Posts

Showing posts from 2022

QR Codes

Image
We should stop teaching kids the current symbols of our alphabet, and instead teach them to read QRs. Imagine a future where 500-word essays are submitted as a single QR, or where Twitter's character limits are easily subverted. If all we know are QR Codes... what would our keyboards look like?

Increasing Follower Counts

Image
If you're interested in growing your follower count, there are 2 things that have ever contributed to a spike in mine: Other people mentioning my name in their posts Interactions I've had while commenting on other people's posts The common thread here is that (at least for me) it's not about pushing out content. Content-Creation is a one-way megaphone and has trivial impact on follower count (again, at least for me.) Most of my time on LinkedIn is spent in messages, and then commenting/discussing on people's comments. Much of the content I do create is adapted from a conversation/interaction I've had. Maybe I'm doing it wrong - maybe the megaphone works better for others, but I never intentionally set out to become a "content creator" and get a bunch of followers. It... just... happened... In short, the best advice I can give is to focus less on the followers, focus less on content, focus more on interactions, and genuinely connecting with people,

*Pauses...Checks Notes*

Image
 I can't say this enough: go back and read your notes from 3, 6, 9 and 12 months ago. You'll resurface key objectives (project, personal, etc.) that may have since gotten diluted. You'll spot incorrect assumptions you'd made and reevaluate. You'll be encouraged by how much you've learned, grown and accomplished since.

Bring Your Own Materials

Image
Interview Tip: Bring Your Own Materials (#BYOM) The interviewer asks: "Tell me about your time at XYZ Company." Your response: "Sure! I actually put together a few visuals that will help me illustrate a project I was particularly proud of. It'll also help me explain my approach..." Not only does this help you steer the conversation, but it demonstrates how you communicate, how you break down complex concepts, and ... well ... it's oh-so-wonderfully-polished. It's better to have the materials ready and available. Diagraming in real-time can be a distraction, and waste valuable time - but if it's your only option, practice your diagrams in advance. And of course, the all-important disclaimer: don't share confidential info that isn't yours.

On Systems Debt

Image
Pre-amble/tl;dr:  I recently published  The Lloyd Braun Principle of Agility  mostly as a silly-but-true observation about how that classic Seinfeld line "Serenity now, insanity later" relates back to Agile. I ended that post with a statement about how we need to better prepare for the "Insanity" that comes later. With that in mind, I'm introducing my approach to building productive teams. It's about paying down your   Systems Debt. The modern tech team is broken.  We rely too much on Seniors, and don't leverage Juniors. I've been thinking about this problem a lot over the last year, as I've adapted multiple teams to our "new normal." Months ago, I began an article to support the case that hiring managers should hire juniors. To make an effective argument, I knew I had to address a common concern: "First I need seniors to train the juniors..." Quickly the article grew and grew. If you're new to management, this is my "

Database Chain Game (Flash)

Image
Another throwback to a game I'd started back in 2007. The object was to connect long-chains of databases and then backing them up on the retention server.

The Lloyd Braun Principle of Agility

Image
If you're not familiar with the Serenity Now episode from Seinfeld, the tl;dr of it is that George's father Frank is given the mantra of " Serenity now..." to help curb his enthusiasm for angry outbursts. Impressed with its effectiveness, Kramer adopts the mantra for himself. George's childhood rival, Lloyd Braun, later cautions that this mantra doesn't address feelings, but bottles them up, and leads to huge explosive anger. And that's when he delivers the classic line: Serenity now. Insanity Later.  At the surface, it's valuable advice about controlling our emotions, and stress - but deep within this statement is a also a very important guideline for delivering Agile software. And while Seinfeld isn't known for technology, it's too perfect that the backdrop of this episode has Frank, George and Lloyd selling desktop computers. George, of course, struggles to keep up with the zen-like Lloyd, who has reached true Agile enlightenment. In fact,

