Computer Programming is art, don’t overplan it

I’ve argued that building software is much more of an Art than Science. The teams who follow the agile manifesto strictly over plan this artistic endevor of birthing software from nothing with T-shirt sizing, rule of thumb and or fibonacci numbers in 2 week increments of a sprint. What I’ve observed in the real world of software engineering in 20 years is that during the planning and estimation process:

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Unknown Unknown problems

We don’t even know this problem exist. How do we know it is even needed? How do we get to a better state with these unknown unknown problems? My co-worker Michael L. wrote an internal page about how he thrives on these type of Unknown Unknowns problems. I’m reminded recently that I get a lot […]

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2021 What should be in your toolbox as an engineer

If you want to be an effective engineer in our industry, get ready be good at the following Basics 0 – This is the basic toolbox as an engineer Be proficient in your favorite IDE (Visual Studio Code seems to be the most popular right now) – my personal favorite is still VIM. git – […]

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When engineers cared about the content and product

20 years ago, while I was the lead engineer for Yahoo News, I was asked to build a very basic feature to allow users to send news articles via a simple email link. That feature was simple: let users click on a link to send the news article with the URL, title and a brief […]

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Creating Software Is *Not* About Planning

What portion of your team’s time is spent planning vs. designing and writing and testing software? Even when you did a great job in planning, how often is your plan exactly on target? When you hit the target of what you plan after 3 months, is that plan still the right thing to solve? My […]

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The Cycle Of Creating Software

As software engineers, our job is to create useful services for other humans or other services that depend on our services. In the idealized world, we write software, deploy, and move on. In the real world, we have to think about Writing software Debugging our own software for bugs Testing it locally for the change, […]

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All Zoom’ed Out

At work, someone wanted to talk with me about answering the question of “Do people at work feel zoom fatigue?” What would be a good way to look at this question from a data perspective? I proposed the following question, now that we don’t have to commute, shouldn’t we have more time in the morning […]

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flower

My superpower is “troubleshooting” for engineers

My superpower in life and at work is “troubleshooting.” I’m an engineer who helps other engineers when they are stuck. This could mean very detailed technical issues that engineers run into that takes them hours to solve. They will bring that problem to me, and usually, through some questions and answers with me, we can […]

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Golden Gate Park ferries wheel

50th – embracing my engineer’ness

On my 50th birthday, at 6:27am my father at 81 years old, sent me a happy birthday message! He has been my role model, his quiet way of being there for the family, showing and doing rather than talking, his love for me and his expectation that I should reach my potential and his beaming […]

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Contributing to Open Source

I love listening to podcasts, all 111 podcast feeds. In 2020, I wanted to go deeper and understand the podcast ecosystem. I first generated a set of RSS feeds for 12 categories and submitted to Apple’s itunes podcast directory.

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Android Dev: EventBus : Publisher + Subscriber

While trying to implement a feature for AntennaPod to allow users to auto skip intros and endings in this pull request #3975, I need to be able publish the event when a preference has changed and for a previous object with state that has already read the value of the preference to refresh it’s content. […]

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Software Was Never Meant To Be Free

We used to have shareware and that was how programmers could give you software for free.  When 2% of people pay for ‘free’ software, the rest of the world could get the benefits of free software. Because people don’t pay for mobile & desktop apps developers started adding very annoying ads into software causing some […]

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Podcast Ecosystem : Fun Facts

When I started working on a hackathon project to publish the Splunk .conf videos from our conf.splunk.com site into a podcast form, I learned a lot that I didn’t know.  This learning through hands on work has led me to contributing software code to an open source project call AntennaPod.  I will write more later […]

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Hiring practice thoughts and questions

I’m looking for a list of best practices, (maybe mechanics) with data to back up recommendations: For example, starting with resume reviews all the way to closing the candidates. (some random thoughts ) 1) In the resume tool: Do you create a set of standard templates to send? Do you try to respond by a […]

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Falling in love with a book

I started reading the book The Pragmatic Programmer, published In 1999! It is such a fantastic book with very relevant tips for professional software engineers. I am just on chapter 2 now, but I have already marked up the book about important ideas that I need to follow up. How did I skip this vital […]

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Learning at Splunk via Technical books

6 offices in San Francisco, Santana Row, Vancouver, Seattle, United Kingdom, Boulder and Sydney are received 145 copies of 3 books. Pragmatic Programmer, The Code Complete & 97 Things Every Architect Should Know. Happy reading fellow engineers!

