Time Traveling

Writing Archive

  1. Balancing work with the rest of life

    This Friday around one of our Developers in Austin and I talked about bringing our work home. Not in an actually typing out code way but in a way that still takes up mental headspace. He was bringing home some of the challenges and working through them in his head after work. For me, I’ve seen this become more and more of an issue as I became a manager. I’d bring home the hard conversation that I had to have with an employee and how I could have done it better. I’d bring home the sales call that I’d have tomorrow. I’d bring home the pain that comes with someone moving on from thoughtbot. And, ugh, what was I thinking when I said that one thing. These things bleed into our lives outside of work even if we’re not at the computer working on them.

  2. Remember It Now

    A majority of my career I’ve been an individual contributor and I’ve been lucky to work at companies that value heads down time. Since a majority of my work was on the computer, it made sense that I should keep my notes on the computer too. It was easy to track down design mood boards and code snippets that way. Of course, I’ve fiddled with which app would best suit my needs. I’ve dabbled with Evernote, written a lot in IA Writer, taking great notes in Bear. Each has its pluses and minuses, and each served me well.

  3. Obligatory Redesign Post

    Redesigning my personal site has always been difficult for me. I’ve lacked a direction for the design and had a hard time finding my voice. In the past I’ve escaped this by by having almost nothing but type. This year I set a goal for myself to write frequently and focus the design towards that goal. Communication is a big part of my job now and I desperately need the practice for written communication. Yet there has been nothing but crickets since.

  4. Higher Level Problems

    Last month, I was getting annoyed with some of the things with my current email app. These little annoyances build up in my head, making me think that I’m not as productive as I could be. I started looking through what my other options are, assuming that I’ll get a huge productivity improvement from a new app. I look at what others are using, including blogs like The Sweet Setup and Interface Lovers. I’ll list out pros and cons of each app because none fit my specific use case perfectly. I’ll get even more annoyed that there isn’t an app that is great for my workflow.

  5. Setting up my physical workspace

    I believe that my physical workspace, just as the digital tools that I have, can have a big increase or decrease my productivity. Whether it be a standing desk or headphones that remove the noise, I want to be in an environment that I can focus on my work. I don’t work well when there are lots of things to divert my attention, like working in a coffee shop. When I’m home I close the door to my workspace so that my family knows that I’m not to be interrupted; I’ll also leave the door open when I don’t mind the interruption.

  6. The Importance of Exercise

    I used to obsessively track my steps with my Fitbit. Remaining the weekly champ was all important and going for runs and walks with the dog were the best ways to get myself up there.

  7. Drunk on Conversation

    I’m a self identified introvert and I really love time alone to sit and think (or run and think). As a husband, father of three and manager of designers, I don’t get nearly as much alone time as I once did. Don’t get me wrong, I love having in-depth conversation with the people that I’ve surrounded myself with. Hearing about my daughter’s day at school, going on walks with my wife and having one on ones with the Design Directors at thoughtbot are all incredibly fulfilling conversations and I don’t want them to change.

  8. Space to think

    Over the last few months, I’ve been trying hard to give myself moments to stop and think. This means quiet time where I’m not using my phone where I can leave my mind to wander.

  9. The 80/20 rule of my tools

    I’ve been a heavy user of both Vim and OmniFocus for a while. Both are expert tools that need constant sharpening and maintenance but that’s why I started using them in the first place. I’d spend a lot of time with both so it made sense to have the most tailored setup I could possibly have.

  10. News, keeping up to date and heading back to RSS

    When I was a young designer, back when Twitter was still just starting to gain popularity in the tech community, I was subscribed to a ton of blogs and publications through RSS, specifically Google Reader. Reader was my jam. These all kept me up to date on latest trends and practices, kept me inspired and gave me access to the brains of some of the best designers and web people of the time. Through learning CSS and showing me how to design for the web, it was invaluable for growing as a designer.

  11. Getting things done

    Only a few months ago I recorded an episode of Tentative where Reda and I talked about the tools we use. During it I unabashedly said that I use email for my task list and that I find comfort in it’s simplicity. It’s turned into a lie.

