Making Technical Debt A Feature

by Tom Harrison Jr on August 15, 2016

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A few months ago, I wrote a post about technical debt just after we had decided to move ahead with a project that looked like a great investment in plumbing with no clear sellable benefit. I proposed that we figure out how to make paying off that debt look like a new feature. It worked. […]

US Digital Service: Now We’re Talking!

by Tom Harrison Jr on June 18, 2016

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I heard of the U.S. Digital Service while reading Hacker News, from a TED Talk, and then I saw that one of my heroes, Matt Cutts has joined. I applied today. (Update below, 6/24/2016) I think there’s a bat’s chance in hell that I will be considered. But as a software engineer, I feel as […]

It’s A Feature, Not Technical Debt

June 14, 2016

Our product offers customers the ability to send us certain data that we ingest into Hadoop. With this data we can do some pretty amazing analytics on their behalf. This is a feature with immense value, and it works exactly as designed. It was designed by engineers, however, and lovely people though we may be, […]

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Debugging Human Nutrition

May 1, 2016
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During my lifetime multiple foods have been deemed either good or bad — many both. Salt. Eggs. Meat. Carbs. Organic. Butter. Margarine. Fat. Vitamins. Sugar. High-fructose Corn Syrup. Broccoli. Kale. Donuts (Mmm, donuts). Too many ingredients. E-Coli. Preservatives. It doesn’t seem to be converging.

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The Value of a Computer Science Degree? Null.

April 23, 2016

With Spring comes the green shoots of recently minted CS graduates. They are smart, hard-working, eager, and excited to be working at a real software company. If only they had even the remotest preparation or skills needed. I have interviewed a lot of recent grads over the years. I have worked at a lot of […]

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Using StackOverflow to Learn by Teaching

April 17, 2016
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“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough” is a quote attributed to Albert Einstein. Working in a technical world, I know this to be true. I am learning lots of new things now, even more than usual, which is excellent and why I love software and systems development. At the […]

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Brilliance is not so Bright

March 20, 2016
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I work for software companies so I have been lucky enough to work with a lot of really smart people in my career. Working with smart people is a blast. Intelligence is by no means limited to software or other high-tech or other careers involving college degrees. Ed Timilty is a plumber, boiler mechanic and […]

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Another Approach to Testing Big Data

February 13, 2016
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There are some good strategies for how to test in a big data context, in this case Hadoop. Most rightly point out that you need to test: data that has been staged on Hadoop from its source the logic and process of transformation the correctness and completeness of the target data sets There are challenges […]

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Declare Your Variables to Communicate Clearly

February 3, 2016

Ah, Bob. One of the first incredibly brilliant engineers I worked with. Funny, great, and a friend for life. But Bob didn’t declare his variables. Conversations from him would start “So I tried that thing. I think it worked. This issue is that it was wrong, but the doc didn’t mention it so I checked […]

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Developer vs. Engineer, An Alphabet Angle

January 24, 2016
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Back in 2013 I wrote of a distinction between developer and engineer that my excellent boss Babis Marmanis often talked about. Many people, he said, could develop a method of crossing a river. Engineers would design and oversee construction of a proper bridge that would last for centuries. I was at Pubget at the time. […]

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