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Walk over and ask to see a demo

(The photo is one of my favorite pencils I borrow from my daughter. I finally used up all the lead in the pencil) 20 minutes, that’s all it takes. “Could you show me how you work?” Let’s turn on screen capture. Oh, interesting, what else? Why do you like this over, let’s say this other […]

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In the areas of learning and development

(This post is not for you, it’s for me) It started out as 5% of my time.  Just a 4-hour hands-on workshop with new hires once a month.  Now it’s the following 1 engineer working on developing a hands-on workshop that will track start, finish, and verification.  Able to track usage, validate answers and replace […]

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Experiment : Operating at 2 levels ahead

Last week a senior software engineer who has deep knowledge in a very specialized and high value skill (Machine Learning) for our company asked me for advice on getting more exposure and impact for her work.  She was in a situation where her skills and opinions are sought after by senior leaders in engineering, product […]

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Pick one, and go deep

As an engineer, I’ll give you 4 attributes to define your work to choose from Ownership Customer focus Data driven Cadance You have to chose at least one of these to drive your work. Pick one and focus.

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The profile of an engineer

(The photo is a piece of in store made of thick bacon from Luke’s, Cole Valley, San Francisco) A potential engineer doesn’t have to like math, abstract thinking, typing on the computer all day creating software. I head an interview with a IBM Fellow, who happens to be a woman say that she didn’t fit […]

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Communications habit

Last week at work, I learned that an executive has been working on a diversity and inclusion effort monthly. They really care about moving the needed to increase the gender and under represented diversity in our engineering ranks. I was pleasantly surprised that they are so active in this area. I personally have not heard […]

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Why should engineers write?

I write a lot of internal documentation, blogs to convey ideas for my future self as well as for engineers internally to reference. Younger engineers often are reluctant to write anything other than code. Here are reasons to write Writing something down clarifies your own understanding of the topic It’s one of the highest leverage […]

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What is next most important to add value?

Our VP Of Engineering asked us to think about this at work. We are all busy at work, but are we adding value to our customers with what we are doing now? What is the next most important item on our backlog that add value to our customer immediately? It’s a great way to prioritize […]

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My Email Flow

If you send an email to me, it’s very likely (95% chance) I will reply If you are recruiting me for a position at company X – You will get a polite / canned response that “I am extremely happy at Splunk and want to be there for 4 years to help the company grow”. […]

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What does Tony do in Engineering Productivity?

My full time job is to work on engineering productivity. Often folks ask me what I do every day / every week? I often tell them what I’m working on this quarter. Quarterly Focus Well, the first quarter in 2019, my focus is on creating coding labs and content for new engineers that join Splunk […]

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Standing your ground

Two and a half years ago, when I joined my current company I was attending a new hire training and the last slide showed a very long URL to a document that we were suppose to remember for more information. I asked the presenter whether there is a URL shortener so that we URLs are […]

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Talking About How, Instead Of What

This post is not meant for you, it’s meant for me;  So no need to read. Start With “What” People ask for advice. “What should I do, I’m running into this situation where I don’t know whether I should choose A or B?” Rather than telling them what they should do, I have been realizing […]

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Trending? #deleteFacebook, #metoo, #marchforourlives, #nevergain?

