You’re Doing Wha?
So now that some of the dust has settled and we’re in the final stages of packing up I thought I’d make a formal announcement that we’re moving back to Kansas. It’s something we’ve talked about since Josie was born 4 years ago. Both of our families are largely still in Kansas and it’s hard to raise a child away from grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles.
We’d been more seriously considering it for the last 3 months or so. We were both sitting at about 50/50 for a long time between Boulder and Lawrence. It’s impossible to draw up a pro/con list between the two because Boulder wins every time for most things but it’s hard to put a weight on friends and family.
We had decided that we’d make a final decision about the move next summer after Josie’s surgery to remove her spleen for her blood disorder. Her hematologist is at Children’s Hospital in Denver and we don’t want to change any of that. My wife Erica is a librarian in Broomfield and just happened to be looking at the Lawrence Public Library website and saw there was a job opening in the collection development department specifically doing development for the young adult section. This is an ideal role for her and involves no nights or weekends which is an added bonus.
I figured with libraries being cut as much as they are she’d have a hard time finding a job even in Kansas City let alone Lawrence so I told her to apply for it and we’d see what happened. The posting closed the next day so she stayed up until midnight and filled out all the paperwork and updated her resume. They called her for an interview the next week and offered her the job the week after that. We still hadn’t decided for sure if we wanted to move so we went out to dinner at Free State Brewery and decided to make the leap.
Work and School
So obviously this put me in a bit of a bind since I’d just started a job I love at SendGrid about six months ago. After much discussion we reached and agreement where I’m going to continue my job working remotely. I’m going to travel to the Boulder office one week out of every four to spend with the rest of the team. I’m so excited I get to keep my awesome job while still doing what we feel we need to do for our family. Have I mentioned we’re hiring?!?
Timing You Ask?
So right now we’re in the process of packing up part of the house and have been remodeling our kitchen a bit to get it ready to put on the market. Erica starts her job on 9/10 so we’re moving her and Josie into an apartment there this coming weekend. I’m going to come back and work another week here while I wrap up things on the house. I’ll move back on 9/14. We’ll be living in an apartment until our house sells here and we find a new one in Lawrence.
Well, that’s about it. Boulder is an amazing place and will always hold a special place in our hearts. We were married on Flagstaff Mountain and Josie was born in Boulder Community Hospital. We’ve had an amazing time but just decided we’ve had our time in the bubble and it was time to let someone else in for a turn.
I’m excited to announce that WeatherHop is now fully up and running. I built this site over the last few months as a way to try and help improve notifications for severe weather events. Whether it’s a tornado, severe thunderstorm, flood, or winter storm warning, you can configure the type of alerts you want to receive for each.
The Basic and above plans allow for voice calls and SMS provided by Twilio as well as emails provided by SendGrid. The free plan offers notifications via Facebook and Twitter posts. In addition, the Pro plan allows for up to 3 locations to be configured and there is also an enterprise plan which is targeted towards larger companies.
Please check it out and let me know of any feedback you have!
Leadership books can provide a lot of great information about how to run companies. I’ve read a lot of great ones, some not so great ones, and some shitty ones. The problem with most of them is they were not written by software developers, for software developers. Trying to manage a development team using the techniques in these books is a good way to end up with a team of unhappy, unmotivated developers.
The Level 5 Leader
If you’re trying to find or develop Level 5 leaders on your dev team you’re at best wasting your time, at worst mortally wounding the moral of your team. While the Level 5 leader makes a lot of sense for the type of person you want to running your company, trying to get everyone to aspire to that or think in that mindset is a mistake.
It’s not to say developers don’t need mentorship and coaching but the one-size-fits-all approach of most leadership books can be damaging when applied to developers. I’ve seen too many happy developers/engineers/designers/etc become frustrated due to the type of management that from the outside looks to be “textbook”.
Why is it Wrong?
With the occasional exception, most developers want to get their shit done. Asking for status updates, commitments to deadlines, meetings to discuss progress, conference calls to discuss known issues, etc. is counterproductive. This is especially true for your top developers that know the process, requirements, expectations, etc.
Below is a simple formula for leading a development team from a project perspective.
- Make sure your team knows what is expected up front
- CLEAR THE PATH
- Make sure your team knows you can help them track down any questions
- CLEAR THE PATH
- Make sure your team knows you’ll address any blocking issues
- CLEAR THE PATH
So the key here in case you couldn’t tell is clearing the path for your team. They know what needs to be done, help them do it.
