Distributed-First Is the Future of Work at Spotify

From Spotify:

The future of how we work has been a popular topic inside the walls of Spotify for a while now. Our leadership team has long championed the idea that digitalization and globalization are massive drivers for a more flexible workplace that better suits both our band and our business.

Add another company to the list. One interesting tidbit is their focus on paying NY/SF salaries no matter where the employee chooses to live. I’m really curious to see what the Covid year does to our industry as well as current tech centers like NY and SF.

Everything New in the iOS 14.5 Beta

From Macrumors:

Apple today seeded the first betas of upcoming iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 updates, and while the new software serves as a deadline for when app developers must comply with App Tracking Transparency rules, there are also a handful of other changes worth noting.

The headline feature is the ability to unlock your phone with a watch when you’re wearing a mask. It’s also nice to see Apple getting into the habit of shipping features when they’re ready instead of rushing to get them all out at once. 

whitehouse.gov

As with all new incoming administrations, The White House website has been updated.  Lots of little details stand out, like accessibility enhancements around text size, dark mode and viewport accomidations.

Also, since it affects us all, I recommend you check out the covid-19 plan page. Lots of great detail in here around how the administration plans to tackle the pandemic. Specifically, the parts around overall guidance and treating lockdowns like a “dial”, spelling out the rollout plan so folks know when/where they can get vaccinated

None of this is novel at all. It’s all pretty common sense stuff but I’m hopeful to see clear, consistent communication from our state and national leaders.

Revenge of the Suburbs

From Ian Bogost at The Atlantic:

But after the anxious spring of 2020, these defects seem like new luxuries. There was always comfort to be found in a big house on a plot of land that’s your own. The relief is even more soothing with a pandemic bearing down on you. And as the novel coronavirus graduates from acute terror to long-term malaise, urbanites are trapped in small apartments with little or no outdoor space, reliant on mass transit that now seems less like a public service and more like a rolling petri dish.
The pandemic will improve suburban life, perhaps in lasting ways. Take the automobile commute: The exodus from the office has dramatically decreased traffic and pollution, a trend that will continue in some form if even a fraction of the people who abandoned their commutes continue to work from home. Dunham-Jones, who is also my colleague in Georgia Tech’s college of design, thinks that even a modest rise in telecommuting could also increase the appeal of local walking and bike trips. Families have two cars, but nowhere to go. They are rediscovering the pleasures of pedestrianism.
[…]
Multigenerational households represent a modest increase in density, and they can make quarantine more tolerable on top of it. The summer is upon us, but camps are largely closed and ordinary family activities have been substantially disrupted. The spring lockdowns also proved that working from home while facilitating children’s remote schoolwork is extremely challenging. Intergenerational households offer more hands and eyes to watch the kids or manage mealtimes made incompatible by overlapping schedules. Schools have always been a huge driver of residential real-estate sales, and even a modest increase in online learning could shock the market. Economic pressure may encourage consolidation of some families into bigger but more populous single-family homes, while decoupling home values from school districts even somewhat could make them more affordable.

Living in the suburbs is a mixed bag as it’s always been – you trade things like culture, collectivism, walkability and energy efficiency for a longer commute, more space (but more isolation) and (often) better schools. However, I’m hopeful that this pandemic has shown us there’s possibility to find a middle ground now that more folks are working from their homes and helping educate from the comfort of our house. If we’re lucky, residents in suburban areas will look to invest more in their local communities and build them into places that might make those longer commutes less necessary. If we can move to a world where remote work is accessible for more folks, suburban and exurban communities can be more sustainable.

I try to remind myself daily how lucky we are to have a setup like we do – we have an office that I can work remotely out of, (mostly) uninterrupted during the day. Our kids can complete their schoolwork in the basement. We have a fenced in back yard that the kids can play in as well. So generally speaking the quarantine has been “easier” for our family than the average apartment dweller.

