So there I was, standing in the middle of the street, when it hit me: I didn’t have enough money to afford my room that night. Or a bus ticket back to the city. I wasn’t even sure if I could afford dinner.

And with the strongest typhoon in 25 years about to make landfall in Osaka, I needed to figure something out. Like, now.

Let me start from the beginning. A few months back, I took a trip to Japan. I was going to be there for three weeks, and for the first week I was all on my…

For many, design can seem like magic — a dark art that only few can master. It can be intimidating to learn, especially since many people think that design sense is innate: either you’re born with it or you’re out of luck. (Not true.)

Disclaimer: I’m not a designer. I’m an engineer and product manager but I’ve picked up a few tricks from my colleagues that have helped me hold my own in design reviews and projects.

My perspective is that becoming an advanced designer requires years of practice but that the basics of design is like learning guitar: You…

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That was a great milkshake

In 2015, I decided to take a picture of everything I ate. Every sandwich, every chip, and every square of chocolate. For 365 days, if I ate it, I took a picture of it. When December rolled around, I had over 1,800 pictures with nowhere to put them. I couldn’t upload that many photos to Facebook or Instagram, and I hadn’t found a photo service that I liked enough to put my food photos on.

So I built a website.

It turns out, in the course of making a website for viewing 1,800 photos I ran into a bunch of…

It’s amazing how far the hackathon community has come in just a few years. Back in February 2014, when Hackcon first kicked off in the cramped but homey AlleyNYC, the hackathon world looked very different than now. Major League Hacking had been founded just a few months prior, and the hackathon organizer community was still in its infancy.

Hackathons were popping up all across the country. Attendees were returning from larger hackathons and were starting to organize similar events at their own school for their own communities. Passionate organizers from all over worked to improve their own events, but were…

It’s not hard to tell a good website from a great website. You can feel it. While most designers consider proper word choice, typography, and spacing, there are some details that are often forgotten. This is a list of tweaks to consider whenever you build a website. Put together, these tips can go a long way towards making a website feel polished.

Making websites just got a lot easier.

When it comes to web development, there’s a lot to learn.

Maybe someone has told you to use vendor prefixes for cross-browser compatibility, to minify your code to decrease load time, or to use a linter so that your CSS and JavaScript follows best practices. Maybe someone has ranted about how using SCSS is better than using CSS, or about why templating engines are all the rage right now. Or maybe this is the first you’re hearing of it, and you have no idea what setup to use.

Trying to figure out “the right way” can be intimidating.

For hackathons, differentiation isn’t the goal

I spent last weekend at Hackcon, the hackathon organizers conference. On Sunday, I was tasked with taking notes for a workshop entitled “Being Different,” which spun out from Jeff Hilnbrand’s talk on the same subject. Instead of publishing my messy notes, I’m publishing a summary of our discussion, and some points I didn’t get to make day of.

A quote from Jeff Hilnbrand’s talk

The general zeitgeist going into the “Being Different” Hackcon workshop was that hackathons are all pretty similar: 24–48 hours, sponsors, prizes, apps, food, caffeine, and probably a midnight surprise. Each event might have it’s own little…

Recently, I wrote a post entitled LinkedIn Dark Patterns, which enumerated all of the ways that LinkedIn uses design to trick users into importing their address book into LinkedIn (allowing them to then get you to accidentally invite those contacts to LinkedIn). A dark pattern is a design choice intended to trick users.

I thought it might be nice to also explain how to check if LinkedIn has your contacts on it’s service, and how to remove them if they do. While we go, why don’t we count the dark patterns?

Step 1

Go to LinkedIn.

(Dark patterns: 0)

or: Why Your Friends Keep
Spamming You to Sign Up for LinkedIn

In December of 2013, I closed my LinkedIn account. As I retold in an emotional post Facebook post, I had discovered that I had been sending those annoying “Dan Schlosser has invited you to join LinkedIn” emails to my friends. Confused, I spent several hours digging around in LinkedIn settings and menus to figure out why.

My emotional Facebook post. (Pardon the language.)

It turned out that when I made my account years earlier, LinkedIn had tricked me into importing my address book. If they had used the contents of my address book just to suggest contacts on LinkedIn, I might not have minded, but they went…

A few days ago, I migrated my personal blog to Medium. From now on, I’ll be publishing here instead of on my website. I had some good reasons to stay off it for so long, but I’m glad that I switched.

I’m a big believer in personal websites, especially self-hosted ones. My website is where I first started messing around with web development, and working on it has taught me a lot of what I know. I’ve learned basic system administrator skills, Flask, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Part of hosting my own website was making a blog, which meant setting…

Dan Schlosser

cofounder, @ambrookag. previously product @nytimes, @googledrive, @firebase, engineering @thenext50us, @minimill_co.

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