Two kinds of doubt, guesstimate, prediction, Fira and flat design is bad

A few great links/tools I found in the last a few days.

What's the difference between second guessing and re-evaluating?:

The former is questioning a decision without material new information. The latter is revisiting a decision after material new information has been obtained. It is second guessing which is destructive for morale, because it calls into question not just the decision but also undermines the legitimacy of the decision making process itself.

Re-evaluating on the other hand is healthy but requires a good decision making process. In particular, there has to be a relatively clear way of assessing whether something is in fact material new information.

Guesstimate: Exceptionally designed and fresh tool for making estimations. If nothing else, do check out the screencast on the web page. It's mind blowing stuff.

Guesstimate is a tool for performing estimates using monte carlo experiments. It can be used similarly to excel, but provides the option of providing ranges and distributions as values instead of individual points. Other metrics can do mathematical operations on these cells/metrics. After each new input is added or changed, a set of 5000 samples is randomly generated from each input and goes through the specified operations to produce confidence intervals in the output.

What happened in 2018 and What's going to happen in 2019: Eroded trust in institutions and technology, dicey US, messy Brexit and sluggish China predicates a difficult macro business and political environment. Technology, riding the transition wave from industry age to information age, will continue to grow.

In 2018, we saw social media usage in the US flatten out and possibly even start to decline a bit.And the usage of screen time management apps, like Screentime on iOS, is surging. We know we are addicted to tech, we don’t want to be, and we are working on getting sober.

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All of this lost trust is challenging for big tech, and the tech sector in general, but is also a huge opportunity for new companies and new technologies that can offer different products and business models that we can trust more, or don’t need to trust.

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This loss of trust in 2018 was not limited to the tech sector. In the US, and also in many places around the world, we are losing trust in our institutions and our elected officials.

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I expect the combination of higher rates, uncertainty in Washington, and storm clouds globally (which we will get to soon) will cause business leaders in the US to become more cautious on hiring and investment. Consumers will make essentially the same calculations. And that will lead to a weaker economy in the US in 2019.

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The startup/tech economy is somewhat immune to macro trends. Many startups and big tech companies were able to grow and expand their businesses during the last financial downturn in 2008 and 2009. Some very important tech companies were even started in those years.

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The tech/startup economy is driven first and foremost by technical and creative (ie business model) innovation. And that is not impacted by the macro environment.

So I expect that we will continue to see big tech invest and grow their businesses and do well in 2019.

However, I do think a difficult macro business and political environment in the US will lead investors to take a more cautious stance in 2019.

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But all of that is going to happen at the margin. I expect 2019 to be another solid year for the tech/startup sector as we are in a possibly century-long conversion from an industrial economy to an information economy and the tailwinds for tech/startup vs the rest of the economy remain in place and strong.

FiraCode: Fonts designed by programmers for programmers. I have just switched all my dev environment to this new font.

Programmers use a lot of symbols, often encoded with several characters. For the human brain, sequences like ->, <= or := are single logical tokens, even if they take two or three characters on the screen. Your eye spends a non-zero amount of energy to scan, parse and join multiple characters into a single logical one. Ideally, all programming languages should be designed with full-fledged Unicode symbols for operators, but that’s not the case yet.

Flat Design vs. Traditional Design: I've never been a big fan of Material design from Google or the Metro style from Microsoft. Apparently it takes twice amount of cognitive load for people to use these flat design interfaces! Twice!

In the past few years flat user interface design has become the predominating visual style of operating systems, websites and mobile apps. Although flat design has been widely criticized by HCI and usability experts, empirical research on flat design is still scarce. We present the results of an experimental comparative study of visual search effectiveness on traditional and flat designs. The following types of visual search tasks were examined: (1) search for a target word in text; (2) search for a target icon in a matrix of icons; (3) search for clickable objects on webpages. Time and accuracy parameters of the visual search, as well as oculomotor activity, were measured. The results show that a search in flat text mode (compared with the traditional mode) is associated with higher cognitive load. A search for flat icons takes twice as long as for realistic icons and is also characterized by higher cognitive load. Identifying clickable objects on flat web pages requires more time and is characterised by a significantly greater number of errors. Our results suggest replacing the flat style user interfaces with interfaces based on the design principles developed over decades of research and practice of HCI and usability engineering.