It’s the last one of these for 2019 and the last of the decade. Woo. All the best for 2020 and the new decade ahead.
I’ve watched a lot of TV this year – the quality and quantity of TV thanks to the many streaming services that have launched is in some ways overwhelming. Highlights in no particular order: Line of Duty, Chernobyl, Watchmen, Fleabag, The virtues, The Mandalorian, Euphoria, The Expanse (binged seasons 1-3 in prep for seasons 4 – all good), Giri/Haji, Succession Derry Girls, Game of Thrones, This Way Up, The Boys.
As for films – Avengers:Endgame, Apollo 11, Booksmart, Fast Color, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Ad Astra. Gaming was strange this year – not much out as next year is new console time for both Sony and Microsoft so little to recommend apart from Apple Arcade.
This is bizarre. Sonos offer a 1/3 discount on your old product if you turn on “Recycle Mode”. But this bricks the device and makes it unusable. WTF!?! I’ve got a few Sonos devices but this will make me think twice about investing any more in their system.
Great article on the love for The West Wing right now. It’s one of my favourite TV shows ever and thanks to The West Wing Weekly podcast I’ve been rewatching all 7 series. There’s only 4 more episodes to go so it really will be a case of what’s next after January? If you’ve never watched The West Wing give it a try alongside the podcast…and if you’ve not watched it since it originally aired there’s no better time.
Software systems are prone to the build up of cruft – deficiencies in internal quality that make it harder than it would ideally be to modify and extend the system further. Technical Debt is a metaphor, coined by Ward Cunningham, that frames how to think about dealing with this cruft, thinking of it like a financial debt. The extra effort that it takes to add new features is the interest paid on the debt.
The metaphor of debt is sometimes used to justify neglecting internal quality. The argument is that it takes time and effort to stop cruft from building up. If there new features that are needed urgently, then perhaps it’s best to take on the debt, accepting that this debt will have to be managed in the future.
The danger here is that most of the time this analysis isn’t done well. Cruft has a quick impact, slowing down the very new features that are needed quickly. Teams who do this end up maxing out all their credit cards, but still delivering later than they would have done had they put the effort into higher internal quality. Here the metaphor often leads people astray, as the dynamics don’t really match those for financial loans. Taking on debt to speed delivery only works if you stay below the design payoff line of the Design Stamina Hypothesis, and teams hit that line in weeks rather than months.
There are regular debates whether different kinds of cruft should be considered as debt or not. I found it useful to think about whether the debt is acquired deliberately and whether it is prudent or reckless – leading me to the Technical Debt Quadrant.
See also The Human Cost of Technical Debt – the human side of the problem. And, make no mistake — in business, all human problems are also business problems,viewed with a wide enough lens. Unhappy humans are unhappy workers, and unhappy workers are less productive. Yet, this angle of technical debt is seldom discussed, in my experience.
Not long until the big day and prep work is done. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope you have a good Christmas.
100 per cent
Two big stories from the weekend all around racism in the UK. First up – Stormzy. He’s got a new album out so has being doing a lot of press. In one interview he said that the UK is racist and it’s worse under Boris Johnson. I don’t know anyone that would say the UK doesn’t have a racism problem. If they do then they are part of the problem. As for Johnson, he’s got form and has normalised everyday racism in my opinion so Stormzy is spot on. However that didn’t stop the media spinning the story.
One of the worst was ITV who claimed that Stormzy had said the UK is 100% racist. A very different meaning to what was said. A few hours later they backtracked, deleted the tweet and changed their story, but the damage was done and the story spread over social media. To see why it was such a bad article, read the original interview in the tweet below – he did not say the UK is 100 per cent racist.
Ps. Afterwards, during my interview with him, #Stormzy elaborated his opinion on racism in Britain and he expressed his negative remarks about PM Johnson. So, to have the full picture, please read my full transcript below, which is the original and only reliable source of it. pic.twitter.com/uoM9370V7R
The media spin has now become a bigger story a bit like how the election issues were spun into something else to avoid tackling the original issue. Let’s get back to the real issue – racism is on the rise in the UK. What’s to be done?
Racism in Football
This year especially has seen an increase in racism at football matches in Europe especially but also the UK. This weekends Spurs v Chelsea game saw a player targeted again. Step forward Gary Neville who, on a live show, articulated what many were feeling. Something needs to happen. Authorities need to do more. The main political parties have to clean up their act.
Sky Sports host David Jones though didn’t agree. “I am compelled to say, they are the views of you, Gary Neville, and not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty.” “I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate” he later said. What the fuck? How can you have a balanced debate about racism unless you bring on Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson? It’s bad enough people at football matches feel it’s OK to do this….but there must be hundreds of others standing around hearing this and doing nothing. People need to step up.
The rise in nationalism across the UK is partly to blame. The ability of social media to amplify the minority and give voice to right wing extremists is another. Racist views that had long been stamped out and at best kept behind closed doors are now more prevalent as people have become emboldened. Johnson and other right wing media establishments have profited from being openly racist. Johnson even has the cheek to threaten the footballing authorities with action unless they clean up their act. He really has no shame. However I do hope the football powers that be do take more meaningful steps. Small fines at club and international level aren’t enough. And it’s not just an English or European issue. It’s the Old Firm match this weekend which see’s many racial taunts from both sides. This is Glasgow today.
