Time management resolution

I don’t do resolutions, but I have changed how I approach something at work for this year, and so I guess that counts, right?

I now have regular blocks of time in my calendar marked out as “Busy. Any meetings added in this time will be declined.”. This was after I realised I had multiple days in a week where in 7 hours I was doing a dozen or more meetings and was feeling totally burnt out at the end of each of those.

I got back in touch with the people who had called those meetings (including myself, clearly my own worst enemy) and asked if my contribution had been valuable, and they said it had. There are very few meetings where I am a quiet observer so I’ll take their word for it, and I already reject meetings I don’t think I can be useful in or I suggest alternative people to attend, but the feedback means that if I’m usefully being glue then I need to take more aggressive direct action to protect my time and this is my first try at that.

Microsoft’s collaboration tools are terrible

Not only are their tools terrible, but everyone involved in their creation should feel bad.

Let’s name the subjects of most of my ire, in no particular order:

  1. Microsoft Teams
  2. Azure DevOps
  3. Office 365 (or whatever this week’s branding is)

Each of these tools is **substantially** behind their competitors. The easiest comparison to draw is with Google’s suite, in particular Google Meet and the G Suite tools. I reckon Word 365 is a decade behind Google Docs. Microsoft Teams has made huge strides forward since the Coronavirus lockdowns, so let’s be generous and say they’re only 5 years behind.

Let’s start shall we?

When sharing docs through Word, and editing collaboratively there are **huge** time delays between contributions showing up on others’ screens – changes that in Google Docs appear instantly. There are times when one person can be typing paragraphs and suddenly those paragraphs disappear from view for other people, leading to delays, communication problems and of course destruction of flow. It deals with change conflicts terribly, locking areas of a page where people are typing, making it basically impossible to do sentence-level collaboration. The user-user sync is nearly unusable, to the point that when I now do collaboration on Word docs, it’s easier to start a video call and get people to shout out their changes rather than actually try and all contribute to the doc together.

Azure DevOps is a dystopian nightmare of a web application. I honestly don’t know where to start. Let’s go with the fact that for accessing any of its wide range of services, if you don’t have JavaScript, or have blocked the wrong script, or have a patchy connection that doesn’t load all those files correctly – you get nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Blank screen for you buddy! What, you wanted something that worked without rendering literally everything on the client side like it wasn’t 2012 any more? Bad luck to you! What, you mean there is a _terrible_ performance cost of doing this on every single page load? Well, you’d better get used to it! When you bring up a menu you want _all_ the items to appear straight away rather than clicking it, seeing 5 options and then 5 seconds later another 10 appear at seemingly random locations in that list? Weirdo. 

My own personal status check of Azure DevOps is that it uses a stylised floppy disk icon for the “save” action. Windows 10 and 11 don’t even come with drivers for floppy disk drives any more. Every single piece of UX across the whole product is trash, and this is just underlined by its **awful** performance, and this is coming from someone who has used Jira.

I could go on and on about all these products, but what I could never do is recommend that anyone ever use them.

Microsoft, you need to do better.

God of War Ragnarok is underwhelming

God of War Ragnarok has been underwhelming so far

I am in the early stages of God of War Ragnarok. The first game was a brilliant revitalisation of a game series which had had its origins and gameplay strip-mined by a succession of inferior sequels during the 2000s and early 2010s.

This game, after playing for 5 hours or so of the ~35 hours I expect to play, feels like it is making the same mistakes. It feels like the exact same game as 2018’s God of War, but with a less compelling story and no changes to the gameplay. My wife walking past me playing it said the graphics look better than the first one, but when they’re mostly reduced to so much window dressing rather than being part of the game – so what?

I have obviously been spoiled by multiple open-world games in the last few years like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Horizon Zero Dawn, Fenyx Immortals Rising and of course Breath of the Wild. God of War is not an open-world game, but it covers itself in their trappings, and even old RPGs from the early 2000s allow more exploration and interaction with the background world than this does. The first bore these restrictions well – they were there to funnel you through the good story, to explore the new gameplay and to set a basis for a new series in this franchise. This sequel (so far) has so far done nothing to expand on that new, high, baseline, instead just providing more of the same.

I look forward to being able to write a new post in a few weeks’ time that declares an incredible opening-up of the world and gameplay once a certain stage in the game is reached, but I think it’s unlikely.