Scrabbler #

Over the weekend I made a word finding website as a react app.

It's still got problems including, but not limited to:

  • it's entirely JavaScript driven
  • it searches really slowly after 8 or 9 characters
  • sorting is slower than frozen molasses
  • I haven't done any accessibility testing on it
  • the design is as motivating as a bucket of beige paint
  • the dictionary in use is pretty bad*

*can't really complain about it much though given that it was free and in public domain

Unlike many of my other personal projects, I've actually released this one.

In particular my goal with this project was to build a minimum viable word-finder and launch it in the span of a day. In that regard, the project was a great success and I'm quite happy with how it's turned out. In particular the live-updating actually works pretty well for my use case.

Who's the Hero Here? #

Jeff Bonforte gave an excellent talk at the Facebook At Scale Conference. The entire talk is worth watching, but to me the most important part comes at 16:45, where he talks about the issues with hero culture and rewarding "firefighters".

…but Dakar was the fundamental thing, and everyone said "you were so smart for doing Dakar," I was like "I don't think I was smart, I was just kind-of…panicked," like, we had to get this stuff under control. We had to stop, and I'm going to talk about this in a second.

Because, at Yahoo—and maybe it's like this for some of you—if I said, "Who's the hero here?" we'd all say the fireman is the hero, or the fireperson is the hero, not the architect overlooking his brand new campus, Facebook—that's actually Frank Gehry—but that's exactly wrong, like we were glorifying—we were giving bonuses and awards to all the firefighters out there who would stay up seven nights in a row to get services back up and running. I'm like, "you know what we should do? have fewer fires" because if we didn't have to hire only firemen here, only heroes, only people that would go in and risk their careers and lives to go in and extract that one email attachment from Aunt Sarah to Jenny, like, it would be better right?

And so that was the other fundamentals which was we—every time we found ourselves celebrating a firefighter in the company I kept telling Marissa, "That's a firefighter reward we're about to do," she's like "You're so right; we're not rewarding the long time thinkers the long-term fixes," we were rewarding all the heroes.

And many people at Yahoo had made their career by being firefighters and in fact had no interest in getting rid of the drama. They wouldn't admit to it, it's not a conscious thing, it's a subconscious thing. They lived on the adrenaline rush of the fix, and the big, and the "I'm so important I'm the only one who knows how to get into this thing and ..." So that was an important piece.

Fight or Run

All my years of brawling, of pummeling both the unsuspecting and the deserving, have yielded two insights. You can either fight or you can run. All other strategies are variations of these.

Interesting Numbers

If you map every letter to a sequence of numbers, every book can be expressed as a number.

If you then prefix these numbers with "0." You will have a number between 0 and 1. This means that every book, every story, and all written language (now and in the future) exists as fractions between 0 and 1.

It all already exists, we just have to find the interesting numbers.

Planning

The plan is always the first casualty of war.

Learning to Juggle

Learning to juggle…
one ball takes a second
two balls takes a minute
three balls takes an hour
four balls takes a week
five balls takes OCD