The Fog

I got really, really, really lucky this week.

On Monday I made a post on The Meteor Chef about a tool I’d built for managing the site called Kitchen. Nothing sensitive was released along with the post—just a few screenshots and notes about the building experience. All was well until I logged in Wednesday night and noticed…someone else had access.

That wasn’t exactly supposed to happen, either. The only user, ever, should have been me (or someone I purposely added). A few edits were made to posts stored in the app and some innocuous “tester” posts added. I got fucking lucky. Whoever got in was benevolent. If they’d wanted, they could have wiped a lot of stuff out. How did this happen? I left the signup page wide open. Literally anyone could sign up for the app. Yes, the app that only I was supposed to have access to.

Seeing such a glaring error slip by like this was upsetting. It’s so small, but so important. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been in a fog. Constantly working, trying to adjust to the new schedule of writing for TMC and making sure to keep up with freelance work. Of course, all of this work means little downtime. Little time to clear my head. Little time to make room for new thoughts. Little time to catch those details that should be accounted for far ahead of time.

I call it “The Fog,” but you might call it something else. When you’re so ingrained in your work or some other activity, you lose focus of the edges. Tunnel vision takes over and you literally see nothing but “getting this done.” This time it was leaving a signup form open. In the future it could be leaving a kid in the backseat on a hot day like a Pixar animator did while working on Toy Story 2:

In one instance, an animator had forgotten to drop his child off at day care one morning and, in a mental haze, forgot the baby in the back seat of his car in the parking lot.

Whatever the case, this hiccup was a serious reminder: stop. Unplug. Walk away from what you’re doing. Get sleep. Eat well. Get exercise. Get out of the Matrix and let your brain relax a bit. It’s far too easy to accomplish tons of work but fail to realize the flaws in that work.

This time I was lucky and caught the issue before it was too late.