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16. Urgency
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November 10, 2022 / 4 minute read

Once in a while I read something that clicks. It's like you've been driving. You can see the signs, but it's blurry, you miss details. When you put on glasses, everything rushes into focus. With the right lens, a situation make sense (there's probably a long German word for this). I felt this after...

15. Backlog blindness
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August 15, 2022 / 3 minute read

Starting fresh at Xata (itself also fresh) has been a splash of ice water. The way the team operates today is beautiful.

In the stage we’re at, we don’t have an ancient list of feature requests. It means the our “todo list” is tidy, understandable. It’s not an endless treadmill, designed...

14. Coffee machine driven development
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January 25, 2022 / 2 minute read

We've had 15 demos this week. Customers are interested, but most of the big ones say we're missing an integration with their accounting system.

OK. Why hasn't this come up sooner?

Dan was sick so we didn't have the sync meeting. The next one is in 2 weeks. I wrote it down but we never got to...

13. Let me make your roadmap discussions harder
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January 17, 2022 / 2 minute read

If you're hiring engineers, you feel it.

While schools and bootcamps are pumping out a raging torrent of new engineers into the market, senior engineers are a small countryside stream trickling at it's own pace. Competent senior engineers have a buffet of companies (don't get me started on the smar...

12. Large team potential, small team pace
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January 9, 2022 / 6 minute read

There's more potholes than road on the way to scaling a tech organisation. Inside one of the big potholes sits your team structure. As you grow, two forces will pull you apart: parallel priorities (instead of the much loved "everything is a priority" strategy), and teams becoming too large for a sin...

11. Cutting the fluff from journaling
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December 28, 2021 / 2 minute read

Work. Home. Chill. Sleep. Work. Home. Chill. Sleep. Most (all?) weeks lately have been stuck in this loop. It's easy to get caught here. However, as the business, team and tech grow I find that if I'm not careful with taking notes, I miss things. Mistakes that re-appear, places where I'm not feeling...

10. Balancing your product diet
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November 30, 2021 / 4 minute read

Prioritisation is hard. Prioritising in a high growth company is hard.

Here you are. You've spent 2 months building out big feature X. You've worked through an unclear problem, discovered the full set of requirements, found some nasty surprises in the code - but you did (nice).

After a brief celeb...

09. On keeping up in tech, overload
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October 17, 2021 / 2 minute read

Keeping up to date in tech takes effort. The world changes quickly. In an industry that is deeply set on reinvention and innovation; there's a great flood of new languages, frameworks, libraries, and businesses helping fuel the next wave.

There's a powerful loop that runs within the tech. We sit in...

08. Lateral Joins in Postgres
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March 16, 2020 / 2 minute read

Postgres is my favourite piece of tech.

I've been spending as much time as I can with it recently. Your database goes far beyond a storage engine. It's an API for your business logic and for manipulating data for your application to consume.

When I first started with Postgres, I used only the basi...

07. The iPad
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February 1, 2020 / 5 minute read

I was stuck.

October 2018: I picked up my MacBook from a keyboard repair. I got it back with the keyboard working, but without anything coming from the speakers. I made the judgement call most people would make here: this wasn't a big enough issue to delay usage another week. So, I put the repair o...

05. Note Taking
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December 12, 2019 / 2 minute read

I’ve been thinking a lot on the meta-practices that produce better code and better products. The best one by far: writing things down. Writing _everything_down.

If a task comes up, put it in your task tracker. Add detail, make sure it’s well structured, tidy, free from lint. Pause the meeting t...

06. Mechanical Sympathy
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October 8, 2019 / 3 minute read

Here's a PSA: your code still runs on a very fast abacus. This is a real machine, with hard limits.

“You don't have to be an engineer to be be a racing driver, but you do have to have mechanical sympathy.”

Jackie Stewart

Every developer - whether the racing driver or the engineer - needs...

04. Open Source
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March 3, 2019 / 3 minute read

Judging code quality is hard. Often, the quality function is aligned to short term goals, ignoring longer term ones.

If you're building a house, the quality function takes into account several factors. Does the the house stand up? Does it look good? Does it last? The foundations are important, the...

03. Design
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November 4, 2018 / 2 minute read

Design is a hugely underrated component in programming and engineering. It's often forgotten, left in the cold by junior (or sloppy) developers, or those who view programming as purely logical.

Design is all about communicating intent. It's about communicating what's possible. How, and in which dir...

02. Gumption
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October 28, 2018 / 2 minute read

Gumption implies initiative. Enthusiasm. Energy of thought. A hunger to continue pushing.

Working in tech is fundamentally an exercise in gumption. The nature of many tech businesses is that you're constantly in a learning or "fixing" state. Things break. New problems show up. New abstractions, fra...

01. Structured Connectivity
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February 9, 2018 / 2 minute read

With the rise of remote working, always-on phones, Slack, notifications are everywhere. Distractions are like a lack of sleep, we're generally awful at noticing that they're a problem.

Every task benefits from you being in the zone. This is where you perform at your absolute best. You're immersed i...