Noticings – 6/2/21 edition

Happy June.

I am now two weeks past my second shot and am officially fully vaccinated. So, that’s good. We’re all making slow progress. I got the family tickets to a Red Sox game on Labor Day Weekend; I’m going to predict things should be pretty much back to normal by then. I can’t wait.

Everything’s becoming a subscription, and the pandemic is partly to blame. We have a lot of subscriptions (plus recurring donations to a few public radio stations — a happy legacy from my NPR days — and other non-profits). I think we’re going to have a full reckoning over the summer to see what we really need.

My name is Max, and I have a cicada problem. Sometimes the dog is going to eat all the cicadas.

River Runner. This is a fun site that lets you drop a raindrop anywhere in the country and see its path.

The Oral History of ‘WandaVision’. WandaVision was a conquering hero in the household when it finally hit the screen.

The Internet is flat. Things are complicated. Try to behave with grace. I follow my own context collapse tag to remind me to try to keep as much context as I can.

Current reading: Crossing the Chasm and Escape Velocity by Geoffrey Moore. Can you tell I’m about to do a redesign and rewrite all my marketing copy?


Noticings – 5/27/21 edition

‘FIND THIS ****:’ Inside Citizen’s Dangerous Effort to Cash In On Vigilantism. This app seems like an awful idea.

Hadestown Tiny Desk Concert. Here’s a few minutes of fun for you.

Current reading while waiting in various parking lots: What Would Nature Do. More complexity theory stuff. Luckily, evolution has had quite a few years to run some experiments…

I’ve been stuck in Dependency Hell for the past few days, but I think I was able to track down the last bit. Of course, it would be idiotic to launch something new on the Friday before a holiday weekend, so it looks like I’ll be able to push it out on Tuesday. It was worth the lift, though; the fallback was to do a clean build and then port the full application over and rebuild the whole server farm. That would have been 6-8 weeks of grind.


Noticings – 5/26/21 edition

Happy Wednesday.

We’re getting closer to the end of school. Everyone is excited, including me. Next year, we will have buses! This year, we have not. Lots of driving. Lots of waiting. At least I have probably gotten through a couple more books than I would have otherwise.

Currently reading: Style by Joseph Williams. This is another good book on writing. The book reminds me that I should have my nouns verbing. I’m still working on that.

I actually found it hard yesterday writing up notes for the designer I’m working with. It’s been a long time since I have had to give detailed feedback to anyone other than myself. Turns out that while I always know what I mean — not everyone else does.

Bosses Still Aren’t Sure Remote Workers Have ‘Hustle’. Not a huge issue for me, obviously, but it will be interesting to see what kind of shake up the office world will have this fall.

Silicon Valley’s Social App and Teen Obsession. Wait five days and other teen app will come along.


Noticings – 5/21/21 edition

Happy Friday!

I’ve been heads-down in design land today, so fewer noticings today.

Pollinator Garden Coming to CCHS. I nice write-up about how the local high school is trying to encourage the bees and the butterflies. I’ve tried to keep all native plants in my yard, so I hope I’m doing my part to keep the cycle going clean. I’ve tried to plant a couple of butterfly bushes, but they haven’t taken. I’ll keep trying next year.

One additional bonus to reading the local high-school newspaper: I know the author.

Out my own backdoor yesterday afternoon:

Today’s reading: The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto. I come back to this one every time I need to reset my writing muscles. This is less about line-by-line grace and more about how to structure your arguments so that you can write persuasively. Highly recommended.


Noticings – 5/20/21 edition

Happy Thursday.

It looks like the camps are starting to come around. We had one of them announce today that if you are fully vaccinated, you don’t need to have the PCR test immediately before you arrive. We hope the others choose the same rules, otherwise our (by then) fully-vaccinated children will be scrambling to get tests done in the 24 hours between camps.

I spent a little time yesterday priming the Garden Tower for planting. I think we’re going to go over to the garden shop on Sunday and get it all set up. My worms should arrive on Sunday or Monday. That’s always fun.

