It’s Tuesday, April 26, 2022 here in Portland, Oregon. There’s the buzz of someone doing yard work outside, the sky above is grey (tuned to the colour of a neutral white balance card?) and the sun is peeking out behind some clouds to the south-east and doing a passable impression of some HDR photography.
Drinking tea from: a Things Could Be Worse Calamityware Mug.
My dance card for consulting and contracting is opening up over the next 2-8 months.
This is an open call if you’re interested in talking with me about a problem you have that we could work together on.
Here’s a recent thread explaining what I do and why you want to hire me, and if you already know why or have something you’d like to talk about, hit reply here, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So there’s this story about the Star Trek communicator, right, and how it inspired a bunch of people, not least of which some who worked at Motorola, to come up with the StarTAC, the first ever clamshell flip phone.
What’s nice to see after the fact is the production designer for Star Trek: Picard saying:
Interfaces will always be challenging. Going smaller is not always the answer. The Motorola Razor was basically a TOS communicator, but then we wanted video and data interfaces. Then our devices got bigger. (Dave Blass, Star Trek: Picard production designer)
Caught my attention because: well, it’s Star Trek, duh, and it’s a nice visual reminder to use with people about device constraints and the difference between fiction and usable reality. See also, some time, all those panes of glass videos from Corning and Microsoft et al from the mid 2000s, after Apple got Quartz and a compositor running on something the size of a mobile phone.
I saw a great thread the other day reminding people that sticking anchor links behind the text “here” is shitty for accessibility and screen readers in particular. Accessibility practitioners and experts will know this already! For the rest of… me, the reason why is that screen readers are great at picking out all the links and sticking them in a list. So if you stick links behind “here”, then you get a list like this:
versus a list like:
… which was a great way of helping me remember to work more on my link text and to give it context where it makes sense. Above, I earlier just linked “Dave Blass”, but realized better context would be to make the anchor text “Dave Blass, Star Trek: Picard Production Designer”. It feels weird – not what I’m used to, in terms of making link text short? – but makes lots of sense.
Look, sometimes when you’re working on something and you take a look at, say, all your planning, which some people can be allergic to because “ugh, over-planning” and “ugh, estimating” and yes I’m totally sympathetic to that and yet the whole deal is to do just enough planning, which means knowing what you’re doing the planning for which in itself requires work.
Deep breath. Anyway:
Look. If you look at a bunch of work and it turns out you don’t think you can get that work done, or that your confidence on hitting a certain date or expectation isn’t that high (I don’t know, lower than 50%?) then it’s probably a good idea – unless you have good reason otherwise, like strong explicit information about the status of your relationship with the person you’re going to communicate this to – to just bring up right now: hey, we’re probably not going to make it, let’s have a plan for what happens.
Nobody likes surprises, and if circumstances genuinely are out of your control and everyone knows you’re doing your best, then people in general appreciate honesty and candor.
I teed this up in s11e38 – an irregular section for interesting people looking for their next thing, and interesting people looking for interesting people.
Or, more fun, people looking for crew for their heist, and people looking to join a heist.
(Some of my most fun and fulfilling work ever has been when it’s felt like a heist).
Here’s the first one I can share with you:
If you’re looking for a crew or if you’re looking to join one, just hit me up with a reply and I’ll see how I can help out. There’s 3,000-odd super interesting people here, so the hit rate/match rate has got to be higher than average for you all.
Hey, would you look at that. Absolutely no mention of anything that happened yesterday.
How are you doing?
A quick reminder: Things That Caught My Attention, Volume 1 collecting the 45 best essays from episodes 1-50 is out now. You, my three thousand-odd subscribers, can get a copy with 20% off.
Paid supporters and subscribers get a free copy and also bask in the knowledge that they’re encouraging my writing habit. So go and become a paid supporter/subscriber and remember, you can probably expense or deduct it!
It Will Be Years Before Raytheon Can Build New Stinger Missiles, Marcus Weisgerber, DefenseOne, April 26, 2022 ↩