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Weekly Thing

Weekly Newsletter from
Jamie Thingelstad

Issue #111 / Jun 22, 2019


Our summer has started off with a bang! 💥 Our daughter celebrated her Golden Birthday 🥳 this year, and just two days later we had a great Father's Day. Then the next day my wife Tammy took our daughter on her Golden Birthday trip! We've adopted two traditions around birthdays. The first is that when each kid turns 13 I take them on a long weekend to New York to see the Big City! 🛩 The other is that on their Golden Birthdays Tammy takes them on a big birthday trip. They have been having a blast in Mackinac Island.

As a result, I've been solo Dad! ✊ Tyler has had camp during the day and I successfully arrived on time for pickup each and every day. Granted this is a feat that millions of people do every day like clockwork, yet I felt particularly impressed with myself for pulling it off. It is always awesome to get solo time with your kids. We've been doing what guys do when left alone. Staying up too late, pretending Fruit Loops is an acceptable meal, playing video games 🎮, and lots of soccer ⚽️, baseball ⚾️, playing catch, kicking the ball around, etc. Oh, and visiting multiple cheeseburger places in the same week. 🍔🍔🍔🍔

This week I also finished replacing our home network with brand new Ubiquity UniFi gear. New switches, gateway, and WiFi 5 access points. It’s awesome! I'll see if I can write a blog post on it soon.


Featured Links 🏅

The Mystery of the Miserable Employees: How to Win in the Winner-Take-All Economy - The New York Times

This article connects the analytical approaches used in highly data-driven sports like baseball, with a quantitative approach to understanding what makes people successful in their jobs. This specifically dives into a large team at Microsoft where people expressed dissatisfaction with work-life balance. The exploration of instinctive reasons for this proved wrong. Through survey data they found some good reminders (emphasis added).

One of their findings was that people who worked extremely long work weeks were not necessarily more effective than those who put in a more normal 40 to 50 hours. In particular, when managers put in lots of evening and weekend hours, their employees started matching the behavior and became less engaged in their jobs, according to surveys. Another finding was that one of the strongest predictors of success for middle managers was that they held frequent one-on-one meetings with the people who reported directly to them. Third: People who made lots of contacts across departments tended to have longer, better careers within the company. There was even an element of contagion, in that managers with broad networks passed their habits on to their employees.

The more interesting data came when they looked at data that quantified the teams experiences (emphasis added).

The two kept iterating until something emerged in the data. People in Mr. Ostrum’s division were spending an awful lot of time in meetings: an average of 27 hours a week. That wasn’t so much more than the typical team at Microsoft. But what really distinguished those teams with low satisfaction scores from the rest was that their meetings tended to include a lot of people — 10 or 20 bodies arrayed around a conference table coordinating plans, as opposed to two or three people brainstorming ideas.

The issue wasn’t that people had to fly to China or make late-night calls. People who had taken jobs requiring that sort of commitment seemed to accept these things as part of the deal. The issue was that their managers were clogging their schedules with overcrowded meetings, reducing available hours for tasks that rewarded more focused concentration — thinking deeply about trying to solve a problem.

I have my own bespoke system for tracking calendar analytics. I track a handful of dimensions on the data in addition to just frequency and scheduled v. unscheduled time. I track wether I scheduled the meeting or if someone else did, to get a sense of how much of my time I am directing. I also track special flags for meetings with just one other person, a one-on-one meeting, as well as a flag for large meetings with a lot of attendees. Most recently I've also started attaching an emoji to each event to gauge a qualitative rating of the meeting. I'm now using that data to both correlate my own level of excitement about various parts of my work as well as insure that I'm putting my most precious resource, time, towards my most important objectives.


The Problem With “Content”   – On my Om

Over the years I worked with many journalists and nearly all of them bristled at the word content. One once argued with me that I should just go all the way and call it "data". People who exercise a craft, do that in the theme of that craft, not arbitrary buckets of bits like content.

A photographer who says that he is creating “content” for his YouTube channel is nothing more than a marketer churning out fodder to fill the proverbial Internet airwaves with marketing noise.

I love how Om looks at his personal website. I feel similarly.

Like in my apartment, on my blog, I am king. My first decree was to eschew any and all analytics. I don’t want to be driven by “views,” or what Google deems worthy of rank. I write what pleases me, not some algorithm. Walking away from quantification of my creativity was an act of taking back control.

I’m glad to see I’m in such great company having removed analytics from my website, and I also disable all link tracking on the Weekly Thing.


