Programming Posts

Nostalgia for the golden age of the Mac desktop platform

In 2009 I got my first Mac laptop. I had been running Mandriva Linux on a beat up HP Pavillion through the first two years of my computer science program, and the week it finally died on me a Gizmodo “Dealzmodo” post advertised a liquidation of last-generation 15 inch Macbook Pros by a reseller. I got my Mac and promptly discovered the unprecedented ecosystem of fantastic, passionately-crafted desktop software built for the platform by small, independent software houses. In retrospect I’ve come to believe that the period from around 2005 to perhaps 2010 was truly the golden era of desktop Mac applications.

Remote workforce as a superpower
Puzl Coworking Space in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Remote workforce as a superpower

Throughout the year 2017 I found myself working in a half dozen spots across 3 continents and many more timezones. This experience led me to develop an increasingly lucid conviction about the profound benefits that remote workforces can bring to a business.

Pre-requisites

I feel that often when a company rejects remote hiring, or revokes remote work policies (such as former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously did in 2013 while kicking off her tenure that ultimately ran the company into the ground) an implicit or explicit dimension of the decision is lack of trust. If you cannot trust your employees to do work when you are not watching, then indeed you should not have a remote team. I would caution that if you find yourself this circumstance it may be a signal of a much larger issue with your team makeup and probably demands urgent introspection.

Defaulting to non-disruptive communication

One of the most profound benefits of having a remote team is that generally team members will default to asynchronous and non-disruptive forms of communication. This can benefit workers in any role but it is particularly valuable for developers, who rely on having blocks of uninterrupted time to focus and think through complex problems.

2 weeks in Saigon
The Saigon skyline at night (Photo credit: TripSavvy)

2 weeks in Saigon

I spent the final 2 weeks of the year in Ho Chi Minh City (colloquially/formerly “Saigon”), Vietnam with a group of friends from Hacker Paradise. I wanted to share some quick impressions of the city while the experience is still fresh in my head.

Piña Colada Driven Development on the island of Ko Lanta

Piña Colada Driven Development on the island of Ko Lanta

I have spent the past month on the island of Ko Lanta, on the Andaman Sea in southern Thailand. I couldn’t have imagined a place more dramatically different from the cities I’ve spent the majority of my time for the last decade. It’s been a welcome departure, and I’ve even managed to work while here, without sacrificing enjoyment of the natural beauty, swims in the ocean and sunset drinks.

A retrospective on one month in Chiang Mai
A Chiang Mai alleyway. Photo credit: richardhwc (Flickr)

A retrospective on one month in Chiang Mai

I just wrapped up my month with Hacker Paradise in Chiang Mai, Thailand and have settled into my accommodation in Ko Lanta. I had done a post a month ago when I’d just arrived detailing my first impressions of the place and figure I should do a retrospective post now that I’ve spent quite a bit more time in the city. I loved Chiang Mai, and hope to return in the future. That said, I wanted to highlight both the good and the bad, to try and give people an accurate picture of what it is really like to live there for a month.

Asia, Hacker Paradise and Plans for 2017-18
Ristr8o Cafe, Nimman. A popular cafe in my neighborhood and one that nicely represents the vibe in Chiang Mai. Photo credit: BK Magazine

Asia, Hacker Paradise and Plans for 2017-18

I have been in Chiang Mai, Thailand since past Saturday with Hacker Paradise, a roving group of creatives and remote workers. I joined Hacker Paradise on the recommendation of a friend, who had been on a prior trip. It is my first time in Asia, and so far there has been a tremendous amount to take in.

I have been in Chiang Mai just 4 full days right now, and will certainly be sharing a more mature perspective on the city as my month here progresses. So far there has been both a lot that squarely aligns with preconceptions I’d had of the city, and also quite a lot that has been a surprise.

What gear are you in?
Ironically, I think these are single-speed bikes.

What gear are you in?

I recently read a wonderful profile of a young Larry Ellison by serial entrepreneur and teacher Steve Blank. One passage leapt out at me for its relevance to many recent experiences of my own:

Larry ascribed to the adage, “We don’t do things right, we do the right things.”

I was reminded of another aphorism I’d once heard – a bicycling metaphor:

It’s not how fast you pedal, it’s what gear you’re in.

I’ve seen time and again that one of the most destructive things to a software development team, be their product nascent or mature, is bad prioritization.

Taking Cloud66 for a spin

Taking Cloud66 for a spin

I decided to take Cloud66 for a spin recently, after finding myself dissatisfied with the bespoke configuration management solutions I typically work with. I felt that there had to be something that gave me a Heroku/12-factor -like admin experience but atop hardware of my choosing. I have found this solution in Cloud66, and I am stunned that this tool doesn’t receive more attention. My impression is that, for applications of a certain shape, it is the solution that many companies are looking for but don’t know exists.