productivity

New York Times
"He and others suggested reimagining the office entirely — as somewhere people go to every so often, to meet or socialize, while daily work is done remotely. At Zillow, nearly all employees will be remote or come in only once in a while. Several times a year, teams will go to small offices set up for gathering."
This sounds ideal.
Culture Study
"People have all sorts of reasons for wanting to work remotely. It might make them better workers. It might allow them to maintain their physical and emotional well-being in a way that’s incompatible with full time office work."
We have a unique opportunity to rethink how we do office work. I hope we do.
fs.blog
"Only when we are 0 percent busy can we step back and look at the bigger picture of what we’re doing. Slack allows us to think ahead. To consider whether we’re on the right trajectory. To contemplate unseen problems. To mull over information. To decide if we’re making the right trade-offs."
How inefficiency can be good, actually.
lofi.cafe
Go here for classic beats to relax/study to but with several channels you can flip through. Pro tip: hit L on your keyboard to tell the interface to relax a bit.

Streaks App

As I write this I've been using duolingo for exactly 74 days. How do I know? Because the app tells me I have a 74-day streak going. I've found that slight external motivator is enough to keep me conjugating verbs even when it's the last thing I want to do. The psychological pain of breaking that streak forces me to pick up the app and at least do the minimum required. Sometimes I pick it up and spend a long time learning the gender of German words, but the streak gives me a minimum requirement for days I don't have any motivation.

Years ago I heard that Jerry Seinfeld used this unbroken chain method to improve his writing productivity. I filed it away as something that might work, but it always seemed like something I should use for one big life task of some kind. Using it for a small thing like working in an app for 10 minutes means I have a constant sense of forward progress even if it's slight progress. I'm much less likely to put down the app for days at a time and eventually stop using it.

Now that resolution season is upon us I wondered if there was a way to create unbroken chains in other small areas of my life. Of course there's an app: Streaks. I've been using Streaks for exactly three days (guess how I know) and I've already found it's having a similar duolingo effect. I was already walking a certain amount each day, but seeing even the small number of days add up as a score is an extra push out the door.

Streaks integrates with other apps on my phone like the Apple Health app, so tasks like walking a certain number of steps checks off automatically. Non-automatic tasks are easy to schedule and it has a thoughtful interface for completing tasks. There are calendars and charts and everything you'd expect to visualize streaks. It has a large icon library so you can pick an appropriate visual ID for your task, like this:

screenshot from the Streaks app that shows a banana icon with the words 'Eat A Banana'

One annoyance I've found so far is a hidden action (shaking the phone) to undo an accidental task completion. Otherwise I highly recommend Streaks as an extra motivator for tasks small and maybe even large in the new year. In February I'll report back how many days I actually ended up using it.
Platformer
"And yet if there’s a lesson of the past four years, it’s that thoughtfulness and craftsmanship only got the company about 10 percent as far as Microsoft did by copy-pasting Slack’s basic design."
Casey Newton on Salesforce buying Slack and the realities of enterprise software. I’m really rooting for Slack—it is truly joyful software. I think Casey misses the ways Slack might transform Salesforce.
pages.gseis.ucla.edu
Timeless advice that applies to more than just computing.
"Most user interfaces are terrible. When people make mistakes it's usually the fault of the interface. You've forgotten how many ways you've learned to adapt to bad interfaces."
[via MeFi]
Ferns
"But if folks make more money off of customers when they reduce latency, there has to be some power in increasing latency."
This is a hack I can get behind. If you can't slow down the velocity of information on social networks at least you can physically slow down the social networks on the piece of the network you control.
jetbrains.com
This is a free typeface for developers that looks niiiiice. Consolas is my preferred font for programming but I will give JetBrains Mono a try. Similarly, I'm enjoying the Dracula color theme in console windows and VSCode. It's similar to my usual preferred theme Solarized (dark), but sometimes you just have to throw caution to the wind and try a new font and color theme, you know?
Linux Journal
Bash is like a friendly nemesis to me. I use it all the time for simple commands and I often think, "If I could just string two or three of these commands together with some simple logic I won't need to move to a ‘real’ development environment!" But then stuff like this...
"This looks very much like the if conditional statement in any programming language. However, it's not."
...means six hours later I have a bash script and 99 problems. This article helps explain why I run into trouble by describing how bash evolved.
basecamp.com basecamp.com
Thoughtful ideas about team communication from Basecamp with a focus on writing vs. meetings:
"Speaking only helps who’s in the room, writing helps everyone. This includes people who couldn't make it, or future employees who join years from now."
It makes sense that they're down on chat (the competition!), but I don't agree that live chat is a mind-killer. Some decisions require quick consensus rather than lengthy position statements for the ages.
Florent Crivello Florent Crivello
"But everything that looks good doesn’t necessarily work well. In fact, those two traits are opposed more often than not: efficiency tends to look messy, and good looks tend to be inefficient."
I really enjoyed this essay about perceived efficiency and complexity. Especially with the Chesterton’s Fence kicker. Understanding an existing system before changing it is important.
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