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Pens, pencils and outer space

There’s an old story, untrue as it may be, that people love telling about writing implements in space. The American space program discovered that normal ink pens didn’t work on missions (no gravity in orbit to pull down the ink), so they spent millions to research and develop a pen that could write upside down. The Russians, the story goes, brought a pack of pencils.

As Frank Chimero notes in the quote above, this story is a bit an urban legend. But it’s also an important parable about the importance of simple solutions to complex problems.

What are you over-engineering today? How can you create a simpler solution?

🔥 Hot off the press! I just launched a new pocket guide. Learn how to build interactive web apps with vanilla JavaScript.

Have any questions or comments about this post? Email me at or contact me on Twitter at @ChrisFerdinandi.

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