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Tag Archives: career


Jeff Bezos was in the news this week. Our local tech news site, GeekWire, published five posts about him. What are the most important traits of innovators? Have a willingness to fail. Bezos believes that truth shakes out when ideas and perspectives are banged against each other. Think long-term. Etc.

Some of the commentary was a tad critical of his personality. (Not in GeekWire, but elsewhere.) One observation (I don’t remember where I read it) was that he cared only about the business, to the point where he could make “hyperrational” decisions about what’s best for Amazon. Which makes him a great CEO, but maybe not such a great friend. If it’s true.

It got me thinking, not for the first time, that most entrepreneurial advice about starting a business is useless. Even if it comes from other entrepreneurs.

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How do you differentiate delusional vs. visionary?

A person has an idea, everyone says she’s delusional and the idea sucks, it fails, they say I told you so. But if it succeeds, they trip over themselves saying how visionary she was and the idea was brilliant.

The ends should never justify the means. But they often justify the post hoc historical judgement.

This irks me.


Boy, what a roller coaster! Shortly after opening a position for a Senior Devops engineer, we had a funding “event” and now the opening’s gone. What’s worse, I had to lay off one of my developers, right before before the end-of-year holidays. It was stressful for all involved.

We’re doing some interesting things with name relationships at work, and these present fun development challenges. I’m trying to spend as much time as possible in Emacs, because the less-fun work issues always occur when I’m not coding.

I upgraded our codebase to version 3 of Celery, just to get us off version 2. I’m still hankering to replace Celery, but it must have known it was living on borrowed time because it’s been behaving lately, so I’ve decided to fry some bigger fish. But the moment Celery starts acting up again…

I just turned 55. How the hell did that happen?!?


Yesterday’s “Text Lacks Empathy” talk got me thinking about the times when I’ve put others on the spot.

Sometimes empathy is overrated. Sometimes it’s a waste of time, and sometimes it’s wrong. There’s a time and place to pin someone’s ears back against their head and clean their clock. It can be very productive to employ linguistic judo. And sometimes very cathartic.

In 2006, I had a billing problem with Countryside Pet Supply. They weren’t answering my e-mails, so I escalated the issue by sending a message to multiple countrysidepet.com addresses. A company employee did a reply+all to my mail. He asked another employee to deal with this, and referred to me as a “west coast jerk.” He didn’t realize he had done a reply+all. He thought he was communicating only within his company.

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I’ve seen some software developer job descriptions require applications to submit an “online portfolio.”. I.e., don’t bother applying unless you maintain a GitHub or Bitbucket project that demonstrates your coding skills.

This has been common for some time for front-end developers. For them, it means showcasing sites or applications they’ve designed in past jobs. That’s fine. But this new trend asks for software developers to maintain a FOSS project as a way of demonstrating their coding skills and enthusiasm. This is stupid beyond belief.

It used to be sufficient to do great things at work, be a great team player, and work really hard. This is not enough for some companies, who expect you to also work on non-trivial coding projects in your personal time.

I’m not a “5:01 Developer,” but I’m also not one-dimensional. I get into work and punch on the afterburners and don’t stop until I leave. Good grief, it should be OK to go home and do something else. If you want to create and lead a FOSS project in your spare time, that’s super! But to make it an application requirement is 12 miles north of Insane, Alaska.

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My friend Kirk has run his dev team in a mostly Agile system. Code sprints, agreeing on tickets for the sprint, declaring victory at the end of the sprint, etc.

But now Kirk’s boss says:

I need you to commit to achieve certain goals by various dates over the next year. Once you agree to them, you need to commit to delivering them on time.

How is this situation silly? Let me count the ways…

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A friend, whom I’ll call “Kirk,” works in a startup. A really good developer, whom I’ll call “Amy,” reports to him.

Kirk lobbied his boss for a big raise for Amy. He thought about this the right way:

I’ve researched the current market rates for developers of Amy’s level and abilities. She’s very good, she’s worked hard for us, and I expect great things from her this year. The plan calls for raising her salary to $X, But I suggest we raise her salary to $(X + n) because that’s the going salary for someone like her in this area.

Kirk’s boss thought about it the wrong way:

A raise to $(X + n/2) would be better. It’ll be a large increase over her current salary.

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