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.

How Leaders Manage Time & Attention

May 31, 2023

Some findings on productivity.

Last month, I wanted to better understand into how leaders manage their time and attention. While this seems like a core leadership skill, a lot of the managers I know have a fractious relationship with productivity tools. Given this, I had two high-level questions: What are the popular approaches in...

8 min read →

Collect Stories, Not Generalizations

April 30, 2023

An approach for product interviewing.

Humans are unreliable narrators. Even the most honest interlocutors will confidently say untrue things. We recount false memories, accidentally imply speculation is fact, succumb to cognitive biases, misinterpret causal relationships, struggle with cognitive dissonance, engage in lossy paraphrasing, and kind of just say nonsense sometimes. It’s part of being human!...

5 min read →

32K of Context in Your Pocket

March 15, 2023

A wild large-context LLM appears.

One month ago, I wrote about on the limits of 4K-token AI models, and the wild capabilities and costs that large-context language models may one day have. Today, OpenAI not only debuted GPT-4 with a doubly large 8K token limit, but demoed and began trials of a version that supports...

2 min read →

A 175-Billion-Parameter Goldfish

February 16, 2023

The problem and opportunity of language model context.

It has been a wild week in AI. By now, we’re getting used to the plot twist that rather than the cold Spock-like AIs of science fiction, large language models tend to be charismatic fabulists with a tenuous understanding of facts. Into that environment, last week Microsoft launched a Bing...

13 min read →

Humans Need Play

February 1, 2023

On a vicious pattern that breeds burnout.

People are, by our nature, resilient. We adapt to the pressures placed on us. It’s pretty incredible. However. When we’re under pressure – mental pressure, time pressure, or otherwise – we tend to be less thoughtful. Less intentional. Under stress, we focus on what we need to do: submit the...

4 min read →

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 →

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