Hi, I'm Allen Pike. I run Steamclock, where we design and develop nice apps in beautiful Vancouver. At least monthly, I write an article and publish it here.

The Care and Feeding of Feeds

January 1, 2023

Three new apps make for healthier scrolling.

If you could manifest your ideal social and media consumption diet, what would it look like? Maybe it would be deep, meaningful, and personally impactful. Maybe it would be a healthy mix of informative, educational, and fun content. Maybe it would just be cute dogs. A veritable herd of pups....

6 min read →

Dungeons & Developers

December 1, 2022

How to simulate tricky conversations.

You open the door and see three orcs. They’re seated at a fine oaken table watching a glowing rectangle on the west wall, which displays the ominous text “2023 Strategic Planning”. The orcs look up at you, and one says “You’re late.” What do you do? Depending on your perspective...

4 min read →

It Shipped That Way

November 20, 2022

Four years ago, I started the Fun Fact podcast with Arik Devens, and we’re still having a lot of fun every month sharing facts about schemes, history, science, and so on. I’ve increasingly felt the itch, though, for a second show. I learn so much talking through product and engineering...

1 min read →

You Should Propose More Things

November 1, 2022

A habit for getting decisions made.

One of startups’ superpowers is quick decision-making. Early on, this might just mean decisions are made rapidly by one person. Of course, this doesn’t scale. If you don’t find ways to scale up good decision-making, your company will slow down and – eventually – die. There are a lot of...

4 min read →

2022 Vancouver Election Guide

September 21, 2022

9 parties. 59 candidates. One ballot.

Updated through Oct 12. Sat Oct 15 is the last day to vote! If you’re short on time, I’ve added some sample ballots for housing-focused progressives. Vancouver is cursed with an interesting political scene. We have a relatively engaged electorate compared to other cities, and a disproportionate supply of cranks....

22 min read →

A Password Autofill Surprise

September 1, 2022

On psychological safety.

A lot of things turn out the way they do because of how we safe we feel. Let me give one example. Some time ago my wife Karen asked me for help with her computer. Ever since she’d migrated to a new Mac, Chrome’s password autofill feature would no longer...

4 min read →

How to Go Over Budget

August 1, 2022

On working within an estimate.

Assembling a good project estimate can be hard. Unless you’ve shipped something similar before, you’ll probably need to consult experts, investigate risks, do product definition work, and gauge a thoughtful “iteration and surprises” buffer that considers the chance of external surprises, scope grenades, and shark attacks. There’s a reason many...

6 min read →

Setting Two Spies Free

July 14, 2022

An update on a beloved side project: In 2019, we launched Two Spies as a little side project with cosmetic-only monetization. It exceeded our wildest dreams, with 800,000 folks trying the game, and rating it more than 4.7 stars on average. Still kind of hard to believe this little game...

1 min read →

Giving a Shit as a Service

July 1, 2022

A mental model for service businesses.

A few years back, my team decided to get a custom meeting room table. In our search for something great, we were referred to a small studio that does great work: East Vancouver’s Union Wood Co. The team there met with us, showed us various samples, and asked thoughtful questions...

2 min read →

Someone Wants to Learn From You

June 1, 2022

How writing habits pay odd dividends.

It’s common for people to feel hesitant about writing. Before somebody even types a word, I often hear objections like “I don’t have anything important to say” or “I couldn’t really add anything, I’m not enough of an expert.” If that’s the kind of thing you might say, I have...

3 min read →

How to Buy a Family EV

May 1, 2022

Doing battle with the global supply chain.

When our second kid was born a couple years back, I started working on getting us a bigger car. This proved… challenging. The requirements My quest had two key requirements that I thought were simple, but weren’t: Big enough to haul around two young kids, plus stuff. Nothing huge; just...

10 min read →

Coda vs. Notion, and Emoji Pickers

April 1, 2022

On tools for building knowledge together.

At Steamclock, we like to share docs. Guides, notes, plans – writing helps get think and working more asynchronously. Google Docs is okay for this purpose, but by early 2021, we knew we’d outgrown it. We’d seen glimpses of what more modern knowledge base and note-taking apps could do, and...

9 min read →

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© Allen Pike. You can find me on Twitter, contact me, or check out Steamclock.