I’ve been reading Daniel Bogan’sUses This (née The Setup) interview series since I was a teenager. They chronicle interesting people’s hardware and software setups and end up being a fascinating window into the subject’s priorities and tastes when it comes to tools and toys.
My own interview just went up on the site, so now you can read all the nerdy details of my setup. Let me know what you think!
Spend time, attention, and money on things with long-term potential. 🕰
Build systems, relationships, and habits to last. 🏛
Evaluate bets consistently and adjust. ⚖️
Last year’s theme was about making commitments. Getting married was one of them, but so was writing more consistently on my site. This year builds on those commitments with a focus on things with longer timelines.
Thanks to everyone who dropped by the livestream last night and donated to Trans Lifeline. Thanks to the generosity of 108 of you, we raised $5,685 to help trans people in need. Best birthday ever. 🏳️⚧️🎂
This Wednesday, December 30th is my 30th birthday! (It also happens to be my golden birthday.)
While normally I’d spend it with friends and family, the pandemic is making that pretty difficult. So instead, I’ll be gathering with my pals online and streaming Jackbox Games to raise money for Trans Lifeline.
Tech is always political. The way data is collected and handled is often biased, and many products are neither accessible nor inclusive. Ethical Design Guide is made to share resources on how to create ethical products that don’t cause harm.
Sarah L. Fossheim just released this wonderful collection of resources (and monthly newsletter) on how to make digital products more inclusive. It covers topics from accessibility, to race, to gender. I know I’ll be bookmarking this and referring to it often. Huge thanks to them for putting this together. (Via Jillian.)
For the last few years, every time the holidays roll around, I make a big batch of Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Clyde Common Egg Nog for my family and friends.
Since I won’t be seeing them this year due to the pandemic, I made a video showing everyone how to make it (which Jeff seemed to like). Enjoy! And let me know what you think if you end up making a batch. 🎁
For Sloan and her partner, the answer became clear after the two spent a couple months together at the beginning of the pandemic because of COVID-related travel restrictions—and they decided to choose both. “I knew this was the person I wanted to marry, and I wanted that so strongly that the odd circumstances didn’t even bother me.” said Sloan. Though they’re still living in different countries now, the two were wed in a small ceremony in Madison Square Park this November.
In general, you don’t need a reason to want to start a relationship with someone far away. Regardless of your situation, sometimes you find a person, you both feel a genuine connection, and you can just tell their company would enrich your life. That can all happen online with someone who doesn’t live near you, with the same sort of chemistry as a more proximal partnership. When it works, it just works—and it’s more than worth it.
Some people have their weddings announced in The New York Times; Kate and I are clearly more of a VICE couple. But seriously, if you’re curious about how to date online or whether you should consider long-distance relationships, this piece by Chingy is a must-read.
This week I was excited to appear as a guest on the Everyday Robots podcast, hosted by Jonathan Ruiz. We discussed my career as an iOS developer, the making of Buildwatch, and the latest Apple event. Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts.
We launched a new app yesterday at Lickability. Buildwatch is a brand new Mac menu bar app for iOS developers that lets you track, graph, and analyze your Xcode compile times. I’ve wished this app existed for a long time, and now it does. 📊
The latest episode of 99% Invisible details the history of and hopeful future for bathroom design. With a focus on the needs of trans and nonbinary people, Susan Stryker and the other members of a project called Stalled! have recently won a major victory in the International Building Code that will allow for better bathrooms for everyone. In her words:
What I feel is so elegant about the Stalled! public toilet project is that at some level… it doesn’t matter what most people think about trans people. It doesn’t matter if you feel like you should accommodate people with disabilities… The design of the space just solves the problem.
If there’s one aspect quarantine life has shown me is that there’s a wide orbit of things you’ll refrain from wanting to do because the results may not come close to what what you’re use to. There’s limitations. The quality may be different. Heck, the actual process of doing this new thing may require a different side of you that you probably haven’t developed yet and on top of that the people you may ask to assist you with it might consider you crazy. In the end what’s mostly permeating through my mind is how can one explore ways to continuing being creative during times where it seems like there’s not much to work with.
The medical evidence for the practice is overwhelming. The post-SARS countries in East Asia have known this for a long time, and America and Europe are finally coming around. I’ve put a bunch of resources about the medical benefits of mask wearing in a further reading section at the bottom of this post.
But in this essay, I want to persuade you not just to wear a mask, but to go beyond the new CDC guidelines and help make mask wearing a social norm. That means always wearing a mask when you go out in public, and becoming a pest and nuisance to the people in your life until they do the same.
A very persuasive essay from Maciej Cegłowski, the founder of Pinboard, about the whys and hows of wearing masks in public. I started wearing one yesterday for the limited time I was outside, and the medical community seems to now be recommending that everyone do the same. It’s also worth reading Ben Thompson’s take and checking out these simple mask-making instructions from Loren Brichter.
While there are lots of great guides on how to work remote from companies like Notion, Zapier, and Slack, we thought share some of the specific tools we’re using to make this easier for our team. Hopefully, if you’re a newly remote employee or manager, you’ll see something here that can help smooth out a part of your workflow.
I wrote a new blog post over on the Lickability blog about the new tools we’re using to work from home better and some tips about how we’re using them. 🛋
The delightful weirdos over at performance art/tech company MSCHF just launched a new app. The app does what they used to do via text messages until the phone companies starting blocking their numbers: allows you to chat with them and sends you a notification every two weeks when they announce drop their new project.
