Night Running

May 19, 2019 • #

With all my commitments each day between work life, kids, and other things, it’s hard to fit exercise into the schedule. Combine that with the struggles I have personally with rising before the kids to get running in, and the only option left is running at night.

For the past 9 months or so I’ve been pretty consistently running at night time after the kids are asleep — anywhere between 9 and 10:30pm. I actually enjoy it, even though it took a while to get comfortable making that commitment to still get out of the house that late. It’d be easy to be lazy and “too tired” to go. That does happen occasionally, but I’m usually pretty good about keeping myself honest if I mentally commit to doing it earlier. As we move into summer, night running is also essential to help keep good pace and avoid the brutal Florida sun and heat.

Most of the miles I’ve done late were down on the waterfront toward downtown St. Pete. There’s a nice set back trail down there which is well-lit, so safety and visibility never worried me that much. After the move though I’m running mostly in the neighborhood where the street lighting is a lot less consistent and the sidewalks aren’t always great. I posted last week about the headlamp I got, which I tested out last night:

Headlamp for night running

It worked great — comfortable to wear, plenty bright without being overkill, and adjustable to point down in front of me for good visibility. Today was a 90 degree heater, so it feels good to have an added level of safety for keeping up the night runs where I can get in miles without melting in the sun

Weekend Reading: Rays on a Run, Apple's Pivot, and Mapping Grids

May 18, 2019 • #

⚾️ The Rays are a Surrealist’s Delight

Love to see the Rays getting some deserved attention in the mainstream sports media. They’ve put together a great, diverse lineup of consistent hitters that have performed well all season:

The Rays emphasize power now, but in a different way: Through Monday, their hitters had the highest exit velocity in the majors, at 90.1 miles per hour, and their pitchers — who specialize in curveballs and high fastballs — allowed the lowest, at 86.3. Hard-contact rates enticed them to trade for Pham from St. Louis last July, and to land Yandy Diaz in an off-season deal with Cleveland. Pham was hitting .248 for the Cardinals, but the Rays assured him he had simply been unlucky; he hit .343 the rest of the season.

And I get to post this on the back of their 11th inning win over the Yankees this afternoon.

📱 The Pivot

Great quick read from Horace Dediu on Apple’s Services business. As he points out in the piece, Apple’s business model is continually oversimplified and/or misunderstood by many:

This disconnect between what people think Apple sells and what Apple builds is as perplexing as the cognitive disconnect between what companies sell and what customers buy.

Companies sell objects or activities that they can make or engage in but customers buy solutions to problems. It’s easy to be fooled that these are interchangeable.

Conversely Apple offers solutions to problems that are viewed, classified, weighed and measured as objects or activities by external observers. Again, it’s easy to be fooled that these are the same.

🧭 Mapping Gridded Data with a Voronoi Diagram

This post goes into how the author put together a visualization of tornado trend data for Axios. Observable notebooks are so great. The interactivity lets you not only see the code and data to create it all, but can be forked and edited right there.

Tidal Resiliency

May 17, 2019 • #

Yesterday evening I attended a community meeting in our neighborhood on the tidal resiliency plan the City of St. Pete is putting together to combat the periodic street flooding we get during high tidal or rainfall events.

The city planning folks in attendance were showing maps of the neighborhood and projected areas of high water during these events. The crux of the issue in Shore Acres is that during spring tides, water from the bay pushes back up the storm drain pipes and comes out the streetside storm drains in some of the lower intersections in the neighborhood. Parts of Shore Acres are like a bowl — the inside actually lower than the outer rim. With such low elevation all around, even a couple inches of difference can mean water covering the entire roadway or a homeowner’s yard.

Streets around our house can get bad:

Shore Acres flood areas

This graphic makes it look worse than it usually is. Even in high tide + high rainfall combo events, it isn’t this extreme. This is a projection of 30+ year storm events. It does definitely get wet out there, though.

With all of the studies and survey work they’ve done the past few years, the group presented a host of projected improvements that could be done to alleviate the problem — including bioswales, roadway elevation, force mains, pump stations, and even some aquatic plants (grasses, mangroves) out on the sand flats to reduce wave action.

Near our house would be a little bit of everything, if most of the plan goes through. I’m sure they’ll only end up doing a small fraction of the most critical improvements. The full scope of proposed options looks expensive. Most importantly, near the worst of the flooding on our route out of the neighborhood, they’ve proposed a pump station and force main to be installed in a piece of public land in the intersection:

Shore Acres tidal improvements

This would be a major overhaul to a decades-old problem of street flooding in Shore Acres. A long overdue bunch of improvements to keep everyone safe and able to get out of the neighborhood if needed.

The City’s overview map of the area really shows why this is a problem. The entire neighborhood was once an estuarine marsh that was essentially converted into manmade “islands”.

Overview map

The lesson: it’s hard to fight mother nature.

Wireframing with Moqups

May 16, 2019 • #

Wireframing is a critical technique in product development. Most everyone in software does a good bit of it for communicating requirements to development teams and making iterative changes. For me, the process of wireframing is about figuring out what needs to be built as much as how. When we’re discussing new features or enhancements, rather than write specs or BDD stories or something like that, I go straight to a pen and paper or the iPad to sketch out options. You get a sense for how a UI needs to come together, and also for us visual thinkers, the new ideas really start to show up when I see things I can tweak and mold.

We’ve been using Moqups for a while on our product team to do quick visuals of new screens and workflows in our apps. I’ve loved using it so far — its interface is simple and quick to use, it’s got an archive of icons and pre-made blocks to work with, and has enough collaboration features to be useful without being overwhelming.

Moqups wireframe

We’ve spent some time building out “masters” that (like in PowerPoint or Keynote) you can use as baseline starters for screens. It also has a feature called Components where you can build reusable objects — almost like templates for commonly-used UI affordances like menus or form fieldsets.

One of the slickest features is the ability to add interactions between mocks, so you can wire up simulated user flows through a series of steps.

I’ve also used it to do things like architecture diagrams and flowcharts, which it works great for. Check it out if you need a wireframing tool that’s easy to use and all cloud-based.

Conference Finals

May 14, 2019 • #

The conference finals are set — Golden State and Portland in the west, Milwaukee and Toronto in the east. A great couple of matchups both likely to go deep. At halftime right now in Oakland, Portland’s keeping it close.

The east series will be a fun one, with Giannis and Kawhi going at it, each with spectacular playoffs going so far.

In other basketball news, earlier this evening New Orleans came away with the number 1 overall draft pick. With the Anthony Davis drama of a few months ago, and rumors of some sort of trade deal in the summer possibly happening, it’s almost like this was staged to really ramp up that drama. With AD, Jrue Holiday, and (probably) Zion Williamson together, it’d be a hard decision not to make a run for it next season with that setup and see what happens.

Run Shore Acres

May 12, 2019 • #

For no particular reason I decided to try and run every street segment in my neighborhood. A while ago I saw this project from ultrarunner Rickey Gates where he ran every single street in San Francisco. Of course my neighborhood is a fair bit smaller, but attempting it will keep things interesting. You can already see the progress zigzagging through the street spurs of waterfront property, with canals in between each row of houses.

Running Shore Acres

I’ve been doing a route regularly out onto Venetian Isles. This will mix it up and give me a chance to see the rest of the neighborhood. If I get it done soonish I’ll extend to Snell Isle to the south. My plan is to also download all the track line and point data and create a custom map.