In my line of work, I sometimes run across—or into—discussions around “performance management,” which is a way of saying “how do you tell whether someone is doing their job?”

And in those conversations, I have seen it asked whether you are really evaluating performance effectively if you are generally not having to ask people to leave/firing them, which is also termed “managing them out,” an absolutely horrible term, for reasons I’ll get into in a moment here.

What’s interesting about this question is that it assumes both a certain mode of evaluating performance, and also a mode of “managing” that performance, neither of which I believe are productive ways to lead a team.

First, there are two relatively basic things I would like people to understand regarding how I believe you should evaluate individual performance for just about any role. They are:

  1. A person’s peak performance is not their sustainable performance.
  2. Performance should not be compared from one team member to another, but each person should be judged independently against set, defined criteria.

I hope to expound on this in future posts, but I believe these are core to evaluating people against their work ethically and fairly. It is enough for now to say that a person’s performance needs to be judged against previously agreed-upon and concretely-set criteria for the role, and not against the “time trial ghost” of their own previous work at a peak output, or against the other racers on the track.

Whether someone is effectively doing their job should only be evaluated against whether they are doing the job they have been asked to do.

To touch on the other point briefly: a lead should never elect to “manage someone out” except as a method of last resort. If I am someone’s lead, and either something is brought to my attention that may result in their eventual termination, or I (or they!) notice that their performance against that criteria has reached a critical point, the very next thing I should be saying to the team member is “yo, this is looking bad; how can I help you get this back into a positive state?”

A good leader doesn’t jump at the chance to remove someone from their position. A good leader communicates well and regularly with that person both to stop poor performance from happening in the first place, and partners with them to recover if they begin to falter.

In short: It is wrong to expect 100% from people all of the time. Don’t compare your team members to each other (you should also try to prevent them from self-evaluating this way). And don’t “manage people out;” lead them to results.

At the end of my work day today, I dropped from a Zoom call, ending the process of unofficially handing off the responsibility for coaching, helping, and advocating for the members of the team I lead at work to one of their peers, who will be stepping in for me over the summer while I take my (overdue) sabbatical.

(She’ll be officially taking over leadership of the team when I sign off for the summer in a couple of weeks, and the team is in great hands.)

What remains at this point is the intangible stuff that you need to do to put things in a good place while you’ll be out for an extended amount of time: locating the “hidden work” you do every day, every week, every month, shining lights on those things, and asking for folks to step up and perpetuate things you have set in motion.

It’s a very different process than the one I went through almost seven years ago when I took my first sabbatical, and I wasn’t yet in a position of hierarchical leadership.

It was remarked during one of these calls today that I have spent more time preparing to leave for three months and come back than most people spend preparing places for their leaving permanently. I suppose that’s just natural, given that I am returning to work after my sabbatical break, and will step back into a position of being accountable for at least some of the things I have set aside while I’m out.

But I also think that—and this is one of the reasons I very much like the benefit of the sabbatical every five years—it’s a very good thing to remove specific pieces from the board every so often. It gives them a chance to recharge, relax, and refresh; to reevaluate their values and goals and then come back with renewed purpose.

It also gives the team a chance to find out what that person has been doing that’s not necessarily been obvious the entire time. Every one of us has things we pick up and run with at work that we just do, and we don’t necessarily crow about it or otherwise draw attention to that fact. It’s good to remove that presence from the equation for a bit, to see where the “missing information” is at.

What’s trapped in my brain that others could use in their day-to-day? What do I need to write out or explain for others that I’ve taken for granted? What approaches and thinking have I brought to the table that will now be missing?

The first time sabbatical came up, I was super-hesitant to take it, because I didn’t fully understand the proper questions to ask. Instead, I was asking things like “what if they find they don’t need me, and I come back and they say ‘dude; you weren’t needed around here, sorry!’” It turns out that’s not the right way to look at it, but instead see it as an opportunity to get some rest while the team looks at things from a slightly different angle for a while. Again: it’s healthy for both groups of people.

So mid-May begins another adventure: a huge benefit that I’m happy to receive from my employer.

It’s going to be a busy next couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to unmooring myself from those things and taking some time to drift over the summer, spending extra time with my wife and children.

At work, I have taken it upon myself to try and spearhead various initiatives within our Customer Success team that act to push forward how we work and what we work on, as iteratively as possible, taking into account various feedback channels and measurements, and involving anyone who is interested either in reporting something that could use optimization or helping to optimize something that needs help.

