Hello!

Welcome to the blog. The traditional reverse-date-oriented feed of essays and such are below, but I've also started working on some material that kinda wants to be gathered together in a non-blog format--more like collections of written resources brought together. So, before wandering through the blog list, maybe you're looking for patterns reimagined or Speaker Tips? Or check out the "Sections" menu above for a list of some of my favorite blog posts over the years. Of course, the Archive has the complete chronological list, most-recent to oldest (2005!). Thanks for reading; at some point, I'll get comments (Disqus) turned on here again, but that's a TODO for now.

An Engineering Manager Challenge

What would you do if you had to make the choice here?

20 May 2024

My LinkedIn feed recently brought me a question posted about an interview question the original poster faced:

"You're the tech lead and your team is getting stretched thin. You decide to add resources (sic; not my choice of words here) but you can afford 1 senior full-stack developer or 2 junior full-stack devs. Which do you choose and why?"

It's a decent engineering manager question. So....

Software Architecture, In Practice

Software architecture often means different things based solely on the kind of company at which you work; the larger the company, the more likely you are less "architect" and more "referee".

26 February 2024

One of the more curious things I've found, both in my time as a consultant and as a software management executive, is the striking differences between what the title "architect" means at different companies. Strangely (or perhaps, not so strangely), the nature of the job changes significantly depending on the size of the company and how "interwoven" the various software development teams are against one another. The larger, more interwoven the company, the more your job as an architect is "referee or facilitator between teams" than it is "decider of technical strategy and direction".

Why Candidates Don't Trust Recruiting

My two years (thus far) of "involuntary retirement" and subsequent forays through more interview processes than I care to count has yielded some interesting insights on our industry, recruiting teams, and the nature of tech recruiting in general.

12 February 2024

If you've spent any time on LinkedIn at all the past few years, you've seen the incessant posts about people "looking for their next challenge". Many of these are followed, sometimes weeks or months later, by additional posts (sometimes by the same people) about being really really really desperate to find something. Sandwiched right in between them are posts by LinkedIn "influencers" trying to tell us the right sequence of events, the "magic sauce", to get that next gig. Then, every so often, there's a recruiter in the feed that bemoans the behavior of other recruiters, says, "Do better", and disappears. Yet, nothing ever gets better.

Cheating With Chat-GPT

Your interview process is not as good at filtering out cheaters as you think it is.

01 February 2024

A colleague pointed out a semi-scientific study about interviewees cheating with ChatGPT hosted by interview.io; the results are not particularly great if you're relying on LeetCode-style problems: "Predictably, the [interviewee group using common LeetCode problems without modification] performed the best, passing 73% of their interviews. Interviewees reported that they got the perfect solution from ChatGPT. ... In our experiment, interviewers were not aware that the interviewees were being asked to cheat. As you recall, after each interview, we had interviewers complete a survey in which they had to describe how confident they were in their assessments of candidates Interviewer confidence in the correctness of their assessments was high, with 72% saying they were confident in their hiring decision."

Whoops! Maybe it's time to unit-test your interview process?

We Need to Talk

If we can't use this, what do we use instead?

15 January 2024

For many years, people have ranted and railed against the dread managerial "Do you have a second to chat?" opening that has no context around it. Just Google "Can we talk" and you get something in excess of 4 billion responses, many/most of which talk about how to respond to those openings, coupled with a stern shaking finger for those who use them. But what should we use instead?

The Subtle Power of Teams

Hire the experienced as well as the not-so-much.

03 January 2024

A post on LinkedIn got a little close to my heart, showing a picture of Joe Flacco (an almost-retired NFL player, for those who aren't in to sportsball) and asking, "Are you overlooking experienced candidates because of their age? Take a lesson from Joe Flacco, who at 38 was written off by experts as too old and past his prime. Despite sitting at home hoping for a chance, the Cleveland Browns saw potential and gave him a chance to prove himself." And as one who's cough not exactly fresh-out-of-school myself, I thought it was worth a comment.

2024 Tech Predictions

Technology and related predictions for 2024.

01 January 2024

It's that time of the year again, when I make predictions for the upcoming year. As has become my tradition now for nigh-on a decade, I will first go back over last years' predictions, to see how well I called it (and keep me honest), then wax prophetic on what I think the new year has to offer us.

Tabletop RPG IT

Leveraging programming tools to make my fun... more fun.

04 September 2023

With the enforced hiatus I've been on for the past 18 momths, I've had some opportunities to engage in a few projects that otherwise would've gone undone or unexeplored. One of these projects is actually indulging in a favorite pastime of mine: TableTop Role-Playing Games (or TTRPGs, for short), which I've enjoyed since 1978. As somebody who runs a TTRPG campaign for some of my friends, I find that wading through piles of books, some of which deprecate material found in another, to be really, really ancient and antiquated, and the IT professional in me says, "There's got to be a better way."

Own, Collaborate, Inform

Good fences make good neighbors.

04 September 2023

tl;dr While having some conversations with a client, we got to talking about teams, processes, and how to partition work. I realized, as I was talking, that while RACI is a reasonable way of thinking about such things, it's a little complicated, and I prefer a slightly simpler model: OCI.

You don't want passion

Hiring for passion usually doesn't get you what you want.

25 June 2023

tl;dr Recently, while sitting in the speaker ready room at VSLive Nashville, I had a lovely conversation with Angela Dugan and Amber Vanderburg about something I've been saying for a few years now: I don't want to hire passionate people, I want to hire professional people. Turns out, Harvard Business Review agrees with me.


Older posts are available in the archive.