David Heinemeier Hansson

Made Basecamp and HEY for the underdogs as co-owner and CTO of 37signals. Created Ruby on Rails. Wrote REWORK, It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work, and REMOTE. Won at Le Mans as a racing driver. Fought the big tech monopolies as an antitrust advocate. Invested in Danish startups.
April 15, 2024

Forcing master to main was a good faith exploit

I never actually cared whether we call it master or main. So when the racialized claims started over how calling the default branch in Git repositories "master" was PrObLEmAtIC, I thought, fine, what skin is it off anyone's or my back to change? If this is really important, can make a real difference, great. Let's do it. How naivé. Thi...
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April 12, 2024

Imperfections create connections

The engine is in wrong place in a Porsche 911. It's hanging out the back, swinging the car like a pendulum. And that's key to why it's the most iconic sports car ever made. This fundamental imperfection is part of how it creates the connection. This is true of mechanical watches too. They're hilariously complicated pieces of engineerin...
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April 11, 2024

Enough problems to go around

The worst kind of company is usually not the one where there's too much real work to do, but the kind where there's not enough. It's in this realm the real monsters appear. Without enough real problems to go around, humans are prone to invent fictitious and dreadful ones. This is the root of David Graeber's Bullshit Jobs analysis. That...
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April 10, 2024

You're not guaranteed a spot on the team

I've always hated the saying "we're like family here" when it comes to work. Because it's obviously not true, and it's usually cynically invoked by management to entice an undue obligation of sacrifice. Implying that you should give it all to The Company -- constantly working weekends, always being available on vacations, and all the r...
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April 3, 2024

Le Mans 2024

This will be my 11th attempt. The first time I showed up on the grid at Le Mans was in 2012 -- some five years after I had first driven a real race car, and even less time since I made participating in the world's greatest endurance race the ultimate goal. But it almost didn't happen this year. See, motorsports relies on a curious mix ...
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March 31, 2024

Bad Therapy

This book nails it. What it's like to be a parent with school-age children in America right now. So many kids with a diagnosis of one sort or another, so much monitoring of children's every move, so much anxiety over the most trivial things, like the sugar content of a cupcake. Abigail Shrier ties all these threads together into a damn...
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March 15, 2024

Chart the course, set the pace, hold the line

I break the essential responsibilities of the company executive into three distinct buckets. They are: 1. Chart the course Where are we going? What are we building? Who is it for? Any executive running anything has to know the answer to these questions in order to lead anyone anywhere. If you don't have a clue where you're going, any r...
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March 15, 2024

Beware the leviathans

I've been pleadingwithantitrustauthorities around the world to do something about Big Tech for years now. Especially with those awful app store monopolies that have been choking out developers left, right, and center. But now that something finally looks to be happening, I'm suddenly concerned that it might, and that we'll end up wishi...
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March 13, 2024

Developers are on edge

It's a double whammy of anxiety for developers at the moment. On the one hand, the layoffs are dragging on. The industry has shed more jobs in a shorter period than any time since the dot-com bust over twenty years ago. Seasoned veterans who used to have recruiters banging on their door nonstop can suddenly barely get a callback. And n...
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March 12, 2024

Be less precious

The essence of the book Radical Candor is the concept of ruinous empathy. That by trying your best to couch employee performance feedback in overly gentle language, you end up confusing the message, and cheating the recipient out of the clarity they desperately need to improve – or prepare for what happens if they don't. This concept e...
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March 8, 2024

Google's sad ideological capture was exactly what we were trying to avoid

The Gemini AI roll out should have been Google's day of triumph. The company made one of the smartest acquisitions in tech when they bought DeepMind in 2014. They helped set the course for the modern AI movement with the Transformer paper in 2017. They were poised to be right there, right at the fore font of a whole new era of computin...
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March 7, 2024

Could Apple leave Europe?

Apple's responses to the Digital Market Act, its recent 1.8b euro fine in the Spotify case, and Epic Sweden's plans to introduce an alternative App Store in the EU have all been laced with a surprising level of spite and obstinacy. Even when Steve Jobs was pulling power moves with Adobe and Flash or responding to Antennagate, we never ...
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March 7, 2024

Committing to Windows

I've gone around the computing world in the past eighty hours. I've been flowing freely from Windows to Linux, sampling text editors like VSCode, neovim, Helix, and Sublime, while surveying PC laptops and desktops. It's been an adventure! But it's time to stop being a tourist. It's time to commit. So despite my earlier reservations abo...
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March 5, 2024

Apple is in its Ballmer era

During Ballmer's reign as CEO of Microsoft, the company always made plenty of money. While the stock traded sideways, Ballmer made sure it was still raining dividends. Yet, today, that era of Microsoft is not looked upon too fondly. It's seen as being anchored in the company's historic paranoia, Windows-centric world view, and as missi...
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March 2, 2024

You can own more than one type of computer!

