Weekend Reading — ☔ It's Raining Lawsuits
Figma Maria! This week we cover the big tech lawsuits, flaunt the reduce, regret that Peloton joke, skip the Negroni, and open the fridge.
zachary siegel “Isn’t “macrodosing” just called, using drugs?”
🪑 Design Objective
Small animations; big impact User study into the effect of animations on task completion. Something you already guessed, but always good to see that in practice:
Well placed animation helps the users to discover the next actions faster and reduce the time and interactions needed to fulfil a task. In both cases, users of the animated version were 30% faster and used 30 % fewer interactions. The animations prevented the users from getting lost in the design and helped them to better understand the application process.
Stop using Material Design text fields! “But Google uses it!” — yeah, that’s not a good enough reason.
Creating Personas Anyone who knows how I feel about personas …
🧰 Tools of the Trade
How do I make iTerm terminal notify me when a job/process is complete? 👀 How has nobody told me about this before???
Cmd+Opt+A in iTerm and it will ping you when that long build/test/db script finishes.
Dr. Sam Ladner 👇 This is a great collection of tips for note taking. For user research, design reviews, board meetings, whatever:
Tips on notetaking for qual researchers 1/x: avoid using bullets in your notes (bullets are the fast food of note-taking). Try to write complete sentences (you will fail) but you will at least have the beginning of a coherent point, which you clean up later (see 3/x)
AWS Fault Injection Simulator Chaos Monkey as a Service. First person who uses this to prank their Ops team gets a free subscription to Weekend Reading:
Fault Injection Simulator simplifies the process of setting up and running controlled chaos engineering experiments across a range of AWS services so teams can build confidence in their application behavior.
React Query Fetch, cache and update data in your React and React Native applications all without touching any "global state“ (ie don’t bother with Redux nonsense).
Using that API is as simple as making an HTTP GET request with 3 simple query parameters:
a query string
2020 Design Tools Survey There are 8 categories and the winners are: Miro, Figma, Figma, Figma, Figma, Figma, Figma, Zoom.
Build v.s. buy: how billing models affect your internal culture This is a seriously good point, and should be part of vendor evaluation. I’ve used a bunch of products that were less effective because their billing model discourages usage:
This can have a subtle effect on your culture. Engineers who don’t want to get into a budgeting conversation will end up avoiding using key tools, and this can cost you a lot of money in terms of invisible lost productivity.
Tools that charge per-head have a similar problem: if your analytics tool charges per head, your junior engineers won’t have access to it. This means you won’t build a culture where engineers use analytics to help make decisions.
Figside Two great tastes that go together: “Design your website in Figma, deploy to Vercel.” Though, the example website isn’t all that responsive, there’s some limits to what Figma can do, so don’t throw out that Webflow account quite yet.
Handling Short And Long Content In CSS The word breaks, truncates, and margin tricks you’ll need to make a real life app not break the design aesthetics. (Bonus point to every designer who uses short+long text samples in their design, 💜 you)
📓 Lines of Code
Brian P. Hogan Most programs should teach that, but I guess greenfield is easier:
People learning to code don’t get enough experience working in large existing codebases.
Your first job won’t be creating a new app. It‘lol be adding features or closing issues in an existing app written by many others.
Not cos you’re new; that’s what most coding is.
For the record, my first job (part time, student) was to create an app from scratch. And my second job (full time) was to create an app from scratch. And the third job … but most likely you'll want to join an existing team with a provable product: schools/bootcamps should teach core these skills.
I've noticed that when software lets nonprogrammers do programmer things, it makes the programmers nervous. Suddenly they stop smiling indulgently and start talking about what “real programming” is. This has been the history of the World Wide Web, for example. Go ahead and tweet “HTML is real programming,” and watch programmers show up in your mentions to go, “As if.” Except when you write a web page in HTML, you are creating a data model that will be interpreted by the browser. This is what programming is.
Always use reduce when writing to an object inside a loop. Although it doesn’t give you anything over forEach in this case, it will signal to every next reader of your code that you are, in fact, familiar with reduce.
