Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The sequence below was seen in the comments on io9, and I thought it was somewhat brilliant:

Is this one of those "Try to Spot the Difference"
games. I love those!

Did...did we just become friends...? 

Monday, November 14, 2011

From the Ironic Juxtaposition Department

Flipping through the feed for Gawker, I see this from two hours ago:

Watch a 12-year-old put your startup to shame

and I see this from six hours ago:

Why did this 22-year-old entrepreneur commit suicide?

The profundity of the comments regarding the pressures of the technology business were matched only by the depth of snarkiness of the comments about the 12-year-old.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Reading Revolution

Presented with an upcoming vacation, and presented with the ever falling price of kindles, I'm in that uncomfortable zone where an original Kindle for $79 is totally in my price range (anything less than three digits is really attractive to me for some reason).

However, you can get what is essentially a tablet with the new Kindle Fire, for only $200. The thing I worry about is that when will that $200 be down to $99 or less. Probably soon.

I know that it's kind of a high-class problem having to decide between what gadget you should get for some ridiculously low price. I'll probably just get some paper books for this vacation and wait for the free Kindle that will get bundled with the New York Times some time in the near future.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Messing around with MySql

Odd moment today. I was fooling around with mysql date functions and ran the following:

mysql> select now()+0 from dual;
| now()+0 |
| 20110901111111.000000 |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

It looked funny at first glance, but then I realized that I'd run the query at exactly 11:11:11 on 2011-09-01

No, this is not really that big of a deal. Just tickled my coincidence antennae.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Debt Crisis? Which Kind?

I was sniffing around the dusty corners of my LinkedIn profile, and recalled a group that I'd started three years ago when I was at Netflix: Software Quality People Who Run With Scissors.

Seems like I was looking in on the group about once a year, since there were some folks who had asked to join and it had been a year since the last batch of folks was all added at once.

Anyway, I dusted it off and made it an open group. To try and seed the discussion, I posted the following reaction I had to an idea I heard at a recent Meetup:

Agile has the idea of technical debt. An elaboration heard recently resonated with me. There are three kinds: design debt, quality debt and test debt.

Design debt is the more commonly thought of type of technical debt. You're compromising your current work in some way that will affect the future flexibility or maintainability of the system.

Quality debt is just another way to think about bugs in the system. I suppose you could also map them as "unintentional design debt". They are work you can either do now or defer until later, but that deferral has a cost in either maintainability, customer experience or business process disruption.

Test debt was the one that was most interesting to me. This is measured by the total time needed to regress the product after every iteration. This is the most insidious of the three types of debt. If you're developing software in an agile fashion, but you're not building automated tests to support the effort, this debt can grow without bound and it grows very quickly. It becomes either a crushing workload or an exercise in triage as to which parts of the regression suite are most important to run.

You can't ever have a project without some kind of debt (well, you could, but you'd either never ship anything useful or you'd never iterate enough to make it significantly better). However, being aware of how much debt you're carrying and thinking about the cost to your team's productivity is an important exercise.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moved to Chegg

Today's my one-month anniversary at Chegg. I'm managing the test engineering and release engineering teams. We're doing a lot of interesting work in "helping students save time, save money and get smarter" <-- blatant mention of company mission.

Anyway, I'm looking for Software Engineers in Test to help scale the test engineering efforts to match the growth of the company and the increasing velocity of change. Want to help? Click for the details.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Potential 'Curb' Moment

I had a potential 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' moment this morning (but I'm not Larry David, so nothing actually happened).

I get to the office building and enter the lobby. I call the elevator, and two elevators arrive, side by side. A gentleman had come into the lobby right behind me, mesmerized by his smartphone. He's right in front of the left-hand elevator, I'm right in front of the right-hand elevator. I enter the right-hand elevator, and for some reason, he follows me in. I punch 14, and he punches 5 while continuing to be absorbed in his email or texting.

Impulse: "Why didn't you take the other elevator? Now I have to stop on the way up when we both could have gone directly to our floors!"

Impulse control:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Great Ideas Are Always Reinvented

Last night, we had a recruiting happy hour for OPOWER. In discussing the beverages at hand, and idea arose for the bourbarita -- a bourbon based margarita. We thought it was novel. Silly us. The first mention in google is from 2006, and there's a North Carolina foodie's blog with a recipe from 2007.