“So where do you see yourself in 5 years?” Everyone’s favorite question right? While I hate the question, the point of it is valid. You need to make sure you know you’re doing what you need to in order to support your team in their career goals. The problem is this shouldn’t be a question you ask every 6 months in a formal review. You should know the members of your team better than that.
You should know their strengths and weaknesses and know the direction they’re heading. You should have the conversation when it appropriate and makes sense, not when the HR department says it’s time to.
To sum all this up, your development team needs to know you have their back. They’re going to bust their ass for you if you just let them. So go forth and don’t be an obstruction to your team.
While these two topics are often discussed in the same context, they are in many ways, opposing ideas. Continuous Delivery requires a path to production for any code that is ready to be released but Continuous Integration says you should be integrating all of your latest code together multiple times per day. This makes releasing a certain feature that is ready difficult because it has been integrated with other code that may not be ready for prime-time.
In this post I’ll talk through a couple of techniques to find the balance of continually integrating your latest code while also being able to do on-demand releases of any work that is ready.
Branch By Feature
While this has typically been frowned upon by the CI crowd, there are some benefits to this approach. The perceived negatives of this approach are:
- * It promotes long running feature branches where the code isn’t integrated with other work until it is pushed into the trunk.
- * Branching has a lot of overhead.
- * It causes developers to work in a silo where they are not in touch with the rest of the team.
While these can be negatives, there are some techniques that can be applied to get around these. GitHub branches by feature successfully by pulling down latest from master for any feature branch that runs longer than a few days and utilizing pull requests to move code between branches. They also are able to run their test suite on any branch. A few things that can make branching by feature work better:
- * Keep your work items small. Small work items or stories can be completed in a couple days or less which should immediately be merged into master and released once they are completed and have passed all automated tests. Feature toggles may be required in order to hide incomplete features.
- * Merging down from master allows you to keep your branch in sync with anything that’s been released to production.
Integrated Feature Branches
I first read about this from a post from Adam Dymitruk as I was investigating a similar solution for my company. It basically starts out like the above flow from GitHub but adds in a CI branch. Each feature is developed in isolation but regular checkins and merges are made to an integration branch where tests are run and you verify that all of the in-progress code plays nice.
The key to making this work with CD is to only merge up to the CI branch and never merge down. By merging down you lose the ability to deploy your code in isolation so this should be avoided.
In the event you want to use some code someone has written in another branch you can cherry pick it from that branch directly without talking to the integration branch. Some other benefits of this approach are:
- * It keeps the ability to release code to production in isolation.
- * Code is still integrated constantly to ensure developers aren’t breaking each other’s code and not knowing for days or weeks.
- * It also allows for more rapid development since you are able to focus solely on your code in isolation.
- * When using Git on another DVCS you can still collaborate with other developers on a single feature branch.
Obviously tooling becomes very important for branching by feature to work. Using something old school like SVN or TFS will have obvious issues with all of the branching and merging but in theory it would still work. More modern systems like Git or Mercurial makes this much easier among other things.
Now go forth and branch, integrate, and ship your code!
I officially opened up the site I’ve been working on this morning to new users. You can signup for free at www.twistertracker.com and start tracking severe storms and tornadoes as they happen.
So I’ve been struggling lately after trying to update my native/macport installation of Ruby/RubyGems/Rails to 1.9.2 and Rails3. After tons and tons of errors I decided to try RVM. Worked like a champ! I was up and running in less than 10 minutes. I’d highly recommend it if you are having configuration issues on OS X.
- I really need to get my annual salary into the $2 million range. It's nice there are programs for the uber wealthy. http://nyti.ms/d6Nwpp #
- Today's lunchtime ride up flagstaff http://connect.garmin.com/activity/46123576 #
- Is about 3/4 unpacked so far. I wil l need to build some shelves in the garage before I can finish that. #
- Cool shot of the fog in #boulder from hwy 93. http://twitpic.com/2fbjom #
- Just got done taking Josie to the #boulder farmers market for dinner then to see the band on the bricks. Big evening of fun for a toddler. #
- 6.5 mile run on the mesa trail monday, climbing at @thespotgym tuesday, 7.5 mile run today, bike up linden planned tmrrw. Each during lunch. #
- Today's lunch ride up Linden in #boulder Probably the steepest ride around. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/45237238 #
- Had fun hanging out with all our KC area friends. Drank some good beers and watched all of the girls play together. #