Notes for April 14th 2023

  • "A stopped clock is right twice a day," is a phrase that gets parroted out quite a bit. Enough times to make me pause and think about it, especially when it references someone idiotic who's spouting nonsense but we open the door to maybe at some point, their nonsense will have merit. But if we take a clock with no seconds hand, there are 1,440 minutes in a day. Which means the clock is abjectly wrong for 1,438 minutes. That's a 1 in 720 chance of being correct. The phrase needs to go.
    • And yes, I am aware that the point of the phrase that even a stopped clock is correct twice a day? That the other 1438 times don't prevent it from being accidentally right. But I've seen it being used in the inverse too much.
  • I keep coming back to AI as a powerful tool for the future. It's analogous to Google in the 90s, I think. I say this not because I'm getting huge value from AI right now, or even recognising the technology as brilliant right now. But it is satisfying two marquee moments for me:
      1. It's creeping into various things I do or use day-to-day. Simple example is we have a Tesla car, and have done for many years. We regularly use the car for reasonably long trips (in Irish terms, Americans will laugh) of about 2 hours or so. Those trips are almost entirely driven by AI. The second-order impact is that I, as the driver, am much more fresh when we arrive at our destination. We're seeing a lot of as-presented ChatGPT stuff around powering chatbots, etc. But those are basic and shitty examples of the use of LLMs or the fundamental tech. More interesting things will come.
      1. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is asking about it. My mother in law, my wife, friends. They're all curious. I, being a technologist, am expected to have an answer. And I don't think I have anything beyond ChatGPT isn't it. Much like PageRank isn't how Google ultimately ended up.
  • In work we're reviewing Q1 as a foundation for Q2. What struck me is that I'm feeling far more part of the DNA/structure of the business than ever before. But I'm not sure how to measure that, outside of empathy towards newer colleagues. And boy, do I empathise with ramping into a new company. But in Q1, we highlighted 5 global projects in our team that are driving impact. 3 of them hold me directly accountable and responsible for delivery. Seeing that was a 'whoa' moment for me, because you rarely step out of your work to analyse from a helicopter view.
  • I'm really enjoying my little blogging adventure here. I jot notes down as brain farts arrive to me. Sometimes I Toot them on my Mastodon account, but then am conscious to put them here as a more permanent record of my thoughts.
  • I've been playing a bunch of Hades on my Steam Deck. It's just such a wonderfully smooth, fun game. I think it takes a few hours to really get to the actual meat-and-potatoes of the fun it brings. I'll write more about it when I feel I have some thoughtfulness to add on my dedicated gaming website,

Playing Alien Storm

  • I was playing Alien Storm beside the seaside over the Easter weekend. Weirdly, the blood-curdling screams from the citizens in the game are my most feverish memory from when I was a kid. Not the bizarre energy system to top-up your electricity gun!

The beach at Dunmore East

  • I think there's a weird argument about how Twitter's current malevolence being completely apt, and appropriate. Not at a company level. Firing people and having folks reliant on you for visas sleeping in the office is grim. In pursuit of whatever it is that Elon is pursuing with Twitter, he's inadvertently introduced enterprise grade distributed software to 90s engineering routines. Build it so it kinda works, ship it, and then fix it later. While something is definitely wrong and barbaric about how they're murdering the bird site. It's also kind of charming to see the atmosphere of 90s and early 00s web development happen in 2023 with a product casually priced at $40bn.
    • Conversely, it's opened up a pile of weird, niche competition. Mastodon is brilliant, not new and becoming a bit of a decentralised diamond in the rough. Substack wants to publish it's own micro-blogging "notes" feature, much to Elon's chagrin. And many more are cropping up. Having Birdsite and Metaversus be the only "townhall" defeats the purpose of a town hall being hyper local and relatable.
    • And separately, the reason people won't leave Twitter en masse is because the effort of starting fresh, building a new, more engaged audience is terrifying. We've become accustomed to the algorithm running the business for us. Time to connect with people, not the algorithm.
  • Apple's comms chief, Katie Cotton, has sadly passed away. She was one of the most important “behind the scenes” people in Apple’s history, including in the golden Jobs era when they released most of their marquee product lines. Her role involved:
    -  Building the keynote presentations
    - Writing the lines they’d say on stage
    - Controlled what execs say in interviews
    - Controlled what journos printed
    - Keeping Apple’s secrets secret
    - Architected the public’s perception of Apple
  • News filtered around that Microsoft is going to start putting adverts in the Windows 11 task bar and menu. Initially for Microsoft services it thinks you'd find helpful. But they're not even trying to hide the fact that they see the OS as a revenue stream. And honestly, fuck them. That's like a kitchen appliance manufacturer seeing an opportunity to advertise tealeaves for me because it'd be helpful for my daily kettle usage. Quickly you're getting ads that obfuscate features, or delay feature launches because the ad has to preroll. We can't "youtube-ify" everything and expect it to be ok.
    • I get that macOS isn't for everyone. I've grown up with it so Windows actually feels weird and foreign to me. Linux is ideal but too clunky and unreliable for my use-case (despite my insistence on mostly relying on open source software where possible). But if you're a Windows die-hard and not happy with ads in your core OS, time to move.