I probably wouldn't have done a deep dive on Apple alternatives without the announcement that they were killing progressive web apps (PWAs) on the iPhone in the EU. Most people don't switch operating systems willy-nilly, and for good reason: They're different! And different is weird at first! But I'm actually glad Apple gave me the fin...
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February 29, 2024

Fonts don't have to look awful on Windows

I always thought it was a software problem — or at least a difference of aesthetics expressed in software. But it turns out the reason many Mac owners, including yours truly, so strongly dislike how fonts typically look on Windows is actually a hardware problem! See, every Mac with a screen has since 2018 shipped with a retina-class di...
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February 27, 2024

Finding The Last Editor

Some programmers can code under any conditions. Open office? They'll bring headphones. Whatever editor is on their system? They'll make it work. Using a different framework or language every few years? No problem. I envy that level of versatility, but I've come to accept it just isn't me. I bond with a quiet room, an editor, and a prog...
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February 25, 2024

Switching to Android was easy

In addition to trying out Windows for a week, I also switched my main phone number to Android recently. And that turned out to be far easier. Dangerously easy, you might say, if you were in Apple’s shoes. But it’s all down to how deep you’re mired in the platform services soup. I used to be all-in on the Apple software story. Apple Mai...
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February 25, 2024

VSCode + WSL makes Windows awesome for web development

I’m kinda shocked. Windows actually got good for web developers. Between VSCode, WSL, and Intel’s latest desktop chips, I’ve been living with a PC for over a week that runs my programming tests faster than an M3 Max, ships with an excellent window manager out-the-box, and generally feels like a completely viable alternative to macOS fo...
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February 13, 2024

Every generation needs their own apocalypse

Danish 8th, 9th, and 10th graders vote in a mock election every year in Denmark. The results for 2024 were a startling refutation of the idea that young people must be inherently left-leaning. The dominating winner was Liberal Alliance, a center-right party that speaks to the virtues of individualism, entrepreneurship, tax cuts, and a ...
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February 12, 2024

The compounding seeds of creativity

Early on in my career, I learned a very important lesson about creativity: It can’t be saved for later. Creativity is perishable, just like inspiration. It has to be discharged regularly or it will spoil. And if you let enough of it go to waste, eventually your talents will sour and shrivel with it. This was counterintuitive to me. I n...
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February 7, 2024

Campfire is SaaS without the aaS

It hasn’t even been a week since we started selling Campfire under the new ONCE model, but we’ve already sold more than quarter of a million dollars worth of this beautifully simple installable chat system. People are using it to replace existing systems costing tens of thousands of dollars per year, as well as all sorts of backup- or ...
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February 6, 2024

Celebrating a million copies of REWORK

It’s been 14 years since REWORK was first published. It was our first big-publisher book, and it hit the New York Times bestseller list right out the gate. In the first two years, it sold over 200,000 copies. And then... it just kept selling. Now it has passed one million copies sold around the world! The book consists of 87 short essa...
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February 5, 2024

It’s easier to forgive a human than a robot

One of the reasons I think AI is going to have a hard time taking over all our driving duties, our medical care, or even just our customer support interactions, is that being as good as a human isn’t good enough for a robot. They need to be computer good. That is, virtually perfect. That’s a tough bar to scale. Let’s take the cars for ...
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February 5, 2024

Basecamp turns 20

On February 5, 2004, we released the first version of Basecamp to the world. It was built to solve our own problems running client projects as an agency where we found email alone to be lacking. The first version was really just the basics: Messages, todo lists, milestones. We didn’t even have file uploads! But it was easy, it was affo...
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February 2, 2024

Dare to connect a server to the internet

The merchants of complexity thrive when they can scare you into believing that even the simplest things are too dangerous to even attempt by yourself these days. That without their rarified expertise, you’ll be left vulnerable. So best just to leave ever-more of your burdens to them, and they’ll happily carry (for a fee!). Don’t listen...
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February 1, 2024

Campfire is now for sale

After a couple of weeks of final Patek-level polishing with early-access customers, Campfire is finally for sale for all! This is The Moment of Truth where we get to see whether all that excitement turns into credit card swipes. That release rush. I love it. And I especially love this release, because we’re trying to validate an entire...
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January 30, 2024

Where next for DEI?

It was a rough 2023 for DEI. After the ideology completely conquered both the corporate and cultural world from 2020-2022, the reversal last year was astounding. The Supreme Court ruled the use of race in college admissions illegal, Ibram X. Kendi’s Antiracst Research center fell apart in scandal, the former Meta DEI executive plead gu...
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January 26, 2024

We need a Right To Compute

The App Store dispute can be boiled down to one big question: Is the iPhone a computer or not? If it’s a computer, we ought to have the right to compute. Like consumers have won the right to repair. If it’s a computer, it ought to be yours, and you ought to have the right to install whatever software you should so choose. If it’s not a...
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January 25, 2024

Apple’s new extortion regime to keep big app makers

Apple’s recent threat of financial audits for developers who dare link to their own website was a big, revealing moment to a lot of people. Folks who perhaps didn’t think Apple would be “that kind of company”. That they wouldn't so blatantly threaten developers into compliance with such overtly onerous and punitive terms. But they did....
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