Latest Writing & Things of Interest

February 1, 2019

Link: HTML, CSS, and Our Vanishing Industry Entry Points

This post from Rachel Andrew has been making the rounds and for good reason. It sums up a lot of what too few of us are thinking about (or at least being vocal about). A few choice quotes:

Everyone is angry about CSS again. I’m not even going to try to summarize the arguments. However it always seems to boil down to the fact that CSS is simultaneously too easy to bother with, yet so hard it needs to be wrapped up in a ball of JavaScript in case it scares the horses.

I have done this before within the last year or two and it’s still very powerful:

There is something remarkable about the fact that, with everything we have created in the past 20 years or so, I can still take a complete beginner and teach them to build a simple webpage with HTML and CSS, in a day. We don’t need to talk about tools or frameworks, learn how to make a pull request or drag vast amounts of code onto our computer via npm to make that start. We just need a text editor and a few hours. This is how we make things show up on a webpage.

And finally, this:

I might be the “old guard” but if you think I’m incapable of learning React, or another framework, and am defending my way of working because of this, please get over yourself. However, 22 year old me would have looked at those things and run away. If we make it so that you have to understand programming to even start, then we take something open and enabling, and place it back in the hands of those who are already privileged. I have plenty of fight left in me to stand up against that.

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January 15, 2019

Link: The Ethics of Web Performance

This is a good post from Tim Kadlec on how web performance can affect others, and our collective ethical obligation to those people. Another good reminder that, even if we’re not in a larger strategy position at big companies, we still have the power to change the world in smaller (but still important) ways. Let’s change it for the better.

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January 7, 2019

Link: Free Private Repos on GitHub

An excellent turn of events for independent coders. Nice to save seven bucks a month, even better for those that couldn’t afford the seven bucks to begin with. Thanks GitHub (and Microsoft)!

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January 5, 2019

OKRs: Q4 2018 Review

Measuring a mountain

2018 has come to an end and, with it, my first attempt at using objectives and key results to define my goals and track progress towards them. Here’s a quick retrospective on my first round of personal OKRs.

Objective:

Create healthier habits ahead of 2019 fitness push.

Key results:

  • Lose 10 pounds by December 31st.
  • Get 10k steps at least four days a week.
  • Go sugar/caffeine free for at least 45 days.

Out of all three, I’d say that this was my main goal. Having a desk job for the past ten years has taken its toll, and I’m on a mission to lose some weight, gain some mobility, and just feel better on a regular basis. Unfortunately, I’m giving myself a big ol’ zero for this objective.

The past two months have been spent selling our house, buying a new one, doing some major renovations in a very short period of time, and moving in over the holidays. It was complete chaos and, as a result, all of this quarter’s OKRs suffered.

As anyone who has moved can tell you, it’s largely a scramble to get way too many tasks done in less time than you could ever expect. As such, you’re left trying to fit the regular bits of life into very, very small windows of time. Common, every day activities like eating a decent meal are hard to prioritize, especially when your kitchen is packed into twenty different boxes.

My weight stayed the same (hurray for not gaining, at least!), I drank way more soda than usual, and, apart from the two weeks right around Christmas and New Year’s when we moved, the 10k day was rare.

Objective:

Increase my profile as a public speaking expert.

Key results:

  • Get 1 article published on speaking in external publication.
  • Finish first draft of Speak Easier.
  • Submit 5 CFPs to conferences for next year.

I’d call this one more successful, but only slightly. On the one hand, I did get an article on speaking published over on the LogRocket blog. I did not get a full first draft of my new book, Speak Easier, completed, nor did I submit to any CFPs, although I did gather a list of conferences to submit to and get them organized in Trello.

For reasoning and excuses, see the section above.

Objective:

Increase the reach and influence of my newsletter.

Key results:

  • Grow email subscribers to 2,000.
  • Publish The Intermittent Newsletter at least once a week.
  • Average 40% open rate.

Again, largely a failure on these OKRs, too. I’ll let this screenshot from MailChimp do most of the talking:

MailChimp screenshot showing email newsletter stats

Although my email list grew, it did so slightly. I’m a few hundred off my goal and didn’t have much time to invest in implementing any serious growth strategies. And you can see that I only sent my newsletter 5 out of the 13 weeks in the quarter.

The good news is that I did manage to average a 40% open rate, which isn’t too bad.

Overall Review

My first quarter of using OKRs wasn’t the best by a long shot. I maintain that moving house and contending with the holidays are reasonable excuses as to why, but excuses are excuses…

I do think that there are a few things I need to do moving forward to make my OKRs successful. They include:

  • Making them more visible e.g. printing them out and hanging them somewhere I will see them on a daily basis.
  • Scheduling weekly check-ins to review progress and remind myself of my goals.
  • Scheduling discrete blocks of time to work on specific OKRs.
  • Settle into our new home to make everything in life a bit easier.

See this quarter’s OKRs here.

December 17, 2018

Link: 10 Things I Learned as a Developer Advocate

I’ve been doing more work lately that would fall into the “developer advocate” category. While it’s always been a part of my job, it’s increasingly becoming a main focus. So this post from Peter O’Shaughnessy about ten things he learned as a developer advocate for Samsung Internet spoke to me. The first three are key. Yes, there’s lots of freedom, but that comes with a lot of responsibility and the natural tendency to over-commit on a regular basis.

Anyways, it’s a good post so check it out. Hat tip to Julia and Laka at Developer Avocados for the link.

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