May 312021
 

We’re all used to dealing with different environments in our code. On the surface, this just means that we need to make sure our code runs fine in all of our environments. But what about the other services that your code is consuming? If your reaction is that it’s the responsibility of the team writing and running that code to make sure that it’s up and running, you’re living in a fantasy. At some point, you have to write (and maintain) your side of the connection to those services, and if something goes wrong, you have to be able to show the issue isn’t on your end. Oh, this is assuming an exact 1-1 match between your environment and their environment (for example, your dev to their dev, your QA to their QA). Even if the external environment doesn’t use the same naming conventions as you, having each of your environments connect to 1 (and only 1) environment of an external service simplifies things exponentially. If people are asking that you update your code to point to other environments of your dependencies, your life gets complicated fast.

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 Posted by at 8:00 AM
Apr 302021
 

Not too long ago, my friend Warren tweeted a link to Atkin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design. That in turn got me thinking about Peter’s Laws: The Creed For The Sociopathic Obssessive Compulsive (which I had in poster form for the better part of a decade), and that inspired me to think of truisms I’ve learned about software development over the years. I may not have enough to fill a full 20+ (or even 40+) item list, but maybe I’ll update and add to it over the years. So without further ado, I present to you, Hydrick’s Laws For Software Development.

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 Posted by at 11:45 AM
Apr 012021
 

Cryptocurrencies changed the game in terms of currencies, bringing money forward into the Internet age. Since its introduction in 2008, Bitcoin has redefined how people buy and sell online. Since Bitcoin’s initial introduction, we’ve seen more cryptocurrencies enter the market, from Ethereum to Dogecoin. And now, I’m pleased to announce a thrilling new cryptocurrency designed for artists and young professionals just starting out…Exposure.

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 Posted by at 8:00 AM
Mar 312021
 

During some recent performance testing at work, we noticed an endpoint showing slower than usual response times. Digging into the calls, we found that on slow responses, virtually all the time was spent on waiting for a specific lambda function to return data. Digging into that function we found several calls that appeared to be timing out, and many others that were taking 9-10 seconds. This lead to a day or 2 spent reading up on the workings of AWS lambdas and how they work with Java. What was probably most striking is that while the solution to our problem was eventually findable with some Googling – and the “fix” involved practices that are mentioned in the official AWS documentation – they’re almost mentioned in passing, and don’t call out the performance impacts they have on your billed runtime.

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 Posted by at 11:45 AM
Feb 282021
 

Software development is like a lot of jobs, in that there’s some sort of system that lists the things you need to work on. Doctors and lawyers have appointments, technicians have calls, and software developers have tickets. It’s a fairly basic idea, open whatever ticket tracking software you use, find the stuff that’s assigned to you, do the work, move the ticket to the next step in the process when you’re done, rinse and repeat. That said, it’s still easy to create unnecessary problems for yourself just by getting lazy when working with tickets. So with that in mind, here’s a few “commandments” that will make the administrative part of your life easier.

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 Posted by at 12:00 PM
Jan 312021
 

Like a lot of developers, I’ve worked on applications that solve business problems for almost all of my career (there was that brief time I worked for a government contractor). I’ve started to realize that there’s a lot of overlap between charities and businesses in terms of the general types of problems that they need solved. For starters, a lot of charitable organizations employ people to run the operation, so any employment/business management software would apply there. Then there’s the fact that there are certain types of problems that are universal to organizations trying to do something for other people. Businesses want to solve these problems to be better at making money, and charities want to solve them to be better at helping people, but they’re still the same classes of problems, and both of them could use cost-effective solutions to help them.

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 Posted by at 11:45 AM
Dec 312020
 

So how’s the whole remote learning thing working out for everybody? That’s a rhetorical question, people have no problem talking about how much they hate the whole setup. I get that parents want their kids to go back to school (or at least give them some peace and quiet while they’re trying to work from home), but not only have we been at this for a while, a lot of us are likely to still be at this, likely for the rest of the school year. It’s really frustrating, but now that we’ve moved from the “This is good enough to finish the semester and then next fall we’ll be back to normal” of spring 2020, to “Well, we actually did this for a whole year” (calendar year at least), it’s time to start having a little bit of a retrospective on virtual education, what does work, what doesn’t, how how it needs to change to be useful in the future.

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 Posted by at 8:00 AM
Nov 302020
 

Anyone remember back when companies would try to be “cool” by advertising that they were looking for a “ninja” or “rock-start” software engineer? Thankfully, those days really are just memories (hopefully the days of the “10X egnineer” will go extinct soon, too). These terms were stupid as job titles because they had no bearing on what you actually did for a living. A “rock star” means that you spent some amount of time being playing in the Silver Bullet Band. And if people know that you’re a ninja, then you were really bad at it. I suppose these job titles stemmed from words people used to describe some the better developers where they worked, but there’s a difference between internal compliments and an actual role at a company. That said, the most useful role within any company is probably the programming equivalent of a plumber.

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 Posted by at 11:45 AM
Oct 242020
 

Election season is upon us yet again, which means it’s just about time for anyone who’s not registered as being affiliated with 1 of the 2 major parties to start hearing about how voting for anyone other than {speaker’s preferred major party candidate} is effectively voting for {candidate from the other major party that the speaker can’t stand}. It’s my biggest pet peeve of the whole process, mostly because the argument is stupid. Vote who you want to vote for, and if they’re not running under a “Big 2” ticket, then vote for them anyways, they’re who you want to vote for.

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 Posted by at 4:04 PM
Sep 302020
 

It’s real easy to get lost in the day-to-day of software development, especially if what you’re doing doesn’t fall under a heading that most people would call “game-changing.” As a result, we don’t really feel like talking about it. The downside to that is it means you’re not keeping your public-facing work updated with what’s going on, what technologies you’re using, or really anything else that would indicate that you’re still working at all. It’s tempting to go silent, but I’m beginning to think it’s good to just talk about the uneventful and non-noteworthy stuff, just to remind ourselves that the normal day-to-day is…well, normal.

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 Posted by at 11:45 AM