The New Wilderness (Idle Words)

I like how Maciej Cegłowski frames the privacy topic (and a number of other topics for that matter). I've wished that the Internet had a form of "zoning" in this regard. In everyday life we make a number of assumptions about our privacy informed by our surroundings. When in a restaurant or store, I don't assume I have any privacy. When in a park, I do assume I have privacy.

Our discourse around privacy needs to expand to address foundational questions about the role of automation: To what extent is living in a surveillance-saturated world compatible with pluralism and democracy? What are the consequences of raising a generation of children whose every action feeds into a corporate database? What does it mean to be manipulated from an early age by machine learning algorithms that adaptively learn to shape our behavior?

It would be nice if you could understand your privacy situation based on your surroundings in the digital world.


My Weekly Photo 📷

Gorgeous evening, clouds overhead at Lake Harriet bandshell for Music in the Park. 🎶

Gorgeous evening, clouds overhead at Lake Harriet bandshell for Music in the Park.
Jun 14, 2019 at 6:55 PM
1500 E Lake Harriet Blvd, Minneapolis MN


Notable Links 📌

Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted | Environment | The Guardian

Climate news just seems to be going from bad to worse, and at the same time the likelihood of governments, companies, etc. doing anything about it seems less and less likely. I wouldn't rely on tech stopping these trends. Maybe it will help us deal with the consequences. 🤷‍♂️


Bob Lutz Talks Panel Gaps, Tesla, and Why Every Detail Matters

The two best cars I've ever owned are my current Tesla Model 3, and a BMW 540i Sport. I still have a deep affection for both of these brands. I love the electric-revolution of Tesla. I have a deep admiration for the engineering discipline and rigor of BMW. The build quality of a 5-series BMW is phenomenal, and I can attest that the Model 3 lives up to it in every way.


Why do some people avoid news? Because they don’t trust us — or because they don’t think we add value to their lives? » Nieman Journalism Lab

I don't have any news apps on my phone, because they are all far too focused on taking my attention. My favorite way to get news? Regular email newsletters that give me a finite amount of content on a schedule I understand, in a medium I control. And don't make me click to your website with all the surveillance and ads. The Economist Espresso daily email (do not use the app!) is a great example of this done well.


Facebook reveals Libra, its momentous new crypto, to the world - Decrypt

Interesting for Facebook to be getting into this space and betting so big on it. It would be good if it validates cryptocurrencies, but I have no trust for Facebook to run such a system with my money. I’m also pretty suspicious about the involvement of all these other organizations.

These collaborators, each of which pitched in $10 million for the privilege of joining the network, are the so-called “Founding Members” of the Libra Association, a Switzerland-based not-for-profit that will oversee the development of the Libra network. A Byzantine system of “governance”—with each node participating in regular votes on key proposals—is intended to hold them accountable.

What are they getting out of this? I'll wait and see. If it requires a Facebook account, I won't be using it.


Nintendo Announces Dr. Mario World Coming to iOS July 10 – MacStories

I wish Nintendo would get more aggressive bringing their titles to other platforms. I would assume they are worried about canabilizing sales of their own hardware, but it feels like the upside of bringing their amazing collection of titles to other platforms would generate a lot of revenue and an even bigger fan following.


Samsung accidentally makes the case for not owning a smart TV - The Verge

I wonder if it really makes sense to put these TV's on the Internet. I pair all of my TV's with an Apple TV that gets regular updates. The Smart TV's seem to be a vector for malware and surveillance software more than anything else.


Opinion | You Care More About Your Privacy Than You Think - The New York Times

People often refer to some studies that suggest that people associate no value to privacy. Here is one that shows that that isn't true. I do believe there is a significant point here and it’s why companies work very hard to hide away privacy matters. Take 3 minutes and watch this excerpt from Steve Jobs on privacy. I love the new decision in iOS 13 that will actually show the specific location data before sharing, not just some abstract data, but the actual data that will be shared from you.


Introducing Guardian Firewall for iOS - Guardian Firewall

This looks really interesting, and I’m glad that they have a straightforward privacy statement and a simple business model, pay for good and services. I whince though at it being a VPN service, just because of performance. When I've used VPN's I've always found it to make things notably slower, and less reliable. Maybe this will be different, and I don't know of a better way to build a solution like this, but that worries me. I love the ethos of the product though.


