Twenty years ago, John Squad enlisted in the United States Army.

Eight years ago, Sergeant Squad’s unit was sent on a top-secret mission that went worse than bad, further than south, more crooked than sideways. The extraction force  never came and Squad’s men were gunned down to the last, on the run through a Central American jungle. All except Squad.

When Squad came to, the voices of his men lived on, inside his head.

“Never leave a man behind,” they say.

That’s a mixed bag of advice.

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I worry about the reckoning to come when Square sells to Apple for less than its investors had hoped, or when Medium shuts down or gets acquired… [O]rdinary designers will be asked to please gather their things and leave the conference room in which CTOs and VPs of Sales and CEOs who remember how useless all of Square’s attention to detail turned out to be will resume making decisions. Design has, after all, passed out of vogue before.

In order to avoid losing its place atop organizations, design must deliver results. Designers must also accept that if they don’t, they’re not actually designing well…. A “great” design which produces bad outcomes —low engagement, little utility, few downloads, indifference on the part of the target market— should be regarded as a failure.

You can make many useful judgements about a book based on its cover, but some of these will not be fully or even largely accurate. Further, many books contain much that it is difficult if not impossible to learn from their covers. This also applies to most things whose appearance is not equal to their content.



It’s a winter wonderland here in Seattle, so it’s time for the First Possibly Annual Lone Shark Games White Heffalump Exchange! Starting at noon PDT at #whiteheffalump, each of the fascinating folks below will be given an imaginary present from one of the other folks. Any time thereafter until 5 PM PDT, a player gets one opportunity to steal — that is, swap their gift with someone else’s. Then I roll 1d4, and on a 4, that gift is “locked” and cannot be stolen again. At the end we all end up with something neat, which I’ll post here afterward. The order of picking:

1 Pat Rothfuss

2 Stan!

3 Chris Baker

4 Dan Katz

5 Kristen Lynch

6 Logan Bonner

7 Mike Selinker

8 Will Hindmarch 

9 TK Focht

10 Evan Davis

11 Paul Peterson

12 Wil Zambole

13 Derek Guder

14 Elisa Teague

15 Jeremy Petter

16 James Ernest

17 Jenn Bane

18 Mike Webb

19 Trin Garritano

20 Matt Jones

21 Steve Jackson

22 Bo Radakovich

23 Ryan Macklin

24 Julia Sabin

25 Marie Poole

26 Lillian Cohen-Moore

27 Andy Collins

28 Tally Heilke

29 Tara Theoharis

30 Michael Andersen

31 Scott Weiss

32 Eric Berlin

33 Ryan Hartman

34 Tanis O’Connor

35 Rennie Araucto

36 Dave Dickerson

37 Liz Smith

38 Matt Forbeck

39 Brendan Emmett Quigley

40 Wolfgang Baur

41 Jeffrey Harris

42 Jeff Tidball

43 Mike Fehlauer

44 Pete Fenlon

45 Wei-Hwa Huang

46 Debbie Manber Kupfer

47 Andrew Marc Greene

48 Rasmus Rasmussen

49 Eric Neustadter

50 Stephen Toulouse

51 my dog Guybrush

“How you work is, in many ways, as important as your work. It’s in everyone’s best interest – yours, your writing’s, your coworkers’ and your project’s – that you not only do good work, but that you work (and play) well with others. To expect that the quality of your writing is going to blithely overcome all hurdles (and blithely split all infinitives) is dangerously naïve at best, willfully ignorant at worst. Nobody’s writing is that special – not yours, not mine, not anyone’s.”
“We used to have a map of a frontier that could be anything. The web isn’t young anymore, though. It’s settled. It’s been prospected and picked through. Increasingly, it feels like we decided to pave the wilderness, turn it into a suburb, and build a mall. And I hate this map of the web, because it only describes a fraction of what it is and what’s possible. We’ve taken an opportunity for connection and distorted it to commodify attention.”
Frank Chimero, “What Screens Want
“'I'm afraid that all irony has become tedious and depressing to me,' Beck says.…”
Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

Rest in Peace, Abby

We rescued Abby from a city shelter in Gardena, California, in February 2001. A volunteer had taken her picture, written about her sweet temperament, and posted the information on a website maintained by a rescue group.

The vet told us that she was about a year old, so we decided that her birthday was Valentine’s Day. She didn’t come with a name so Stacey picked out Abby, because it means “joy.”

Abby liked to eat peanut butter and tuna fish the very most, followed closely by everything else, with the exception of vegetables, which were delicately spit back out when their true nature was discovered.

Abby knew the cheerful sound that our first Tivo made when a show was over. At night, this was the cue for her bedtime walk, so she came running at the noise.

Abby was usually the second Tidball to wake up; she’d come to find me at my desk and put her paw on my leg to let me know that, “Hello! It’s time to eat!”

We lived lots of places with Abby, but I think that her favorite must have been our hilltop house on Vista Superba street in Los Angeles, where she had free run of a deck and back yard with an incredible view that I still miss, too. She loved to lay in the sun on the deck there and sleep, panting hard in the heat.

Abby’s been with Stacey and I almost as long as we’ve been married, and Edward and Adam have never known a Tidball family without her in it.

It turns out that there’s a part of my attention that used to keep thoughtless track of where the dog was. That confused part of my mind is making the house feel strange and empty now, without Abby in it.

Rest in peace, good girl. We’ll plant a tree for you, and remember you forever.

Rest in Peace,
Abby Tidball

“It is what it is; you are what you are — just try to enjoy your day.”
The Guessing Game,” Cloud Cult