Recently there has been news reporting about #deleteFacebook, #metoo, #marchforourlives and #nevergain.  You can track the interest over time at Google Trends For me, I wanted to know the relative traction each of these movements are actually making.  Looks like #deleteFacebook is gaining traction, check back in 7 days to see if the internet meme […]

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link: Facebook’s “engineered addiction”

http://calnewport.com/blog/2018/02/09/facebooks-desperate-smoke-screen/ The Smoke Screen In my opinion, the first problem — the engineered addiction — is the more pressing issue surrounding social media. These services relentlessly sap time and attention from peoples’ personal and professional lives that could be directed toward more meaningful and productive pursuits, and instead package it for resale to advertisers so […]

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Social media sites are a trap for businesses

When social media sites like Facebook requires businesses to pay to show content to their own followers, it is time to rethink how businesses engage with their customers.  Facebook puts a limit that only 2% of followers will see shared content if a business does not pay. Give this article a read: Social Media is […]

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Dear LinkedIn, Make Diversity Data Transparent For All Companies?

Dear LinkedIn, You are the only service out there to discover data about companies both private and public, what type of employees work there, which universities the employees graduated from and lots of other useful data about the professional lives of the workers. LinkedIn is a fantastic service for professionals. There have been many articles in recent years […]

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Head of Open Source at Facebook Interviewed on Changelog Podcast

This is worth listening to learn about how Facebook thinks about software and expecially how they are trying to push software developer forward for the entire industry.  React and React Native are being called out as very successful open source projects from Facebook.   Cassandra has also been a huge winner.   The interesting take […]

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Why Work @ Splunk As An Engineer

Splunk’s Company Mission I like the simple and clear mission: We make machine data accessible, usable and valuable to everyone Update: Oct 24, 2018 2 years at Splunk so far Personal I’ve started a large community of badminton players and even setup a badminton net in our court yard I’ve grown a community of engineering helping each other virtually on Slack I’ve […]

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link: What makes a good engineering culture? : The Effective Engineer

From Edmond Lau’s The Effective Engineer blog 1. Optimize for iteration speed. Quick iteration speed increases work motivation and excitement. Infrastructural and bureaucratic barriers to deploying code and launching features are some of the most common and frustrating reasons that engineers cite during interviews for why they’re leaving their current companies. Read the rest of […]

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If you want true privacy, do not use your mobile phone

(The photo is of my sister and I in China 1975) I was listening to Leo Laporte’s Tech Guy podcast and he was commenting on the FBI vs Apple case about unlocking an iPhone used by the the shooters. He was pointing out the following misconceptions in the popular press. Inspired by his comments about […]

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link: Error 451 is the new HTTP code for online censorship (Wired UK)

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the body responsible for overseeing the internet’s technical standards, has approved HTTP 451, “an HTTP Status Code to Report Legal Obstacles”. The new status code will show viewers when a web page is being blocked for legal reasons.Source: Error 451 is the new HTTP code for online censorship (Wired […]

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Digital Entertainment I Am Willing To Pay For

We do not pay for cable, never did and do not have a TV.  We do have a movie projector and a 90″ drop down projection screen. Looking at our digital entertainment obligations: We get the recent DVD ‘s free from the San Francisco public library. We pay for Comcast for 6mbps for faster internet […]

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Goodbye dropbox.com, hello box.com

2018 update: Now I have box.com for long term storage, dropbox for daily syncs update: box.com is not doing any better either after my switch.  The box.com sync app hung and I had to kill it. Recently the dropbox.com sync app on my Mac has been chewing up 100% of my CPU causing my machine […]

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reading: Infrastructure As Code

Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/jedi4ever/code-but-not-as-we-know-it-infrastructure-as-code Book Preview: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920039297.do ” With Early Release ebooks, you get books in their earliest form—the author’s raw and unedited content as he or she writes—so you can take advantage of these technologies long before the official release of these titles. You’ll also receive updates when significant changes are made, new chapters as they’re […]

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Making a difference in the large corporate world

While chatting informally with some co-workers, I heard some of them talking about their frustrations about not feeling recognized for their work or working on projects they don’t think makes a difference. Corporations, which usually mean people in management roles, value those individuals who go beyond doing what they are told to do and look […]

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Corporate Efficiency : “Humans Are The Problem”

I sometimes say in jest that in the corporate world the “humans are the problem”. Communication, expectation and difference in perspectives are some of what causes executions of projects to not work. This is a response to frustrations expressed by people on my team that “other” people are doing things the “wrong” way. I find […]

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Android Development: Troubleshooting Nested Fragment

