Icy Cold Blast
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★ Twitter Tumult

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If you had told me three weeks ago that Twitter, as a company, would today be embroiled in turmoil — perhaps outright existential crisis — over a company-wide email from Elon Musk centered around the phrase “extremely hardcore”, this is not the scenario I’d have imagined.

It’s as though Musk has taken Facebook’s “Move fast and break things” motto and reduced it to “Break everything fast.” Last night, reports of mass resignations inside Twitter seemed so dire that Twitter itself seemed to be documenting its own demise, like HAL 9000 singing “Daisy”, ever more degenerately slurred, near the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I lost count of how many of the people I follow were seemingly posting what they expected, last night, to be their last-ever tweets.

The New York Times:

Hours before a Thursday deadline that Elon Musk gave Twitter employees to decide whether to stay or leave their jobs, the social media company appeared to be in disarray.

Mr. Musk and his advisers held meetings with some Twitter workers whom they deemed “critical” to stop them from leaving, four people with knowledge of the conversations said. He sent confusing messages about the company’s remote work policy, appearing to soften his stance on not allowing people to work from home before warning their managers, according to those people and internal emails viewed by The New York Times.

All the while, two people said, resignations started to roll in. By the deadline, 5 p.m. Eastern time, hundreds of Twitter employees appeared to have decided to depart with three months of severance pay, the people said. Twitter later announced via email that it would close “our office buildings” and disable employee badge access until Monday.

Zoë Schiffer, today:

Email from Elon to the engineering team: “Anyone who can actually write software, please report to the 10th floor at 2pm today. Before doing so, please email me a bullet point summary of what your code commits have achieved in the past 6 months.”

Elon Musk is also asking for up 10 screenshots of the “most salient lines of code” from Twitter engineers.

This latest edict is bananas in several ways, not the least of which is that the company claimed just 12 hours earlier that its offices would be closed today. As I quipped (on Twitter, which, as I publish this, is still seemingly fully operational), either (a) the offices aren’t closed until next week; or (b) getting to the 10th floor is an interview puzzle to keep your job?

But at a deeper level, the idea that counting lines of code or looking at “up to 10 screenshots” of code can give any effective measure of a programmer is absurdly wrong. Some of the most elite programmers I’ve ever known have an uncanny knack for reducing lines of code. Programmers working on security issues necessarily code with painstaking care. And, of course, there are dozens of essential roles at Twitter — some highly technical — that don’t involve “code commits” at all.

Alex Heath and Mia Sato, reporting for The Verge:

Twitter had roughly 2,900 remaining employees before the deadline Thursday, thanks to Musk unceremoniously laying off about half of the 7,500-person workforce when he took over and the resignations that followed. Remaining and departing Twitter employees told The Verge that, given the scale of the resignations this week, they expect the platform to start breaking soon. One said that they’ve watched “legendary engineers” and others they look up to leave one by one.

“It feels like all the people who made this place incredible are leaving,” the Twitter staffer said. “It will be extremely hard for Twitter to recover from here, no matter how hardcore the people who remain try to be.”

Multiple “critical” teams inside Twitter have now either completely or near-completely resigned, said other employees who requested anonymity to speak without Musk’s permission. That includes Twitter’s traffic and front end teams that route engineering requests to the correct backend services. The team that maintains Twitter’s core system libraries that every engineer at the company uses is also gone. “You cannot run Twitter without this team,” a departing employee said.

It’s a fact that there have been mass resignations — on top of last week’s mass layoff — in the face of Musk’s fealty demand. Whether these resignations spell doom for the company remains to be seen.

My apparently wrongheaded optimism for Twitter under Musk’s leadership was rooted in the idea that while he might — and almost surely would — make mistakes with product decisions (including content moderation), product decisions can be reversed.

Losing essential talent and destroying employee morale, not so much.

This thoughtful, measured thread from departing Twitter engineer Peter Clowes sums it up:

I didn’t leave because I hate @elonmusk. I definitely didn’t agree with many of his decisions or how they were carried out but I also understood and respected others.

