From the Couch of Ben Johnson

Father, Principal Engineer at Prodigy Education, serial hyperbolist.

It’s 30 degrees outside and it’s currently hailing. This is totally normal. Everything is fine. There’s no way climate change is a problem. Right?

A book club where you buy books but you don’t have to read them.

✴ Remaking Iron Man

My 7-year-old recently watched the first Iron Man movie and part of the 2nd. Afterwards, he was inspired to re-create the film. He does this. We’ve done Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and Jumanji. Iron Man is the just the latest.

This whole process has yielded a few discoveries.

First, I’m impressed that he can tell that Iron Man 2 is not a great sequel. I mostly expect when he’s watching this stuff that he’s watching for the action scenes, but about 30 minutes in, he was not impressed and wanted to turn it off. So he’s picking up on more than I’d expect (or it’s a much worse movie than I remember).…

Continue Reading…

When the AI concatenates all the random Amazon store names together…


My 7-year-old is trying to convince us that the only way it’s fair for him to take a COVID test is if his two non-symptomatic parents also have to take a COVID test.

“All Perils combines Collision and Comprehensive coverage. With All Perils you will be covered if someone living in your household steals your vehicle.”

That seems… very specific.

On April 15th I pulled a yogurt out of the fridge. The Best Before date says “MA 18”. Is that March? Is it May? Could we really not shell out for one extra character?

It named it: “The Calendar Crush Incident”.

Someone needs to sell placebo kids medicine.

There’s no way this can go wrong.

The 7-year-old apropos of nothing: “Who would win in a battle? Moses or Jesus?”

Let the Passover and Easter celebrations begin!

“Sorry kiddo, but over the summer I have to work.“

“That’s ok, we can go on vacation and you can go boop boop boop on your computer while we’re there.”

I wish Intuit would use some of that enormous lobbying budget to get a law in place where all the banks need to provide an API.

My 7-year-old just fired me from the building project I was working on in our shared Minecraft world. “I suggest you work… on other things. I’ll make it properly and we’ll find some other things for you to do.” #PerformanceReview

The only thing worse than being on hold for three hours is that two days later I still have the hold music stuck in my head. I’ve put myself on hold.

The kids will be… alright?

Book with the title “My butt is so silly”.

My kiddo is having some trouble learning how to read. The Meg and Greg books have helped enormously. They focus on phonics, not boring stories, and split reading. Highly recommend for kids 5-8.

People add “reddit” to their searches to get results without SEO spam. What’s amazing is this works because Reddit has human moderators. We’re still not at a place where automatic moderation can fully do the job. And, I bet generative AI makes the gap even wider.

I can’t say enough good things about the Double Fine Psychodyssey series. It’s an incredible look behind the scenes of the making of Psychonaughts 2 over 6 years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll empathize with people trying to do their creative best.

I hope that the success of Cocaine Bear convinces Hollywood to fund the Snakes on a Plane sequel that we all deserve.

I wonder how different the world would be if XML had won.

Startup idea: Start a call from the app and it’ll stay on hold for you until someone real answers and presses a digit and then it’ll warn you.

I’m going to be fascinated to see how much AI changes interaction design. There’s an opportunity here to make interfaces that fit what humans need.