I am working on an Android app which takes the menu data from Locu.com API display the dinner, drink, dessert menu and allows a customer to add items they are interested in into a ‘cart’ for the wait staff to look at and discuss the item the customers are interested in. I’m using the project […]

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Math Get To 24 iOS App

My daughter C. designed the logo, intro video and the entire app screen for this fun math game. Try it out and let me know what you think. download on The 24 Game is an arithmetical card game in which the object is to find a way to manipulate four numbers so that the end result […]

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Read: John Resig – Write Code Every Day

I want to learn from others on how to maintain good habits, one of those is to code everyday. I have missed a few days, but I’m very happy with my progress so far.  It has resulted in 3 mobile apps published on the Android and Apple Appstores John Resig – Write Code Every Day

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Trello to track life goals

I use Trello to keep track of my long term life goals.  I setup ‘organizations’ for ‘health goals’, ‘work goals’, ‘money goals’, ‘family goals’. Then setup boards for each goal. I still use Remember The Milk for single task todo.   Using Trello allows for multiple taks for each goal.  I also look over all the […]

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First Android App: How To Tip Calculator

How To Tip Calculator – Android Apps on Google Play. Calculate how much tips to pay. 10%, 15% or 20% Also includes a guideline on tipping in restaurants, bartender, barista, delivery person, hairstylist, cab driver, chauffeur, hotel housekeeper

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Picking Samsung Galaxy S3 over iPhone 5

In trying to pick iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 to replace my Blackberry. I was torn and have switched back and forth for the last 4 days. I finally found an old document written on November 1, 2011 7:52 AM in Evernote.  I wrote this document when I had the Blackberry and why I actually […]

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What Makes Us Happy And Motivated At Work?

It’s that time of year for me to reflect on why we are here working everyday.  Please chime in with your thoughts. What motivates us to be happy and motivated at work? Money Recognition Being valued Making a difference in the world and self motivation Money is a great motivator, it’s an enabler for future […]

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As A Leader, Do You Communicate Enough?

Heads up… Do you communication enough with your direct reports? What about your peers in the same group? What about other peers across the company? And your management chain, 1 level, 2 level and ultimately up to your CEO? How often should you communicate? What is the most effective way to communicate (email, face to […]

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GTD and investing

In June 2011 this year, when I was looking at my investment accounts, I noticed that it had fully recovered from the nearly 40% drop since March 2009. I was in the middle of selling my house, moving into a new rental, planning for a wedding for next year and starting an investment in a […]

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*-public email aliases

How many meetings have you been in, or email exchanges with a selected small number of people.  What you discuss and decided doesn’t get surfaced to the right people?  How do you know where to send the information to? In general, how do you get the right information to the right people? I’m trying something […]

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Single Tasking In The World Of Multitasking

I have been wanting to be a proficient iPhone programming for 1 year now.  I have tried 3 times to start but have stopped for various reasons. My most recent attempt has worked, and here is what I’ve changed Focus, pay attention to only one thing at a time I have created a separate account […]

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Getting People To Change Is.. Impossible?

That was my thought last year… however, I have changed my stance.  The most successful way to get children and adults to change is to model the behavior yourself consistently. If you want people to act a certain way you model it over and over again.  Don’t ask them to change though, just act on […]

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Be Prepare, You Will Win Most Of The Time

Be prepare for meetings ahead of time.  You will be in the minority and you will get more of what you want Have an agenda ahead of time and send it, you will likely get more time If you want to a decision to go your way, anticipate the arguments, the fear, convince the decider […]

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Taking Ownership Of Your Career

I have been mentoring several engineers and a common theme has emerged. We often don’t spend enough time actively managing our own career. These are the positive steps you should ask yourself. 1) The things I am working on right now, are they important and will they help further my career? 2) If they are […]

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Soft Skills Of A Software Architect

I will not try to repeat what a software architect is, you can read it here at wikipedia There are various types of architects. Solutions Architect Enterprise Architect Application Architect Systems Architect A large part of the duties of an architect in a large organization is to design and to communicate.  In my experience as […]

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