TWO weeks this has now been on display in our city on the main motorway. TWO WEEKS, and nothing done about it. Can't help but think if it was racism towards any other ethnic minority it would be taken seriously and removed immediately. @GlasgowCCpic.twitter.com/lTCqmEoeJb
Labour is going through an awful lot of infighting after one its worst performances in decades. It will take more time and analysis to truly understand what went wrong but it’s clear that it and its union friends are picking the wrong battles. An ex Labour MP, Anna Turley, took Skwawkbox to court after being slandered in an article in 2017. She won her case but Unite spent over £1M defending the story on Skwawkbox. If you are a Unite member paying your fee’s, are you really comfortable that so much money has been spent in this way? Why not on the election campaign?
Charlie Kindel – how to achieve focus in any endeavor you embark on by simply writing down the Purpose, Principles, Priorities, People, and Plan (the 5Ps). An endeavor could be a software development project, a job search, or a phase in your life. I have personally found the 5Ps a useful tool for small projects (e.g. prepping for a VC demo/presentation) as well as large scale projects that include 1,000s of people.
Purpose: Why do we exist? Why are we in business? Where do we want to be in the future? What will we deliver?
Principles: What are the non-negotiable rules and key strategies? How will we act?
Priorities: What’s the framework for tradeoffs? In what order do you do things? How much mass or energy do you apply to each element of the plan? What is not important?
Plan: How are we going to stage and tackle solving the problems? What are the known dates & forcing functions on the calendar?
People: Who’s accountable for every key part of the plan?
Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.
Conway’s law was not intended as a joke or a Zen koan, but as a valid sociological observation. It is a consequence of the fact that two software modules A and B cannot interface correctly with each other unless the designer and implementer of A communicates with the designer and implementer of B. Thus the interface structure of a software system necessarily will show a congruence with the social structure of the organization that produced it.
Easily observed in organisations today Conway’s law still has merit and should be considered when designing software or reviewing organisational design.
So what might caring about Conway’s Law help you to do as a team enabler?
👉 Understand misalignment between the organisation’s communication structure and the systems and products they are creating. 👉 Recognise potential organisational impediments that might limit effective collaboration and communication. 👉 Offer practices, tools, and techniques that can help teams to navigate the limitations of the structure around them. 👉 Avoid common pitfalls and challenges that arise when working on complex systems. 👉 Help senior colleagues to understand that they play a role in shaping systems and products through their influence over communication structures.
Takeaway from a Mozilla user study studying how people find, save and share things on the web:
Capture as much as possible. Capture without judgment: your thoughts are more valuable than paper. Externalize what you learn. Once an idea is captured in a tangible form you can begin surveying and manipulating it.
Organize only after you capture. Filter, but don’t delete irrelevant information. Computers are big enough to search and store everything. Make them manage it.
Synthesize into new meaning. Re-contextualize what you learn. This is the creative act. Experience becomes art, notes become a novel.
Most creative bottlenecks happen when you try to organize and synthesize before you capture. Spread it all out before you try to arrange it.
Many creative tools are designed for organizing first. Name the file before you can write in it. Create your Photoshop layer before you can draw on it. This causes friction.
On holiday now until next year. Needing the break as tiredness and health haven’t been great the last few weeks. Looking forward to a lazy recharge over the next couple of weeks.
General Election 2019
So clearly many people spent last Thursday kicking children and pensioners into traffic as well as voting Tory. Since then the Labour Party have imploded, the LibDems have disappeared and lost their leader while the SNP are pushing Scotland to independence much like Wales and Ireland. Hard to see there being a United Kingdom by 2025.
Moment of the night was Swinson losing her seat and Sturgeon celebrating. Some will say its unbecoming of the FM. Bullshit. Show’s the cut throat business of politics.
So we end this year/decade on a downer in my opinion. The worse off in our society will be further penalised while the have’s feel less of the impact of Brexit. What a mess.
Greta Thunberg – Time Person of the Year
Time’s person of the year is often controversial but hard to argue with this years choice – Greta Thunberg. Her story is remarkable and she’s had a massive impact on the conversation around climate change even if it’s not delivered a material difference yet. The difference in a year is striking.
Everyone hates passwords. This article proves that almost half of users iterate their passwords. No surprise in this day and age of complex passwords, three out of four characters, number, symbol types etc. We need to do away with forcing users to change passwords every x days and help and support with alternative methods or allow them to set a complex password but not enforce the frequent change – we’d be far more secure.
The 2010’s have seen some great gadgets and The Verge has a nice top 100 round up. Stand outs for me from the list – iPhone 4, DJI Phantom and the iPad. That iPhone 4 design is such a classic.
The Deep Sea
Almost my new favourite thing, The Deep Sea is a great website that you must visit. Just keep scrolling….it goes on for a long time.
This is amazing. AI Dungeon popped out of nowhere a couple of weeks ago. Years and years ago text adventures were all the rage. However they were limited by the path the developer wanted you to take – think Bandersnatch. Not so with AI Dungeon. You can ask it to do anything you can in written language and it has scope and scale to grow according to your commands. Give it a go while you still can – it’s costing the dev’s $65k a month to host.
A while back I blogged on how I was using the Apple Watch to keep active. So much so I hit a streak of 365 days. That was a long time ago and like Forrest Gump said “For no particular reason I just kept on going”. Today was day 1000 of the streak.
I still find great benefit from doing this. It gets me out and about on days that I would literally do nothing apart from sit at a computer screen. It’s also kept my weight in a fairly good place despite not being able to get back to running or other more active pursuits. I know I’m being gamed doing this but if it’s helping what’s the harm?
There have definitely been days when I wanted to do anything apart from a 30 minute walk. Sick days, wet days, snowy days, windy days (remind me of this tomorrow when I’m getting blown away during a downpour), far too hot days but I’ve stuck with it. I’m sure I’ll keep going too until there’s a sick day that just stops me from continuing but hopefully thats a while away yet because there’s always more podcasts to listen to while walking. Onwards!