Books and Links: September

Around here autumn is lurking… the rising wind has the dry rustle of turning leaves, the air just feels crisper, and I’m craving baked goods and campfire smoke.

I am still in limbo with some of my zettelkasten/note-taking work… I’m just going to have to do a post about where I am at the moment and hope that others can build on it. Suffice to say, obsidian is super awesome and influencing a lot of my decisions on that front at the moment.

We are still safe and happy in our little home… learning to find a new steady-state with our increased population count. I’ve been spending time messing around with iOS14 automations and keyboard stuff… I’ll write about it soon.


This month was pretty good for book-reading. I think I read… four books, not including comics (every month I look forward to my new allotment of Hoopla borrows!)

On deck: Knowing God by JI Packer, A Programmer’s Introduction to Mathematics by Jeremy Kun, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by Lynne Black Jr.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

This is a dark book. In telling the story of a single traffic stop gone wrong, Gladwell meanders through the history of communication, deception, and the incentives of trust and suspicion. I found the discussions of different conversational fallacies interesting as to how they aligned with the Gricean Maxims, but I am conflicted because I felt there was a definite bias to how some of the social science was handled and statistics interpreted. Content warning: Language, graphic depictions of violence and sexual violence.

Redshirts by John Scalzi

I knew going in that I was going to enjoy this one given the premise, but I surprised at how moving and thoughtful it was. It definitely transcends its initial setup to ask some hard questions about life and meaning. I know that’s vague, but to say more would be a spoiler. Content warning: Foul language and coarse joking.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

I really enjoyed the character building. For a book ostensibly about virus-vampire apocalypse, it takes its sweet time telling about all the humans and giving everyone a worthy backstory. Very southern-gothic, Stephen King-esque. Against that tapestry of history, the stakes (see what I did there?) of decisions felt rich and meaningful, and Cronin managed to keep that pace up till the bitter end. I don’t think I’ll continue through the series though. Content warning: Violence, language, threatening situations.

My link saving automation is mostly broken, and I started doing a weekly newsletter at work that has soaked up a lot of my desire to post links. I think I’ve also just spent more time in books than in Instapaper these days.

Stop doing design system projects

When new designers and developers join forces to evolve your design system it is tempting to start working in projects. You might even create some epics and sprints to move user stories from your backlog in a Scrum environment. But when your design system is not a full-time effort, this will work counter-productive.

I’m still trying to get our design system off the ground, but I had settled on doing it iteratively, bit by bit rather than a “project” all at once. Nice to see that others agree.

Stop doing design system projects

Marc Andreessen On Productivity, Scheduling, Reading Habits, Work, and More

You really have to uplevel and figure out what’s important. I usually take a good hour to look at what I’ve been doing. It’s basically figuring out the threshold for “yes” versus “no”. I try to revise that about once a year.

As a student of effective people, there were a couple good gems in this interview.

Marc Andreessen On Productivity, Scheduling, Reading Habits, Work, and More

PhD Student Reporting What It’s Like to Use a Zettelkasten for Classes

I’m still a student of this… reading about the system is more useful than the tools.

PhD Student Reporting What It’s Like to Use a Zettelkasten for Classes

  • 2020-09-30 22:58:40 +0000

    Fix link

  • 2020-09-30 22:34:28 +0000

    Books and Links: September