My Travel Gear

Jul 7, 2018

I’m not the most extreme road warrior you know, but I travel a decent amount, and I’ve found gear that helps make it easier and more fun for me. A lot of it is unusual stuff I wished for offhandedly in a moment where something wasn’t ideal. I made a note, looked it up later, and discovered that if you can dream it, someone’s selling it on Amazon. Here’s how I travel light and with everything I need for all the circumstances that come up.

A Four-Quadrant Priority System for Tough Decisions

Jun 29, 2018

Have you ever faced a tough decision that had you swinging back and forth, vaccilating between “let’s do it” and “I’m afraid” until you feel unable to move forward at all? I have. And in the midst of one such watershed moment, my wonderful wife gave me a simple tool. It broke my impasse and helped me see the obvious truth that’s been staring me in the face for months.

Building Static Sites With Hugo

Jun 22, 2018

Hugo is a fast, and very powerful, static site generator. I use it for my blog, as well as for fancier things like Markdown-based slideshows. I also use it for practically everything else I can, and every time I have to use a database-backed CMS I cringe and plot to rip it out. In this talk I’ll explain the basics of Hugo and how it works.

Bose QuietComfort 35 vs. Sennheiser PXC-550 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Jun 17, 2018

I bought pairs of Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II and Sennheiser PXC-550 wireless noise cancelling headphones, and compared their performance. Both are good headphones, but the Bose is the clear winner in nearly every category. The Bose headphones offer significantly better comfort, ease of use, sound quality, and noise cancelling. And both are priced at $350, so the choice is easy.

A Simple Rule of Thumb for Priorities

Jun 14, 2018

As a CEO, there’s always an endless list of things that all seem to need urgent attention. Circumstances, customers, employees, board members, and many other sources of pressure clamor to elevate their personal favorites on your priority list. It took me a while to learn how to isolate the few things that deserve focus. Along the way I created a simple three-part prioritization framework that helps me a lot. Here it is.

How to Monitor Your Database

May 31, 2018

Quick: what does your application really do to the database? Maybe you’re not really sure, but you might have some ideas. You’ll find when you measure and learn the truth, it will surprise you. Mental models of application/database interactions are almost always wrong, for the same reasons you rarely write bug-free code in general.

The Fitbit Versa Smartwatch

May 26, 2018

I bought a Fitbit Versa smartwatch and I like some aspects of it a lot. Unlike the hybrid analog/smart watches I’ve been trying recently, this one is a pure smartwatch with an LED display and no physical hands. I’m still evaluating.

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.