Interface This

by Simon Foust

I make websites, consult about css architecture, and type things into Google to see how to spell them correctly.

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My life has been a series of misunderstandings.

I won’t say that I am misunderstood.. my opening statement is dramatic enough right.. plus I’m not sure it’s true that I’m misunderstood. Perhaps everyone understands me very well. Mostly it’s that I misunderstand everyone else. And it has been this way from the very beginning.

At around 7 years of age I used to watch a show, probably on PBS, in which the host would teach basic sign language.* At then end of the show, the host would say, “Bye for now” and make a sign. So, I thought the sign meant, “Bye for now”.

It does not.

In fact, the sign she made means, “I love you.”

I found this out in a very unfortunate way for a 7-year old boy: I was in an argument with a 7-year old girl. We were on a bus, she in the row behind me. I have no idea what we were arguing about, but I know that we didn’t particularly care for one another, and I...

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Just make your customers happy

Do you ever feel like a complete failure in your work?

I feel that way sometimes when I read what experts in my field have to say about the technical parts of what we do… or what we ought to do. I’m sure this is a common problem in many industries.

Harry Roberts’ talk on scalable css is the latest thing I’ve consumed that left me feeling just.. inadequate. Not just that! Don’t get me wrong, I’m also inspired, encouraged, and proud to be a part of an industry that has so many voices passionate about doing good work. But it’s easy to feel behind when you think about all the ways you could be doing things better.

For people who make websites, watching talks like Harrys, or reading the latest blog posts from the movers and shakers in our space has us asking things like:

  • Do I know the command line well enough?
  • What’s the best pre-processor to use?
  • Should I continue with LESS or switch to...

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Theory and Practice as Fuel

I’ve been thinking about how we know things (and the difference between theory and practice and how one influences the other) especially this week after reading a thread on reddit about photo-journalism.

In it, the author makes some claims, unwelcome by those who secretly believe them to be true, such as, “It’s more about equipment than we’d like to admit”. It’s an interesting discussion with some great points, and this post isn’t a response to the core sentiments expressed there. It simply inspired me to write about the different kinds of knowledge in all professions.

My wife is a photographer, so I showed her the discussion on reddit and listened to her take on it.

Here are some things true of her:

  1. She studied photography in college.
  2. She has nice cameras and lenses.
  3. She has shot many weddings.

Which of these do you think is the biggest factor in separating her from other...

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Enjoy Your Work

The Journey is the thing.

Dinner time at our house. My son, Jesse, is in his high-chair and I’m feeding him bits of food. Alena is in the kitchen cooking one of her signature dishes–the one we call “chardonnay chicken”. Suddenly, like sunlight bursting into a dark cave, a beautiful aroma fills the room. It’s the fresh garlic and chardonnay hitting the hot pan. That smell. “This is as good as actually eating the meal,” I say.

Smelling is a seldom thought about part of tasting. Sadly, we Americans eat so fast that we often forget to even taste let alone smell. But this was not one of those times. I smell that sweet smell, and savor every bite of the meal.

In my last article, “What do customers buy?” I talked about how customers buy results. And while our great joy and sense of pride comes from providing solutions, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t revel in the process. Just like enjoying...

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What do customers buy?

I’ll cut to the chase here. If you’re doing it right, customers buy results, not your costs and not your time. Took me a while to figure that out. Or maybe I always knew it, but it wasn’t reflected in how I actually worked or billed my clients. That led to a brutal case of burnout, and it got me asking the big questions like, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?”

John Cusack as Llyod Dobler:

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that. Video

I remember this scene resonating with me a lot as a young man, particularly as I was leaving High School and entering the work force. I very much did not want to live in my fathers world. The...

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