We use a threaded discussion system called P2 to do most of our asynchronous communication at work, as we are a globally-distributed company. I have teammates around the world, and we need to collaborate and work with each other “overnight” (which is a relative term, as is, say “summer,” or even “Thursday”).

For each P2, we have a small sidebar image, tagline, and site icon that’s generally chosen by the person who starts that P2. Here’s what I chose for the Quality project P2:

The sidebar from the P2 in question, including a still image from the movie "Tron: Legacy," and the logo of Garlond Ironworks from Final Fantasy XIV. More details are below in the post text.

I felt like sharing why I went with these things, because I don’t ever choose anything for no reason, though I am known for occasionally doing so out of whimsy.

The sidebar header is a moment from Tron: Legacy, as the film heads into its climactic scene, and the main characters are on the run. Flynn explicitly takes a moment to stop, head to the deck of the solar sailer, close his eyes, and find calm.

As he leaves to do so, he says:

“The old man’s gonna knock on the sky; listen to the sound.”

“Knock on the sky; listen to the sound” is apparently a somewhat old Zen saying. Sometimes, calming your mind and opening it to what is around you is the way to find inspiration, insight, or guidance that might be in front of you. It’s challenging to do this when you are running from thing to thing, or very frustrated, or distracted—but that’s maybe when you need to do it the most.

The site icon is the logo of Garlond Ironworks, a group of scientists who study various ways to use machines in the world of Final Fantasy XIV. The motto of Garlond Ironworks is:

“Freedom through technology.”

They intentionally do not study or manufacture anything that can be used for tyranny’s gain. It is a gathering of intelligent people who wish to utilize and study technology for purposes of lifting up all people.

Now, I don’t remotely pretend to view the work I do on supporting customers or improving internal things as being relevant to that ethical quandary specifically, but it does serve to remind me of two things: that ingenuity can come from a variety of sources and from all sorts of people, and that we have a choice regarding whether to further technology to good or evil ends. (The former is definitely why I chose to use it in this specific context.)

The desktop wallpaper for Final Fantasy XIV patch 4.2, "Rise of a New Sun," with artwork depicting the members of Garlond Ironworks.

For too many years, I failed to be this kind of example to my children.

I didn’t deal with stress appropriately.

I didn’t deal with my emotions in an intelligent or healthy manner.

I spoke about toxicity without fully seeing it in myself.

The world needs more kindness.

For a time, I had thought that finding what I’d figured was a more correct “alignment” had finally configured things in the right places.

I was wrong for longer than I would like to admit. It caused problems to which I was blind in my ignorance. I ended up needing some help.

I fully believe people can change. You may not be able to lead them to it, and they have to want to change, and it can be a ton of hard work over a long time, but we can change.

I had to change; I’m still changing. And learning.

Maybe it never stops.

You can change, too.


It’s been a while since I changed the look of this site, and I had a desire to get away from the wasted screen space of my previous theme on a desktop browser, so today, I flipped my theme over to the understated and clean Velox.

There’s a lot to like, and it adds a few things that I really appreciate, such as a time-to-read and a progress bar for people reading single articles. It’s also block-editor-friendly.

At the same time, I’m also going to try something (yet again) that I have attempted previously for my writing: I’m going to split my content a bit between two of my sites and see how that goes in terms of focusing audience.

This site will continue to host my writing on life things, events work, general technology topics, work and remote work, and customer support and success.

My guides, resources, and other writing on games and video games will start to be published over on my streaming homepage, located at I’m not going to move anything from this site over there to start, but instead will begin writing there, with a possible focus on Final Fantasy XIV and Destiny 2.

I will probably write about various games here on this site when they are significant enough that they have entered my general attention, or have been super-significant. I owe this site a post regarding FFXIV at some point, for example.

To be perfectly honest, I have been planning to write this for some time, but there are a couple of other posts that have been floating around for a bit in the past week that I thought would make good reference points for how I feel about cryptocurrency in general.

It’s well-known at this point that the computation necessary both to generate and to process cryptocurrency and its transactions consumes enough electricity to power a decently-sized nation. And that—while not the sole reason by far—cryptocurrency mining has begun to price computer components beyond the reach of many individuals, as we approach the second year of GPU shortages and are now hearing that storage space will soon be used for a new type of cryptocurrency.

