Skip to main content

Staying Hands On


A while ago I’ve reached the point where getting into the production code and contributing has become almost impossible.  Part of it was because of the variety technologies that engineers in my organization have used, part of it was due to meetings and crazy schedule that I was subjected to when I reached Director level.

However, I still make it a point to get some coding done.  Why? I think part of it is because my family is in the medical field. Among doctors a person high up (at least while I was growing up) was a “chief surgeon” or someone who commanded a lot of respect for their “technical” knowledge.  It seemed like back in those days you couldn’t hide behind any excuses like “I am not nearly as smart as these guys”

How do I stay hands on?  First of all it’s all about making time.  Yes there are some meetings you have to say “no” to and there are some dinners and tech mixers that you have to skip.

Second is finding out bite size projects.  I am fortunate enough to work on a team that deals with new platforms and APIs.  I can usually add value by building a prototype against the new API first.  It helps me figure out if the tools and the features for the scenarios are available.  In the past several weeks I tried working with Parse and Azure Mobile services. It was fun and helped me answer some questions about mobile backends, now I can actually speak intelligently about the tradeoffs of each.

Another way of staying hands on without being a part of the Scrum team is to do a lot of code reviews.  I find those helpful because you can actually have coherent conversations with customers and partners without having to drag your engineers along to every meeting.  It’s also great because you are a newbie in all the new code and you can make sure that things are readable and accessible for when you hire new people.

Staying in the code will help you keep a pulse on your code base and stay connected with the team.  I recommend it.



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Quality of Code is Quality of Life

About 20 years ago when I started working in technology companies I remember “the best” engineers had similar patterns:
-They worked crazy hours
-They knew the systems no one else knew
-They could react and deliver something faster than anyone else
You could always hear other employees say: “Bob is really smart, no one knows how to get anything done in system X besides him!”

This reinforced optimization around being the only person who knew how to do something in some part of the code.  That in turn reinforced job security and bargaining for those engineers, but also chained them to a particular system.  We had big code bases of C++ or Java code where some “Bob” hacked up features as soon as he possibly could.  “Bob” would have occasional nuclear disasters where he’d sleep in the office or through the weekend and then everyone would thank him for how he “saved the day.”  “Bob” sacrificed his quality of life to get praise when he hacked stuff up quickly and then the second time when n…

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team.

I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me!


SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin
If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts:
Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams  and Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!

Code versus Configuration

At Ethos we are building a distributed mortgage origination system and in mortgage there is a lot of
different user types with processes that vary depending on geography.  One of our ongoing discussions is about how much of the logic resides in code vs. being in a workflow system or configuration.  After researching this topic for a bit, I have arrived at a conclusion that the logic should live outside of code very infrequently, which might come as a surprise to a lot of enterprise software engineers.

Costs of configuration files and workflow engines First thing that I assume is true is that having any logic outside of the code has costs associated with it.  Debugging highly configurable system involves not only getting the appropriate branch from source control, you also need to make sure that the right configuration values or the database.  In most cases this is harder for programmers to deal with.  In many FinTech companies where the production data is not made readily accessible…