Archive: Miscellany

More quality, less quantity

I’ve written on my own blog for years with the same cadence. I share links with small bits of commentary a few times each week. Longer pieces take more effort; I spread them throughout the year as time and mood allow. Yet going forward, that balance between long and short form will change. Link posts will be rare, while I hope to write larger pieces more often. I’d rather provide more depth here and move quick impressions largely to other platforms.

This change was inevitable given the effect social media and mega-platforms are having on smaller sites. Web-based link blogs, with rare exceptions like Daring Fireball, are dead. Quick takes and snap judgements have moved to Twitter and other social media. It’s just a better fit; they’re new platforms optimized for sharing, speed, and connectivity.

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How to onboard software engineers

Fog Creek software has been running a series of video interviews about software engineering. They cover hiring, firing, culture, and much more. Their most recent post with Kate Heddleston is particularly strong. Onboarding, from my experience, is a greatly underrated topic. It makes a huge impression on new staff, and a wrong move here can set the wrong tone for an extended period.

Hannibal cinematographer James Hawkinson on the shows disturbing, dark beauty

It’s a bummer that Hannibal only got three seasons. Great acting across the board, especially by Dancy and Mikkelsen. But it’s DP James Hawkinson’s visual language – striking, dreamlike, horrific, often all at once – that makes it especially unique.

Front-end principles for designers

I could recommend this post to almost any designer who works with front end web developers. It’s surprising how many designers I’ve worked through over my career that have little knowledge of what’s mentioned here, especially this:

It is the nature of the web to be flexible, and with this flexibility comes a degree of letting go of control. The first step in this process is to leave behind the idea of pixel perfection.

2015 is the year the old internet finally died

Essential reading from Todd VanDerWerff at Vox regarding where technology and the open web is going:

Now, however, our articles increasingly seem to be individual insects trapped in someone else’s web. The internet has the exact opposite problem of every other medium. Instead of going from something for everybody to something for a large series of hyper-specialized niches, we’re navigating the choppy seas where once stood an archipelago and increasingly stands a continent. As TV and music and even publishing become the internet, the internet is becoming everything else — and it’s taking so much of what seemed to make it special with it.

Stanley Kubrick’s ‘James Bond’ moment

Ken Adam is a legendary, British production design designer, most famous for his innovative work on early James Bond films (e.g. Dr. No, Goldfinger, Thunderball). Later in his career, Adam was the production designer for The Spy Who Loved Me. To quote the Youtube video:

One of the sets included the villain’s secret lair that was located inside of an enormous tanker ship. Adam struggled with lighting the massive set, and called in a favor from his old boss…Stanley Kubrick. Under an
agreement of total secrecy, Kubrick was snuck onto the empty set, where he spent 4 hours setting lighting and advising Ken Adam.

Let’s go home, Ellie

Wonderful post by Miguel Penabella over at Kill Screen Daily on The Last of Us, the critically acclaimed adventure/horror PS3 game from 2013. There’s many parallels in The Last of Us with not just zombie and post-apocalyptic films, but also John Ford’s The Searchers. Penabella’s breakdown of the similarities in theme and tone is very well done.

Erik Spiekermann

German culture site Freunde Evon Freunden runs an extensive interview with the legendary designer at home:

One of his home’s main attractions is his two-story bookshelf, mostly filled with titles pertinent to his profession and only accessible by the seated pulley system Spiekermann developed for one of his favorite leisure activities – browsing his massive library and getting lost in his passion for words and images. “It’s almost like a safety net having all my books here. I have a lot of cool stuff that other people don’t have, and I love browsing and discovering books I’ve had 50 years. I’d love to spend time just browsing through my bookshelves. Every time I go to look for something I find something else, you get totally stuck.”

On The Verge

Jeremy Keith on The Verge and the recent debate over who’s to blame for heavy, ad and tracking infested web pages:

For such a young, supposedly-innovative industry, I’m often amazed at what people choose to treat as immovable, unchangeable, carved-in-stone issues. Bloated, invasive ad tracking isn’t a law of nature. It’s a choice. We can choose to change.

Every bloated advertising and tracking script on a website was added by a person. What if that person refused? I guess that person would be fired and another person would be told to add the script. What if that person refused? What if we had a web developer picket line that we collectively refused to cross?

That’s an unrealistic, drastic suggestion. But the way that the web is being destroyed by our collective culpability calls for drastic measures.

The discarded image: episode 01 – Jaws

Fifteen minutes breaking down the famous beach shark attack scene from Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. Extra insight on an already classic film.