I don’t know him and if someone tells me to hate a stranger I say “no thanks”.

I didn’t leave because of the 50% company wide layoff that missed me. We all knew a layoff was coming. Prior management would likely have cut too shallow at first and then had to do multiple rounds. I think that would have sucked regardless.

I left because I no longer knew what I was staying for. Previously I was staying for the people, the vision, and of course the money (lets all be honest). All of those were radically changed or uncertain. [...]

If I stayed I would have been on-call constantly with little support for an indeterminate amount of time on several additional complex systems I had no experience in. Maybe for the right vision I could have dug deep and done mind numbing work for awhile. But that’s the thing…

There was no vision shared with us. No 5 year plan like at Tesla. Nothing more than what anyone can see on Twitter. It allegedly is coming for those who stayed but the ask was blind faith and required signing away the severance offer before seeing it. Pure loyalty test.

I’ve been struggling to express it succinctly but my shock has been, basically: Layoffs are inherently deeply traumatic, both personally and institutionally, and for a company still trying to do great things and compete in a tight marketplace — and Twitter’s marketplace is the most competitive in the world: attention — the highest post-layoff priority for any company’s leader should be to restore, maintain, and if possible, boost morale.

Yet all of Musk’s actions to date can only be seen as destroying morale. I do not think he’s secretly trying to destroy his own $44 billion acquisition, but if he were, as though in a real-life Brewster’s Millions scenario, this path seems like the surest way. He’s shooting holes into his own sinking ship.

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steingart
14 days ago
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> My apparently wrongheaded optimism for Twitter under Musk’s leadership was rooted in the idea that while he might — and almost surely would — make mistakes with product decisions (including content moderation), product decisions can be reversed.

buried the lede my dude
Princeton, NJ
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jheiss
14 days ago
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I worked for Yahoo some years ago and they laid off 5 of my 16 person team and told the rest of us to just buck up and work harder. They seemed shocked when 4 more of us quit within a few weeks. Even in downturns it is a competitive industry for good engineers. You have to give people a reason to stay. Fear of not having a paycheck exists, but it is not as scary as working hard for management you don't believe in.

Tidbyt Keeps the Resolution and Distractions Equally Low

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Tidbyt Keeps the Resolution and Distractions Equally Low

When it comes to screens and displays, higher resolution is almost always better. 4K, 8K, Retina display…our mobile, entertainment, and computing devices are perpetually inching towards imperceptible pixels. On the other end of the spectrum is Tidbyt, the antithesis of high resolution, a small desktop Internet-connected display that’s intended to keep you up to date about relevant information you want without all of the distractions that come with most notification-based devices.

Tidbyt on desk with notebook and pen nearby, displaying calendar event deadline for TPS report, referencing movie Office Space. Dolly Parton photo and cookbooks in background.

Designed in a Brooklyn workshop, Tidbyt’s creators Rohan Singh and Mats Linander are leaning into a retro design, not only imparting the display device with a gloriously low resolution arrangement of 64×32 pixel LEDs, but also framing it in a solid wood enclosure to give it more of a home decor feel rather than solely gadget-like presence within a living space.

Side by side photos of the Tidbyt displaying baseball scores on the left, and Spotify song on right in a kitchen setting.

And unlike other the plethora of tech we increasingly invite into the home, Tidbyt’s designers were conscious of subtracting microphones, speakers, or buttons to keep their device focused on displaying the time, weather, photos, commute times, sports scores, music playlists, and more.

Brooklyn and Queens subway departure times displayed on Tidbyt LED display

Extra geeky points: Tidbyt is totally hackable, and the company invites anyone to write their own apps to expand the options of what is displayed on their creation.

Back of Tidbyt showing metal cover around wood frame and power cord.

Happy Hour in 10 Minutes displayed on Tidbyt LED display

The Tidbyt is available for $179, with free shipping and covered by a year warranty, making it a unique holiday gift for someone who always wants to stay informed, but not distracted.

This post contains affiliate links, so if you make a purchase from an affiliate link, we earn a commission. Thanks for supporting Design Milk!

