Larry Myers

March Notes

March 28, 2024

I enjoy having kids that are getting older and more independent. It feels like a reward to finally have more time for my own hobbies. I do miss having adorable tiny children at times, but that tends to be a fairly passing thought. Instead I get to take my kids with me to events that last until 9pm. They can play more challenging board games. They can play video games, and watch more entertaining TV shows.

I’m really looking forward to when they can handle PG-13 and R movies. There are so many movies I want to watch with them, and get to enjoy them experiencing classics for the first time.

March 24, 2024

We need to talk about the CTA Red Line. Today was the first time I’ve ridden it since pre-pandemic times. I used to ride to almost daily for my commute back around 2016 or so. It had its moments, and sometimes you had to move cars due to someone or something causing a problem, but it was mostly just fine.

Riding it twice today was gross. The cars all had a linger odor of smoke and urine. Multiple people smoking. Some tourists looked absolutely shell shocked while running the subway portion in River North. This is not how public transit should be. If the city wasn’t to recover post-pandemic for tourism and getting people back downtown they will absolutely need to fix the CTA. Get more trains running, actually police anti-social behavior that will drive casual riders away.

The alternative is watching city traffic get worse and worse as people opt to take Ubers instead or drive themselves.

March 21, 2024

I’ve been told I suck at losing. Not that I’m a bad loser, I’ve learned to be far more gracious in defeat over the years, but that I am naturally competitive and goal driven. I do not like sitting and doing nothing. My brain gets bored. I need a long term goal for something I care about in order to not fall into a bad slump of procrastination and time wasting. Right now that is cycling and playing the Pokemon TCG. They seem to complement each other well. Training for bike tours keeps my body happy, and playing a very competitive card game keeps my brain happy.

The lesson here seems to be that hobbies matter, especially ones that keep you away from bad habits and too much screen time, and allow you keep leveling up and striving for new achievements that actually matter.

March 18, 2024

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the eroding trust the US public has in institutions. For good reason! We have a clearly dysfunctional representative government at all levels, and large corporations that continue to abandon their workforce to boost their profitability and stock price. If people cannot trust their boss, nor their elected officials … what’s left?

Repairing the loss of trust is necessary. There are too many looming crises on the horizon for division to be the primary theme these days. Let’s hope we get better news on that front this year.

March 16, 2024

After using email to blog for a bit over a month now, I’m convinced that email and SMS should be considered first class citizens when designing a new software product. There are two reasons for this.

  1. Custom mobile app development costs a lot of time and money.
  2. You can assume every single one of your users will have access to email and texting on their phone.

When you allow email and SMS to be a primary interface, you are absolving yourself of entire classes of problems during development. Everybody will have email or texting capabilities from their phone. Your users will already be familiar with email and texting, and do not have to download your app, learn a new UI, or worry about remembering another username and password. Both email and SMS are resilient to bad network conditions, and are inherently accessibly by design. This frees you up to focus on a well made mobile web app for the more complex, but infrequent workflows. While there are downsides to text only interfaces, I think it’s a development avenue not enough developers take seriously.

March 14, 2024

While I wouldn’t put it in the pantheon of technology books I consider must have, Daniel Pink’s Drive is very good. While the concept of Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose isn’t revolutionary, I find the book explains it well and why it is so important to knowledge work. If any one of those three elements is missing from work, productivity suffers drastically. Over the past year, with all the layoffs in technology, I suspect purpose will be the toughest aspect of knowledge work to get developers fully bought into. Mission statements are mostly ignored, and it’s difficult to commit to a purpose when all around you your friends and colleagues are being laid off to satisfy investors. If people are the greatest asset of a technology company, I’m not sure what that says about how a company values its assets.

March 11, 2024

One the surprising benefits of working remotely for the past 5 years my renewed appreciation for community. Specifically community that has no ties to my employment, and barely any ties to the tech community. It has been liberating to spend so much of my time with people who do not exist within the tech bubble. It has made me a far more tolerant and social person, and I find myself far less wrapped up in the daily prattle that comes out of the tech news industry. It has made me more aware of my local community, and I find myself with a much healthier boundary between work and the rest of my life. I suspect some of this is just get older, but having my work life be contained to a tiny home office space and nowhere else has certainly made the rest of the world more interesting.

March 9, 2024

Thank goodness Netflix did a good live action adaptation of The Last Airbender. I’m actually looking forward to the next season. The best part is that my kids enjoyed it, and being able to introduce them to that world is a lot of fun. One of the best parts of Avatar is the elements of humor and levity in the face of a very serious and dramatic story. It’s the same thing that made Castlevania so good. Netlfix has been making a lot of good choices lately with their in-house production, and I’m not sure what HBOMax or Disney can do to keep up right now on the streaming front.

March 4, 2024

Your social environment can significantly affect your general mood and demeanor. This sounds like a pretty obvious statement when you read it, but it’s surprising how it happens without notice. I was convinced I was an introverted cynic for years, and a misanthrope at heart. Turns out I just really hated my job, and it was making me a miserable person outside of work. It has taken me two years to really heal from that, and it turns out I have the natural capacity to be kind, welcoming, and social. It surprised me when starting a new hobby that I not only enjoyed the community that came with it, but that I sought out genuine community and felt energized by it.

The lesson here, I think, is to not surround yourself with grumpy assholes, lest you become one without even intending to.

March 3, 2024

Cyclists don’t often realize that disc brake rotors are consumable parts. Now, they last a long time, but they do need to be replaced. When I replaced the 5 year old rotors on my Kona Rove I was suddenly reminded that, “oh, this is how braking is supposed to feel on a good set of hydraulic disc brakes.”

I do think this is one of the major ignored innovations that Tesla put forth, regenerative braking. I’m assuming the brakes will last the life of the car because you spend so little time using them. If you are driving like a sane person you rarely need to touch the brake pedal and get awfully used to one pedal driving very quickly.

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