Eugene Fedorenko is Designing, Writing, and Reading

Reading (never enough)

Current books: 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan   Harris Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

To cure affluenza, we have to be satisfied with the stuff we already own

By Richard Denniss at The Guardian

On affluenza and environment:

Put simply, if we want to reduce the impact on the natural environment of all of the stuff we buy, then we have to hang on to our stuff for a lot longer. We have to maintain it, repair it when it breaks, and find a new home for it when we don’t need it any longer. If we want to cure affluenza, we have to get more satisfaction from the things we already own, more satisfaction from services, more satisfaction from leisure time, and less satisfaction from the process of buying new things.

On bottled water:

In 2015 American consumers spent over US$14bn buying over 40bn litres of bottled water. Bottled water consumption has been growing steadily for the past decade, except when it declined during 2008 and 2009 during the global financial crisis. Despite its decline in those years, no reports of deaths through dehydration due to a shortage of bottled water were reported.

[…]

Whether consumers around the world choose to double their spending on bottled water in the coming decade or decide to carry their own water will not be determined by the relative cost of bottled water and the cost of a thermos. It will be determined by culture.

This is a valid point, but it’s hard to dismiss how insanely and dangerously cheap bottled water is in US. 24 pack of 16.9 fl oz bottles cost $2.49 at CVS or any other pharmacy, which is $0.10 per bottle or $0.79 per gallon. For comparison, large 5 gallon bottles for a water dispenser that we use at home are from $6.49 to $9.49, which is $1.30–1.90 per gallon or almost 2–2.5 times more expensive. It doesn’t make financial sense to fill a thermos or a reusable water bottle before leaving the house instead of grabbing a bottle from the pack, and only culture may not be enough to change that. Until water bottles will be priced as an emergency measure and a last resort, they will be bought and discarded in insane amounts.

The Surface Book 2 is everything the MacBook Pro should be

By Owen Williams

I’ve been a devoted Mac user for 13 years and didn’t really care what’s going on behind the wall, but recent developments at Microsoft made me curious. Surface looks very interesting and Windows 10 feels fresh and modern. On my recent trip to New York I walked past Microsoft Store and stopped to play with their hardware for a few minutes. I didn’t have much time, but it felt solid and nothing like my last Windows laptop in 2003.

I’d be delighted if my Mac — or iPad — could do what Surface can. I enjoy doing emails and most of my reading on iPad, but as a designer and developer I can’t use it for any real work. I tried to use it for processing photos, but it required too many trade-offs comparing to my current workflow on iMac with Lightroom and NAS. The idea of a Surface laptop that can run Figma, my development environment, and Lightroom is very intriguing.

Owen first switched to Windows 10 at his desktop machine and now replaced his MacBook Pro with Surface Book 2 too. His article is an interesting and deep look both into current hardware and software. A few other links on this:

My Self Reliance

By Shawn James

No idea where this interest is coming from, but I've been mesmerized by this YouTube channel of man singlehandedly building a log cabin in the Canadian Wilderness and practicing outdoorsman skills. This video is a good one to start with:

Let My People Go Surfing

Let My People Go Surfing

By Yvon Chouinard

I came for the business story, but stayed for the design advice 🤷‍♂️ Patagonia’s design and production philosophies are very effective and can be easily applied to other fields. I always appreciate all the thinking and attention to details that’s present in their clothing.

The way their business being run is really interesting as well. Recently I listened to a podcast with Ricardo Semler, and while reading Yvon’s book I couldn’t stop thinking how much ahead of time their companies were. They built them in 70s and 80s, but when I read a similarly minded Getting Real by Basecamp (then 37signals) in 2006 it sounded absolutely groundbreaking. Good to know that these ideas predate internet companies and startups.

Keep reading…

New Lightroom CC Cloud Photography Service

I overlooked this news in October, but Adobe released a brand new cloud-based Lightroom CC, while app previously known under that name became Lightroom Classic CC. The new app keeps the whole library in the cloud, has a new simplified user interface, and comes with a full-featured iOS app. That’s an interesting and disturbing release, as the new app is less powerful than the old one and doesn’t integrate with it in any way. It competes with Apple’s Photos app and iCloud storage, not the original Lightroom. Classic CC got a performance boost and a couple new features, but it seems to be in a maintenance mode now.

I am still trying to figure out if there is a place for a new Lightroom CC in my not very smooth workflow, but in the meantime here are a few solid articles on the new app:


Outlier

I read about Outlier clothing brand at The Brooks Review recently and went down the rabbit hole of online research. Surprisingly, I've never heard about them before even while I am somewhat interested in clothing and especially its intersection with technology. I don't own anything by them yet, but their philosophy is close to my heart:

Clothing should be liberating. What you put on in the morning should never restrict what you do with your day. We make garments that evolve around the boundaries of fashion using a function driven design process and high quality technical fabrics.

Core77 has a good case study on design process of their Slim Dungarees pants:

As is often the case, the greatest strength of an item is also its key weakness. With jeans, there is an interesting contradiction between the fact that they are both comfortable and durable. The problem is that they are not exactly comfortable and durable at the same time. A new unwashed pair of jeans is damn durable, but it's not comfortable at all. Only through significant wear, or through special garment treatments, does it reach the point where it gets comfortable. Ironically, it's at that point that it has lost a significant amount of durability. While there is something admirable in the idea of needing to live with and break in your clothing, we wanted to make a pant that was both comfortable and durable from the very get-go.

