The Sweet Spot
On software development, engineering leadership, machine learning and all things shiny.
2020
June
PM-less Engineering Teams: Part 2 - The Idea Backlog

How do you teach engineers to think like PMs? You give them the awesome and scary responsibility of choosing their work. Our team learned how to think and prioritize strategically by collectively building an Idea Backlog where we dream up and prioritize impactful projects to tackle. Here's how it works.

May
PM-less Engineering Teams: Part 1 - Into the Wild

Can a team with a recently-departed product manager learn to survive on its own?

January
High Output Management for (Non-managing) Tech Leads

If you've worked in tech long enough, you'll hear praise for Andy Grove's High Output Management, oft-praised as a touchstone of technology management (Grove is often referred to as the "Father of the OKR"). A year or so ago, I got to read his book through Harrison Metal's General Management course. What can you apply from the book when you're a tech lead, and not actually a manager?

2019
December
Integrating Personas in User-Centered ML Model Development

For all the toil that went into developing the pipeline and deep learning model for my ML baby monitor project, I discovered that my model didn't actually solve the problem at hand. This kind of gap exists in the real world of ML development as well, and there's a critical insight from the field of User-Centered Design that could be the key to bridging it.

October
TensorFlow for Tears (Or: Can Neural Networks Make Me a Better Parent?) - Part 3

Over a year ago, I wrote a couple of blog posts about how I trained a TensorFlow model on audio clips of my crying baby so I could get some insights into his sleep patterns and behavior. I distilled this experience into a PyGotham talk titled "Can Neural Networks Make Me a Better Parent?" and it reflects some extra maturity in my machine learning knowledge, as well as some hard-won parenting wisdom and experience.

March
My Biggest Three Mistakes as a Manager

It's been several years since I've come off of my former role as an engineering manager, and with enough humble introspection I've had several insights into the mistakes I've made, and how I'm integrating those learnings into my teams nowadays.

2018
September
I choose XP

A discussion about why I enjoy working in the XP-school of Agile. (tl;dr: I enjoy working in a pull-based work stream. I like that pair programming, TDD and other best-practice batteries are all included.)

August
Tensorflow for Tears: Part 2

In which we train an TensorFlow model with the tears of my little one, then deploy it on a Raspberry Pi.

March
TensorFlow For Tears: Part 1

How do you deal with the travails of colic and new parenthood? You plunge yourself into an ML project, of course. Here, we discuss a naive solution to detecting baby cries via an onboard microphone on a Raspberry Pi.

Elixir and Elm things I've written about elsewhere

While it’s been pretty quiet around these parts, I’ve kept the technical blogging up over on my employer’s blog. I’ve got quite a few posts around Elixir:

2017
September
Wejoinin at Ten

I posted an article on Medium titled “Wejoinin at Ten” describing our experience developing Wejoinin over the past ten years as a long-running passion project - and talk about the directions we hope to be taking it in the next ten.

July
Pitfalls to avoid when moving to async systems

I recently published a post on the Carbon Five blog titled “Evented Rails: Decoupling complex domains in Rails with Domain Events” that takes some of my thoughts about moving a Rails app to use Domain Events - leveraging the power of Sidekiq (or your job runner of choice) to send async messages between different domains of your app.

2016
October
JHipster & Spring Boot for Rails developers

The first question you may be asking is - why would I want to go from Rails to Java?

June
Rails, meet Phoenix: Migrating to Phoenix with Rails session sharing

You’ve resolved to build your company’s Next Big Thing in Phoenix and Elixir. That’s great! You’re facing a problem though - all user authentication and access concerns are performed on your Rails system, and the work to reimplement this in Phoenix is significant.

Evented Rails: Decoupling domains in Rails with Wisper pub/sub events

One common pattern in Domain-Driven Design is the use of publish/subscribe messaging to communicate between domains. When Domain Events are created from within a domain, other domains are able to subscribe to these events and take action within their own domains, respectively.

April
Domain-Driven Design & The Joy of Naming

I want to discuss a topic near and dear to my heart, and what I believe is at the crux of effective software design. It’s not a new functional language, it’s not a fancy new framework, a how-to guide to do microservices, nor a quantum leap in the field of machine learning.

Knex.js and PostGIS cheat sheet

As follows are some code snippets for using Knex.js for executing Postgres and PostGIS queries.

March
Lossless rate limiting with RxJS

Much of RxJS involves working with backpressure - how to reconcile streams that emit/process data at different rates, without overloading the system. Much of that model is built with lossy handling in mind - it makes sense that when your system is under duress, that you design your streams to degrade gracefully (e.g. drop certain events, or rate limit them by chunking into windows, etc).

February
Partitioning RxJS streams: adventures in nested Observables with groupBy() and flatMap()

One of the confusing aspects about working with streams is diving into Rx operators that take a stream and fan out into multiple streams.

2015
September
Strange Loop 2015: Notes & Reflections

Going to Strange Loop was a huge check off my conference bucket list (lanyard?). I’d always heard about this slightly-weird, highly academic collision between academia and industry, skewing toward programming languages you haven’t heard of (or, at the very least, you’ve never used in production). I anticipated sitting at the feet of gray-haired wizards and bright-eyed hipsters with Ph.Ds.