The long night of the soul. A Ringer writer in his thirties is dealing with a cancer diagnosis. This reminds me of When Breath Becomes Air, a memoir in which a neurosurgeon narrates his own cancer. It’s both very well-written and an amazingly tough read. I try to read it every year.

Real-Estate Frenzy Overwhelms Small-Town America: ‘I Came Home Crying’. Not my problem right now (and hopefully not for decades….). The market appears to be insane.

I’m doing a lot of reading right now on complex adaptive systems — handy, since I’m building one. One of the advantages of having the “deputy” as the organizing metaphor is that it makes it a lot easier for visualize them as independent agents. Or, in the TRIZ sense: “smart little people“.


Noticings – 5/18/21 edition


I’m still here. Things have been busy, though. Finishing the school year. Getting all our shots. Continuing to build Serendeputy. Got a lot going on.

Once of the things I’m trying to do more is “noticing” — getting out of my head and into the world. Being a geek, I’ll frame that as trying to maximize my noticings per day. I’m guessing that I can boost that number by trying to write some of them down. Interesting experiment, if nothing else.

The noticings idea comes from 10% Happier, an audiobook by Dan Harris I’ve been listening to. Highly recommended.

I’m also trying to improve my writing. I’ve been heads-down writing in Elixir and Erlang, so my basic essay-writing skills have atrophied. Not to mention my copywriting skills. Perhaps someday I can work my way back to “decent” writer.

Interesting links from the last couple of days:

Next-generation blogroll. I don’t have a blogroll on this site yet (though I should — just need to hack the WordPress template at some point). For now, you can get a feel for what I’d put there by looking at the tags (sites, tweeters, concepts, etc.) I’m following.

How the cookie poisoned the Web. Doc Searls with some thoughts on cookies, ad tech and how we all got here.

‘Who does that?’ Family outraged after woman throws coffee at teen managing Dunkin Donuts. Comments on the r/boston subreddit. Ok, it’s been a long damn time since I was a swing manager at the ol’ McDonalds Milford II — the late 80s, when dinosaurs roamed the earth — but I remember stuff like this. I dealt with a lot more crap and abuse closing on a Saturday night than I ever have in my executive life.

And now, I’m seeing lots of stories about how businesses are having trouble ramping back up staff.

Discontinuities often provide massive opportunities. A forced break in inertia will make a lot of people reconsider what they’re looking for. If you can only offer a crappy job, then you can’t be surprised when folks aren’t too excited about it (see DD story a couple paragraphs up). The best business owners will step up and hire the best workers.

Finally, one of the kids was asking about brain/computer connections. I pointed her to Tim Urban’s piece on Neuralink and Marshall Brain’s great short story, Manna.

Other random noticings:

Traffic is back here in Concord. I’ll need to recalculate how long it will take me to get to the school for pick up. I’m glad to see it, but I kinda got used to freely zipping around town.


My About page from September 2001

All right — I’m not writing all that much here. Got a lot going on.

I was feeling a little nostalgic this morning, so I hit the wayback machine to see what my oldest About page was. Turns out it’s from September 27, 2001.

Boy, I’ve been doing this stuff for a long time…

Fan Mail

Fan mail: College and High School Radio

Spotify is great. Really.

But, I still love college (and high school) radio more. If you haven’t tried them out:

Exponential Radio is the HD2 channel of WXPN, the radio station at the University of Pennsylvania. The main feed is pretty good too. Funky Friday plays in the kitchen on Friday nights; XPN2 plays all day Saturday.

Eclectic24 is the HD2 channel of KCRW, out of Santa Monica. It’s a lot weirder than XPN2, but vastly fun. Eclectic24 plays in the kitchen all day Sunday.

WIQH is the radio station from my very own local high school. I’ve taken to listening to it the last couple of days, and it’s a really good mix.

Fan Mail

Fan mail: Slacktivist

Fred Clark has been writing his Slacktivist blog for a long time. He is always thoughtful. You should out his work.


My personal Charlie Brown football

I always want the comments on Wall Street Journal articles to be better than they are.

I am always disappointed.