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January Reading Recommendations

Published: at 10:30 AM

Here I will link the articles, podcasts or books I found interesting this month. It is mostly tech, design and programming content. Hope you find something worth reading for yourself.

Articles

Tech

The Feature Trap: Why Feature Centricity Is Harming Your Product - Andy Budd

This article by Andy Budd argues that you are hurting your product by always chasing new features. This resonated with my. From my experience working on SaaS-products this is a very easy trap to fall into. Maybe your product has all the features, its just very unpleasant to use. The articles conclusion is to focus on outcomes not output, but it justifies it very nicely.

[..] as well as having teams focused on delivering new user value, we also need teams who are focused on helping unlock and maximize existing user value.

A recommended read, and maybe link it to your product owner.

Microsoft Edge trying to trick Chrome users into using Edge

A classic case of Microsoft doing Microsoft things.

week by The Verge’s Tom Warren, who said he noticed Edge opening on a system reboot in the same state that Chrome was in before the restart. Warren claimed he neither imported Chrome data to Edge nor gave it permission to import open browser tabs from Chrome, yet there it was. Warren said he never toggled the setting on, and that it was off when he checked.

So it just opens up trying to trick the user into continuing their browsing in a new browser? I have to admit its a pretty smart move. Scummy, but smart.

The Cost of Personalization

In this piece over at Humane by Design they examine what the rise in algorithmic personalisation and recommendation is costing us. Lately I have been trying to seek out content that humans recommend to me, instead of algorithms. Maybe I will do another blog post about this in the future. In the meantime you can read this article.

When algorithms make autonomous decisions on our behalf, the visible options we have are hidden from us and we lose personal agency.

Web-dev

Locality of Behaviour - Carson Gross

A classic article, or essay, by Carson Gross. The Locality of behaviour principle is defined as:

The behaviour of a unit of code should be as obvious as possible by looking only at that unit of code

Instead of having to open lots of file to read three lines in each file, you should have all the lines that define a behaviour in the same file, and hopefully short enough to fit on a single screen of code. The article by Carson explains this better than I could.

The Web Component Success Story

An interesting article on what the success story of web components might be.

[..] the biggest benefits I see are collective, cutting across the industry as a whole. I think web components can make the entire web more accessible. They have the potential to unify currently fragmented communities, including various JavaScript frameworks and those who avoid them.

Hopefully we will see a lot of web components that we can use in React, Angular and HTMX apps in the future. Breaking down silos and making the web more open again.

The history of comic sans

A post examining the history of Comic Sans. Love it or hate it, you have to admit Comic Sans is unique in that most people knows what the font looks like, and can probably identify it. Not something you can say about any other font I believe.

Books

Tidy First by Kent Beck

I started reading this book a week ago, and I am about half way through it. It is a pretty short book, so I expect to finish it pretty soon. The book tries to answer why we programmers either dont take time to tidy our code, or go down a week long refactoring rabbit hole.

Why don’t we take time to care for ourselves? Take time to make our work easier? Why do we go down the rabbit hole of cleaning code to the exclusion of work that would help our users?

In the book Kent Beck tries to guide us to find the middle ground. The start of the book has a lot of examples of “tidyings” as he calls it. A tidying a simple refactoring you can do, and then chain multiple together. The current chapter I am on tries to explain when you should tidy. First, after or later. The book is interesting so far. I would recommend it to all software engineers. Its pretty short, and easy to read.

Podcasts:

Kevin Roose and Casey Newton discuss layoffs in the news industry Hard Fork from NYT

They discuss how the death of RSS and the rise of social media as aggregators has caused big struggles in news organisations.