeknotes and doing work over at my professional site.

Work has gone well, this past year. I covered that in yearnotes at the other place. Lots of things to be proud of: art, engineering, design, and even some time off.

We launched Contributoria, the community-backed journalism site I’ve been working on.

I continue to tinker and work away: some hardware for work, making connected objects; some hardware at home, building noisy effects pedals; various bits of software I still haven’t written up, including endless episodes of Friends and a version of me that lives in New York.

No, things are no less strange than normal.

But otherwise, I keep beavering away, writing when there’s a chance, tinkering for a living, and getting on. As such, it’s more links-than-prose here, but that’s OK, I think: trust me when I say it’s for the good reason. I’m hoping to exercise my games-brain again in 2014, and to make some more music, and all manner of things shall be very well.

I thought it was worth checking in, though, because lots of stuff is happening, and it’s all good. Just not always stuff I write about here. Onwards!

  • "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.
  • "Culture is about power dynamics, unspoken priorities and beliefs, mythologies, conflicts, enforcement of social norms, creation of in/out groups and distribution of wealth and control inside companies. Culture is usually ugly. It is as much about the inevitable brokenness and dysfunction of teams as it is about their accomplishments. Culture is exceedingly difficult to talk about honestly. The critique of startup culture that came in large part from the agile movement has been replaced by sanitized, pompous, dishonest slogans." This is all very good.

Week 14

21 January 2013

A slow week, that livened up towards the end.

Early on, there were some meetings and phonecalls about Muncaster, which seemed to go well. I should be able to write more about that project soon. Various evening meetings pushed a few little tickles of ideas further forward, so will keep following up on them.

Thursday and Friday were spent working on Firle: a very last-minute project, building small content-managed maps for part of the BBC. Should be able to point at this soon. Though last-minute, and very brief, we managed to get to a really nice point with this: a sane, pleasant CMS; intuitive mapping integration with Cloudmade maps through Leaflet; a codebase that’s the right balance of “done proper” and “done on time”. And I got to get my head around a few new platforms. Despite initially implementing it in Cloudmade Web Maps, I ended up porting it to Leaflet, mainly for the better touchscreen support, but the Leaflet API turned out to be very pleasant. I built the backend out of ActiveAdmin, which turned out to be great. I was worried it’d be too dogmatic and not flexible enough, but in fact, it turned out to be the opposite: appropriately customisable, not in any way dogmatic, and nice and clear to build for.

The coming week holds: more news of Muncaster, more looking for options for things up to the end of February.

What I’m learning right now: managing the pipeline – as Sales on a Beermat calls it – has not proven to be a problem: it’s useful to have one, and I keep it up to date and push through it. The tough parts are keeping enough plates spinning at once should any one of them turn into a project. Brighstone was so close to the door but didn’t quite make it in January (though still might in the future); that threw a lot of my estimates and plans, but also threw my confidence a bit. So I’m wearing what Matt calls one’s learning smile and keeping busy, keeping learning, keeping pushing things through the pipeline.

  • "It was like graduate school, art school, and business school all rolled into one and I feel ready to explore in some new directions. For the moment, that means catching up on things: sleep, books, hacking and design projects, exercise, regular blogging, and more. Soon, it will mean looking at new possibilities. For the moment, I don’t know what awaits me in the after but if you’re up for lunch I’m probably game." What a nine years, though. Well done, Mike. I look forward to what happens next.