And it teaches a lesson that every child needs to learn

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Erik Lehnsherr (Magnito) being separated from his parents in a Polish concentration camp. X-Men: First Class — Twentieth Century Fox

The other night, I decided to watch X-Man First Class with my boys (11 and 7). At least once a week, we sneak off into the basement to watch a movie. As you’d expect, we’ve seen most of the superhero movies by now. I’ve even watched the hardly pg-13 version of Dead Pool 2 with my oldest (don’t judge). So I didn’t overthink picking First Class. Unfortunately, I had forgotten how much the Holocaust was part of Magneto’s origin story in this reboot.

I ran into a similar problem with the original X-men movie, which was the first time I had to gloss over what was happening during the concentration camp scene. I don’t shy away from being open with my kids, I usually answer any question they have. But, even I have reservations on how to explain that 6 million Jews were rounded up, shipped off to death camps, and murdered. However, based on the other movies we have watched, they had all of the contextual pieces in place to ask much harder questions about what was happening during the beginning of First Class. …


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Thanks to Scott Warman for sharing their work on Unsplash.

What food startups can do to meet today’s consumer needs.

The past few months have exposed a weakness in our food supply chain. Millions of families have been affected by inventory shortages at the grocery stores they depend on. This unprecedented dilemma has affected almost everyone during the pandemic.

Supply issues are an even harder challenge for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions. Unknowingly, the demands for groceries have teleported us years ahead of predictions on how the food industry needs to modernize. These aren’t just challenges for Americans. These same issues are happening all over the world.

When the pandemic first forced millions of Americans to stay inside, the fear of going to the grocery store due to Covid-19 led many to switch to online shopping. I had already been a user of FreshDirect, an online grocery delivery service in the North East. Unfortunately, FreshDirect and dozens of other online grocery stores weren’t prepared for the number of new sign-ups when in-person grocery shopping wasn’t an option. …


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Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

From AOL to Twitter, all your accounts belong to us

America Online grew into prominence in the early 90s and became one of the most significant online access points for people willing to pay hourly for dial-up service. In exchange, AOL supplied people with email, instant messaging, web browsing, and a back door into millions of customer’s accounts; if you knew how to access them. Between 1993 and 1994, AOL had one of the most significant backdoor exploits in their history, giving hackers almost unlimited access to every account. All of this was made possible because of an intentional design flaw. …


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The pinnacle of Apple’s obsession with form over function

I have been collecting Macs for a few years, but it’s rare to pick up a computer for my collection that can still run modern software. So after writing an article for The Startup on creating a workspace for my hobbies, I had this bright idea to find a collectible computer that would still work with my new drawing monitor. Then it dawned on me that I haven’t owned a Mac Pro in over a decade; my last one was a G5 tower. So, I planned to buy one of the last-model cheesegrater Mac Pros (5,1) since I had been watching a lot of videos on how to max them out. …


A deep dive into writing detailed planning docs from one of the most successful companies in the world

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Image by CurtisM media from Pixabay

The Amazon 6-pager

I worked at Amazon for five years, leaving days before receiving the coveted yellow badge. Most people don’t make it past the first year. It’s an intense work environment, and the company revolves around specific leadership principles that provide a strict framework for how you interact with your co-workers. Because of this distinct culture, Amazon is unlike any company I’ve ever seen.

Perhaps the most challenging part of working at Amazon comes down to being able to write a 6-pager. While there are several types of documents you may need to write at Amazon, such as the backward press-release or the 2-pager, your ability to write a 6-pager will directly impact your status at the table and your ability to move up in the company. …


My guide to turning a classic drafting table into a multi-purpose place for all things creative

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My setup at the Zetter Hotel in London where I’d stay on most of my trips to the UK

What I needed

Growing up, I was training to be a fine artist. Then, during the dot-com boom, I switched to Web development. I also do photography and work with electronics. It’s been hard to figure out the exact space I needed to do all of these things. Now that my boys are getting older, and our dining room table is their art studio, I figured it was time to come up with a solution. Plus, I’m stuck and home and won’t be traveling for the foreseeable future, which motivated me to take this project on.

I know that I am a bit of an outlier. On any given day, I might be switching between several different activities. So, to create a work area that supports all of my interests, I made a list of priorities. These are the things I needed the workspace to allow me to…


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And the inspiration I used to build Pixel Vision 8’s rendering limitations

While I was capturing some game footage from Zelda II, I noticed a strange little glitch. I was in a tunnel while fighting an ax-wielding red Daira, and part of a slime flickered on the left of the screen. When I moved forward, I saw there was, in fact, a slim just off the screen.

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Half of a red slime flickers on the left of the screen

So, why did this happen?

Nintendo’s PPU

During my research on the Nintendo PPU, picture processing unit, I learned a lot about scanline rendering in addition to what made sprites wrap around the screen. This happened when a sprite’s X position went past 255. …


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Game & Watch consoles are great tools for visualizing finite-state machines

As a child, I was immensely fascinated by Game & Watch systems. They were the first truly portable game consoles in the early 80s, and what piqued my interest was how they exposed the entire game design process. There is this magical moment when you first turn one on and see all of the graphics states before you can play. This bootup is a unique characteristic of all Game & Watch systems that pulls back the curtain on what would usually be entirely hidden by code.

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You can see all of the states of Donkey Kong II when you turn the Game & Watch system on.

The Game & Watch systems are the perfect compromise of functionality and form. At a time where most game systems required a TV, the Game & Watch system took what was mainly the guts of a calculator and turned them into a fully playable game. Nintendo produced these systems until the early 90s. A few other companies were trying to make similar products like Tiger Electronics, which released a paired down version of Mega Man 2, among other well-know titles from the same time. Before the Game Boy was released, these systems were relatively cheap, easy to play, and a great source of entertainment on long boring car trips with the family. …


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Thanks to Florian Klauer for sharing their work on Unsplash.

And what you can learn from my experimentation and research

I have been pushing myself to write for at least an hour each day. Most of the time, it takes me about 2 or 3 hours if the draft I create warrants the extra time. The goal for the day is to write a post that takes at least 3-minutes to read. Sometimes, I split the work up over multiple days to expand on a more complex idea. However, this isn’t a random activity. I set a personal goal to become an author on all of Medium’s top publications, and this is how I went about doing it.

1. Do Your Research

I have been a technology evangelist for roughly 10+ years at companies like Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft. Part of the job involves identifying communities, their size, and ranking each by importance. There are a lot of ways to do this. The easiest one is to create a list to track the total number of users for a given community and sort it from largest to smallest. …


One of Apple’s biggest failures was years ahead of its time.

The Apple Newton MessagePad 130
The Apple Newton MessagePad 130

I have always loved the UI of Apple’s Newton. Considering that nothing like it existed at the time, it’s incredible how well thought out everything was. Apple doubled down on the unique handwriting recognition, which eventually became the Newton’s undoing. Also, Steve Jobs famously hated the use of a stylus and, for a multitude of reasons, killed off the project when he returned to Apple in 1998.

It was the stylus. I killed the Newton because of the stylus. If you’re holding the stylus, you can’t use the other five that are attached to your wrist.

- Steve Jobs Movie…

About

Jesse Freeman

Head of Developer Relations at Samsung Next and creator of Pixel Vision 8. These are my personal thoughts on gaming, productivity, and 25+ years of development.

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