The Map Catalog

October 18, 2018 • #

I’ve been collecting paper maps for years. It’s one of the few collection habits I’ve allowed myself to keep (well, including books). Some time back I wanted to inventory all of them. So I built an app in Fulcrum to log the title, source, publishing date, and photos of each.

My collection’s up to 210 now. I’m working on a way to publish this. The other similar app I built a while back is a “map of maps”, basically a similar structure to my collection, but actually geotagging out in the world where I run across maps — park signage, street areas, outdoor mall floor plans, transit maps, and the like. I should set up a Fulcrum Community project to share out for folks to help build the ultimate map of public maps.

The Map Collection

October 17, 2018 • #

I’ve been collecting paper maps for years. It’s one of the few collection habits I’ve allowed myself to keep (well, including books). Some time back I wanted to inventory all of them. So I built an app in Fulcrum to log the title, source, publishing date, and photos of each.

My collection’s up to 210 now. I’m working on a way to publish this. The other similar app I built a while back is a “map of maps”, basically a similar structure to my collection, but actually geotagging out in the world where I run across maps — park signage, street areas, outdoor mall floor plans, transit maps, and the like. I should set up a Fulcrum Community project to share out for folks to help build the ultimate map of public maps.

2018 Reading List

October 16, 2018 • #

I’m on pace this year to read 40 books this year. Here’s a quick snapshot of the list so far, in rough order from beginning to end of year. I’m looking forward to writing up a week’s worth of posts this year on my favorites by genre.

Gary Neville on Mourinho

October 15, 2018 • #

Gary Neville’s thoughts on the rumors of a Jose Mourinho firing:

The Premier League’s fickleness with management is astonishing. It would be unbelievable to see the same level of volatility and shortsightedness in other professional sports that you have in European football clubs. A United legend calling out the leadership of the club directly is incredible, but unfortunately it probably won’t change anything. I’m not a United fan, but I would love to see the club stick it out with Mourinho and to stop perpetuating the impatient lack of logic that exists in the League.

All Hands 2018

October 14, 2018 • #

Spatial Networks is past 50 employees now, with a sizable remote group scattered all over the country. Even though we’ve grown substantially in 2018, we’ve been able to scale our processes, tools, and org chart to maintain pretty effective team dynamics and productivity. When we first started hiring remote folks back in 2010, we had nowhere near the foundation in place to have an effective distributed team.

This week is our 2nd “All Hands” of the year, where our entire remote team comes to St. Petersburg HQ for a week of teamwork, group projects, and fun camaraderie. A total of 18 people representing 11 states will be in town. These weeks are at once energizing, exciting, and exhausting — but also always a positive exercise. I’m glad to work at a place where we’ve consistently valued this investment and made the effort to keep it going as we’ve scaled.

Weekend Reading: Geocomputation, Customers, and Linear Growth

October 13, 2018 • #

🎛 Geocomputation with R

I’ve had R on my list for a long time to dig deeper with. A while back I set myself up with RStudio and went through some DataCamp stuff. This online book seems like excellent material in how to apply R to geostatistics.

☎️ Listening to Customers At Scale

Given where we are with Fulcrum in the product lifecycle, this rang very familiar on the struggles with how to listen to customers effectively, who to listen to, and how to absorb or deflect ideas. Once you get past product-market fit, the same tight connection between your customers and product team becomes impossible. Glad to hear we aren’t alone in our struggles here.

📈 Linear Growth Companies

This piece from David Heinemeier Hansson is a good reminder that steady, linear growth is still great performance for a business. Every business puts itself in a different situation, and certainly many are in debt or investment positions that linear growth isn’t good enough for. Even so, consistent growth in the positive direction should always be commended.

Technique Critique

October 12, 2018 • #

This series with dialect coach Erik Singer is great, I could watch dozens of these. He critiques renditions of different accents, some of them specific regional dialects:

Maybe it’s related to my interest in geography, but I’m always curious to learn how to differentiate accents from different countries and localities.

A Week with the iPad

October 11, 2018 • #

For the last 7 days I’ve only been using the iPad. I’ve had a 12.9” iPad Pro for about a year, but have only used it in “work mode” occasionally so I don’t have to lug the laptop home all the time. Most of what I do these days doesn’t require full macOS capability, so I’m experimenting in developing the workflow to go tablet-only.

Slack, G Suite apps, mail, calendar, Zoom, Asana, and 1Password covers about 85% of the needs. There are a few things like testing Fulcrum, Salesforce, any code editing, that can still be challenging, but they partially work depending on what I’m trying to do.

I’m really enjoying it now that I’ve gotten a comfort level with navigating around and multitasking features. I find that the “one app at a time” nature of iOS helps me stay on track and focus on deeper tasks — things like writing documents, planning, and of course being able to sketch and diagram using the Pencil, which I do a ton of. I’ve liked Notability so far of the drawing apps I’ve tested for what I need.

One of the biggest things I had to figure out a solution for was being able to write and publish to this website efficiently. Since I use Jekyll and GitHub Pages under the hood, I hadn’t found a simple solution to manage the git repository and preview posts. I’ll go deeper on that workflow in a future post, because it’s a pretty comfortable setup (for me) that others might find useful.

Overall I’m liking working on iPad more and more. It gets easier as I accrue knowledge of tips, tricks, and other workflows.

Economics & Product Management

October 10, 2018 • #

A continuous challenge in product development (perhaps the ultimate challenge) is the balancing of many wants and needs with an inability to have everything. You never have the resources to build everything you want into your product — be it labor, capital, or time.

All this year I’ve been studying economics, some foundational resources, different philosophies, and the history of economic theories. I think what attracts me to the subject is how its fundamentals can be applied to so many other areas. I just finished Thomas Sowell’s “Basic Economics” a few weeks ago, which is a great plain-English primer on many foundational principles. At the core, economics seeks to understand how value is created and exchanged — how forces within systems interplay with one another. Sowell defines economics as the “study of the use of scarce resource which have alternative uses.”

Managing resources to build something is a great example of scarcity at work. Trade-offs are a fact of life, and the entire job of product management is balancing the right trade-offs to achieve the desired goal. It may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often people lose the plot and don’t respect the reality or limitations. The project management triangle also comes to mind here. I find frequent reminders of these constraints helpful to ground my efforts in a frame of achievable reality, while maintaining the ability to set and meet expectations.

The Electricity Metaphor

October 9, 2018 • #

During this TED talk from 2003, Jeff Bezos compares the Internet revolution to the early years of electrification. Even 15 years ago he was already describing the core philosophy behind his future products, like Amazon Web Services. AWS is like electricity for technology companies: paying the AWS bill is like paying your utility bill.