On Schoeller fabric they used:

Schoeller has a couple key specialties that were reflected in our 4Season fabric. They make the best four-way stretch fabrics on the market, as well as amazing doubleweave fabrics. Doubleweaves use a complex weave structure to create fabrics with radically different properties on both sides. For example, our 4Season fabric uses extremely durable air treated nylon 6-6 yarns on the exterior and a loosely woven soft polyester on the interior. This creates a double-faced fabric that is dense and strong on the outside with a 3D structure similar to a seersucker on the inside. This structure helps minimize contact between the skin and fabric, resulting in a much more breathable material.

Founder of Outlier Abe Burmeister had a good AMA on Reddit. Someone called them "Apple of clothing", and with their attention to details it seems like a valid comparison. I particularly liked Abe's explanation on why as a company they are not motivated by money:

Tim O'Reilly once wrote about looking at his company like a road trip. Money is like gas. If you run out of gas the trip comes to a halt. So in that sense you always need to make sure the tank isn't empty. But the purpose of a road trip isn't to put as much gas in the tank, it's to have an amazing trip, see things, learn things and hopefully arrive at an interesting destination. A company is no different, you need to keep money flowing through, but that's not what makes it interesting or fun. When we make decisions we need to consider the financial implications, but we never are looking at them first. In the end we look for the routes that lead us to interesting places without getting caught without gas.

Their clothes are expensive, but if they are anywhere as comfortable and durable as the whole internet thinks, they should be a good buy. I guess I'll have to give them a try.

A few more links on their story and products:

High-pressure parenting

By Ryan Avent

On how much time we spend with children and where it's coming from:

Instead of increasingly outsourcing child-rearing, parents are devoting more of the scarce time left outside working hours to their children. Over the last two decades, time spent by parents on child-rearing has jumped. In America in the 1980s, for example, young mothers spent about 12 hours per week actively engaged in child care while fathers spent about four hours per week. Those figures have since soared – and the rise in hours spent with children has been greatest among better-educated, higher-earning parents. Mothers without university degrees now spend about 16 hours per week on child care, while those with degrees spend nearly 22 hours per week. For fathers the figures are seven and ten, respectively. This pattern is repeated across the rich world. The trend toward spending more time with one’s offspring is especially strange given that better-educated, better-paid parents are not spending less time at work; on the contrary, they are spending more, both in absolute terms and relative to the working time of less-educated households. High-income parents are instead spending less time on other personal activities, including sleep.

On competition and academic success:

The intensity of the competition can be unhealthy for children. Kids are not machines, and need time to relax, to goof off, to have meaningless, exploratory fun with friends. An excessive focus on academic success might encourage the habit of score-keeping, making it harder for adult children to find rewarding uses for their skills or to enjoy success when they find it. Setting the stakes so high for people whose emotional capacities are still developing and maturing will set many up for depression and other mental-health problems when failure inevitably occurs.

On the value added by the universities:

University clearly pays. People with college degrees earn much more than those without them, and graduates from top universities generally earn much more than those from lower down the league tables. Yet that is what one would expect to happen whether or not the universities were providing any education at all; the schools which are able to select the best high-school students are bound to produce the most successful graduates. Efforts to pick apart the value added by the universities themselves find that there is some, but that elite schools are not, as a rule, the ones that do the best job improving students’ earning potential.

On books:

Children who grow up in house-holds with more books, and who hear more words spoken to them each day, do better in school than their peers and enjoy advantages that last throughout their lives.

Economic Principles – How The Economic Machine Works

Great 30 minutes video showing the basic driving forces behind the economy, and explaining why economic cycles occur by breaking down concepts such as credit, interest rates, leveraging and deleveraging.

The language of programming

By Artem Chistyakov

My friend Artem Chistyakov wrote a blog post exploring connection between English language and programming:

The teacher proceeded to decipher the program line by line. Avoiding English translation altogether, she assigned each lexeme a meaning and encouraged us to memorize them. After a while, we’d look at the program above and interpret it as if it was written in emoji.

🔲
➡️ 100
⬇️ 100
🖌 "➡️ 20 ⬇️ 20 ⬅️ 20 ⬆️ 20"
🏁


I still often think about this approach to teaching programming and how it bypasses the natural language link altogether. It’s amazing how a series of simple commands meant to be self-descriptive to an English speaker presents a serious coding challenge for everyone else. And coders we were. Twenty-something little compilers.

I had a very similar experience learning to operate computer and program as a child. Not really understanding what English-based commands like cd or mkdir really meant, they were basically magical spells to me. To this day I have these “Aha!” moments when I realize that something like <hr> is actually a shortcut for a “horizontal ruler”.

His observation about Excel is spot-on, too (and I didn’t know that those formulas get translated back and forth!):

I won’t lie, this looks outrageous even to me. But not to my Dad, who is a civil engineer and doesn’t speak a word of English. He is dangerously fluent in Excel’s formulas, which he uses extensively in those hundred-sheet documents bristling with filters, conditionals, and pivot tables. Then the roads and bridges are getting built based on those calculations. He doesn’t know what IF means, but he uses ЕСЛИ all the time. What’s amazing is that if he emailed you one of his spreadsheets and you happened to open it in your “real deal” MS Excel, every formula would appear in English, but work just as he intended.

Why didn’t great painters of the past reach the level of realism achieved today by many artists?

By Tyler Berry @ Quora

Day in and day out, we are inundated with photography and high res videos. We’re conditioned to think that clarity and resolution equal realism, and don’t question all the false visual information that we’re fed from these media. Our attention spans are small, and we don’t spend more than a few seconds with art before deciding if it’s good or bad and moving on. If it passes the 2 second “could be a photo” test, it’s considered good.

A great, deliberate answer on Quora that explains why hyperrealism and excessive details in paintings don't necessarily make them “good” or more real. Everything in this answer can be applied to painting vs photography as an art form, too.