Labnotes

Weekend Reading — If it fits between two slices of bread, it's a sandwich

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The scariest idea I could think of for a spooky pumpkin 🎃👻😱


Design Objective

UX Best Practices: How to Design Scannable App Screenshots This article walks you through practical ideas for making app screenshots that are more effective, informative, and enjoyable to look at. Which of course leads to more people downloading your app:

  1. Explain the most important user story of your app in the first two screenshots.
  2. Increase the font size and cut down on text.
  3. Highlight UI elements that represent text captions.

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Technology Myths and Urban Legends TL;DR

When users don’t clearly understand how systems function, they develop unique (and often incorrect) theories to explain their experiences.

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Designing Better Choices for Your Users The power of a nudge in design:

A nudge is any factor that significantly alters the behavior of humans. To count as a nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Putting the fruit at eye level while it encourages for it to be picked up or bought counts as nudge. Banning junk food does not — Richard Thaler, Nudge

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Pulp Librarian Advertising has come a long way, from the creative genius of Leonetto Cappiello — you could stare at these ads for hours — to boring annoyances like AdSense:

Today I'm looking at the work of pioneering advertising artist Leonetto Cappiello!

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Jon Hicks 😭

Actually what I said was "If it fits between two slices of bread, it's a sandwich"


Tools of the Trade

Saron Asking questions is a very powerful tool, and not enough people know to use it:

I talk to A LOT of developers, and one of the biggest differences I've see between new and experienced devs is that experienced devs don't wait to ask questions. #CodeNewbie

React v16.6.0: lazy, memo and contextType Reacts gets better at functional composition, object state, and code splitting. Also, RFC for adding hooks, so you can have state without using classes (yes please!):

const MyComponent = React.memo(function MyComponent(props) {
  /* only rerenders if props change */
});

James Long The difference is notable:

I'm tired of demos. It's time to see if this async version of React really works.

I flipped it on in my (changed 5 lines of code) and this is the difference. It completely changes the user experience. There's a lot of little things left to do, but this is huge. Awesome work.

The Intl.RelativeTimeFormat API JavaScript finally gets internationalized relative time formats :

const rtf = new Intl.RelativeTimeFormat('en');
rtf.format(3.14, 'second');
// → 'in 3.14 seconds'
rtf.format(-15, 'minute');
// → '15 minutes ago'

Jesse Engel 🔥

I've started mentally replacing "AI", "Neural Network", and other buzz terms with "Predictive model". It removes a false sense of agency, better reflects reality, and instantly brings the hype factor down by 300%.


Lines of Code

Practice - Longer than a Code Kata This is an interesting way to find and unwind common practices that you may not be aware you're doing (eg over-engineering, messy merges, slipping on schedule):

But every one of the groups was writing more code than strictly necessary. They wrote code that they knew they would need in later features. This is something very natural for programmers. We write more code than we need to. For me, that is too still a very hard thing - To only write the code that is required, not what I think is required.

Because they wrote more code than necessary, we still did not have a release at the end of the second iteration. The two features worked, but there was code for some of the next features that was only partly working.

suitcase

Amber Race "some strings are more equal than others" (clue)

Just learned the lesson again that just because a line of code is covered by a unit test, doesn't mean it actually works in reality. In Java, especially, some strings are more equal than others


Architectural

nicole forsgren The product mindset:

Build the things that differentiate you, buy the things that dont.


Devops

dvlping "When you've lost your API key"

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Jake Williams 🎤

Annie, are you ok?
So, Annie are you ok
Are you ok, Annie
Annie, are you ok?
So, Annie are you ok
Are you ok, Annie
Annie, are you ok?

Michael Jackson understood the requirements for continuous monitoring...

Sky News This is one network rollout that didn't go according to plan:

Drivers in Houston had to negotiate their way around an unusual piece of road traffic - a giant, rolling cable spool.


Peopleware

Matt Aimonetti Add this trick to The Art Of Avoiding Unnecessary Meetings:

I started messaging people with whom I have a scheduled meeting but no defined agendas. I offer them to cancel/postpone unless they have agenda items to discuss.

So far, all meetings were cancelled which I think is a win/win situation.

Shreyas Doshi Buckle up, long but excellent thread about the journey from product manager to product leader:

More than 8 years after my last public talk on product management, I spoke about PM career management at Products That Count.

What follows is a long tweetstorm with the key content.

It isn't for the faint of heart.

Are you ready?

Fabrizio Ballarini So you're saying that cross functional teams are more effective than silos:

We put SEOs & devs in the same team, to build stuff with same goal. Moving same KPIs makes tangible and eleminates noise of whether is necessary

Takes time + technically prepared SEOs but instead of explaining what SEOs do, we spend energy on what to build for our customers.

Scott Belsky Or even better, cross functional people:

a lot of the magic i’ve observed in teams over the years happens when the talent stack is collapsed - when a designer also codes, when an engineer has a growth hack skill set, when a product leader is great at copy.


None of the Above

Amy Scott "Ouch, @NYT_Crossword."

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Annie Mueller Kids always know. (Also, interesting new friendly social platform, micro.blog)

“You know, I think that cheddar is, like, more dominant. And what’s that other white one? Not mozzarella. Monterey jack. That one’s kind of weak. Swiss is a baby. Cream cheese is soft. And goat cheese is emotional, you know, it just kind of falls apart.”

Zeke, age 9

DJ Sundog - from the spook-lab "Thanks, GMaps!"

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Chenoe Hart "Apparently there's names and abstract diagrams for different types of parking garage configurations."

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The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture Greek and Roman statues were often painted, so how did we come to believe they're bare white marble? And why this perception is hard to change.

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Matthew Dalby, PhD Probably same number of people in both groups, but one is an upper limit on audience, and the other is just a sub-group of all audiences:

If you made a film that was six hours long no one would watch it.

But if you make a six part TV drama with hour long episodes people will happily sit for six hours binge watching them all.

This probably illuminates something deep about human nature.

Patrick Hackett Ooof:

Normal brain: a building.

Videogame brain: through the door, up the pipe, across the ledge, up the ladder, on to the roof.

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Apple News’s Radical Approach: Humans Over Machines It's called "journalism". The NYT gets an exclusive behind the scene look at how "journalism" works, and I wish this was an Onion article, and not actually the NYT being schooled on journalism:

For the first time recently — and after extensive negotiations on the terms of the interviews — Apple agreed to let a Times reporter in on how it operates Apple News.

The Surprising Nuance Behind the Russian Troll Strategy How the Internet Research Agency is playing both sides, to sow discord and undermine democracy.

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You Had One Job "Not again."

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