📈 Business Side
Layer multiple revenue streams
Keep doubling prices until customers say no
The Games People Play With Cash Flow This blog post is about first principles thinking. Also about restaurants managing cash flow. And startups raising capital. A lot to take, but a quick read, I recommend:
Many of the games you play in business is centred around managing cash flow. This might seem bizarre — because a cash flow game is essentially taking the money you make, and moving it back and forth in time. Once you get this, however, you'll understand that raising capital is merely one instance of this game. Which probably means that if you want to reason from first principles, you'll have to start with cash flow in mind.
Substack Reader In a move that everyone predicted, Substack launches their newsletter/RSS reader. Some people comparing this to Google Reader (RIP), but it’s a different team playing a different game. Even though Google had Blogger and Reader, they never integrated them. Google Reader didn’t have content or publishers to worry about. Substack started as a content platform and makes money from their publishers (10%), to scale they need to solve two key problems:
Discovery, as in getting users to learn about and subscribe to more substacks
Consumption, as in helping users keep reading (and paying for) their subscriptions
Social Strikes Back A16Z looks at the landscape of social media: audio apps, creators, influencer commerce, social fintech, and more. If nothing else, the comic panel design of this website is A+.
🔒 Locked Doors
Microsoft, FireEye confirm SolarWinds supply chain attack What we know so far:
Part of a Russian espionage campaign going for years
Attackers had access to 18,000+ organizations around the world, but only interested in about 40 or so (mostly US)
Supply-chain attack: injected malware into software developed by SolarWinds and shipped to their customers as patch updates
Going on since March, only detected recently when FireEye was attacked
Based on its investigation to date, SolarWinds has evidence that the vulnerability was inserted within the Orion products and existed in updates released between March and June 2020 (the “Relevant Period”), was introduced as a result of a compromise of the Orion software build system and was not present in the source code repository of the Orion products.
Unrelated to an earlier reported vulnerability:
Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password “solarwinds123”
Shamir Karkal Sad but true:
At this point Moscow has so much data on Americans, they could start a KYC vendor and make bank. Who needs Socure, when you have the FSB?
Apple adds privacy labels showing what information apps collect about users This is what the new nutritional labels look like:
Rich Felker Evasion through inception:
Malware avoidance protip: if you have to run Windows, always run it in a VM and malware will refuse to operate assuming it's in an analysis environment. 😜
☔ It's Raining Lawsuits
1. From October you may remember the DOJ antitrust case againt Google.
2. Texas Accuses Google and Facebook of an Illegal Conspiracy This Wedensday, Texas and 9 other states go after Google for abusing its market power to drive up online advertising prices. With a side quest of Google colluding with Facebook. And some choice words about AMP:
To simplify, allegation is Google basically invented AMP, a set of html code, in order to kill header bidding, control the ad stack and foreclose competition in mobile under the guise of user experience and speed driven mostly and simply by the constraints. Don't be evil. /29
3. Google faces third antitrust lawsuit as 30 U.S. states plan action This Thursday. I guess Google gets an ice cream now.
4. Earlier in December the FTC and 48 other states ask Facebook to spin out Instagram and WhatsApp.
5. Australia sues Facebook over its use of Onavo to snoop. No biggie, Facebook spent more on office decorations in 2020 than this lawsuit.
6. FTC looking into the privacy practices at Amazon, ByteDance, Discord, Facebook, Reddit, Snap, Twitter, WhatsApp, and YouTube. Good luck with the search, hope you find the practices you're looking for.
7. Europe is dropping the hammer on Big Tech (again) The EU wants in on the fun. They're preparing two laws, The Digital Services Act and The Digital Markets Act, aimed squarely at tech giants. Though, not clear how the EU plans on breaking up any of the American companies they're targeting with these laws.
8. Massachusetts sues Robinhood for using aggressive tactics to attract new users. And for using gamification to get customers addicted to options trading. And for not giving a damn when those customers lose money on risky option trading. Also, because Robinhood crashes a lot. Damn if you do, and damn if your uptime is not 100%.
9. Pinterest lawsuit ends with a $22.5 million settlement and a lot of promises to do better next time. Although, even the way Pinterest settled its discrimination cases stinks of discrimination.
10. Facebook isn't sueing Apple, but they're very unhappy with the privacy changes in iOS 14. So they took out an ad to remind us that Facebook is the champion of small businesses. No concern trolling here, not at all. 🤷
This is what Facebook is upset about:
The Internet is for Porn Can you guess the company: 50M users and growing like crazy, takes 20% cut, on the road to $1B payouts, and no VC investors?
