Using Personality Assessments in Hiring

May 20, 2018

I’ve been using personality assessments as part of recruiting and hiring for several years now. Although most people aren’t familiar with these assessments when they enter our recruiting process, the experience is uniformly positive for them, and they almost always comment how interesting it was and thank us for doing this with them. It’s been a valuable exercise that has helped me get better results and develop my judgment about people.

The Three Keys to a Rewarding Career: Challenge, Impact, and People

May 18, 2018

What makes a rewarding, fulfilling career? I keep three things in mind: being challenged every day, making an impact, and working with delightful people. Keep these three keys in mind, and you’ll never wake up and dread going to work a day in your life.

Announcing LISA18 Office Hours

May 15, 2018

There will be online “office hours” with the LISA organizing committee on Thursday May 17th, at 12-1pm PST. Anyone is welcome to join and discuss possible conference speaking proposals.

The Garmin Vivomove HR Smartwatch

May 13, 2018

I bought a Garmin Vivomove HR smartwatch to see if it would be a good replacement for my Nokia Steel HR. It’s a great hybrid smart watch design, but it’s buggy and I couldn’t get it working well enough, so I didn’t keep it.

What is Observability?

May 8, 2018

What is observability? Observability is an attribute of a system, like testability and operability. This talk covers the seven golden signals, the relationship and difference between concepts like observability, monitoring, telemetry, and instrumentation, and how to build highly observable services.

LISA 2018 Call for Proposals

May 3, 2018

The LISA18 Call for Participation is open. I’m on the session review committee this year, and I encourage you to propose a talk. If I can help with your talk, I encourage you to ask me; if I’m not able to help myself, I can be a liaison to the person who could help you do your best work.


Apr 27, 2018

People love to say “strategy” and “strategic” because it makes them sound, well, strategic. But in my experience, most people have only a vague idea of what it really means. This includes me, although I’ll give myself credit for not thinking I could just toss the word around to sound cool. For years I’ve been searching in vain for a really good definition, so eventually I made up my own.

Eagles Don't Fly With Turkeys

Apr 26, 2018

Over the last few years I have learned this lesson many times over: You can keep your high performing team members, or your low performers, but not both.

Future Perfect: Thoughts On Open-Source Database Communities

Apr 25, 2018

It’s obvious that macro trends such as cloud computing, microservices, containerization, and serverless applications are fundamentally changing how we build and deploy data-intensive applications. How are these forces changing open source database communities, and how should we respond to create the best future together?

Engineering The Application/Database Boundary

Apr 24, 2018

The interaction between applications and the database is one of the most intricate and important in the systems we build. This boundary region is special and complex for a number of reasons. It’s the surface that separates stateful from stateless, off-the-shelf from custom, and battle-tested atoms from fast-changing molecules.

Google Doc and Google Sheet Shortcuts

Apr 22, 2018

I use Google Docs and Google Sheets a lot. At some point I found quick-URLs that will create a new document and spreadsheet from a bookmark.

How To Generate Pixel Perfect Screenshots

Apr 20, 2018

I frequently do things like draw a diagram in a presentation app and take screenshots of it to include into other programs. I’ll create a diagram and then take screenshots of steps of its evolution to show how I built it, step by step. Here’s how I crop to the same location and size every time, perfectly and easily.

How To Index Your Database

Apr 20, 2018

Do you know what database indexes are and how they work? Do they seem hard to understand? They don’t have to be. The basic principles you need to know are simple and easy to remember. And developers need to know the basics of indexing: your DBAs can’t save you, because discovering you need an index after you deploy a feature is often too little, too late.

The Simple And Sinister Kettlebell Workout

Apr 18, 2018

Someone asked me on Twitter some time ago if I was familiar with the Simple and Sinister kettlebell workout. I was not. Now it’s one of my go-to workouts. It’s remarkably simple, yet extremely hard and effective.

Sizing Up People

Apr 14, 2018

Many people such as venture capitalists have met and judged me and my team over the years. I’ve always found this simultaneously amusing and frustrating, because in my experience, they’re more wrong than right. I became seriously allergic to this. But then I put on their shoes and walked a few steps, and the results surprised me.

My Twitter Following Strategy

Apr 8, 2018

I have a deliberate strategy that guides who I follow on Twitter, and the tools and techniques I use to curate my feed. I’m not sure how unusual it is; perhaps many of us do the same types of things but don’t share our thinking with each other. I wrote this post in case my thinking is useful to others.

Switching from MathJax to KaTeX

Apr 7, 2018

For several years, I’ve used MathJax on this blog to typeset mathematical formulae in LaTeX notation. MathJax is fully compatible with LaTeX, and makes it simple to create beautifully typeset equations such as the following:

\[ \rho = \frac{1}{2} \left( \sqrt{2} \sqrt{\lambda+2} + \sqrt{2} \sqrt{ \frac{ -2 \lambda - \lambda^2 + \sqrt{2} \sqrt{\lambda+2}}{\lambda+2}} \right) \]

MathJax is sophisticated, but it’s large and has a lot of dependencies. It’s not slow, but KaTeX is a lightweight drop-in replacement that’s even faster. I’ve switched to use KaTeX on this blog for speed and simplicity.