In the path of totality

Wasn’t sure what all the hubbub was about beforehand, but super glad I took the time to go outside and observe what turned out to be a pretty incredible sight. The actual 3 minutes (minus the 2 minutes blocked by the clouds) during total occlusion were pretty remarkable.

Extra special getting to see it next door to my kids’ elementary school to hear all the chatter and screaming and squealing they were doing.

Thoughts on Deep Work

Deep WorkAs a person who is constantly multi-tasking, I’m worried I’ve broken my brain. Well at least that’s my takeaway after reading Cal Newport’s book Deep Work about the importance of deep, focused work at a time when it’s easier than ever to be in a constant state of distraction.

I’ve been listening to Newport’s podcast for a bit and reading his newsletter that often touches on similar topics, but Deep Work is where he first outlined many of his ideas on focus, distraction, and the huge opportunity for knowledge workers who turn the other direction to get ahead in their lives and careers:

The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. (Page 14)

The book is structured around the following main ideas:

  1. The Value of Deep Work: Newport posits that deep work is crucial for mastering complicated information and producing better results in less time. This skill is becoming scarcer in our increasingly distracted world but is more valuable in the knowledge economy.
  2. Working Deeply: Newport offers strategies for cultivating a deep work habit. This includes working with greater intensity and creating rituals and routines that foster the ability to concentrate deeply. Key suggestions include minimizing distractions, scheduling deep work blocks, and adopting a work philosophy that accommodates deep work. (More on those philosophies in a bit.)
  3. Enhancing Focus: In the last several sections on the book, Newport outlines several strategies to cultivate deep work. He emphasizes the importance of embracing boredom to train the brain for focus, advises limiting social media to minimize distractions, and recommends reducing shallow tasks through delegation and careful scheduling. Together, these practices aim to create a productive environment where deep, concentrated work prevails, ensuring that valuable, skill-enhancing tasks receive the attention they deserve.

As a person already bought into the idea that deep work is valuable and that meetings and emails are the devil, I got the most value out of the book’s actionable advice and strategies that demonstrate how I can implement deep work principles to improve my productivity, satisfaction, and success. Continue reading “Thoughts on Deep Work”

Texas WR Xavier Worthy is fastest man in NFL Combine history

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Xavier Worthy is fastest man in NFL Combine history after running a record 4.21-second 40-yard dash yesterday.

It’s the way the crowd gasps and then cheers when the original 4.22 announced time that give me goosebumps. So cool. Just a human doing something better than any other human before that’s all. Watch the NFL Network simulcam version with Worthy’s run overlaid with John Ross’ former record run below to see Worthy’s incredible initial acceleration:

Truly insane speed.

A Book Apart is shutting down

A Book Apart is shutting down:

An Event Apart closed up shop in 2022 and now their book publishing arm is doing the same. Their short, easy to read books on responsive web design, mobile first UX, and content strategy over a decade ago were foundational texts for me as I was growing as a user experience professional.

Sadly, considering how rarely new posts are showing up A List Apart, I worry it might be next on the chopping block.

Favorites of 2023: Games

2023 favorite games of the year

Came close to making this more like my books list and just including the favorite games I played this year, but played just enough brand new games to put together a top 5 from games that actually came out in 2023. I continue to play all my games either handheld or while on the elliptical, so the Asus ROG Ally was big addition this year letting me play pretty much every game on this list that’s not on the Switch.

Anyways, here’s my favorite games of 2023…

1. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom for Nintendo Switch

A truly remarkable achievement in ways that I’m not sure any of us could have guessed when Nintendo announced they were making a sequel to Breath of the Wild. Tears of the Kingdom refined pretty much everything my former (spoiler) favorite game offered and added seemingly endless new ways to traverse, interact, and manipulate the vast world. Put in over 220 hours into it. Maybe my favorite game of all time.

2. Sea of Stars for PC/Xbox

Finished every single thing you can possibly do in this game, unlocked all the secret endings, and played over 55 hours of it and loved every minute. I’ve never actually played Chrono Trigger, but maybe how much I loved this is sign I finally should?

3. Lego Fortnite for PC/Xbox

Apparently I play Fortnite now? Me and the youngest have been into the new Lego game mode that’s half Minecraft and half Valheim. She mostly spends her time building in the Minecraft side of things while I explore and do combat and collect resources in the Valheim side. Super fun and looking forward to see how they continue to add to it. (God does it need a freaking compass.)

4. Super Mario Wonder for Nintendo Switch

Can my number four game of the year also be my most disappointing? I liked this less the recent 3D Kirby and Yoshi games and SOOOO much less than the fantastic Odyssey and 3D World, so not sure if it’s 2D games I’m not digging or if it just isn’t good as I had hoped. Maybe I’ll hop back in and try to 100% it and see if that improves my enjoyment.

