Work

“You are not your customer” – organizational insult

One of the motos that has gotten embedded in corporate culture is “You are not your customer” as an engineer I see this all the time. A designer builds something, engineering looks at it and says “but…”. A manager responds with the flip, “The designer is the professional, you’re not the customer”. With an attitude like that the message is abdicate your responsibility and focus on your job. How can you build as successful company if all you do is your job, we need to think outside our role, challenge assumptions and build great products.

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Framing your Customer

We were working on some customer issues the other day and it another customer was having problems, you know double whammy. What was interesting is that a more senior person started talking about the customer about “they’re such a problem” and then talking about strange things they did in the past. As we dug into their problem, yes they were using an API in a very strange way (20 seconds of runtime to yield 6 results), but what was more interesting is that the more junior people started talking about how this customer was bad/wrong – taking on the way leadership has framed them.

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Scrum without Objective

Waterfall bad, right? Well, to an extent it is — the good part about waterfall is that you start with a objective and build a team around an objective. The challenge is that the interm points and progress measurements get caught up in gantt charts, absolute assignments, critical paths, etc.etc. Of course waterfall is all about time and deadlines, so when things fall behind it’s all about finger pointing and fall guys.

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Does it all devolve?

Had coffee with a friend recently and we drifted past the conversation of system designs. The crux is that we’ve both worked in organizations that are very bound to very large code bases… But, in many cases — products that have 100M+ users — they are monolithic piles of dung. Compile times that are non trivial, codebases that take minutes to startup, huge memory footprints. Systems that only survive because the DB is just a margin bigger than their usage.

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Time for Money (business 101)

I just read a post talking about the “Does your startup pass The Sleep Test“, in principal the idea is sound it’s a little simplistic. Fifteen years ago I worked as a consultant, the money was good but the problem I quickly realized is that fundamentally I was just trading time for money. We can all see how a construction worker trades time for money — $15/hour here I come I’ll hammer and pour concrete all day.

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Gentoo love / hate

I got a new laptop.. Yeah! Part of the idea of this new laptop is to run a bunch of vmware sessions to do some multi-server development. Lots of ram, fast CPU… now the challenge is getting the unix enviornment working. I’ve been using gentoo at work for a while — also on my own personall server — it’s nice, but it’s a totally pain to setup. Love: I can install just about any package and any version.

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Silos make for disfunction

I hate silos… A long time ago a very smart engineer who worked for me pointed out that you can never under communicate. I’ve worked in many organizations where under communications was the norm, the classic example is somewhere between micro managment and lack of awareness. Example #1: You’re working on a project, there might be three or four groups of people involved… You’ve got Engineers, Product Managers, 3rd parties and Exec Managers.

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Development practices, Silicon Valley vs. Los Angeles

Our cul-de-sac has a halloween tradition of building a fire and having a potluck at the end of the street. It’s a great place to catch up with the happenings in the neighborhood and chatting about all sorts of topics. One of the topics that came up was the recent acqusition of [Our cul-de-sac has a halloween tradition of building a fire and having a potluck at the end of the street.

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Performance Reviews … WSJ and Me

RThe WSJ just did an article about the pointlessness of performance reviews it’s interesting to see that the posting I wronge a long time ago about Performance Reviews. Shared many of the same points: Performance doesn’t determine pay Objectivity is subjective It disrupts team work Managers should go coach some kids sports and really understand what teamwork is about… It’s both useful to the community and teaches you many leasons about how to interact with people who might not have the same focus as you.

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Front-end vs. back-end developers (my take)

Over on Dzone this article Font-end vs. back-end developers caught my attention.  Alas, I feel compelled to write a longer rant.  First off let’s touch on Mads points, but let me point out a bias first. Front end devs tend to be less “classically” trained than back end devs, based on the resume flow I see for front end positions vs. back end positions front end developers come from non CS backgrounds, back end developers have CS degrees.

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