On September 1st, 2020, GitLab announced that their free CI offering was being restricted in response to “usage.” Two months later, TravisCI announced that a similar restriction in response to “significant abuse.”

Concurrently with these pricing changes, the market capitalization of mineable cryptocurrencies has exploded.

These events are related: As the market capitalization of cryptocurrency surged from $190 billion in January of 2020 to $2 trillion in April of 2021, it’s become profitable for bad actors to make a full time job of attacking the free tiers of platform-as-a-service providers.

Colin Chartier at

Crypto mining is beginning to encroach upon services that many people in technology use for their own projects (for legitimate purposes). It’s beginning to become a literal menace for systems folks:

Cryptocurrency problems are more subtle than outright abuse, too. The integrity and trust of the entire software industry has sharply declined due to cryptocurrency. It sets up perverse incentives for new projects, where developers are no longer trying to convince you to use their software because it’s good, but because they think that if they can convince you it will make them rich.


Any technology which is not an (alleged) currency and which incorporates blockchain anyway would always work better without it.


That’s what cryptocurrency is all about: not novel technology, not empowerment, but making money. It has failed as an actual currency outside of some isolated examples of failed national economies. No, cryptocurrency is not a currency at all: it’s an investment vehicle. A tool for making the rich richer. And that’s putting it nicely; in reality it has a lot more in common with a Ponzi scheme than a genuine investment. What “value” does solving fake math problems actually provide to anyone?


And those few failed economies whose people are desperately using cryptocurrency to keep the wheel of their fates spinning? Those make for a good headline, but how about the rural communities whose tax dollars subsidized the power plants which the miners have flocked to? People who are suffering blackouts as their power is siphoned into computing SHA-256 as fast as possible while dumping an entire country worth of CO₂ into the atmosphere? No, cryptocurrency does not help failed states. It exploits them.

Drew DeVault

(In response to the request from his post, I disclose that I at no point have owned any cryptocurrency.)

As the discussions regarding cryptocurrency continue, I can only conclude that both mining it and support it via using it (or trading in it) is explicitly unethical and immoral. It accomplishes nothing it theoretically sets out to do:

  • It does not provide for freedom from fiat currency, as its value is explicitly pegged to a fiat currency—or another cryptocurrency that is pegged to one.
  • It does not have a substantive use other than as a speculative “investment” that does not actually have a value as a tangible object, in the way that, say, futures or precious metals do. And this investment will only go up in value if current crypto holders convince new fools to start going in on cryptocurrency as well, further perpetuating the cycle.


  • It is generating tremendous amounts of environmental waste, in the form of ridiculous energy usage and e-waste from discarded components used for mining.
  • It is well-known that it is being used significantly for transactions that are essentially money laundering or other criminal activity.
  • It is contributing to an ongoing crisis in the consumer availability of semiconductor-containing equipment and products.

Cryptocurrency takes and takes and takes, and provides nothing of value back into any economy or ecosystem, other than enriching people who are modern-day carnival barkers, shouting from their stalls for hapless “investors” to try their luck.

In the face of our contemporary climate crisis, the perpetuation of cryptocurrency is—at best—irresponsible; I now argue consistently that it is unethical and immoral. We have a responsibility to future generations to tackle the problems of climate change, poverty, and inequality, both of which cryptocurrency can only worsen significantly.

It’s past time cryptocurrency was not only regulated, but made illegal to produce or use.

For many players, this is going to feel like the end of an era. Comparing four-digit DCI numbers at events was something of a badge of honor—a way to show how long you’ve been a part of the community. We’re feeling a bit nostalgic over here as well, which is part of the reason we’re giving you 30-days to check out your history and rave about your winning record against your friends (or that one time you beat Luis Scott-Vargas at a MagicFest side event).

A little piece of Magic history is going away—but the future is bright and more connected across platforms.

Future in-store play and esports events, as well as other play opportunities, will require players to have a valid Wizards Account which works with the Magic: The Gathering Companion app and the upcoming new event tool for local game stores. If you already play Magic: The Gathering Arena, you already have a Wizards Account. Some Magic esports events, including events such as Grand Prix at MagicFests, will continue to use your DCI number through 2021.