Salary & Sacrifices

Image
I put a (rather unscientific) poll out on LinkedIn. And while any social network poll should be taken with a grain of salt, I still think the results are still worth some reflection. The question also came with additional context:  "For the perfect job, as you define it, how much salary would you sacrifice? Since this is a hypothetical, let's assume everything is proportional to the #perks you seek. For example, if you want 100% remote for a 10% pay cut, the average #salary gets only 50% #remote, and 10% raise means in office full time." So there's number of things that are wrong with the poll: for one, it leaves out the population of people who wouldn't take a pay cut at all, or those who would sacrifice perks for more money. It also doesn't factor actual roles, industries, salary levels, and whether people are part of a dual income relationship/non-primary earner. There's also the simple fact that it's easier to answer a poll than it is to sign an of

A Digital River Runs Through It

Image
Throwback to that time when I was in college and had the bold idea to build a fly fishing game. I got this far before I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about fly fishing. And yet, even as is, it feels pretty relaxing.

Test Before Yes

Image
My first ("real" / "grown-up") job was with a web company back in 2006. Those were the days when streaming was becoming a novel concept, and we were known as "new media." Probably the biggest lesson I learned was the mantra: "Test before Yes." We flew pretty fast and loose with best practices - a "deployment" was just uploading files to the prod web server, with no version control other than local backups. It was risky, but it also allowed us to move at a breakneck pace. We were constantly trying new things, experimenting, building - and we were regularly asked: "Can you guys build ___[fill in the blank]____...?" Being the young whipper-snapper dev, I said yes to everything. Yes! I'll build a site poll in PHP. Yes, I'll build a Question of the Day feature! Saying "Yes" allowed me to work on a lot of cool projects. But it also got me into tough spots when I realized my "Yes" probably should have been

Lumbot

Image
There's a persona I've created for anything I do to advance my professional career. If you're not familiar with the concept of personas, the idea is to not think of your users in generic ways. When you create real-life personalities, and define their goals and motivations, it helps ensure you're building the right thing. It's exactly what people mean when they say "know your audience" - but I'd go a little further to say: describe  your audience. When it comes to your resume, portfolio, LinkedIn Profile, a key persona you want to consider is a Hiring Manager. It may not be your only persona -if you are putting out resources to help your peers, you may want to consider their personas as well. But, don't forget the Hiring Manager - the one who will one day hire you. Lumbot is the hiring manager who has been following me since I was in college. I will neither confirm nor deny whether he's a pop-culture reference. Lumbot is always lurking around a

Let's Talk (Even More!) About Portfolios

Image
This is a follow-up to  Let's Talk Portfolios!  and 7 Steps to Building your Portfolio MVP . If you've not seen those 7 steps, here's the quick GIF recap: But now - let's talk about your next steps. You have the portfolio MVP, but your skills have continued to grow, you are more talented than what this portfolio MVP shows. So now what? Let's remember the purpose of the portfolio: It's to showcase your talent and skill to a hiring manager. They are your target audience. They are your main user. With that in mind, let's talk even more about portfolios!  Why bother with any of this? The key is, as a hiring manager, it gives me insight into you as the developer. It lets me know more than what I can get out of your resume, or hearing you talk about your work experience. GitHubs can be overwhelming, and just information over-load. Presenting your skills in this way shows forethought, it shows you know your audience, it gives me the information I need, and it let

One Question

Image
If there was one question you wished an interviewer / hiring manager would ask you, what question would that be? For me, it would be either: Tell me about a time you failed, and what you learned as a result? What makes you uniquely suited for this role? They aren't particularly exciting questions, they're not off-the-wall but they are great questions for 2 reasons: 1) They are about me and 2) They are relevant in the context of an interview. Interestingly, those two questions don't often come up in an interview. At least, they aren't asked directly. I stopped waiting for the question and instead focused on how I can work my responses into the conversation more naturally.  Interviews are all about leaving a lasting impression - a sense of what is uniquely you. You want them to be able to easily pick you out of the lineup instead of scratching their heads asking "Who was this person again? Was this the person we interviewed on Thursday? Or were they on Wednesday?&quo

