Happy Valentine’s Day

To all of you (with or without that special someone), I hope you’re feeling loved and appreciated. Not just today, but today’s as good a reminder as any. I thought about writing something pithy about dating in the modern era (seriously, take all of the performative bullshit of modern society and crank it up to 11, since dating was already pretty performative), but instead I’ll just leave it here: love who you love.

Link: Who Killed the Junior Developer?

Melissa McEwen asks Who Killed the Junior Developer? over on Medium. Or as I like to call it, “Why are industries so bad at thinking about the future?” If you don’t want an industry (whether you’re talking about software or automotive or energy or…) to fall afoul of being starved of senior expertise, then you have to think about cultivating new hires, so they can build that expertise. And that means spending time training and mentoring. Will that sometimes be abused by people taking that training and then leaving? Yeah, sometimes. But so what? Where do you think your new mid-range (or senior!) developer learned their trade?

Melissa actually mentions the job hopping, and makes a good point:

I’m not sure what the industry-wide solution is. I’m not sure whether companies that lack junior devs are unbalanced or smart. The reality is that most software developers don’t stay one place very long, so maybe it doesn’t make sense to invest a lot in training someone? Or maybe the industry should ask itself why people keep hopping jobs? Maybe it’s because a lot of them suck, or for a lot of us it’s the only way to advance our salary. I can either wait for a stupid, meaningless yearly “performance review” to bump me up 1% or take my resume and interview elsewhere and get 10% or more.

It’s not just a sign that an individual company is broken, it’s a sign the entire industry is broken.

Yep. If you weren’t on a track for your entire life (going to the “right” schools, then getting the “right” internship), even getting a foot in the door in the software industry feels more like a lottery than a job hunt.

New Camera!

I’ve been running an original Canon 5D for the past 12-13 years (basically since it came out), and decided to finally pick up a new camera in anticipation of my upcoming trip. I’ve been a Canon user since I went digital, but decided to mix things up a little bit and try a (well-reviewed) alternative this time around, eventually settling on the Fujifilm X-E3.

I took it out to Vista House on Crown Point on Sunday afternoon, in time to catch the sunset. Other than feeling incredibly rusty (I haven’t been shooting a lot in the last year or three), it was a lot of fun, and got to experiment with some of the features of the camera. For instance, I was pretty impressed with its panorama feature — even zoomed in, the stitching is damn near perfect.

Panorama from Crown Point

The colors are also nice and vivid. (For the record: I adjusted the highlights slightly on the panorama, didn’t touch the Vista House shot at all, and fiddled with tones on the highlights and shadows with the shot looking east up the Gorge.)

Vista House in Afternoon Light

Sunset in the Gorge, looking east

Looking forward to playing with this more.

Link: palm.computer

Some of the more old-school amongst us might remember Palm OS, and some of the experiments done around the late 90s. Someone built a… thing. Not really an emulator, but sort of an homage/recreation, at palm.computer. Explore it, feel the pain, feel the joy. Note the attention to the little details, like the bizarre rendering patterns, and the artifacts in the sponsored content videos. This is clearly a labor of love.

Word Viruses

You might know what I’m talking about when I say “word viruses” — and I’m not talking about Microsoft. I’m talking about memetic payloads that lodge themselves in your brain, sometimes even after hearing it only once, and you find yourself still randomly saying it years later. We all pick up catchphrases and idiosyncrasies and remember memorable quotes, but sometimes there’s no good reason for something to stick in your brain, but it does anyway. Those are word viruses.

An example: there’s a 20 second soundbite on Galactic’s Crazyhorse Mongoose called “Cafe DeClouet” where the lead singer talks about having his coffee, and his bagel, some hot chocolate. That album came out in 1998 and I quote it all the damn time.

Another example: there was an episode of “Mad About You” that I saw once, back in 1995, where one the characters picks up a habit of saying “splink splink” whenever he puts ice in a glass. It’s 23 years later and I still find myself randomly doing it (not every time, and sometimes it just pops out when I’m not even near ice).

How about you, do you have any word viruses? Things you don’t even remember where you picked up, but find yourself saying randomly?

Link: New Coalition for Humane Technology

Over at the New York Times, Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built. The article is mostly a press release for some of the efforts the new Center for Humane Technology is doing, but I wanted to call it out because (as may be clear from some of my recent posts in the past few months) it’s a topic I care about.

Loneliness and Technology

There’s been several recent articles about loneliness lately, spurred at least in part by the UK’s recent creation of a Minister of Loneliness to help cope with what’s been called an “epidemic of loneliness.” There are a lot of reasons why the surge in both quantity and severity of loneliness is a bad thing (aside from the mental and emotional impacts, it ends up having physical ramifications as well), and while I’d say it’s too broad a topic to point specific fingers at the causes, I do think modern society certainly isn’t helping. It’s sort of telling that (pulled from the above Medium article):

Research on young people’s loneliness isn’t abundant. But what does exist suggests loneliness might not go away anytime soon as a health crisis: A UCLA Berkeley study published last year found that even though adults between 21 and 30 had larger social networks, they reported twice as many days spent feeling lonely or socially isolated than adults between 50 and 70.

In other words, the generation portrayed as savvy, socially connected people are actually feeling the most alone.

A good book to read on the subject of the role technology has in all these (and I do definitely think it has a role) is Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together. When it first came out a few years ago, I didn’t want to agree with her, but as time goes on, I fall more in alignment with her observations. (Here’s her related Ted Talk, which gives a good summary of the problems we’re talking about.) A quote from the Ted Talk that seems particularly relevant (emphasis mine):

We expect more from technology and less from each other. And I ask myself, “Why have things come to this?”

And I believe it’s because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we are vulnerable. We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. We turn to technology to help us feel connected in ways we can comfortably control. But we’re not so comfortable. We are not so much in control.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m advocating becoming a Luddite or something. We live in an age of technology, and it’s unrealistic (and ill-advised) to imagine that’s going to change. But I do think we need to change our relationship with that technology. I think we need to foster and teach empathy and emotional intelligence, and help people work through the anxieties of trying to communicate with others and meeting new people.

I have a lot of feelings and thoughts about this subject (both loneliness in general, and our current social climate). I need to ponder some more about how best to express it.