Damn, Nintendo are at it again.

It’s like if they started by trying to build a clone of Google Cardboard where the Switch takes the place of the phone, but then instead of making a VR headset they just made literally anything that isn’t a headset.

  • So, a fishing rod? Yes.
  • A motorbike? OK!
  • What about… a piano? Sure!
  • OK, but surely a remote control toy robot car isn’t an option. Why not?

One of my favourite stories about the Wii goes like this: Nintendo observed that their traditional game consoles were often hooked up to TVs in the living room by a child. The household was managed by a parent, who didn’t take kindly to the sudden disarray produced by an electronic system and various tangled cables in an otherwise neat and tidy living room, so they would stick the game console somewhere it didn’t stand out (like beneath the TV) and stash the game controllers and their associated cables in a drawer or something, out of sight. …

Eh is one of the most powerful tools in a designer’s toolbox. Here are some examples:

  • “Eh, we’ll figure it out later.”
  • “Eh, that doesn’t matter right now.”
  • “Eh, no one’s going to notice that anyway.”

Eh is your personal Spidey sense. It tingles when you get close to building the actual thing and tells you to back off. It helps you manage how much and what to polish. It keeps you focused on the big picture.

So how does it work?

The art of approximation

When you’re a designer-engineer hybrid and you spend a lot of your time prototyping, you learn to approximate. You become proficient at creating the appearance of something else. It’s an important feature of prototypes: they look and work like the real thing, but they aren’t. That they aren’t isn’t important to whomever you’re testing the prototype with. …

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I am watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on Facebook. “LIVE”. For free, apparently.

Not because I opened Facebook with the intention of watching (and paying for) a movie, like I might open Netflix or Google Play Movies.

No, it’s just on. I was scrolling through my news feed, and the movie was there, playing.

There are thumbs up icons and heart emoji floating across it and I can barely see anything, so I click the little icon to maximise it and get rid of them, but I clicked the wrong one and instead now the movie is floating on the side. …

Wait, is everything math? What the hell is math, even?

Roger Antonsen’s TED talk has a clickbait title. I recommend watching it nevertheless, because he’s onto something:

Roger Antonsen — Math is the hidden secret to understanding the world, TEDxOslo, 2015.

And I don’t mean his stunning locks.

He’s zoomed all the way out and tried to frame math in terms of knowledge. You thought it was about opaque functions and operators, but it’s really about understanding patterns. I learned early in my career that the best way to learn something is to look for patterns. I guess this applies to math, too.

He also says math is the language of describing those patterns. That makes sense. I think math is mainly concerned with producing an efficient representation of some observations about the world. It appears arcane from the outside because over the centuries, mathematicians have mastered describing patterns with language and crafted a concise grammar. That grammar expresses things tersely, allowing them to do less writing, but it’s inaccessible to outsiders. …

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

When your designs are the thing itself, you don’t need the blueprint

Ever had an idea you can’t remember? You know it was brilliant, but it’s gone. And if you can’t remember it, maybe it wasn’t that great after all.

As a hybrid designer/developer, I start most of my design work in the browser. The first action I take isn’t pencil to paper, it’s fingers to keyboard:

  1. HTML: Describe the UI, write the copy
  2. CSS: Structure the onscreen information
  3. JavaScript: Implement behaviour
  4. Meteor or equivalent: Model and persist data

This is the fastest way I’ve found to work. It’s faster than mocking screens in Sketch. It’s faster than jotting down notes and sketching ideas in marker. With Sketch or other UI design tools, I get distracted by all the shinies: the alignment options, font-sizes, gradient pickers. I start focusing on using the tool rather than making the thing. If I’m sketching on paper, I quickly start finding the lack of an “undo” option, copy/paste, or layers preventing me from expressing my idea. I feel an urge to skip intermediary steps and go straight to designing with code. This way, I only have to do the work once: in the browser. If I use a design tool, now I’m doing it in the design tool and then again in the browser. …

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From the amazing Webcomic Name

A recent retweet by Jasmine reminded me of a favourite quote I had on my desk for ten years:

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In 2014 I started actively working to improve the diversity of our 60-person team at Q42. At that point we had four female employees and very little overall diversity, so I wanted to see if we could change that by focusing on the problem. The Netherlands has very poor diversity figures in tech, math and science compared to nearly every other country worldwide, so it felt like any effort in this area would be an improvement.

At Q42 I initiated Project <div>, a series of open letters about and internal push to improve diversity & inclusion at the company. While doing so I began to gather anything I read online that could help. The below list includes articles I read, videos I watched and data I found that I could use to explain why transitioning from a homogeneous culture to one with more diversity and a focus on inclusivity over being an exclusive club would be rewarding. I also included my notes and excerpts where relevant.

Disclaimer: this list is by no means exhaustive and quite ad hoc, as I was just jotting things down as I came across them. However, feel free to reuse anything and let me know if you find something wrong or have any recommendations.

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Soylent. Eet ik al sinds 2014. Wat is het?

“Put simply, Soylent is healthy, convenient, and affordable food.”

“Oké,” zei Chris, “maar waarom schrijf je er dan over op ons blog?” We zijn een techbureau, niet een foodieblog.

Nou, omdat Soylent fascinerend is! Het is een “food tech” startup. Dat zeggen ze niet alleen over zichzelf, maar de media ook. Ze willen beter eten verzinnen door het probleem te zien als een technische uitdaging en op die manier misschien wel honger oplossen. Over moonshots gesproken. Oprichter Rob Rhinehart was eigenlijk met een andere startup bezig, en had daardoor geen tijd over om echte maaltijden voor zichzelf klaar te maken. Dus hij en z’n maatjes zijn op zoek gegaan naar manieren om supersnel gezond eten voor te bereiden. Daarin zijn ze een beetje doorgeslagen, maar enfin, ergens in doorslaan is wel een beetje de hacker way hier in Silicon Valley: je bent pas interessant als er een snufje disruptie achter te vinden is. Uiteindelijk kwam hij uit op een formule op basis van soy (soja). Vandaar Soylent. …

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Al van GraphQL gehoord? Laat ik het maar gewoon zeggen: dit is hoe API’s altijd hadden moeten werken. Zo overtuigd ben ik sinds ik vorige week in San Francisco bij de GraphQL Summit ben geweest. Die werd georganiseerd door Meteor Development Group (MDG), die je misschien herkent van Meteor, waar we al langer mee werken.

Omdat Meteor in principe altijd gebruik maakt van MongoDB als database, is MDG al een poosje op zoek naar een oplossing om data tussen server en client uit te wisselen zonder die afhankelijkheid op MongoDB. Dan zou je een willekeurige database kunnen gebruiken, en je Meteor app langzaam in kunnen faseren in plaats van alles in één keer te moeten omschrijven. …



Escape the cyberpunk dystopia - UXE + DEI @google

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