I built this thing! It’s a device for showing current temperature and weather conditions, as well as high temp, low temp, hourly forecast, and the low tides for the day.

Mostly-finished tide clock, doing its top-of-the-hour full rotation of the big wheel. I believe a game of Pokémon Monopoly is happening in the background.

I made this as a gift for my in-laws, who are watching the kids a ton this summer at their cottage in Maine. Up in Maine, one is only approximately interested in the weather: “Is it a good day to take the kids to the beach?” “When is the best time to take a kayak out?” …


Static type checking is one of my favorite engineering guard rails, which is why I made adopting a typechecker a priority when choosing the toolset for webapp development on the City of Boston’s Digital team.

Static type checking de-risks software maintenance, since it reveals places where you need to update code to accommodate changes you’re making. It’s equally good for new development since, with good editor support, it ensures you’re calling functions that exist and are giving them the arguments they expect.

But, last Friday, I got a DM from my co-worker John, who has been writing some React components:

I hate those errors, I was going to say dislike but naaaaahhh I hate them…


The City of Boston’s Digital Team is very excited this week for the launch of our death certificates web app. This project is a collaboration among ourselves, the Enterprise Applications team, and the Registry and Treasury departments. We’ve written a blog post all about the new app and how it makes buying a death certificate from the City more convenient than ever before.

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Home page for the new death certificates web app

We’re particularly proud of the software engineering behind this launch. This is the first site that uses our new tech stack and production infrastructure for web applications. These tools have let us build a site that is fast, accessible, and (we hope!) …


Over the past three days, my children have become quite taken with the Incredible Hulk Smash board game from Milton Bradley. What’s been fun for me is that this is the first game that our whole family is playing together: two parents and our soon-to-be 3- and 6-year-olds.

That a 3-year-old can play this game tells you how simple of a game it is underneath, on the order of Candy Land or Snakes and Ladders. But, Hulk Smash has some delightful layers that keep both kids engaged and even keep the adults from getting bored. …


One weird old trick for improving the look of your plastic bits.

Many board games come with wonderfully detailed plastic pieces, but a lot of those details are lost when rendered in a uniform shade of plastic. Case in point, Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar, pictured above. Here’s how it comes in the box:

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Tzolki’n: The Mayan Calendar as you would buy it in a store

None of the intricate design of the center wheel is visible. It’s a smear of dull, generic beige. This presentation is not just a waste of such a nice piece, it’s actively unappealing. As you can see from the header, we can do a lot better.

Tzolk’in is an extreme example, but any game with molded plastic bits can suffer from the same sort of blandness. The spaceships from Cosmic Encounter might as well be poker chips for all you can see of their designs. …

About

Fiona Hopkins

Software engineer. I’m into board games, web development, and social justice. https://fionawh.im/ (she/her)

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