Helpful Engineering is designing, sourcing and executing projects to help people suffering from the COVID-19 crisis worldwide.
We are an open community of volunteers without a commercial purpose. We believe that through a utilitarian approach, we can do the most good in the quickest time. Applying unused engineering and manufacturing resources, we can help the world cope with the threat of COVID-19.
I’m super impressed by the speed and organization of this group of volunteer engineers that are working on a number of really useful projects in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’ve got spare time, resources, or engineering know-how, consider joining their efforts.
At Patent Pending, a Flatiron coffee shop cum speakeasy, every cocktail order automatically comes with a bag of chips so as to not run afoul of the liquor delivery rules, and any order over $50 gets a free roll of toilet paper, one of the most popular items during this pandemic panic. But despite the quick response to sell delivery alcohol under the new rules, this will not save the bars and restaurants.
“We could survive a month and a half on delivery,” said Nicholas Ruiz, general manager at Patent Pending. “We’re just trying to be a little beam of light for some people.”
A man in California is haunted by the memory of a pop song from his youth. He can remember the lyrics and the melody. But the song itself has vanished, completely scrubbed from the internet. PJ takes on the Super Tech Support case.
I’m way behind on podcasts, but at least I’ve got plenty of time to catch up since it looks like we’ll all be stuck inside for the foreseeable future.
After seeing this recent episode of Reply All recommended everywhere, I gave it a listen, and it’s as good as everyone says it is. Queue it up if you’re interested in music, mysteries, obsessiveness, journalism, or the intersections thereof. Also, if you want more like this, go back and listen to Mystery Show. RIP.
The exhortation “learn to code!” has its foundations in market value. “Learn to code” is suggested as a way up, a way out. “Learn to code” offers economic leverage, a squirt of power. “Learn to code” goes on your resume.
But let’s substitute a different phrase: “learn to cook.” People don’t only learn to cook so they can become chefs. Some do! But far more people learn to cook so they can eat better, or more affordably, or in a specific way. Or because they want to carry on a tradition. Sometimes they learn just because they’re bored! Or even because—get this—they love spending time with the person who’s teaching them.
A very smart essay from Robin Sloan about an app he made for his family, but also about how truly personal software and its creation is powerful.
He reminds us that not all code has to scale or produce market value. Sometimes code can be a way to express yourself, have fun, and make life a little better for the people closest to you. Sometimes coding can be like cooking a meal for someone you love.
Alcoholism, religious leanings, gender-nonconforming identities, BDSM relationships: All of these factors can mean that snap decisions made by servers can make for very unhappy customers, one reason why many restaurants, including high-end fine dining establishments, are doing away with gendered service in favor of neutral systems like serving clockwise.
One of my favorite writers, Madeleine Holden recently interviewed me and some other folks about weirdly-gendered restaurant service. I couldn’t agree more with her conclusion.
Your job as a founder or CEO is to run your company and make your customers happy, not to do every little thing by yourself. Work with the pros who will save you time and make you money. Hire a lawyer, hire an accountant, and (if you’ve got room in the budget) get some help with your operations. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
Over on the Lickability blog, I wrote about my company’s history of working with outside professionals and have some advice to business owners about what to look for when hiring lawyers and accountants.
A great video from Vanity Fair with Nicholas Britell who wrote the music for HBO’s Succession. This type of piece where you can watch a creator actually break down the why behind their art is one of the most inspiring types of media for me. Seeing brilliant people work to elucidate their creations never gets old.
Last night, I listened to this episode of the podcast The Allusionist from October. As a keen observer of language, the host Helen Zaltzam is often bothered by the cliches of foodservice phrases like “Enjoy!” or “Are you still working on that?”. What follows is a fascinating discussion with restaurant professionals about the origin, meanings, and functional purposes of these and other similar expressions. I’d highly recommend giving it a listen.
It is the most dramatic new look for our magazine in its 162-year history, and one that, we hope, reflects boldness, elegance, and urgency. The redesign of the print magazine, as well as the new look of our website, was led by Peter Mendelsund, our creative director. His design work, carried out in collaboration with many teams across our magazine, is also reflected in the new Atlantic app that launched today.
Really excited about this bold new look for one of my favorite publications, and honored to have gotten to work on the development of the app at Lickability.
The next day, he said, “We are looking at a way to link. Noting Motherboard explicitly—and I understand why [sic] would want this—is more complicated, however. Are we then obliged to note that The Guardian had some of the documents, too? If half a dozen other publications got a piece of the Facebook material, as well—for ‘internal’ documents, they do seem to get around—would we need note them, too? Where does it end?” The Times never added a link.
Thinking about a journalist in the NYT newsroom in 2019 not being able to figure out how to make a hyperlink cracks me up and I’m not the only one.
I’ve soft-launched a new version of this website designed by my pal Robyn Kanner and developed by Martin Giannakopoulos. If you’re reading this in RSS and haven’t seen the site in a while, come take a look around and send me feedback on Twitter.
Whether you need some context on yesterday’s Supreme Court cases, some hope for the future, or a reminder that trans people are people: go listen to the latest episode of one of my new favorite podcasts, Gender Reveal, hosted by Molly Woodstock.