Wizards of the Coast, “Sunsetting Planeswalker Points

I haven’t played organized Magic: The Gathering in over twenty years, but this is definitely the end of an era. Your DCI number was your identity in competitive Magic.

My number’s so old that Wizards support couldn’t help me retrieve it—they needed an exact date and location where I would have played in a sanctioned event, and I can’t remember what I did last week, so I certainly can’t remember when I played over two decades ago.

They’re apparently switching to using app-based checkin, utilizing the web accounts you now use for logging in to MTG Arena, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see rankings start to use ranked play information on Arena as well down the line.

I’ve started playing MTG Arena with the most recent set release, and should talk more about that soon. It’s been a lot of fun, and fascinating to see the changes that have been made to the game since I’ve been away.

As a career support person, I wanted to take a few minutes out of my lunch break today to mention that the support posts on the @BungieHelp Twitter account yesterday were really good and an example of How I Would Have Done It that sadly, I don’t see very often.

For the unaware, Destiny 2 has a “weekly reset” cadence, where every Tuesday at a specific time, certain cycles in the game reset intentionally and events tend to come and go. (There is also a smaller daily reset.) Patches always coincide with this reset time, and yesterday’s reset included the 2.7.1 update.

There was a bit of a problem with the update.

The problem was discovered within 30 minutes of the patch distribution and service availability, and 35 minutes after that, Bungie took the entire game down to prevent further problems from happening.

The very next tweet was one hour later, and contained the following information:

Let’s talk about why this tweet is good stuff from a support standpoint. It runs what is essentially the Support Playbook in my opinion. It:

  • States the current status or progress of the issue (“we think we’ve found it; give us a bit”),
  • Gives a general forecast for what to expect (“game’s going to be down for a while as we figure out how to fix it”), and
  • Provides a timeline for follow-up information (“we’ll talk to you again in about an hour”).

True to their word, Bungie continued to update players on a regular cadence:

Each one of these tweets follows the same pattern, which is IMO essential to a good support interaction, whether over Twitter or another medium such as email or ticketing systems:

  • State the problem
  • Give an update on progress if possible
  • Tell the client/customer when they will hear from you next
  • Execute on what you have promised

This is actually quite difficult to do on Twitter effectively due to the character limit.

The full solution for the problem was detailed in the next update:

And then this update doesn’t promise a further update, as the problem is identified and the fix is underway, with an ETA for service resumption—and presumably, everyone is heads-down planning for the eventual response that will be needed when everything is back up:

There was a follow-up tweet when the service was brought back online, which ended up being less than 20 minutes later than their initial estimate. Pretty good. :)

The icing on the cake, though, is this tweet, which is pretty fantastic:

It’s a super-concise list of exactly how the rollback affects players and what they can expect when they log back in. (“Silver” is the paid microtransaction currency in Destiny 2.)

If you work in support, take a look at your own interactions and look for these patterns. Are you informing clients or customers in a timely fashion, giving them information as available and verified, and providing estimates for when they will hear from you next? If not, consider updating your handbook or processes for support interactions in an emergency response or disaster recovery situation.

Kudos to the Bungie player support team for this series of interactions; I was quite impressed to see them throughout the afternoon and evening, and remarked as such to friends as the situation was going on. I can only imagine what the disaster recovery process was like behind-the-scenes, but it appears to have been very effective, as at least in my estimation, the speed of this issue ID and data recovery operation was impressive for what I can only assume is a very large database.

I very recently put together a Drop CTRL mechanical keyboard, which I find I quite love—but it of course has some drawbacks.

It’s not fully QMK-compliant, which is kind of a bummer, but even if it were, it turns out that configuring LEDs on a keyboard using QMK is a bit of a beast. I usually use a solid-color layout, but just setting that up using QMK turned out to be something of an ordeal.

Let’s just say that I’m not 100% down with configuring my keyboard with a text file.

Thankfully, in my research on this over the past week, I found a rather new firmware for the Drop CTRL that solves a bunch of problems I’d had with it.

Enter endgame.

This is the function layer, which is a complete godsend. Even better, when holding the layer function key, the available modified keys light up differently from the remaining keys on the board.

It’s really, really cool to be able to change LED color on the fly using just a key combination on the board. The stated goals of this firmware branch are really great, and I’m hoping to keep an eye on it for a while and see how much work is done.

You can find this specific firmware in the QMK Github repository here if you are interested in checking it out for yourself.