One of the biggest and most interesting things happening in the consumer web right now is running almost completely under the radar. It has virtually zero Silicon Valley involvement. There are no boastful VCs getting rich. It is utterly absent from tech’s plethora of twitters, fora and media (at least, as they say, “on main”). Indeed, the true extent of its incredible success has gone almost completely unnoticed, even by its many, many, many customers.
It's rocket ship growth and disruptive. Everything Silicon Valley loves and dreams of. So you can see how the “lack of interest” can be interpreted as hostile behavior:
Yet when you combine American prudishness with the tech industry’s obsession with polishing mostly-male personal brands, the Valley’s refusal to consider legitimate sex worker needs becomes easier to understand.
If you wonder what the internet would be like without Section 230, Pornhub’s response to losing its payment processors offers a pretty good preview. “Verified” content only; everything else disappears
⭐ None of the Above
Blob Opera So fun and adorable and no music skills required. Give it a try!
Struggling to find the perfect gift? Get your loved ones something special this Christmas season: something they need to charge every 24hrs for the rest of its useful existence. #giftguide #batterytwitter
One benefit of Brexit - new jokes can be created by mildly editing old Soviet jokes. For example:
A man walks into a shop. He asks the clerk, “You don’t have any meat?” The clerk says, “No, here we don’t have any fish. The shop that doesn’t have any meat is across the street.”
Brian Fitzpatrick “This is getting out of hand”
Avdi Grimm “techtosterone” 🌟
Apparently someone I unfollowed a long time ago for excessive techtosterone said something insensitive and I'm shocked, just shocked
brain: did we get anything done this weekend?
brain: ok then at least we relaxed
me: somehow also no
Parson Brown Anthony “A year ago this week we all laughed at her. What did she know and when?”
freia lobo My sides are in orbit:
I’m thinking about quitting my job to go full time on newsletters. I’m not planning to write one I just have so many to read it’s a full 40 hours per week commitment
Tom Gara Imagine someone writing this into the script of a spy thriller:
A late contender for the 2020 magical realism awards: Russian spooks tried to assasinate Alexey Navalny by spiking his drink, but they made a crucial mistake: they gave him a Negroni, and because Negronis taste like shit, he only drank one sip
Benjamin Katz 👇 The most adorable research paper:
Every intro to cognitive psychology course has at least one chapter where we ask how people know that dogs are dogs - after all, they look so different from each other.
This research one-ups our question and asks: HOW DO DOGS KNOW THAT OTHER DOGS ARE DOGS??”
The Big Lessons From History The broader the lesson, the more useful it is for the future, because it will show up again and again. Take this one for example:
An important lesson from history is that the long run is usually pretty good and the short run is usually pretty bad. It takes effort to reconcile those two, and learn how to manage them with what seem like conflicting skills. Those who can’t usually end up either bitter pessimists or bankrupt optimists. The same story, again and again.
Bloomberg Businessweek 2020 Jealousy List Need something to read for the next 2~4 weeks? Bloomberg compiles some of the best articles that were published … elsewhere:
The task to the magazine’s staff and our many contributors in the Bloomberg newsroom is always an agonizing one: Swallow your pride and acknowledge a job well done, begrudgingly if need be, by someone else. So, congratulations to those on this year’s list. You managed to make 2020 even worse for us. —The Editors
Étienne FD 👇 Basically food tastes better when you mix in a touch of poison:
Why do we like spices? They're basically poison.
Chili peppers are more easily dispersed by birds than mammals. So they evolved the chemical capsaicin to cause a burning sensation only in mammals, not birds.
Why are humans are the only mammals to eat them? 🌶️”
Where Tech Workers Are Moving: New LinkedIn Data vs. the Narrative Tech workers are leaving the Bay Area for Austin and Miami Madison WI, Richmond VA, and Sacramento CA.
Ariel Edwards-Levy "but to their surprise, the vial lasted for six doses" is the most 2020 update of the Hanukkah story imaginable 🕎
FDA says Pfizer vaccine vials hold extra doses, expanding supply: Using every drop from overfilled vials could boost available doses by up to 40 percent.