An Over-Thinker's Guide to Managing Ambiguity

Image
I'm a classic over-thinker. If there's an opportunity for interpretation, I will find it. I cringe when I think of the Physics 101 mid-term exam back in college, which asked about a brick falling onto someone's foot. "At the instant moment the brick contacts the foot, what is the force felt on the foot?" Force  = mass * acceleration  and our professor was intentionally specific with his language because a falling brick decelerates as it makes contact and he wanted to simplify the problem. I understood this part of the problem, but I was fixated on the word "felt." Why was our sensory system being involved? Our senses aren't instantaneous - so while the applied force of the brick to the foot is a straightforward calculation, the feeling is a whole other question. Suffice it to say, my answer was wrong, and I shudder when I think about it. BUT  it also serves as a reminder that I'm prone to over-thinking, and the only solution I have is to seek th

3-6 Months

Image
A friend has been on the fence about changing jobs. Things at her current place are good, but she's also wondered if she's just grown too comfortable and has been stagnating. She's been told her role will grow in a few months - but it's the second time she's been told this. There were valid reasons why it hasn't happened sooner, but she feels like her career is on pause while she waits. She's not in the driver's seat. I've been there many times myself. And I'll offer a healthy reminder for anyone in a similar spot: remember it can take 3-6 months to find your next role. Even if the market is hot right now, it's better to plan 6 months out because, ultimately, if you change jobs you want to make sure it's the right job for you. 6 months is a long time for things to happen. (Similarly, if you're a manager and someone has resigned, you should be asking what happened 6 months ago, not just the last month or two.) Even in the fastest cases

Resharing: IBM's a**hole Test

Came across this post the other day: IBM's a**hole test - Published on May 4, 2022 Some years back I applied to join IBM's grad scheme, there was a peculiar stage to the process I've not seen elsewhere. It was during the onsite day, where a batch of 20 or so applicants were put through various tests in an IBM office. They called it the "group test"; around 8 of us were led to a room and asked to solve a puzzle together. Each of us was given an information pack, there was a white board, and a timer ticking down from 60 minutes. At first there was silence as we looked at our packs, then the first voice: "Let's pool our information", someone stands up by the whiteboard, grasping a marker. Silence, it's not clear how this information should be parsed. One person starts reading theirs out word for word. This is not going to scale. Someone interrupts. Before long the whiteboard leader has been deposed and another is wielding the marker. Then another fi

Collections

Image
  Does anyone else collect things in adulthood that were scarce when you were a child? I wish I could communicate to my younger self and say "Listen kid: One day you'll have tons of Allen wrenches, cable adapters, ball point pens with matching caps , and inflating needles to inflate your soccer ball. Ease up on the anxiety because one day you'll weirdly cling to these things... Oh...also, invest in something called bitcoin when you first hear about it. Then just.... sit on it for a while."

A Chef's Words

Image
3-star Michelin chef Marco Pierre White's interview at Oxford Union is not just a fantastic telling of his early career and rise to greatness, but it is choc full of great wisdom mixed with humility. It's a worthwhile listen for anyone - regardless of your industry or career. I thought about pulling out a few quotes - but his words are so much better when you hear them from him.

On Pasta Sauce

Image
No need to check your address bar. You aren't on Instagram. I know I typically write about professional things but, honestly, what could be more professional than wrapping up a great day at work than pouring your heart and soul into the pasta sauce recipe you're perfecting so that your kids will one day brag about it to their friends? Doesn't sound professional? Consider that any good hiring manager will tell you: Great teams are made up of versatile team members. People who challenge themselves and push themselves to get better. Regardless the subject matter. The spirit is infectious. You want team members willing to be vulnerable - willing to share their second attempt at a pasta sauce. Maybe that perfect pasta sauce isn't actually perfect yet. And they're ok with showing their progress. (Maybe they are also sharing it with their network secretly hoping they'll get tips.) You want resourceful team members - the types who have researched and watched countless v

Popular

Let's Clear Up The Ambiguity!

7 Steps to Writing an Amazing Resume

7 Steps to Building your Portfolio MVP

On Systems Debt

Impostor Syndrome and #LifeHacks