Blog / Roundup: teaching hard things, turning off your phone, designing with data, discovering open data, choosing abstractions

September 7, 2018

How to teach yourself hard things - Elena T

https://jvns.ca/blog/2018/09/01/learning-skills-you-can-practice/

We all need encouragement to learn new things. Sometimes we’d like to just avoid the hard part of having to read up about something new, but at the same time we could remind ourselves that learning is fun. Instead of thinking “I’m bad at X”, Julia Evans suggests we think “I haven’t learned about X yet”.

She then goes on to offer some good advice about how we could identify what we don’t understand and focus on fixing that.

Bored and brilliant a few weeks later - Celia C

https://medium.com/@elo_sf/bored-and-brilliant-a-few-weeks-later-dd2333ad418a

I’ve recently been trying to use my phone less, and in this blog a guy tries to complete a challenge developed by Manoush Zomorodi to do just that. There’s a different task for every day of one week, such as not using your phone while walking, or deleting the app you use the most. The guy writing the blog kind of fails, but the challenge has given me some good ideas.

Design with Difficult Data - Andrew W

https://alistapart.com/article/design-with-difficult-data

I’ve been converting visual designs into HTML+CSS for over two decades and often my first question to the designer is “what happens when I resize the browser window” when presented with a layout that bleeds to the edge of the browser window. In this article, Steven Garrity addresses this point and a whole host of other difficult situations where a design can break down and encourages designers to not just follow a ‘happy path’ where names are short and all the data is present.

Google Dataset Search - Boris D

https://toolbox.google.com/datasetsearch

While brainstorming ideas for innovation around open data earlier this year, I could have really used a good source of open datasets to work with. Enter Google Dataset Search, finding all the datasets you’ve ever dreamed about (as well as those you didn’t).

Choosing the right abstraction - Murray S

http://timelessrepo.com/abstraction-creep

Creating a useful abstraction of a problem is one of the hard things to get right while developing software. This article explores some of the ways we can get it wrong on both ends of the spectrum: not enought abstraction and too much abstraction. Our industry’s perceived wisdom and best practice mantras are all fine and dandy, but you have to remember the secret unspoken part to all of them:

… but not too much

Track of the Week - Graeme M

Going back to one of my favourite 80’s playlists, the choon of this week is a little number from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.

Patti LaBelle - New Attitude