These are my weekly Patch Notes – a log of the mental model updates I’m making and a braindump of things I’m leaning, building, or thinking about. Subscribe on Substack here.

In this release:

Cozyroom launched! #

As a reminder, Cozyroom is one of the projects I’ve been helping with: it’s an experimental p2p spatial audio interface for making group interactions more friendly and comfortable on the internet. Go try it here. We got an amazing level of feedback and support on ProductHunt and have expanded our team by a few members. We’re excited to keep building it and see where we can take it.

I really don’t like this social isolation #

I understand why we’re doing it of course. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it. I have my own room, access to a small wooded area a short jog away, and an internet connection. Things could be much, much worse and I’m grateful they’re not. But it’s been about 3 months and I’ve noticed some longer-term changes.

  • Weekends and weekdays have blurred together.

    • Our company is great about going unplugged on weekends: it’s a time to recharge. Naturally, I attempt to jam pack as many non-work things and tasks into my schedule as possible — most of which are on the computer. Inevitably, I get about 25% done and spend a portion of the weekend fretting about how little I got done.

    • It’s not good. I’m getting a little better at breaking this cycle but it’s not easy, since I can’t really walk to coffee shop for a change of scenery. I’ve also been reasonably consistent about dedicating at least half a day over the weekend to a long hike in nature somewhere.

    • Instead of making my weekends look like my weekdays, I think I should instead strive to make my weekdays look like my weekends.

  • I miss doing squats. I’m keeping up with running and basic workouts but oh how I miss gulping down a nice energy drink and going for a PR on a Saturday morning, barely making it back up the apartment stairs afterwards and collapsing onto my bed in blissful agony. Bodyweight squats just aren’t the same.

  • I miss coffee shops. Preferably on an early weekend morning, before it gets too packed. A public space where everyone’s just working on their stuff, reading, or catching up with friends. And everyone’s slightly caffeinated. There’s snacks, water, and a bathroom available and good music playing. It’s like… we had that? Wow. From the Wiki article on the Age of Enlightenment:

    Coffeehouses represent a turning point in history during which people discovered that they could have enjoyable social lives within their communities. Coffeeshops became homes away from home for many who sought, for the first time, to engage in discourse with their neighbors and discuss intriguing and thought-provoking matters, especially those regarding philosophy to politics. Coffeehouses were essential to the Enlightenment, for they were centers of free-thinking and self-discovery. Although many coffeehouse patrons were scholars, a great deal were not. Coffeehouses attracted a diverse set of people, including not only the educated wealthy but also members of the bourgeoisie and the lower class.

  • I miss concerts. The last one I managed to make it out to before this all went down was Michael Kiwanuka in January. The tickets were sold out so I didn’t bother inviting anyone else and just showed up at the door hoping to snag a resold ticket. I did, it was an incredible show, and I cannot wait for my next one.

  • I miss understanding people’s emotions. When we’re covering 70% of our face it becomes a lot harder to understand the other person. Are they happy, angry, upset, hesitant? Did they smile or frown at what just happened? It’s like an entire channel of communication thrown out.

An update on [[post:friends-in-nature]] #

My initial plan was to move into a house August 1 with 4-5 other people. Unfortunately given all the chaotic schedules we couldn’t hit critical mass to make this happen so I’ve changed the approach by making an “availability radar” spreadsheet: everyone fills out their projected availability, price and room preferences for the next 12 months and we wait until we hit critical mass. If you’re interested in joining, let me know!

The relationship between weekends and side projects #

My day job is spent writing a full stack app in Elixir and JavaScript. These are both relatively new languages for me, so much of my time I’m figuring out how to do the thing I want to do: interactive shell, documentation, and Stack Overflow are my three friends throughout the day.

The satisfaction of getting something to work just the way I want it to, or the feeling of being able to load an entire section of the app into my mind and follow the logical data flows around it is very satisfying. Putting on my investigation hat and chasing down a rogue bug, or the rare moments of writing an elegant recursive function and getting it right on my first try: these are the rewards for my toil.

But to say I enjoy code for code’s sake would be incorrect. I enjoy the act of creating a tool more than the act of programming itself. Seeing a concept go from a sketch to something customers or friends can interact with; something that makes a previously-annoying part of their life and makes it a little more delightful: that’s why I’m a digital toolmaker.

Code, currently, happens to be the most reliable and flexible way of building these tools right now. I suspect within a decade the majority of programming will be done with visual editors and services resembling flowchart apps. A magical whiteboard where I can build apps like I draw Figma shapes. But for now, computers are very inflexible and require a high deal of specification around the simplest of operations.

I have a lot of ideas I’m trying to explore; software or tools I want to exist in the world for myself and others to benefit from. Unfortunately the biggest constraint is how much code I can write on weekends and if the past three months are anything to go by: even by getting rid of my entire corpus of in-person social interactions, errand obligations, and distractions I only increased that number of hours by 4 or 5.

Unfortunately I’ve found the more I try to code on the weekends, the more tired I return to my code on Monday morning. It’s not a good cycle. I’d much rather write about or draw out what I’m trying to create. But given that my engineering team is just me; the only way I’m going to see the things I want to see come to life is by bringing them into existence myself. There is, of course, beauty in that as well.

I see two viable long term solutions to this problem: build a wealth factory or get people to support me directly, an option that seems to be increasingly viable. Until then, I need to do a better job remembering I only have so much capacity and burning out will do no good for anyone.

I’ve been writing and reading more outside #

I’m increasingly curious about getting as close as possible to [[my dream working environment]]. Sure, I’ve accepted there’s a limited range (peak summer and winter) and some time restrictions but in general I think it’s possible.

I’ve been going outside with my iPad to read and write. As long as there’s shade and a comfortable place to sit, it’s surprisingly comfortable! I recommend trying this.

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