Haven't tried one yet, but maybe some day.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Words you wouldn't expect to be in a spell checker

I was typing an email a few minutes ago, and used the word 'automagically'. Much to my surprise, in Chrome and Safari, the spellchecker didn't fire, but the one in Firefox did.

I guess Firefox is for spelling conservatives and Chrome/Safari are on the other side of the aisle. You'd think that there would be some kind of standard for a single shared spell-checking resource on a person's computer.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Oops, I Did It Again

Decided to post another Netflix based screed over on Seeking Alpha.

Why do I keep doing it? I think it's because of all the closed-minded opinions that I keep seeing blathered all over the interwebs.

Of course, how am I really that different with the blathering, except that I'm blathering in a positive vein, and I'm hoping that sharing my past experiences inside the company will help someone understand that there's really something new going on here.

Of course, it could all come crashing down tomorrow, and then won't I look foolish...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What I Like about DC

One of the great things about being in Washington DC is that there are many moment of "oh! that's cool!"

For example, when I was walking to dinner on my last trip out in December, I came across the NPR building. Just your basic stell and glass office building with the lower-case 'npr' all lit up on the side. I heard in my head the voices of the radio personalities and I smiled.

Today, walking back from the Metro, in the block before I got to my hotel, I looked in to a lobby and saw the logo for the American Dental Association, which was exactly the same as the logo that I've been seeing on my tubes of Crest toothpaste since I was a child.

There've been a lot of these kind of moments: National Education Association, Daughters of the American Revolution, Monday's run past the USAID/Customs shared building.

There is something very special about our nation's capital. Just wish it wasn't quite so cold.

Another article on Seeking Alpha

I wrote another little article over on SA. It was about Netflix's change in policy towards releasing results and conference call questions.

I think it's a great step forward, and it generated some interesting discussion about whether it is a step forward, or whether it just gores the oxen of the "establishment".

Monday, January 17, 2011

Back in DC again

I got to DC yesterday for another week near the Nation's Capitol. Happenings in the fabulous Arlington office of OPOWER include:

And other hilarious hijinks.

Went running this morning. From 14th & M down to the Mall and back. Very cold outside, but this time (unlike in December) I brought along some sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Still forgot a hat. Duh. Things noticed:

  1. Customs & Border Protection shares a building with USAID (US Agency for International Development). Seems strange to have one building that says "Here, we'll help you develop your own economy, as long as you stay away from us."
  2. You can see both the White House and the Capitol Building as you stand on Freedom Plaza crossing Pennsylvania Avenue.
  3. The Washington Monument is really pretty when lit up in the dark of the early morning hours.

And finally, on the bus to work this morning (track maintenance on the Metro) I saw the Potomac crusted over with ice. It makes perfect sense, but it was shocking to actually see it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I'm a Published Author Now!

You may have noticed the 'Seeking Alpha Certified' seal in the right margin. It means that I wrote something they consider sufficiently clever to share with their broader audience as an article. I wrote a short piece about how I really think that Netflix doesn't have any direct competition at this point. It got picked up in the Yahoo 'news' feed for their NFLX stock page. Some interesting comments and conversations arose from it.

I also heard back from a couple of folks at Netflix who saw it picked up as 'news'. One guy, based on just the title, was about to forward it to me as an example of how at least one Wall Street analyst finally 'gets it', but then he realized that I was the author.

So, now that I'm a contributor at Seeking Alpha, apparently I can get press credentials to financial conferences, get free books to review for Seeking Alpha, and other stuff.

I was actually kind of amazed to see that the article I wrote got over 3,000 page views. I'm sure not more than 100 of those were my checking back to see comments and respond to them. :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Prune Juice. WTF *is* Prune Juice?

As I was shaving this morning, I thought about prune juice. My mind arrived there as a result of a conversation between me and my wife about root beer. She'd seen some celebrity drinking a root beer in one of the weeklies, and she said "I guess 'x' likes root beer."

I replied, "Maybe that's all that they had?"

She said, "You don't do that with root beer. Oh, that's all that's left, I'll have a root beer. You have to like it."

I considered that. "Just like you think that Dr. Pepper has prune juice in it?"

Then I thought about prune juice. A prune is a dried plum. If it's been dried, then where do they get any juice from? It's not like you can drink 'raisin juice'.
Of course, wikipedia knows all.
Prune juice is made by softening prunes through steaming and then putting them through a pulper to create a watery puree.

Interestingly enough, that page also points out that the Dr. Pepper assertion is a long-standing urban myth.
So, prune juice is actually a dried plum puree. Enjoy!