I've purchased my last in a string of hybrids. I'm one data point, but your thesis about the Osborne Effect seems prescient.


The software producer’s user story is not a specification, nor is it a list of instructions. Ideally a user story is an informal sketch of your Product Owner’s intention.

I find the sketch quality of a Product Owner’s user stories anticipates and expects a time-limited range of discovery, development, and enhancement from me, the software developer.

Peanut Butter & Jelly

A Product Owner (played by the two frustrated kids in the video below) wants an Engineer (played by the clueless dad) to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Take a look…

The lesson to me is that a…


Frontend user stories are fundamentally different than backend stories.

Most frontend user stories are sketches that imply intent, while many backend stories are readily written as a specification. Backend stories are often implemented in isolation from the Product Owner.

In contrast:

Few frontend stories are implemented in isolation from the Product Owner.

As frontend stories are a sketch of the Product Owner’s intent, there’s often back and forth level-setting between the engineer and the Product Owner as the story is worked. A wireframe is a sketch — literally. Wireframes are a visual representation of the Product Owner’s intent.

Wireframes suggest…


Dark Patterns are workflows and visual indicators conceived to trick people into doing things they might not intend to do or to discourage an intended action by making it near impossible.

One example of a Dark Pattern is called a Roach Motel. A Roach Motel describes a scenario where it’s easy to do something (e.g., create an account), but nearly impossible to un-do something (e.g., terminate an account).

Some of the recognized Dark Patterns have amusing names like Sneak Into Basket, Privacy Zuckering, and Confirm-Shaming.

My challenge to you is to locate where (and how) an Amazon account can be…


As a maker, I can be led, but not managed.

When I consider the characteristics of a leader I would follow, the yin and yang of clarity and flexibility rings true.

“Leaders are — and must continue to be — a source of clarity. Clarity is the ability to be very explicit about where you are going, but very flexible about how you will get there.” ―Bob Johansen, The New Leadership Literacies


It seems incomprehensible now, but when I joined the information economy as a newly minted engineer in 1989, I scored a private office. As we closed in on the millennium, vast open plan cubicle farms sprouted up like the creeping ground ivy about to strangle my lawn. The open plan, optimistically spun as collaborative space, was a huge savings to employers. By the early 2000s, few engineers had private offices.

It’s dawned on employers navigating a global pandemic that gig economy workers are fully adaptable to remote working with no loss in productivity.

The prospect of chucking the expense of…


By Jessica Ottewell, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83227652

Attempts to turn Design Thinking, a mindset, into a process, a Design Sprint, flip my skepticism bit. Software producers, those of us with a decade or more on-the-job, watched a handful of guiding principles in the Agile Manifesto succumb to industrialization and ultimately corrupted by prescriptive processes like Scrum.

Agile is a beautiful thing. Design Thinking is a beautiful thing. Hard stop.

Why are we compelled to turn a philosophy, a mindset, an adaptive framework, into prescriptive processes?

Our blunders are two-fold:

  1. Applying 19th century mass production innovations to creative and human endeavors; and
  2. Submitting to external pressure to go…

Men Explain Things to Me
by Rebecca Solnit
, 2014 Haymarket Books

Men Explain Things to Me consists of nine essays by historian and activist Rebecca Solnit.

The first essay begins with a story set in a social gathering. A patrician male lectures Ms. Solnit and her female companion about an important new book. Unbeknownst to this gasbag is that Ms. Solnit is the author of the book.

Many men do not recognize how often this phenomenon occurs between women and men. To wit: the term “mansplaining” has entered popular lexicon.

“Domestic violence, mansplaining, rape culture, and sexual entitlement are among…


Application Dependencies

JavaScript applications are often built on a foundation of open source libraries (a.k.a, node packages). Such application dependencies require weeding and feeding to make sure they’re secure, up-to-date, and still relevant.

A low-effort, high-value tool for dependency management is GitHub’s dependabot.

Secure & Up-to-date

Dependabot is a free GitHub service that developers can activate on a GitHub source repository to help keep their node dependencies secure and up-to-date.

Pull Request Opened By Dependabot

What does it do?

Dependabot scans the repository searching for updatable dependencies. When it finds an out of date package, it opens a pull request for your review. …


Philosophy of Sailing: Offshore in Search of the Universe
by Christian Williams, 2018 East Wind Press

Sailing solo from the breakwater of Marina del Ray to the leeward side of Oahu, and back, Christian Williams skippers us through an Offshore Inquiry.

The sturdy ribs of Philosophy of Sailing are the ship’s log which, for me, read like the titles of poems:
“Day 7, 0400 hours. Voices” or “Day 12, 1945 hours. Whisker Pole”.

Not a sailor beyond zig-zagging over a Minnesota lake atop a 14' Sunfish, I savored how deftly Williams transitioned from the minutiae of single-handedly piloting a 38'…

Bob MacNeal

Egalitarian, Feminist, Software Product Developer, Writer, Photographer & Maker of Stuff.

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