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steingart
19 days ago
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I've gone one of these on my desk and it's _fun_. Nifty API as well
Princeton, NJ
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Homemade Bouillon Powder

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Let’s talk about bouillon and the reasons I’ve started to make my own homemade bouillon powder. I found myself surveying vegetarian bouillon options last year when I started pre-mixing dry ingredients for soups and stews to take on our camping trips – meals in jars. I wanted to have amazing, quick, one pot meals I could make by adding water and just one or two other common pantry items like crushed tomatoes or chickpeas. In a couple of the soup mixes I call for a bouillon cube. Bouillon cubes are a super handy way to get a jumpstart on introducing flavors – whatever you’re cooking. That said, many of the commercially available options are very salty, have artificial ingredients and flavor enhancers, and a good number of you wrote to me asking for suggestions. So here we are, let’s make our own!
Homemade Bouillon Powder in a Small Glass Jar

What is Bouillon?

Technically, a bouillon cube is a dehydrated cube or powder used to create an instant stock. You see a range of bouillon in stores, often available as vegetable, meat, or chicken bouillon. It is used to make quick, flavorful broth when cooking soups, stews, grains, risottos, curries, and the like. They’re a great way to introduce depth and flavor to your cooking. Bouillon cubes are quite common in stores, and bouillon pastes seem to be increasingly common.
Close-up Photo of Homemade Bouillon Powder Ingredients

What is store-bought bouillon made of?

I’ve looked at the labels on many packages of bouillon in stores. Some of the ingredients I’ve seen on store-bought bouillon cubes include: maltodextrin, natural and artificial flavors, MSG, wheat flour, disodium inosinuate, and disodium guanylate. There’s usually some sort of fat component (for example: palm oil, soybean oil, canola oil), along with a sweetener. It’s tricky to find a readily-available bouillon option made with natural, minimally processed ingredients. The good news is it is exceptionally easy to make your own homemade bouillon powder.

Canned broth versus bouillon?

For my purpose of making dry soup mixes in a jar (like this or this), pre-made broths weren’t an option, but I’ll weigh in here anyway. I’m a hard-pass on most canned broth or pre-made broth in cartons. I generally don’t like how they taste – often muddied flavors or salty. I actually prefer to start with water and control salt levels myself, and will choose this route over packaged broths nearly always. I do love this homamde bouillon paste from years back, but it doesn’t work if you’re pre-prepping dry ingredients.
Bouillon Powder Ingredients in Individual Bowls prior to Mixing

Homemade Bouillon Powder Ingredients

Ok! Let’s talk though the ingredients in this DIY bouillon, so you’ll have a better understanding of where we landed for the “base” recipe. I’m also going to follow that up with a number of variations. The recipes are all for a general vegetarian bouillon, but there are endless ways for you to adapt the recipe with seaweed, or mushroom powder, or chiles to swing the flavor profile in one direction or another. That said, the key is nailing down your base bouillon recipe first!

  • Nutritional Yeast: My love for nutritional yeast runs deep and it’s a non-negotiable in this bouillon powder. It’s rich in flavor, body, and b-vitamins. It’s the backbone of this recipe and delivers umami-rich, chicken soup broth vibes. I’m not sure if there’s any truth to this, but I swear nutritional yeast is what makes my hair and nails grow extra fast.
  • Salt: I’ve been conflicted about how much salt to put in this base recipe. I was tempted to make it sodium-free or low-sodium, instructing people to salt to taste while cooking. But I think part of the wild popularity of bouillon and pre-made broths is that it helps home cooks season their food more than they might otherwise? In a good way. I landed on a ratio of 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup nutritional yeast, and that would yield the equivalent of 24 bouillon cubes. I like how this tastes as a baseline, while leaving room to add more salt if you like.
  • Herbs & Spices: I like the combination of oregano and thyme here. It works with a lot of recipes and the scent and flavors of the brothy herbs is nostalgia triggering for me. I boost this powder with a bit of turmeric, black pepper, onions and garlic. I’ve used it in brothy soups and spicy curries and it works great.
  • Coconut Milk Powder: This is my wildcard. I noticed a lot of the commercial bouillons have ingredients that seem to be included to thicken broth and give it a bit of fatty mouth feel. I’ve been playing around with a bag of coconut milk powder recently, and though it might work nicely here as an optional add. In the context of the other ingredients in the bouillon it isn’t overly strong on the coconut front, but does bring a nice amount of body. I’ve also been adding the powder to these Spicy Coconut Curry Noodles, and this Tortellini Soup instead of bringing cans of coconut milk out with us and it works great.

