May 5, 2021

My Apple Watch unlocking my phone while I wear a mask is a game changer for being out and about during the last throws of this pandemic.

Jason Becker

May 4, 2021

I just opened an article whose opening sentence was, “Politics didn’t used to enter the schools.”

Has there ever been a lede this absurd?

Jason Becker

If you ever want deep insight into someone’s mind, look at how they design a spreadsheet to help guide a decision.

Jason Becker

May 3, 2021

My dogs stayed with my parents for a month and we just got them home. So of course Gracie woke me up at 6:30am, not to walk, but to get scratches and cuddles. After 20 minutes of that, she let me take her for a 30 minute walk. Welcome home.

Jason Becker

May 2, 2021

April 30, 2021

People who love California weather, I get that.

People who love Florida weather? Does. Not. Compute.

Jason Becker

Down the hill, over the river, around the bend, into the forest, up the trail, and to the clearing where a zen garden sits. At the center of a winding path, a bell and a gnome.

Jason Becker

April 29, 2021

My tips for a good day:

  • Eat delicious, healthy food.
  • Move a lot for at least an hour.
  • Maximize time spent with/talking to people you care about.
  • Get one thing done that matters.
Jason Becker

My version of, “Get off my lawn!” is yelling at a YouTube video, “it’s a trailer!” every time they say, “double wide tiny home”.

Jason Becker

April 28, 2021

It’s important to be able to level strong, harsh, and immediate criticism without also condemning someone as irredeemable, persona non grata.

Proportional consequences for actions

Jason Becker

The operative question is how do the people who work there feel about their workplace environment and their leadership? My own views were “this feels/seems bad”, largely in private, until employees made clear how they felt. Then it was clear, “this is bad” in an objective way.

Jason Becker

The sound of my now fixed dishwasher running after two and a half weeks is so soothing.

Jason Becker

April 27, 2021

Because of my frustration with bad UX and no visible product improvements, I was already internally discussing leaving Basecamp behind at Allovue. Now that I know they’re a milkshake duck, we’ll be cancelling within the week.

For what it’s worth, we started doing Shape Up— it kind of works. There are pieces that are really well aligned to the way we do product, but a whole lot that does not work at all if you’re not a mature product throwing off a few million that you make only incremental feature improvements on.

Things we’ve liked:

  • Scoping work to 2 or 6 week long stretches is pretty natural/doable.
  • Bringing together leadership to talk about and confirm our direction every 8 weeks is great.
  • Developers creating their own tasks is mostly great.

Things that we’ve not figured out:

  • Bug and chores are not really a thing people want to do in “cooldown” & hard to “spend” budget on upfront.
  • Greenfield projects and ideas are hard to write 2-6 week pitches versus “see how far we get”
  • Devs would rather do work than make tasks.

Things I need to do now:

  • Codify what we keep somewhere that doesn’t send people to Shape Up.
  • Quickly choose a better tool than Basecamp that can serve a similar role— to be a place for research, pitch writing, and ultimately, task management for devs.

I’ve always found Basecamp to be a weird company with weird founders that sometimes said really interesting things that I 70% liked and 30% cringed. There were things to admire, not the least of which was their success at achieving total financial independence. But the product is just… not that good. And their current situation with “politics” and “society” issues can only be interpreted one way:

They said they wanted to grow and be more diverse and better, but as soon as their absolute control was challenged, they took their ball and went home.

“At least in my experience, it has always been centered on what is happening at Basecamp,” said one employee — who, like most of those I spoke with today, requested anonymity so as to freely discuss internal deliberations. “What is being done at Basecamp? What is being said at Basecamp? And how it is affecting individuals? It has never been big political discussions, like ‘the postal service should be disbanded,’ or ‘I don’t like Amy Klobuchar.’

Hansson’s response to this employee took aback many of the workers I spoke with. He dug through old chat logs to find a time when the employee in question participated in a discussion about a customer with a funny-sounding name. Hansson posted the message — visible to the entire company — and dismissed the substance of the employee’s complaint. ❡Two other employees were sufficiently concerned by the public dressing-down of a colleague that they filed complaints with Basecamp’s human resources officer. (HR declined to take action against the company co-founder.)

– from Casey Newton’s Platformer, What really happened at Basecamp

Over the course of that 10-day Moral Quandaries case investigation and discussion, it became clear to me that the only way to move you two was to prostrate myself. To violate my own sense of personal privacy and list out in excruciating detail example after example of how I have experienced hate and harassment. So I did, and at the end, hate speech and harassment were added to the list.