Peek Calendar

Cool, innovative approach to a calendar user experience. I like the event creation screen and using gesture based controls for setting metadata about an event. I think I'll give this a try, but I've noted many times that calendar apps seemed to often be designed for people with 3-5 things on their calendar each day, not 20-30. The difference in calendar density causes many UX models to break down.


Why PagerDuty Still Changes Our Logo for Pride Month | PagerDuty

I like this article explaining the "why" for PagerDuty and supporting Pride Month with their logo.

To highlight Pride at PagerDuty is to celebrate all people and to shine a light on those in the world who cannot simply be themselves. We change our logo for Pride Month each year because we want to show that we are a welcoming and safe space, and that we support all people.



Soulver 3 for Mac: The MacStories Review – MacStories

Soulver is one of those niche Mac and iOS apps that you don't really get the hang of at first, and then when you do you find it super handy. I like the changes in this new version, but I’m surprised they released it ahead of the iOS version being at parity. Especially with a changed file format.


In Court, Facebook Blames Users for Destroying Right to Privacy

Curious how Facebook really thinks about your private data? Read this. Don't bother with the PR and Marketing copy, look at how the lawyers defend the company in court.


Opinion | In Stores, Secret Bluetooth Surveillance Tracks Your Every Move - The New York Times

This is a good reason to be wary of installing retailer apps on your iPhone, it gives a hook to get all sorts of private information from you that just isn't available in a browser. I also think it should be required that Bluetooth beacons be visible and identified in stores. I think it’s fine to have them, but you should be upfront with your customer and let them know that they are there and specifically let them see where they are.


Looking for a Job? America’s Listings Are Inscrutable - The Atlantic

The over-caffeinated job description is a bit of the sign of the times. I have a suspicion that in addition to not describing the role well, it also doesn't connect with candidates as well as people might think.


242 Year Old Birkenstock is Not Interested in Being on Fashion's "Trendy Punch List" — The Fashion Law

I've owned Birkenstock's for as long as I can remember. Each pair last several years. I even get them re-corked sometimes. I love the ethos they are espousing here:

“It was never about function for them, just logos,” Klaus Baumann, Birkenstock’s chief sales officer, speaking about Supreme, which regularly draws long lines of consumers outside of its store every week on Thursday when it “drops” new products, including collaborations. “These were not product people.”

Birkenstock’s management is seemingly unimpressed by such antics.

"These were not product people." Love that. Via Five Things on Friday #300.


Meet the new Dropbox | Dropbox Blog

I stopped using Dropbox a couple years ago, and I’m glad I did. I just wanted to simplify and I could put everything on iCloud Drive. This announcement raises the age old question: is all software destined to become bloatware? 😕


Give Back 🎁

Let's Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority, run for the public’s benefit. All connections to web servers should be encrypted! The biggest challenge with encrypting the web historically has been the cost and hassle of getting an SSL certificate. Let's Encrypt has changed that entirely by being a free certificate authority. Let's Encrypt is possibly one of the most important things to happen on the web in recent years. Donate to Let's Encrypt today!


Yet More Links 🍞


Microposts 🎈

Tuesday @ 9:39 PM

GOAL!!! USA takes 1-0 lead v Guyana! 🇺🇸🇬🇾 CONCACAF Gold Cup 🏆⚽️


Tuesday @ 8:49 PM

Time to water the grass at Allianz Field. 💦🌱⚽️


Tuesday @ 8:44 PM

Tyler and I are READY TO CHEER for Team USA v Guyana CONCACAF Gold Cup! ⚽️🏆


Tuesday @ 8:35 PM

Ready for the USA v Guyana CONCACAF Gold Cup Match! ⚽️🏆


Tuesday @ 6:54 PM

Tyler and I are super excited for tonight’s CONCACAF Gold Cup matches at Allianz Field! ⚽️🏆 Panama v. Trinidad playing now!



Sunday @ 7:55 PM

I’ve made the jump to Ubiquity UniFi networking gear at home. Impressed thus far.


Sunday @ 6:33 PM

Burgers on the Big Green Egg for Father’s Day dinner! 🔥🍔🍺


Sunday @ 10:51 AM

Started Father’s Day off with a 60-minute PR in Jenn Sherman’s Epic Sing Along ride! 🙌🚴🏼‍♂️😅 #peloton


Fortune 🥠

You've made it all the way to the end! 👏 Here is your fortune for this week.

Are you making all this up as you go along?

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This work by Jamie Thingelstad is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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