Welcome to the 21st Century

From Tim O’Reilly:

Our failure to make deep, systemic changes after the financial collapse of 2009, and our choice instead to spend the last decade cutting taxes and spending profusely to prop up financial markets while ignoring deep, underlying problems has only made responding to the current crisis that much more difficult. Our failure to build back creatively and productively from the global financial crisis is necessary context for the challenge to do so now.

I enjoyed this article so much. O’Reilly talks a lot about how the future won’t be be just like the past, and we should be thinking about what changes this new world we’ve living in will require of us so that we don’t just revert back to our old habits. What will be gone or changed forever? Travel, large-scale events, privacy, health care and work-from-home are all certain to be transformed. But how? And what new things will emerge?

My fear is that this article assumes we’ll handle the Covid crisis and learn from that experience. Instead, it’s looking more and more like a preview of how America and much of the western world might handle coming climate crises. We won’t – can’t? – work collectively on big problems as a nation any more and that’s a huge danger to both our political system and our planet. But it’s not all doom and gloom. I am hopeful that changes to attitudes and tools for working remotely will create a more equitable job market. That will in turn allow communities across the nation to be destinations for remote workers.

For us to emerge as strongly as possible from Covid and not be left behind by the rest of the world as they recover, we’ll need to see more planning and strategic thinking from our local and national leaders, however. Businesses are doing their part, but our nation is rudderless.

Tweaking my Daily Routine

Working from home for me has been an interesting test of some of my beliefs about how I like to get things done, how much of an introvert I am (very much), and what an optimal schedule stripped of things like a commute, errands and activities might look like. Obviously this won’t be “normal” forever, […]

Continue reading →

The Deathly Tragedy of American Exceptionalism

From Robert Reich:

With 4.25 percent of the world population, America has the tragic distinction of accounting for about 30 percent of pandemic deaths so far.

Some folks have tried to downplay the extremely high death count numbers in the US by looking at infection rate per 1000 – which does show that some countries like Spain are seeing more infections than we are. However, our death numbers are staggering. I think some of that is attributable to a poor testing strategy – you can have “invisible” infections but it’s much harder to hide deaths. There’s probably some blame to go around for our healthcare system as well, that puts poor folks at a disadvantage relative to those with money.

Our inept leaders and broken unemployment system have handicapped our recovery as well.

We saw some good news last week, relatively speaking, with 2.5 million jobs added but I fear the road to recovery is going to be bumpy.

A detailed timeline of all the ways Trump failed to respond to the coronavirus

From Cameron Peters at Vox:

In fact, there are many reasons the US death toll is so high, including a national response plagued by delays at the federal level, wishful thinking by President Trump, the sidelining of experts, a pointed White House campaign to place the blame for the Trump administration’s shortcomings on others, and time wasted chasing down false hopes based on poor science.

[…]

Throughout the pandemic, however, much of the Trump administration’s spin — regarding Trump’s own response, China’s role, and more — has been misleading, if not outright untrue. Here’s what Trump and the federal government have — and have not — done to respond to the virus.

A sobering blow-by-blow breakdown of the Trump administration’s failed response to the Covid-19 pandemic. No rational person can blame any leader for allowing the disease to land on their shores – this is a truly global outbreak. However, the absolute lack of action, leadership, planning and coordination once we started to understand what was happening is inexcusable.

On a related note, I think this sort of breakdown is a helpful way to put Trump administration’s incompetence into context. I don’t know about you but at a certain point all of the scandal and drama of the past 3.5 years becomes a bit of a blur at some point.

WWDC20 still lacks a schedule

With WWDC 2020 just 2 weeks away, I was kind of surprised to check out the developer site today to see the same announcement landing page that we saw a month or so ago. I’m still very curious to see what this year’s virtual conference looks like as I could imagine a hybrid model being […]

Continue reading →

100,000

From BBC News:

No country has had more deaths, more infections. Anywhere else, so far, is not even close.

Heartbreaking, embarrassing and infuriating. We deserve better.