Jane Yang, Basecamp Data Analyst

Change is fucking hard. I’m sure people have left Allovue thinking we wouldn’t change. I’ve been here long enough to know we are constantly changing. We have fucked up for sure, but we try and do better every time. There are still struggles we go through. I still have struggled mightily to attract non-White, non-male candidates every time I hire for the product team– like, single digit percent of all applicants. I have personally struggled with building strong relationships across teams at different times and making sure people feel heard. There have been conversations where I failed to speak up and support the way I could have and should have as an ally. Worse, there have been times I didn’t even realize that I needed to because I didn’t see what was happening in front of me. I struggle daily with being a White guy, in a position of societal privilege and power but with actual positional authority in the company that I don’t always realize I walk in the room with. I struggle with how to struggle as a full person in front of people.

This shit is hard. I have made mistakes. I am sure there’s a host of skeletons in my closet. Some things that left a mark on me, but worse, things that I don’t even see as remarkable in my own life. My feeling about this is the only thing I can’t do is take my ball and go home. I don’t know that my mistakes are excusable, and I hope they are redeemable. I hope they are fewer and far between. But mostly, I think the greatest sin of all would be deciding to use my power and privilege to stop struggling at all.

The worst thing I could do is use my power to enhance my own safety.

Jason Becker

One thing I try and do a lot more of these days, with some success, is try really hard about being explicit about my feelings and where I’m at, especially if I start to get that sour feeling that my tone is not lined up with my actual feelings.

A weird thing about positional power is you don’t realize that your own excitement, intensity, bad mood, and feelings in general can start people down a path and feeling a certain way you don’t want. Sometimes, because we’re human, our feelings leak into how we communicate, but those feelings are not always about what we’re talking about or who we’re talking to. But that’s obviously how anyone you’re talking with will see them.

So after I critique a piece of writing, I might say, “By the way, to be clear, this is already much better and much closer to what it needs to be. My critique is detailed and specific and strong because it’s so much closer to what we need.” Or I might say, “Sorry, I’m just having a morning and I wanted to make sure I really understood that feedback so I knew if this was going to throw my day for a tailspin.” Or I might try and talk out loud about why I’m asking the questions like, “I’m just trying to figure out if this is specific to this customer, to a particular data situation, or a general thing.”

I don’t know if it helps, but it can be really hard for me to modulate my tone or how people read the way I write or communicate and much easier for me to say out loud “here’s what’s going on in my head right now”.

Because there are going to be times where I am not at my best and don’t have my best faculties, I try and really do my best when I can. I hope that if I can show the thoughtfulness I wish I always had when I’m at my best, I will be afforded some grace when I fall short.

Jason Becker

April 26, 2021

Anyone else find they need to re-add/re-authenticate their SSH key after rebooting an M1 Mac?

Jason Becker

I beg of you Hollywood, can you please represent the 99% of us that can have a fight with someone of the gender we’re attracted to and NOT immediately fuck them.

Jason Becker

What happens when you can’t have a political conversation at work?

Political conversation continues at work, between coworkers. If these are conversations that people were having when it was “ok”, they are going to keep having them in “unsanctioned” ways. The politics now just become a little less visible.

What happens when you can’t have a political conversation at work?

By making people feel unsafe discussing anything “political” at work will result in screwing up. All of our work is to build systems and processes that other people have to interact with. Bias, unfairness, and unintended consequences are always built in. If employees cannot object on “political” grounds, you will miss the ways that your system/process/product gets it wrong.

What happens when you can’t have a political conversation at work?

People who have power in your company will continue to voice opinions that they don’t even acknowledge or recognize as politics. Power and privilege is all about a shallow understanding of how your own actions are not apolitical, they are just aligned with existing power.

Politics at work

Politics at work does not mean campaigning or soliciting for campaigns. It does not mean an endless battle royale of cable news level debate among coworkers in a Slack all day long. Politics at work looks like

  • Are we paying women and men the same for doing the same job?
  • Are our recruiting and hiring practices leading to a non-diverse workforce and missing out on great people who should work here?
  • What problems does our company solve and for whom?
    • How do we solve those problems?
  • How can we make sure our employees are safe at work, but also feel safe when the various things in the world, out of their control makes them so unsafe? This is not because safe workers are productive workers, although they are. This is because we give a fuck.

Workers don’t choose their work any more than their family. Some people have highly desirable skills that lets them choose wherever they work and change on a whim, but most people need their jobs, took the offer at the only job that gave them one, and don’t have the safety to just exit. But employers do choose their employees, and this asymmetry is critical to remember. The power that gives employers is considerable. So employees do limit their speech for fear, and that’s totally understandable. That power also means that employers need to take seriously their responsibility to care for their employees. We chose them, we want them here, we need them, and we have too much power to not bend to care.

Jason Becker

I had 260g of protein and still stayed under my calorie count today so I think I get super powers.

Jason Becker

April 25, 2021

When the farm share gives you too many carrots and lots of peppers you make giardiniera, apparently.

Jason Becker