If all you have is MS Project, everything looks like a time estimate

On of things that struck me the most when observing managers at work, and in particular newly instated managers, is how managers become more and more out of touch with the realities of work. There’s actually a lot of research on that from quite a bit of different perspectives. Safety research for example has interesting things to say about “work as imagined” and “work as done”. This doesn’t happen over night of course, but rather a slow process - and I found it has a lot to do with the shift from doing and experiencing to planning and monitoring. [Read More]

Plans are valuable, but planning is invaluable

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. Dwight D. Eisenhower What would you give for the ability to predict the future? a lot I presume. Knowing the future (and being free to act on it) can make you rich, sucessful, almost indestructable. What would you give to know the future with 90% probability of being right? well, if you can participate in the lottery every week 90% pretty much guarantees success, definitely valuable. [Read More]

No, engineers don't suck at time estimates

No, engineers don’t suck at time estimates - and generally speaking humans are better estimators than what most people believe. This seems rather surprising given all we’ve heard about the problems of bad time estimations, projects going overboard, etc and of course, your personal experience with software time estimates. But if people are really bad at estimation, how does that fit with our obvious evolutionary need to make quick decisions based on partial data? [Read More]

The Burndown Chart Fallacy

Have you ever walked into an office and saw a huge flat screen on the wall displaying a dashboard with pretty graphs, or some other nice visualization showing some important looking numbers? Back when people still frequented offices, many had them. But have you ever wondered, what are they for? No engineer is looking at them, because when you are looking at data you want to interact with the data, zoom, pan or apply some filter. [Read More]

The Fullstack conundrum and the commoditization of web development

From meetup groups to job listings to titles on LinkedIn, full-stackers are all around. but for a term so prevalent it is surprisingly ambiguous. What is a “full-stack” developer? What does she do? What is the scope of her work? Does our company need one? Practical questions I imagine have crossed the minds of many VP R&Ds and CTOs. It would have been nice to have a common definition, but human languages is dynamic and evolves, so fragmentation and ambiguity are part of the game. [Read More]

Blame It on the Phones

Since I’ve abandoned Facebook my primary source of technews has become Twitter and this week my feed is raging with two seemingly unrelated security/privacy incidents: Zoom’s zero day and Superhuman’s email tracking scandal. I write “seemingly”, because despite these being two very different companies operating in two different markets (Zoom in video conference calls and Superhuman in emails), building very different products (Zoom is all about jump in, jump out - Superhuman is a workspace) these incidents stem from the same fundemental fault: The telephone experience. [Read More]

Why conference speakers should not be paid

A few months back, the twitteshphere rumbled on how wrong it is that conference speakers are not paid. In tweets and blogs, people have called out for conferences to pay speakers travel expenses and even pay them a fee for their work in preparing and delivering the talks. As an example, this article on medium.com. Initially, I was taken by the arguments: If someone is travelling from afar to speak, their costs should be reimburst. [Read More]

My burnout is not your burnout

I’m usually a private person and I don’t publicly write about personal stuff - This is my first ever personal public piece. There are several reasons why I’m writing this; Since John Willis brought up the issue of burnout to the spotlight there has been a spur of blog posts and articles about burnout and some people have been gracious enough to share their personal story. After reading people’s stories I came to realize how important it is to share those experiences, I’ll get back to that in the end. [Read More]

Why a private cloud is an exercise in futility

Every corporation and enterprise want a private cloud these days. The arguments vary from company to company, usually revolving around security, cost, independence and strangely enough — reliability. I could argue that given the track record of most enterprise IT departments it seems dubious they can improve even one of these parameters compared to a public cloud, but I won’t. It turns out there’s no point refuting those arguments, because, and I cannot emphasize this enough:

You are going to end up using a public cloud, even if it’s more expensive and less secure, less reliable and less independent

[Read More]

The Ironies of Reliability

Reliability promotes failures. Failures promote reliability When a system is reliable long enough, production pressure causes the operators to drive the system harder; Over time operators become less careful as the trauma of the last failure wears off. More workload is applied, new features introduced, etc, until the system trails again into the danger zone (e.g. high load once thought to be dangerous), sailing through smoothly this time, thus boosting the confidence of operators in the robustness of their system. [Read More]