  12. Six years

    “If you start with an in-house position, it will be almost impossible to later obtain an agency position.” After finding out that I was applying to both in-house and agency jobs, the agency owner I was interviewing with lectured me on being careful about which I chose. I was fresh out of college, becoming a little desperate for a job and interviewing at both types of positions. I desperately wanted to be an agency designer and his place was epically cool. They created advertising for well-known brands, won numerous awards, and were recognized in the area for their design.

  13. Building Learning into our Process with Prototypes

    Wilbur and Orville Wright based their designs of the first airplane from countless hours studying birds in flight. They scrutinized the air patterns surrounding their wings as they flew and analyzed how they were able to keep control. They also gathered as many books as possible on the topic of birds – they even wrote to the Smithsonian Institution to borrow from their collection.

  14. Merck Developer Portal Case Study

    In the last few years, Merck has hired more developers in several offices around the world and adopted newer web and mobile technologies. Because of this, they realized that their developers had a huge amount of combined knowledge, most of which was contained in silos. Many people weren’t tapping into the expertise or knowledge of others within the company, or were only using personal networks to get access to isolated knowledge.

  15. Test-Driven Product Design

    Our developers follow Test-Driven Development, or TDD, which is a development process where they write tests for features before writing the code to build said features. These tests outline the steps the users must take to get to their expected outcome.

  16. Blurred Lines

    In order to design their iconic furniture, Charles and Ray Eames first created a new technique to mold wood, and then produced their own tools to enable this technique. Throughout the process, they were constantly learning more about the wood they were working with. How far could they bend it before it cracked? Which directions seemed fluid, and which forced? Without their intimate knowledge of the materials they were working with, the molded plywood furniture that they so carefully created would not exist.

  17. Things I learned by doing 3 talks in 3 days in Chicago

    I’ve spent the last few days in Chicago. During my trip I gave 3 talks in 3 days. It was a little grueling but I learned a lot about speaking and a lot about my self. Things that if they were spaced out I think I would miss out on.

  18. How We Use Trello for Product Design and Development

    Our playbook touches upon how we use Trello for all sorts of tasks, from projects to hiring to sales – however, it doesn’t dive deeply into how we manage our boards for each project. Each of our project boards are broken down into 6 columns: Ideas / Discussion, Next up, Doing, Code Review, Acceptance, and Week of.

  19. Lets blow this fucker up, again

    One of the goals for relaunching this site was to teach me a lesson in iteration and motivation. I wanted to see how badly I could push a redesign over two nights on a weekend and then see how much I could iterate on top of that. I’ve managed to keep up and build something that I am sort of proud of. Throughout that process though, the design time has taken away from what the original goal I had, to write more. So while visually it made me feel better about my online presence it didn’t accomplish what I wanted.

  20. Philly joins Boston and Montreal in hosting 2nd annual Baseball Hack Day

    We want to create stronger ties between Philly’s technology and sports communities. That’s why Philly will be joining Boston and Montreal in hosting a Baseball Hack Day, a one-day event to encourage the development of baseball-related tech projects, partnerships and experiments. It kicks off March 28 at CityCoHo on 24th and Walnut.

  21. Launch when you aren’t ready

    I launched my site knowing it was far from perfect. It wasn’t responsive. It didn’t display any particularly appealing animations. It was lacking polish in several places. Regardless of this knowledge, I still chose to launch.  

  22. DIY Design Sprints

    Before each design sprint that I lead, I formulate an initial plan in order to feel confident about the schedule going into the sprint. admit that this process is a bit haphazard. To frame my plan, I reflect back on prior sprints to analyze what went well and what needed improvement.

  23. Converting to Jobs Stories

    We have used user stories as part of our design and development process for many years. You could find several mentions of them throughout our playbook. We used user stories to give designers and developers context to the problems that the user is having and give space for them to solve that problem while building the product.

  24. The difference between perfection and iterating

    A college ceramics professor once conducted an experiment amongst her students. She split the class in half and assigned each group a separate task to complete over the duration of the semester.

  25. Increasing and decreasing my barrier for entry

    For the longest time I’ve known that if I just put on my running cloths I’ll go for a run. I’ve always been amazed that the single action removes all friction to me wanting to go for a run or work out.