Pete's July-August 2022 update
Walks, talks, and this is not a rock
Having a dog again has made us notice the longer days. Earlier sunrises, longer afternoons. We’re leaving earlier and earlier to catch the sunrise on our morning walks. A little more leeway in when the afternoon walk happens — dog antics depending, of course. She doesn’t know I have a meeting at 4pm, she just wants to go. Now. “I’ll be by the front door.”
She does that. Sits against doors when Lucy is in another room. Waits in the corner by the front door when it’s time (according to her) for a walk. It’s unnerving.
I was told by a reader that my last newsletter lacked sufficient photos of Nutmeg. Here you go then: her own website.
I’m giving my first ever conference talk tomorrow. I don’t really know what to expect! I think I’ve only ever been to a couple of conferences so I don’t have a good handle on what a conference talk is supposed to be like. So I’m just going to do what I do.
Which is usually pretty great, if I’m honest. I’m good at this general category of thing. I gave a guest lecture last week for the USYD Business School and it went splendidly. One of the students reached out to me afterwards with these lovely words:
The weird thing about tomorrow’s talk is that it’s a virtual talk at an in-person conference. And the other two streams have in-person presenters, one from a well-known brand, and I’ll be a head on a screen. I’m nervous that I’ll be talking to an empty room. (And yet I’ve built interaction into the talk. Why, me, why?)
If you want a presentation about how tech tools can help create a successful remote/hybrid workplace (and lead to business model innovation) let me know. Or startup pitching, which was the guest lecture I did last week and it starts with not one but two jokes.
We did the backyard bird count in July. Unlike the Aussie bird count where you just observe and count for 10 minutes, in NZ you count for one hour. It was a good opportunity to sit in the chook shed with a coffee and finally identify some of the birds we see around here.
Three new birds we hadn’t noticed before. A song thrush, with its lovely cream belly, hopping solo around the orchard. And at the beach: gannets and a caspian tern.
Speaking of birds, this video was unexpectedly amazing. I’ve never rickrolled anyone but maybe I’ll randomly link to this video (starting at 1:40) one day.
(If you like unpredictable late show segments see also John Oliver on AI images.)
(How nervous were you that one of those links was a rickroll?)
I made an app!
The barriers to getting an app on an iphone are significant, so I never bothered going down that road. But recently, no-code platform Softr announce a native web app option so I signed up and had a go.
It’s a personal app just for Lucy and I to track our watch history for Midsomer Murders, and add our ratings and screenshots.
It took a lot of fiddling between Airtable and Softr to make it do what I wanted. It reminded me that Excel formulas are a kind of coding language, and these platforms have a similar curve. You can do stuff without code, but the more you know the more powerful you can be.
We built a platform!
Meanwhile I hit a big milestone at work, launching an elearning platform. This is big for the organisation — another step towards being an edtech company. It’s also big for me — this is my first “tech product” role, and my first product launch.
Lots more on the roadmap, too. This is just the amuse bouche.
I lost momentum
Jobs for Generalists is pretty much kaput.
Google broke things, other stuff stopped working when I hit the free tier limits, and I’m not motivated to fix it all. I don’t enjoy re-work. I like creating.
I’m using the data for my talk tomorrow, and what I learned building it will be useful for my next thing. Plus it got someone a job. Not bad for something I threw together in a couple of hours!
Watch / Listen / Read
[Read: 4 minutes] I’m fully aware of confirmation bias; I nonetheless enjoyed this roast of Meta/Facebook/Instagram/Zuckerberg. “And that’s what is killing Meta, Facebook, and Instagram - a constant focus on trying to find ways to trick users into engaging with products rather than giving them a reason to.” It raises an interesting question about defaults and inertia.
In Nudge, they use the examples of whether the default choice is to opt into or out of superannuation investment and organ donation, and how that massively affects the uptake. And once that choice is made, it is almost never revisited. “Create an Insta account for my business”, “create a Facebook group”, and “run ads on both” seem like defaults that I’d love to see revisited. It would delight me to see Meta fail and new options spring up in their place. Maybe then more of my network would ditch Whatsapp and join me on Signal. 💬
(Meta still won’t help get Lucy’s instagram account back, or closed. It looks like the hackers sold it and now someone else is actively using it.)
“Face pants” ♥️
[Watch: 16 minutes] I you need hope that we’re going to fix things, with some compelling data, watch We WILL Fix Climate Change!
[Play] Mix emojis at the Emoji Supply Kitchen
[Watch: movie] We re-watched My Neighbour Totoro and it was great, again. There’s no big bad antagonist. No-one to hate or to root against. Just an adventure story with some magic.
My viewing choices over the past couple of months have otherwise been pretty shit. I think we’ve stopped watching more shows than we’ve finished.
[Read: long] The 11 Laws of Showrunning. When I was a kid I had no idea how the TV industry worked. I knew that sometimes TV shows were re-runs and other times they were new episodes — for the shows I cared about I’d check the TV guide to see if there was the little (r) that indicated a repeat — and I vaguely understood that there was ‘ratings season’ when the good shows were on. I didn’t know about seasons, and definitely didn’t know about industry stuff like pilots and showrunners.
Did other people grow up knowing that stuff?
In the 1980's, the members of the Berlin Symphony told joke about their imperious conductor, Herbert Von Karajan: The maestro gets into a taxi. The driver asks "Where to?"
"It doesn't matter," Von Karajan declaims, "I'm needed EVERYWHERE!"
For all its industry-specific relevance, these laws apply to leadership in general and are worth reading.
“As a Christian myself, quite honestly, I’d argue if you’re going to offend Christians, you may as well do it properly.” Simon Dillon on Why The Golden Compass Is the Worst Screen Adaptation