Newsletter April 9, 2018

Here are the Other Local Newsletters You Should be Reading

Reader and RSS

Anil Dash tweeted a sentiment that resonated a lot with me:

Google’s decision to kill Google Reader was a turning point in enabling media to be manipulated by misinformation campaigns. The difference between individuals choosing the feeds they read & companies doing it for you affects all other forms of media.

I used to be a multiple-times-daily checker of my RSS feeds. I’d read a bunch, follow threads, add more feeds, and repeat. Then twitter came along. I joined because my friend Keller was into it and it became just one part of Being Extremely Online.

The Timeline slowly started sucking my attention away from RSS. Then Reader went away, but it was okay, most of my feeds were still in twitter, or people were sharing the important stuff. Then, well, then twitter and facebook started becoming just completely outsized and I am adrift.

They are less like a curated timeline and more like a vicious surprise machine. That machine used to be set on “compelling links and ideas” and is now cranked to “emotional whiplash, you coward”. Someone broke the level off too.

Anil also wrote a piece about The Missing Building Blocks of the Web that, goodness, is good. Whatever it is I’m saying poorly, Anil has said much better.

Twitter and APIs

Speaking of Twitter. It’s still marginally useful through the use of a 3rd party app–I use Tweetbot. That might go away soon though.

Moves like this are exactly why we all need our own spaces. In the beginning Twitter was extremely permissive of developers using its API. They’ve slowly been cutting features from that and this next moves sounds like it might spell the end for most of the mainstay apps.

The Angry Motorcylce Men Meme

It’s my favorite meme at the moment

This is Just to Say.


And this is a fantastic cap to whatever it is current meme culture is at right now.

This is absolutely going to be unparseable in a few years. Right now it’s very good.

Macbooks should have touchscreens

Turning a MacBook into a Touchscreen with $1 of Hardware.

I used to think touchscreens on laptops was a bad idea until I observed that, no, people actually do use them. Apple has held the line that this is a bad user interface. I think they’re wrong about it. I mean, they sell a keyboard attachment for the ipad that also doesn’t turn off the touch functionality of the ipad…clearly there’s some disagreement within the company.

If you’ve seen a normal non-coder someone operate a computer with a touchscreen you’ll see them use it. Touching the screen is such a great affordance that we all carry devices around in our pockets that are purpose built to do such a thing. My toddler is confused when you can’t touch the screen and make it do something.

Toddler QA

Speaking of toddlers, if you ever want to find interface bugs hand your app to a toddler.

We released the 1.1 bug fix update to Night Lights last week and then promptly found that the main issue we were trying to fix (sometimes you get the same color, shape, or BOTH) was still happening. After a lot of fiddling we figured out that our toddlers were executing a frame perfect trick to reshuffle the available colors in the middle of them changing. Good job toddlers!

1.2 fixes that bug and the other one we introduced where the light bulb wouldn’t light up. Trust me, there is no such thing as a simple app.

Codename Hyper Hunter

Kyle made a bunch of concept pixel art for a game we’re Codenaming Hyper Hunter. The pitch for it is that it’s a cross between Mega Man and Mario. You can both shoot and jump on enemy’s heads. As part of our discussion on what the game should be we’ve been replaying various NES Mega Man’s and taking notes. What’s most interesting about that exercise is that most of the difficulty in Mega Man is environmental platforming (tricky jumps, modified friction/physics, different combinations of simple enemies) until you hit the Robot Master in each level. Then it’s mostly what you remember: combat and weapon choices.

If you have a favorite Mega Man level please let me know. We’re planning more deep dive level dissections and I’d love to take a look at particularly interesting ones.

You Should Blog

This is my invitation for you to start blogging. Start it up again, or start it for the first time. Over a year ago I started blogging again. Nothing major, just small things here and there mostly for my own reference. It’s a good habit and it’s freeing to have a place to put things. I talked last week about ownership on the web and have gotten a lot of nudges from folks that this is something. I’m now nudging you to actually do it because I know you’ve been thinking about it. Talk to me if you need help getting setup, or need accountability. I’m very good at positive peer pressure.

Being Happy For Your Friends

Friends, I want to share one of the most important things I learned in grad school: other people’s success is not your failure. You’ll be so much happier if you learn to celebrate the achievements of other people as well as your own.

A while back on Workantile’s slack we created channel for #shamelessplugs. Its a channel devoted to talking about the cool things you are up to. This has been lovely and provides a valuable service to a community: giving people the space to be excited about their thing. If you’re on slack or discord or whatever and don’t have a channel like this, go make one.