Blended Bouillon Powder Ingredients in High-Speed Blender

Homemade Bouillon Powder Variations

  • Nori Bouillon Powder:  If you’re looking for a bouillon powder that is flavored more like the sea, I like to lightly toast a sheet of nori and pulse that into my bouillon powder.
  • Mushroom Bouillon Powder: There are many amazing mushroom powders and dried mushrooms available to cooks now. Adding 2 teaspoons of your favorite powder this recipe or 1/4 cup chopped dried culinary mushrooms before blending is a fun direction to explore.
  • Spicy Bouillon Powder: I tend to keep my spicy components separate from my bouillon. This allows you to control those ingredients independently. That said, adding a couple dried chiles (or blend of dried chiles) to your bouillon mix might be you path to the ultimate spicy broth over time.

Homemade Bouillon Paste in a Vintage Jar

Homemade Bouillon Paste

If having a dry bouillon isn’t important to you, this is another option. Pam Corbin included a homemade bouillon paste in the back of the River Cottage Preserves Handbook, and people love it. It’s a beautiful, pureed, concentrated paste of vegetables and herbs, preserved with salt.
Top Down Photo of Homemade Bouillon Powder in a Small Glass Jar

More Ideas

This bouillon powder isn’t just for broths and soup. I’ve been sprinkling it on buckwheat crepes as they start to set, so good! It’s also really delicious dusted across a bowl of popcorn. Or as a finishing magic touch on a simple bowl of rice.

Have fun with the bouillon and let me know if you take it other directions, I’ve love to hear about it. Here are some links to soup recipes to put it into play. Favorites for this bouillon powder include – Meal in a Jar: Tortellini Soup, Meal in a Jar: Italian Barley Soup, and Meal in a Jar: Spicy Coconut Curry Noodle Soup, Vegetarian Tortilla Soup, Vegetarian Split Pea Soup, or this Vegetable Noodle Soup.

Eight Homemade Spice Blends

If these sorts of seasonings and spices are your thing (I love them!), be sure to check out this post of 8 Homemade Spice Blends. I made a downloadable PDF of a number of my favorite spice blend recipes and on that page you can take a closer look, and you can use this bouillon powder in a number of them! 

Continue reading Homemade Bouillon Powder on 101 Cookbooks

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steingart
215 days ago
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Heidi needs to stop the MSG slander.
Princeton, NJ
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Renay Mandel Corren has died

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steingart
350 days ago
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Princeton, NJ
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Perennial "Fuck the Blue Angels" post.

jwz
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steingart
419 days ago
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Princeton, NJ
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Judgment in Epic Games, Inc. v. Apple Inc.

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Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers ruled today on the Epic v. Apple case. It seems pretty clear to me that Apple got a huge victory, and Epic was served an even huger loss. But read for yourself. There are three documents:

  • A one-page judgment, finding for Epic only on the issue of Apple’s anti-steering provision in the App Store Guidelines, and for Apple on all other counts. The judgment also says Epic owes Apple 30 percent of the $12 million Fortnite for iOS garnered while they were using their own in-app payment processing between August and October 2020, and that Epic and Apple must both pay their own legal fees.

  • A one-page injunction against the aforementioned anti-steering guideline, the meat of which is this:

    1. Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.
  • A 185-page ruling, containing all the findings of fact, etc.

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steingart
448 days ago
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Grubes at his boot licking worst. A better take https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/10/22662320/epic-apple-ruling-injunction-judge-court-app-store
Princeton, NJ
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spongbeaux
448 days ago
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I dunno, that sounds like a massive concession was won...
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