Books and Links: January

It's been a busy start to the year... looking forward to what God brings in the new year!

I've been reading a lot... but here's a cherry picked selection:


Reading a ton about design systems... both the good and the bad.

The hoof and the horse. —

In my experience, the challenge of design systems work is helping teams think in more cross-functional, interdisciplinary ways. They need an awareness on how changing a single slice will affect the hyperobject—or more specifically, how it will affect the other teams and people who work within the system.


Mind the gap, user centered design in large organizations with Luke Wroblewski

Wonderful talk, some really great points on how to responsibly handle A/B testing.

  • Test high contrast hypotheses
  • Responsible feature rollouts… everything is released as an experiment. Has to pass a metric test.

I’m definitely going to get my team to watch this.

  • Mind the gap. Speak for the user directly, listen for anywhere they are left out.
  • You are what you measure. “What do you want to happen?”
  • Spend time with customers.


Intentional and Emergent Design Systems | Product Design, Responsive Web Design, UX Design, Belfast Northern Ireland | Jordan Moore

The fundamental difference between the two competing methods is the point at which design decisions become codified as part of a design system. This may seem like a minor point to get stuck on but it touches on an old CSS problem: it’s hard to remove CSS after the fact because it isn’t clear where certain style rules are used or perhaps never used. Front-loading a design system with granular, variable-like CSS rules is as good as saying those rules are immovable and any attempt to move them will have unintended consequences up the design system chain from granular to fully formed components and patterns.

This article really spoke to me. I also really appreciated Jordan’s clarifying advice on Twitter.


Systems, Mistakes, and the Sea › Robin Rendle

My point here is that, yes, before tackling these issues we must see the design system and the hyperobject at our respective companies, but to do so we must see ourselves clearly first. And a big part of that is owning up to, and being honest about, our mistakes. So I would like to be honest with all of mine; this year I’ll be writing about every mistake I’ve made in the field of design systems and speaking up a bit more about the ways I’ve messed things up.

Incredible article about Design Systems and the challenges of maintaining them. Highly recommended.



On Pair Programming

My friend Seth and I were just talking about the difficulties and delights of pair programming, and then this incredible guide dropped. Great read if you are just starting or trying to get to the next level.


Performance Budgets, Pragmatically – CSS Wizardry – Web Performance Optimisation

most organisations aren’t ready for challenges, they’re in need of safety nets. Performance budgets should not be things to work toward, they should be things that stop us slipping past a certain point. They shouldn’t be aspirational, they should be preventative.


Friend of a Friend: The Facebook That Could Have Been

I express my network in a FOAF file, and that is the start of the revolution. —Tim Berners-Lee (2007)

Facebook does seem to have a monopoly, whether natural or unnatural—not over social media per se (I spend much more time on Twitter), but over my internet social connections with real people I know. It has a monopoly over, as they call it, my digitized “social graph”; I would quit Facebook tomorrow if I didn’t worry that by doing so I might lose many of those connections. I get angry about this power that Facebook has over me. I get angry in a way that I do not get angry about the MTA, even though the Subway is, metaphorically and literally, a sprawling trash fire. And I suppose I get angry because at root I believe that Facebook’s monopoly, unlike the MTA’s, is not a natural one.


This coding legend knows the secret to fixing Big Tech’s most pervasive problem

Refusing to follow a “move fast” model put Hamilton directly in conflict with NASA itself. In one famous instance, when Hamilton pointed out a potential software error triggered by an errant button-push that could strand Apollo 11 astronauts on the moon, the initial response within NASA was aggrieved disbelief: Astronauts are some of the best-trained people in the world; of course they won’t trigger the error by hitting the wrong button! But that’s exactly what they did on the Apollo 11 mission—and Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins only avoided being stranded on the moon (or killed immediately on impact) by Hamilton winning that argument before they took off.



The Broken Road of Peggy Wallace Kennedy — THE BITTER SOUTHERNER

All white Southerners live with the sins of their fathers. But what if your dad was one of the most famous segregationists in history?


How To Run Your Life Inside of Notion - Superorganizers

This is incredibly impressive. I don't know that I've ever seen a more complex system... although I'm sure some old org-mode person is going to blow my mind at any point now.

Is notion web 2.0 orgmode?


My Markdown Writing and Collaboration Workflow, Powered by Working Copy 3.6, iCloud Drive, and GitHub

This git-enabled ios-friendly workflow blew my mind. I've been thinking about notes and documents on ios for a long time, and this is a very interesting idea to me.


How a cabal of romance writers cashed in on Amazon Kindle Unlimited

(Content warning: some coarse joking about bedroom matters)

This really shouldn't surprise me, but the weird amount of combination economic incentive and cobra-farming that lead to this even being a story is just breathtaking.

H/T to for the link.


Nairobi's Motor Taxi Drivers Sport Extravagant Costumes in 'Boda Boda Madness'

motor taxi

Captivated by the motor taxis occupying the streets of Nairobi, Dutch artist Jan Hoek collaborated with Ugandan-Kenyan fashion designer Bobbin Case.. each driver dons an extravagant ensemble developed by the designer that matches their rides.


Daniel Gross on productivity - Marginal REVOLUTION

The longer you think about a task without doing it, the less novel it becomes to do [...] my solution is to (somewhat counter-intuitively) not think about the task until I am ready to fully execute it. I do not unwrap the piece of gum until I’m ready to enjoy it in its entirety. I need to save the fun of thinking to pull myself into flow.

This is a very interesting idea. I can see the value of it, especially as I over-engineer a todo task.


Moxie Marlinspike >> Stories >> Hypothermia

The suddenness of it was unbelievable, as if I was on a tiny model made of paper which someone had simply flicked with their finger; I didn't even have time to register that it was happening. I landed in the water, felt the shock of intense cold run through my system, and gasped as I clambered onto one of the overturned hulls. The wind was blowing so hard that it effectively pinned the boat down, preventing me from righting it, and eventually turtling it completely.

It's scary how quickly a situation can go from in control to utterly out of control... there's a reason sailors throughout through history have been so superstitious about the capricious sea.


Angus Wallace - Wikipedia

With the limited medical equipment on board, Wallace and Wong had to improvise heavily. The medical kit had lidocaine – a local anaesthetic – but the catheter in the kit was designed only for urinary catheterisation and was too soft for use as a chest tube. The doctors fashioned a trocar from a metal clothes hanger to stiffen the catheter, and a check valve from a bottle of water with holes poked in the cap.[9] They sterilised their equipment in Courvoisier cognac, and began surgery by making an incision in the patient's chest, but with no surgical clamps available, Wong had to hold the incision open with a knife and fork while Wallace inserted the catheter.[7] The whole surgery lasted about ten minutes; the doctors successfully released the trapped air from the patient's chest, and she passed the rest of the flight uneventfully, eating and watching in-flight movies.[9]



  • 2022-06-08 11:31:29 -0500
    Rename articles

  • 2020-06-18 14:26:02 -0500
    Move everything to CST

    Don't know why I didn't do that before. It caused _no_ end of

  • 2020-01-31 20:48:16 -0600
    Fix date... something is wrong with my elixir

  • 2020-01-31 20:44:06 -0600
    Post: January