5. Dave the Diver for PC

Loved the main gameplay loop but bounced off of this once they started adding more and more on top of the diving and fishing I bounced off it a bit. I had about 12 hours of a TON of fun though before that. Continue reading “Favorites of 2023: Games”

Invision is shutting down

Pour one out for Invision: InVision design collaboration services shutdown | Inside Design Blog

Tools like Invision, Zeplin, and Abstract came about to fill in feature gaps in products like Sketch and Photoshop and as those products added similar functionality and then Figma came in and ate all their lunches. I wonder if Invision turned down acquisition by Adobe at some point or did they really thing they could build their own design tool and compete?

Favorites of 2023: Books

Top 5 Book Faves 2023

According to Goodreads, I read 66 books in 2023 with an average length of 375 pages. The shortest book was 4 pages long and the longest was 908 pages. Unlike with my favorite movies list, all but one of the books I read last year was published before 2023 so these are some of my faves regardless of when they actually came out.

Favorite Books I Read in 2023

All science fiction and fantasy in this year’s daves, with four out of the five stories by female writers. In no particular order…

The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler (2022)

A little unsatisfied with the main mysteries wrapped up and some details that were left unexplored, but overall really enjoyed this quite a bit. Thought the main character was great as well as the various AIs, and in particular really found the idea of the point-fives conceptually intriguing.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (2020)

Ahhhhh it ended right when all the threads were coming together. I loved this, especially the world building and character development. Gave it five stars despite feeling like it ended half an act early and now I’m even more anxious to start the next book in the series as soon as possible.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells (2017)

Great, quick read that I didn’t want to put down. Enjoyable humor and strong premise and character development of the titular Murderbot. I was disappointed at first by the very last couple pages but then I remembered there’s six-plus other books that it leads into and am a lot less critical of how it wrapped up.

Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (2014)

My favorite book about a character who used to be a sentient warfighting spaceship. Liked this even more than the first book and generally really jive with Leckie’s science fiction storytelling.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemison (2017)

The final book in Jemison’s Broken Earth trilogy was my favorite of the series. Was a good read in itself but also did a solid job of tying together the storylines from the earlier books without feeling overloaded. Jemison’s writing makes a complex narrative enjoyable and avoids many of the issues that often causes me to bounce off fantasy novels. Continue reading “Favorites of 2023: Books”

Favorites of 2023: Movies

Top 5 Movie Faves 2023

Made it back to the theater for more movies this year than any year since before we had kids so I actually have a lot of opinions on 2023 movies in 2023. I logged 303 movies on Letterboxd this year, 45 of which were released this year.

Here’s my top 10 movies of the year:

1. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse

I wish I had 1/100th of the creativity, imagination of the artists behind the visuals of this movie. Somehow manages to match the emotions of my favorite movie of 2018 with its increased focus on Gwen while still keeping Miles at the center as well. The chase scene is hilarious. Truly remarkable to see with the kids in the theater.

2. Oppenheimer

Finally watched this on New Year’s Eve and came really close to putting it up at number one, maybe I would have if I had gotten to see it in theaters. Or after a rewatch or two. Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr. are fantastic. Nolan’s Interstellar has become a movie I watch over and over again sometimes just in the background while I work and I’d be surprised if Oppenheimer doesn’t also become something I rewatch often (though it is certainly heavier subject matter).

3. Barbie

I only cried twice during this not totally unrelated to my eldest being about to head into her teenage years and you know just the patriarchy in general. I liked it quite a bit but it wouldn’t have ended up this high without the great musical numbers in the last third.

4. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3

I liked all the MCU movies this year well enough (and apparently way better than most people) but Guardians Vol. 3 was my favorite this year as they did a great job of wrapping up things particularly for Rocket. Never thought a CGI raccoon could create so many emotions in me. Bummer that James Gunn won’t be able to make more MCU movies with this humor and attitude.

5. The Boy and the Heron

Just now realizing Oppenheimer is the only movie in my top 5 that didn’t make me cry because of course I cried watching a Miyazaki movie with my daughters. Fantastically beautiful in both expected and unexpected ways. The animation in the fire scenes was remarkable and surprisingly evocative and scary. Not our favorite Miyazaki but the kids and I both really enjoyed it, though I wonder how much of it they followed in parts. Continue reading “Favorites of 2023: Movies”

I wish the future had more buttons

Apple shows off more of the next generation of CarPlay with Aston Martin and Porsche. I’m still not sure if it will ever actually release in any cars anyone actually owns, but Apple’s Next Generation CarPlay does look pretty cool and also looks like it could desperately use some physical controls.

Crossposted on Mastodon