Year Of Focus

To set expectations for you my dear reader, this blog post was written for me, not for you. It's very long (quite long), but I'm still proud of it enough to post for the world to read.

The frigid days of December are often unbearable in New York City, but those same freezing temperatures combined with the slow down of work, life, and everyone's collective desire to rest up after a long year afford plenty of opportunity to sit and reflect. At the end of every year I start to think about what I'd like the next year to look like, and then I set a theme for the upcoming year to help me make those ideas become a reality.


Yearly Whats?

A yearly theme is explicitly not a resolution, but a guiding principle you can look to over the next year. A yearly theme shouldn't be too specific, otherwise you could just craft a resolution, and it shouldn't be so broad that anything could fall into that theme. I've borrowed the idea of yearly themes from the Cortex podcast, where they discuss at length what yearly themes are, and how they approach their own themes.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

— A quote commonly misattributed to Aristotle

What I like to do for my yearly theme is to look at a part of my life that's stopping me from being the person I want to be, and then work backwards to figure out what ideas, practices, and habits I can adopt to become that person.

New year new me, right? Wrong. I treat yearly themes as a way to build upon the work I did in the previous year, always striving to become more the person that I want myself to be. Continue Reading →

Coding As Creative Expression

I've seen many versions of this question posed over the years, and to Matthew's credit it's a very good question. As you can see in the replies people translate their lived experience writing code and answer art or science based on however they conceptualize and practice programming. A few years ago MIT conducted a study that concluded "reading computer code is not the same as reading language", answering the question of whether coding is art or science with a rigorously documented "both". While I'm hard-pressed to argue with science, I'd like to provide a different answer, one that's a little more conceptual. Continue Reading →

One Last Visible Change, Goodbye Fellow Tweeps

Hard to believe it's over. My time at Twitter wasn’t perfect but it was incredibly special and there's little I would change about it (though less crypto would be cool). I was able to provide constant feedback about products across the entire platform and the entire organization, work on some of the most pressing digital societal health issues of our time, including the 2020 US presidential election, and help launch numerous products to minimize abuse and harassment. I never once felt like I couldn't advocate for the concerns of the sometimes thoughtful sometimes bonkers people who use Twitter, providing a voice for people who don't get to have a voice inside Twitter.

There's so much more I could say but instead I decided to post the going away email I sent to a thousand or so people at Twitter.  Continue Reading →

Designing A High Signal Interview Process

Crafting a great interview process is difficult1, especially for software development where a company is often trying to assess years of specialized knowledge and potential in only a few hours. The best interviews are said to feel like a discussion amongst peers, where each side is providing the other with signal about what it will be like to work together. Candidates share signals about their experience and thought process, while interviewers help provide signal and insight about a company’s values, the working environment, the state of a company, and more. Continue Reading →

The Best Twitter Bio? The Humble Tweet

Tell me who you are in 160 characters. I'll wait while you try and achieve the level of nuance necessary for the task. This constraint is why you end up with generic Twitter bios that don't tell you much about someone and all look like:

Father, cyclist, biz-dev, and fighting every day for the Quebec sovereignty movement. Working on saving democracy @Meta, ex-Palantir, ex-Accenture, ex of my ex.

Kinda hard to stand out, right? The inability to differentiate yourself on a platform built upon self-expression has always felt surprising to me, so I started to look for alternative means of letting people get to know more about me. The most common approach to gain additional room for expression is to use Twitter's Website field, linking out to a more information-rich bio. But that jump to the web is an opportunity to lose focus, especially in a world where nobody has the attention span to read (or leave Twitter). There are even solutions like Linktree that build upon the link to link to a link of links, letting those links speak for you. Continue Reading →

Creating Slick Color Palette APIs

The work of writing maintainable code is an ongoing endeavor and some of my favorite problems to solve are ones that build maintainable systems. Maintainable systems are ones you can learn once, easily manipulate, and ideally take from project to project. My favorite part of building maintainable systems is that it minimizes the amount of work I need to do when starting a new project, and like it is for many programmers hitting ⌘ + ⇪ + N to start a new project is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world for me. Continue Reading →

It's Not Better If It's Also Worse

For a long time I've told people that I love technology and all it enables, yet dislike the technology industry and working in tech. People often find my statement hard to rectify, probably because they see the two as inextricably linked. Technology is an ever-changing process, one that pushes humanity forward through the application of science, and the industry has become (and arguably always has been) about capitalizing those mechanisms of change. Continue Reading →

Putting the U in GraphQL

GraphQL has been on my list of technologies to learn for a few months now, and last week I came across Majid Jabrayilov's post, feeling pretty excited to tackle the subject. The post was very good, but it didn't answer the one question I've had as I've gone through numerous exercises to understand GraphQL, how do I make GraphQL requests without a library? Continue Reading →

App Store [P]review

Apple's been in the news quite a bit lately over concerns that many apps on the App Store are little more than scams. Some of these apps aren't even functional, they don't provide anything more than a screen with no functionality, only a button to purchase an indefinite weekly subscription. Many developers and consumers are confused or surprised that Apple isn't catching these scams, given Apple has a process for App Review which every app must go through, and while I'm not surprised given the breadth of the problem, I find myself thinking it's very problematic for the digital economy and consumer confidence in buying services through what once was considered a safe place. Continue Reading →

Empower Apps Podcast - Large Scale Teams

I recorded an episode of the Empower Apps podcast, where Leo Dion and I discussed a wide range of topics. We spoke about everything from how we scale app development to thousands of people and millions of users at Twitter, communication, documentation, people working together, and a lot about and the complexity of holding moral frameworks at a global level. Continue Reading →