Seek Independent Evaluation of Your Work

May 27, 2021

When evaluating your own work, seek independent evaluation and be ready to learn from others. Consciously choose to use criteria other than “but that’s the way I like it” to determine if your implementation has merit.

You don’t have to accept all suggested changes, but I’ve never had an occasion where I end up making zero changes due to critique.

Try to use more-objective criteria such as “performance”, “idiomatic implementation”, and “interoperability with other components”. They tend to stand the test of time vs emotional or trendy directions.

If you have a team, enlist the help of one or two trusted colleagues to whom you report your progress regularly instead of going into the weeds on your own. Having a tether to your team’s zeitgeist helps warn you if you’re off on a potentially contradictory tangent.

Don’t say it’s crazy

May 24, 2021

I’ve decided to start watching my language and stop using words that imply that there is a clear line between sanity and insanity. I will try to stop the casual use of words like “crazy”, “insane”, “nuts”, “loony”, etc., instead substituting more descriptive words like “ridiculous”, “nonsensical”, “irrational”, or other adjectives.

In my 22+ years of work in the computing industry and in social life, I’ve met SO many people who have admitted to some measure of mental illness: Asperger’s/autism spectrum, ADHD, anxiety or panic disorders, depression (so much depression), and many more. In fact, I run into people with some amount of mental illness SO REGULARLY that it seems like it’s just a part of being human.

I’m not a mental health professional, but my understanding is that mental health, just like physical health, is a continuum: we are not simply either ill or not ill; we all have some characteristics of health and illness. We go through bouts of good times and bad, and we develop skills and behaviors to compensate for our weaknesses. (I’d appreciate if my friends who ARE mental health professionals would correct me if I’m mistaken!)

In any case, I hope that by using less-judgmental language I can help to continue decreasing the ridiculous (see what I did there) social stigma against mental illness, and encourage more people to get help without feeling persecuted. I hope you will join me in doing the same.

Luck and Striking it Rich

February 14, 2021

Saw this thread on twitter about career paths and payoffs that caught my attention:

Threadreader link

If you want to extract the maximum amount of payoff from your tech career path, that is probably quite a profitable path.


What’s missing from this discussion is the role that luck plays in this game. Sure, joining fast-growing companies early is a grand strategy, but how do you spot one of those? And what if you’re wrong? Would you accept years of minimum salary and worthless stock options?

Read more…

It’s Apparent

November 4, 2020

It’s November 4th, and some things are now pretty apparent.

US Flag Mosaic “Mosaic US Flag Brickell Fire Station” by Phillip Pessar1

It’s apparent that half the country supports what Trump and the GOP are doing. That all the lies, corruption, and racism is fine—and even good.

It’s apparent that half the country sees the other half as engaging in a culture war to erode the primacy of the straight white man and his traditional cis-het family with their Evangelical views; and that protecting this myth is paramount. Diversity, racial equality, “new” sexual orientations and gender identities…these are perceived as attacks on what it means to be an American.

It’s apparent that the technique used by dictators still work: convince a traditionally-dominant class currently undergoing an emotional loss of identity that they have always been the chosen people, and that you will lead them back to greatness against the corrupt hordes taking over the land, and they will support you, even as you destroy their institutions and plunder their wealth.

  1. “Mosaic US Flag Brickell Fire Station” by Phillip Pessar is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit 

Read more…

The Quiet Ones

October 30, 2020

You see, I think [Steve Jobs] better than anyone understood that while ideas ultimately can be so powerful, they begin as fragile, barely formed thoughts, so easily missed, so easily compromised, so easily just squished. — Jony Ive

Pay attention to the quieter people in your team. Your attention may not be naturally drawn to them, but they work as hard as the ones who dominate the conversation, monopolize the white board, or make the loudest noises.

A dominant and outspoken personality will take over every conversation. To an introvert, this is like sucking oxygen out of the room: it leaves them unable to think or express themselves, and ultimately leads to their disinterest and discouragement.

A wise leader limits the influence of the outspoken, dominant characters in the group to ensure that the thoughtful and the slow to speak also have their ideas heard and hard work recognized.

< Newer Posts