Nicholas Tietz-Sokolsky
Runner. Coffee nerd. Software engineer.

Gmail's "Smart Compose" feature should be considered harmful

In 2005, I got my invite to get a Gmail account. It was incredible, and I loved it, although I didn’t really know why at the time. It was a combination of really great design so it was pleasant to use, the hype built up by the invite system, the perpetual feeling of getting something more as you watched your allotted storage slowly tick up, and quite a bit from the fact that it was the first email account I signed up for on my own. I had an email account before that, created by my parents through our ISP, but this one was mine, created by me, from an invite my friend gave me, and all my friends were also using Gmail - if they could get an invite. With that ability to also chat through your webmail client… it was mindblowing, and it eventually supplanted AOL Instant Messenger for my friends and me.

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Books I Read in 2018

Every year, GoodReads has a Reading Challenge, where you set how many books you want to read and record them as you go. This year, I got serious about it, and it was a wonderful motivational device. I set a goal of two books per month, and I just eked it out over the finish line, finishing my 24th book this morning.

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Kill the crunch time heroics

Crunch time has an allure: it feels like if you just push hard enough, you can get more done. You can push hard and get that next release done on time, get those new features out, earn more revenue for your company. Engineers are under immense pressure to deliver more and do it now, and we also feel special: we feel unique, like we are not subject to the fatigue that others experience, or that this project is different and we can do it even when exhausted.

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Avoid multitasking to write better code

Multitasking is incredibly alluring. Why go slowly, doing one thing at a time, if you could get a second thing done? Why not fill those five seconds while your code compiles with reading an article about the latest web frameworks?

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Distractions Cause Bad Code

We are barraged by constant distractions, and they are degrading the quality of our work. Our digital society now is set up to allow us to focus for mere minutes at a time, since we are in an attention economy and the sole objective of companies is to capture more of our time. Facebook, Google, and Snapchat are all incentivized to get us to look at our phones many times a day.

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